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Pune's luxury hotel district

Alka Kshirsagar, The Hindu Business Line

April 04, 2011

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One cannot say with certainty whether the emergence of the eastern corridor as the fastest growing business district in Pune has been the cause or effect of five-star hotel brands setting up base here.

But with Hyatt Regency, Ista; Four Points by Sheraton; Ibis (Accor Group) and Park Estique lining a kilometre-odd stretch of the Pune-Ahmednagar highway, Radisson in nearby Kharadi open and JW Marriott and Grand Hyatt in various stages of construction in the vicinity, this is virtually Pune's own luxury hotel district.

Given that the hospitality industry in the city thrives on the corporate customer rather the leisure traveller, it is no surprise that all these properties are positioned as business hotels. The slant is towards catering to the needs of the business traveller — business centre, national and international cuisine, Wi-Fi, conferencing facilities, gym and airport pick-up and drop, are offered .

The first property to come up was the 115-room Park Estique in end-2008, followed by the Accor group hotel Ibis and then Radisson a year down the line.

The last few months have seen a spurt of activity on this front, with the Hyatt setting up the Regency brand here late last year, followed by the Ista and the Four Points by Sheraton earlier this year. The six hotels have nearly 1,000 rooms between them, including suites and 48 and 84 service apartments at the Sheraton and Hyatt, respectively.

Distinctive features

Every property has some distinctive features. At the Hyatt Regency it is La Terrazza, an Italian restaurant that serves fresh home-made pastas, wood-fired pizzas and other Italian specialities. The Park Estique has Lava, a roof-top grill while at the Radisson, it is probably the high-end Rajasthani suite.

Designed by Burega Farnell, Singapore, Ista Pune has all-day dining at its restaurant Eighty Eight where one can opt for either al fresco or indoor dining, and choose between a-la-carte and a live Japanese Teppanyaki grill and Tempura station. The special attraction here is the Spa, featuring treatments inspired by the group's signature brand — the Ananda Spa. There are five private treatment rooms where the choice is between ancient and modern Chinese, Indian, European and Balinese traditions, all using luxury Ananda products.

The USP at Four Points by Sheraton is the special, patented, comfort bed that general manager, Mr Pankaj Mathur, says "pampers you into a blissful sleep after a good day's work". The Eatery, the restaurant here, has live stations of pizza, pasta, chaat, and appams, while soon to open are Best Brew, a traditional pub and beer bar serving popular local and international beers and Panash, a restaurant serving specialty pan-Asian cuisine with live stations of Teppanyaki, Dim-Sum, Sushi, and Stir Fry.

Business segment

Given the density of companies in the area, the hotels thrive at lunch time. Not only is a good spread guaranteed at the luncheon buffet, a competitive price is almost assured and ranges at Rs 400-600 per head.

"As Pune is a 100 per cent corporate market, there is no seasonality to the business. We see a good turnout for lunch, and also do packed lunches," says Mr Rohan Cholkar, Director, S&M, at Radisson.

In keeping with global practice, all hotels operate on the basis of Best Available Rate for the day, and though the tariff for a room can be quoted as high as Rs 9,000-12,000 per night (breakfast thrown in), the actual price tag is in the region of Rs 5,000-5,500 per night.

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