‘We have moved from High Touch to Touchless’
BW Hotelier talks to Vinay Singh, Hotel Manager, Le Méridien Jaipur Resort & Spa about the challenges and opportunities for hospitality sector in Rajasthan.
What is the USP of Le Méridien Jaipur Resort & Spa?
Location is the prime USP for this property. Lying at the outskirts on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, not only does it concede to be the ideal getaway for guests of both cities alike, but it also dwells on the various segments of clientele it caters to. Situated amidst a picturesque landscape, Le Méridien Jaipur Resort & Spa surrounds you with luxury and is a prime getaway for leisure travelers. The magnanimity extends unparalleled charm and charade that this place demands.
The palatial grandeur is the perfect dream wedding venue, set amidst lust greenery and expansive architecture, with 85,000 sq. ft. outdoor lawns being the largest in the city along with multiple indoor and outdoor venues. The proximity of the national heritages including the Amer Fort, the UNESCO world heritage site, Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort are prime reasons for leisure travelers to choose this property as their getaway destination. The charm, agility, culture and the utmost precision of service exhibited here is what differentiates LM Jaipur from others.
How have you imbibed the heartfelt hospitality of Rajasthan into your service?
Jaipur has reaped the rewards of being resilient and rational in protecting its heritage and people through turbulent times with the Mughal & British empires. The magnificence of the city today beguiles you of the inclusions and makes you to comprehend the rich history it’s been a part of. It is this innate combination of hospitality, humility and empathy displayed, that has led LM Jaipur be the epitome of perfection in the deliverance of its service and hospitality.
A warm welcome by live musicians with Ravanhatta [a heredity Rajasthani culture], adorned with traditional Rajasthani arches, high domed ceilings and canons that echo of charming legendary aesthetics are what imbibe the tradition from the very beginning of your visit. Throughout the vicinity, you are soaked in an ambience of rich culture and heritage depicted through various forms of art spread across the hotel.
With niche talents that are personally identified to nurture the culture and respect the origin, we bring to you artists from various local regions of Jaipur to build the innate connect of truly being in the state of Rajasthan. The cuisine that we serve is no less than the pure delicacies of the royal heritage and irrespective of it being the lobby or the restaurants; you will undeniably witness cultural artists performing. The music styling is done in a manner to enhance the hour of the day and the evenings allow our guests to be a part of the guided art tour that our property has specifically curated for them. With the present scenario of COVID 19, the entertainment and musical journey at the resort has been temporarily suspended keeping in mind the health factors.
How have you made your resort Covid safe?
Marriott International’s initiative of ‘Commitment to Clean’ is a promise to our guests ensuring that we are taking into consideration each and every precautionary measure to guarantee that their arrival and stay at our property is nothing short of the most safe environment that they can prevail in. We have moved from High – Touch to Touchless through technology, space design, meeting set-up and food & beverage offering. We have introduced deeper and more frequent cleaning, with extra attention given to high-traffic areas. We have moved to a technology-friendly approach with our Marriott Bonvoy app for requests and are enabling Live/ Virtual hybrid meetings through live-streaming capabilities. There are also room inspections done by senior management on a regular basis.
We have identified a Cleanliness Champion in every department that is responsible for the entire outlook of the upkeep and hygiene of the department. There are multiple touchpoints across our resort in every department which has been identified and documented measures are being practiced to comply with the New Norm guidelines. All departments have set protocols and guidelines which are being diligently followed and even the minutest detail is not being overlooked. We have automatic sanitizers placed all across the resort. There are multiple mandate trainings that every associate is undertaking, only post which they are being allowed to resume work.
Another practice that we have started for our guests is to ensure that the key stakeholders are being invited to the resort and informed prior of the measures we are taking for their particular event/wedding. They are also being advised on the procedures and precautionary measures that their guests need to abide by, which will need to be adhered to whilst the procession of any event. The same is being done to ensure a seamless event and the safety of every individual.
Do you have any bookings as of now? What remains your marketing and sales strategy to get business back?
With the lockdown easing down, we have been able to get back some amount of business. The majority of our queries revolve around smaller wedding groups for Q4 2020 & Q1 2021. The ideal location, at a driveable distance, sources as a key factor for targeting multiple queries of staycations, day outings, small meetings, and intimate weddings to drive business to the resort. The resort is spread in 23 acres of land, making it one of the largest spread out resort area, with an event space of over 01 lakh sq. ft. wherein there are multiple venues for wedding functions. We are leveraging on business due to our expanse and the possibility of having independent villas and avoiding the risk of contamination and ensuring personal space with social distancing measures complied with.
The team has aggressively been working with their clientele and relationship management has worked extremely well in retaining old business and garnering new leads. Customized packages have been developed and offered to our key clientele to ensure business conversions. The idea of virtual tours for Site Inspections rather than in-person visits; is also helping in gaining the confidence of our guests and allowing our teams to work and communicate virtually and resolve all queries that our guests may tend to have.
Do you have any inspirational stories from the lockdown period? Any CSR activity that you have taken up for community connect?
Throughout lockdown, while the manning was tended to carefully, and with the associates’ safety prime, there were minimal staff requirements. Giving is always the most satiating and rewarding thing to do. We actively send supplies including sanitizers, masks and other essential requirements that were required by the Sawai Mansingh Hospital. We will not deter from our contribution which is needed in the direst times and always support those in need.
What are the sustainable practices that your resort is following?
Over the years, we have seen a large shift towards sustainable practices and with the deteriorating rate of our environment and climate change, the impending future demands so. We have been undertaking multiple practices through the resort. Our biggest drive has been energy saving. We have installed a solar electricity generation plant of 1 MW which offsets a huge amount of electricity usage at the resort (approx. 22 per cent). Instead of the regular heating system, there is a Solar Water Heating system which has been prevalent throughout the property. We have moved from CFL lighting to LED lights across the resort. Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) for chiller pumps has been installed which controls the speed of the motor as per our requirement enabling us to save energy by around 12 - 15 per cent.
We have identified alternate solutions for plastic: the usage of glass bottles, paper packaging for dry in-room amenities, and bio-degradable packing for shower caps. Sustainable packaging is being heavily dwelled on In-room slippers, Organic tea bags and Compostable garbage bags. We are helping our partner, Diversey with a drive called ‘Hope for Soap’ wherein used soaps in the rooms are collected and given back to Diversey which is then reprocessed into liquid soap and given to a Charitable trust for their usage. We have Zero Discharge of used water outside our resort, through our STP Plant with Ultra Filtration system we recycle used water which is then used for gardening & landscaping of the resort. Wherever we can, we are trying to contribute as much as we can, Sustainability is a bespoke priority.
How is Jaipur developing as a wedding destination?
Jaipur being the capital city of Rajasthan, surrounded by lavish forts and palaces is the primary reason for it to be the perfect wedding destination. Pertaining to its rich, royal & vibrant culture, colorful attire, folk music, tradition, and heritage; it is an ideal venue for romantic royal style weddings.
Jaipur adorns the aroma of romance in its air, with a subtle panache. Not only has it been the perfect wedding destination for decades, but it is also a growing notion amidst millennials as well and has witnessed abundant celebrity weddings. It has served as a popular location for movie shoots as well.
Destination Weddings are a growing trend amongst Indians as well as NRIS’s all over the world, who are choosing this destination purely based on the grandeur and endless choices it offers along with its ever-growing International air connectivity which makes it really accessible.
LM Jaipur is designed to offer a diverse gourmet experience of Rajasthan’s culture and heritage. The resort's Amer Ballroom seats up to over 500 guests & Amer Lawns over 1000 guests; perfect for large wedding receptions and celebrations. We also offer packages and planning services for a remarkable Jaipur wedding. The interiors of Le Meridien are carefully curated with avant-garde from all over the world, on the philosophy of Trompe l’Oeil.
What trends have you been witnessing in the hospitality industry in Rajasthan? Challenges for the hospitality industry there?
Rajasthan, the land of Maharajas and Medieval Fort, Palaces & Deserts, is world-famous for its Colorful Attires, Vibrant culture, folk music, sand dunes & kaleidoscopic festivals. The beautiful & colorful state is a Jewel on India’s crown.
With the global trendsetting expectations of weddings for 2020, destination weddings and the dire need to revive our rich cultural belonging, Rajasthan is even more in demand today. The rapid development of the state has led to numerous brands and standalone constructing hotels, with many more hotels to come up in the next five years, which are already in the pipeline. Undeniably the pandemic has left a scar on the industry as a whole with 90 per cent cancellation in weddings alone; yet there are various measures already in place to revive from the same.
The tourism sector contributes to almost a quarter of the state’s GDP making it the 5th most visited state in the country. Previously, 90 per cent of the travel to Rajasthan was solely intended for tourism purposes. But vigorous developments in the banquet spaces and convention centres in the past years have led to bifurcation of approx 45 per cent inbound tourism and approx 35 per cent MICE travel, which proves the latter is booming extremely fast.
The state government has launched the ‘Resurgent Rajasthan’ campaign which recognizes tourism and hospitality as two focused sectors for investment. The state government recommends not just the creation of hotels, but also the development of adventure sports activities, golf courses and convention centres through Public-Private Partnership investment schemes.
While there are cultured and seasoned associates, the scarcity in manpower is a challenge to deliver the same level in comparison to major metro cities. The seasonal quality of travel is a major challenge to penetrate people’s mindset. And with a limited focus on PR and brand building exercises, we are missing out on abundant opportunities. Albeit, there are numerous changes that are happening at the moment and there is bound to be a boon again soon.
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