AHS Group Exploring Strategic Model to Bring FDI to Support Hotel Development

Sameer Dharkar, Managing Director of AHSI in India, responsible for the Eastin hotel brand, spoke with BW Hotelier about the company's plans for the subcontinent and his view of the hospitality sector.


ENORMOUSLY EXPERIENCED in the fields of Sales & Distribution, Banking, Insurance, Mutual funds and BPOs, it was Sameer Dharkar’s passion for hospitality that drove him to venture into the hotel business 5 years ago. The Managing Director of Absolute Hotel Service India (AHSI) since October 2012, Dharkar has been in charge of the Indian subcontinent & Middle East.

AHS group manages close to 100 hotels globally including new acquisitions in Thailand and Europe.

“Our brand spectrum defines properties ranging from 3 to 5 star deluxe (Eastin Easy and Eastin Grand) catering to varied customer needs. We have also introduced two individualised concepts of Service Apartments under the umbrella of Eastin Hotels & Residences and Experience driven Holiday Retreats under U Hotels & Resorts,” said Dharkar.

According to Dharkar, mid-segment markets have the maximum potential in India. He feels that three star and four star hotels would do much better in India in comparison to five star hotels.

Stating the reasons for it, he explained, “cost of hotel development is much lower compared to five star properties and ROI definitely turns out to be better. Also, the market potential in India along with the confidence levels for mid-segment is much higher with the introduction of Government initiatives such as Smart Cities, Digitisation, Skill Development, Industrial Corridors and Make in India Drive. This will propel the huge domestic market as well as the foreign tourists.”

With Indian Tourism industry generating about close to ten per cent of the countries GDP and about nine per cent of the employment, Dharkar feels that it is still low compare to some other Asian countries. “With the new government led by Narendra Modi, and the various developmental programs launched, benefits, incentives and support offered, we expect the industry would get its due attention and can double the tourist’s inflow every year,” he hoped.

Speaking about the challenges in hospitality industry, Dharkar believes that to finish the hotel project on time is the biggest challenge in India. “One of the major challenges in our industry is the Hotels getting NPA due to high Project costs and sometimes mismanagement and diversion of funds by the developers,” he says.

AHS Group is now exploring a Strategic Model which would bring FDI funds to support the hotel development plans and objective which will further accelerate their growth as well as presence.

Dharkar also gave some insights on the company’s expansion plan, where he spoke about the group’s new acquisitions in Thailand and Europe. Dharkar said, “In Europe, our parent group has acquired one of the largest hotel company, Vienna House. In Thailand we have formed a new Joint venture with Travel lodge to launch its brand’s through the AHS group. We intend to soon bring both these chain of brands to India.”

“In India, we are commencing Eastin Easy in Talegaon, near Pune. This will soon be followed by Eastin Easy Resort in Pen, Raigad district, near Panvel and Eastin Easy in Sangli district,” Dharkar added.

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