‘Great opportunity to showcase rich and diverse culture of India’
Sonavi Kaicker, Chief Executive Officer, Neemrana Hotels Pvt Ltd says she hopes that properties of historical significance will be showcased during G20 events in 2023
For Neemrana Hotels, the year 2022 has been a phenomenal and loaded with achievements. Not only did it win innumerable awards, host events like Jahaan-e-Khusrau and a weekend of performances and interactions with dance icons: Leela Samson and Malavika Sarukkai and receive a great response at WTM London, in November 2022, as a part of the India Pavilion, the company generated the maximum revenue since its inception (much higher than pre-pandemic levels) and successfully held numerous events and weddings across the chain.
“Accolades and awards are not what our team works towards. These are a public recognition of the fact that our guests have memorable stays and return again and again to the historic properties we have woken up from rubble and ruins,” shares Sonavi Kaicker, Chief Executive Officer, Neemrana Hotels Pvt Ltd. Neemrana Hotels comprises 17 properties across the country with a total room inventory of approximately 320 rooms. “We hope to keep expanding in the year ahead,” she adds.
Asked if Neemrana has any plan to broaden its brand focus to include the homestays or vacation rental market with alternate accommodation and homestay space getting busy with domestic and international brands walking in, Kaicker replies, “The Neemrana concept of heritage and experiential hospitality includes experiencing the local culture of the specific region that the property is situated in. Thus, the rental market is not for us. However, the Neemrana Noble Homes concept gained popularity during the Covid19 pandemic as many guests were happy to book a Noble Home in its entirety at The Ramgarh Bungalows which comprises individual cottages that can be booked by families or friends for a long duration of time.”
Kaicker adds that Neemrana Hotels has been the pioneer of experiential travel in India and specialises in restoring heritage structures and India’s dilapidated ruins to their former glory and in generating local employment from nearby village/ areas. “In the past decade or so, there has been a huge change in the domestic market as more and more Indians are now aware and proud of their own heritage and make an effort to educate the next generation to enjoy the rich culture and heritage India has. We plan to continue to focus on our USP and restore and revitalise many more buildings which will give guests an opportunity to experience Neemrana’s hospitality in different locations,” she informs.
Neemrana also trains local youth from nearby villages to run their heritage with pride. “We aim to fill all junior and mid-level executive and supervisor positions from the state we are situated in. In addition, for the last three decades, Neemrana has been showcasing the culture of India by supporting artistes from various regions – both folk and classical – and giving them a platform to perform music and dance before a wide audience from across the world. When the hotels are booked for destination weddings, the entire precinct of the property benefits economically. Neemrana has also spearheaded a great deal of CSR work in the nearby areas where the properties are situated. UNESCO noted our good work and associated with us to encourage us,” shares Kaicker.
Sharing her views on India’s G20 Presidency and the opportunities it brings for the tourism industry, Neemrana Hotels CEO says, “It is a great opportunity to showcase the rich and diverse culture of India, especially with 200 proposed retreats that will fan out to the countryside. Although the conference/ meetings will have a positive impact on India’s tourism industry and economy, the efforts thereafter must be to sustain such events and ensure that we create our own niche market for such events throughout the year – perhaps related to our festivals and specially during the lean months. We are hopeful that properties of historical significance will also be showcased during the G20 events in 2023 including Neemrana Fort-Palace and Tijara Fort-Palace, both in National Capital Region.”
Kaicker is very optimistic for 2023. “We shall be continuing to focus on our strengths and in enhancing our infrastructure to ensure that guests are able to enjoy a historical stay at our properties in great comfort. Wholistically, we anticipate inbound tourism arrivals to gradually increase in 2023 and the initiative of Visit India 2023 under the Ministry of Tourism will encourage people to visit India from across the world. The economic downturn, sanctions on Russia, and China’s strategy of zero covid will delay recovery globally since air ticket prices have increased substantially. However, domestic tourism shall continue to thrive across the country and we expect room tariffs to remain high in 2023,” she concludes.
Our industry is presently thriving on domestic demand and a gradual increase in international travel as well as India’s G20 presidency shall give the tourism industry further impetus. Since the government is already addressing the key areas of sustainability, safety of women, and enhancing infrastructure in terms of roads and hygiene, we are very hopeful that the year 2023 will give great visibility to the key historical sites across the country and establish India as a destination for 365 days!
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