The Postcard Hotel Goes International With Forays into Bhutan and Sri Lanka

Founder-CEO Kapil Chopra projects profitable end to FY2019-20 and an inventory of assets worth $1 billion after five years

TEN MONTHS after celebrating the launch of The Postcard Hotel, the boutique luxury hospitality brand's founder-CEO, Kapil Chopra, on Wednesday (October 18) announced its first two international forays -- The Postcard Dewa, 20 minutes from Thimphu, in Bhutan and The Postcard Galle in Sri Lanka. Both hotels are scheduled for November openings.

Chopra declared that the company will end its first full financial year, 2019-20, and own or manage assets worth $1 billion (Rs 7,000 crore) by the end of its first five years, by which time it will have 50 hotels in its portfolio. Eight more hotels are in the pipeline, Chopra said. Tuscany, interestingly, was one of the regions outside India he kept naming. Is that going to be The Postcard's next international destination?

Addressing a media conference at The Lodhi, New Delhi, the luxury hotel where he had also launched the brand, Chopra said The Postcard portfolio will have three business models in place -- the first: buying off a hotel and then operating it; the second: taking a long-term lease on a hotel and then managing it (as in the case of The Postcard Dewa); and the third: managing a hotel like a management company (The Postcard Galle, for instance). It won't be a 100 per cent asset-light model, Chopra said.

Speaking about profitability, the high-energy  hotelier said that although conventional wisdom states that hotels with inventories of eight to 12 rooms, which is the standard size of The Postcard properties, including the three in Goa, do not make the kind of profits that corporates get excited about, he can add body mass without adding significantly to the running costs.

Chopra gave the example of Goa. "I can open 25 hotels in Goa, but these can be run economically by one general manager and one director of operations, and centralised common services," he said. Then there's the tariff advantage. The projected average room rate at The Postcard Dewa in Bhutan -- Rs 49,000 plus GST -- is more than four times that of a big-city hotel in Delhi, for instance. One room at The Postcard Dewa, therefore, is the equivalent of four or five rooms in a big city hotel.

People, it seems, are prepared to pay top dollars as long as the brand wows them with unparalleled locations and a unique service proposition (or transformative experiences, as Chopra calls them) -- triple feni margarita as welcome drink, anytime check-in, all-day breakfast, free room-delivered bed tea or coffee, and the best of local food prepared by home cooks from the villages where the hotels are located.

The Postcard Dewa, with 15 suites (each measuring 1,000 sq. ft.) and a temperature-controlled swimming pool, offers a spectacular hilltop view of the Thimphu valley and surrounding forests while being just a 20-minute drive from the capital city, and a comfortable 40 minutes away from the Paro international airport. Chopra said The Postcard Dewa could be the start of a Bhutan circuit, which more hotels at pristine locations, so that people would have a reason to spend a week to ten days in the Himalayan nation famous for its 72 per cent forest cover.

The Postcard Galle, positioned above a beautiful lagoon, offers 180-degree views of the Indian Ocean from its 10 suites. Surrounded by the historic city of Galle, the hotel offers easy access to the Galle Fort, built by the Dutch and now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Geoffrey Bawa's famous architectural showpieces, and an array of beaches and secluded coves, including Mirissa Beach, which has been trending for being an ideal spot for watching blue whales in action and for its nightlife too. It is also close to tea factories, cinnamon plantations and paddy fields -- ideally suited for outdoorsy guests with an interest in Sri Lanka's iconic produce.

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