itc hotels: ITC Hotels plans to launch over 20 properties in two years, says divisional chief executive Anil Chadha

ITC Ltd is exploring “all options” and discussing “alternate” structures for the demerger plan of its hotel business, Anil Chadha, divisional chief executive at ITC Hotels, has said.

“Work is ongoing on this front,” Chadha told ET in an interview. “Whenever we have something ready to share with everyone, we will. We have to look at what’s best for all the shareholders.”

He said ITC Hotels is also evaluating its overseas expansion and considering the Middle East market. “We are trying to see how we make an entry there, and with which brand,” he said. “Be it Sharjah, Dubai, or Ras Al Khaimah, the Middle East has got great potential. We have a collection of brands now, and we can provide diversified customer experiences across brands. We will also have to see when things settle down in Sri Lanka.”

ITC Hotels has plans of launching more than 20 hotels in the next two years, he said.

The group currently has about 115 properties with a total of over 11,000 keys across brands in India.

The chain’s new openings include hotels in Colombo, Corbett, Sirmaur, Udaipur, Raipur, Solan, Kufri, Tirupur, Goa, and Jaipur as more properties get signed in at Dehradun, Ooty and Jabalpur among others.

“For the longest period, we ran our operations with four brands: ITC Hotels, Welcomhotel, Fortune and WelcomHeritage,” Chadha said. “Welcomhotels have had a great run in the last two years, be it the hills or a beach like Mahabalipuram. We have consolidated in the luxury space and Welcomhotels has been completely refreshed in the last two years. Our Fortune brand has also done really well.”

The company is rolling out new brands.

“The first property of Mementos, our new luxury brand, will come up in Udaipur by the end of this year,” Chadha said. “Post Covid, standalone owners investing in smaller units of 20 or 30 rooms started looking out for established brands to help them and that led to the emergence of Storii, our boutique experiential offering,” he added.

ITC Hotels has signed management contracts for five boutique properties under the Storii by ITC Hotels brand in Goa, Dharamshala, Solan, Sirmaur and Kufri. With 57 keys recently opened at Goa and Dharamshala, the brand is set to open another 116 keys across three locations in Himachal Pradesh by the end of 2023.

“A Storii property can be in any unique location – it could be a tea garden, a vineyard, or a beach, but it has to be leisure destinations. It’s a leisure brand that has tremendous potential,” Chadha said. “We think a lot of expansion will happen on this route. We see an opportunity for more experiential luxury and have signed a second Mementos hotel in Jaipur. We hope to sign one Mementos hotel every year.”

The entire strategy is to go “asset right”, he said.

“The timing is also right. We have had a wonderful first quarter (April-June) in terms of our performance,” Chadha said. “Our new luxury hotel ITC Narmada in Ahmedabad had taken off from the first day first show. The whole group has done better than 2019 levels in terms of occupancies, revenues and average rates. April to June was our best ever quarter and the future would hold up very well for us,” he added.

ITC’s prominent launches in 2021 included Welcomhotel Chail, Welcomhotel Katra, Welcomhotel Bhubaneswar, and Welcomhotel Guntur while this year saw the launch of ITC Narmada in Ahmedabad. Some of the WelcomHeritage properties launched last year were at Jawai, Shimla and Allahabad. The Fortune brand saw the launch of properties in Hubbali and Goa in 2021 and another one in Ahmedabad this year.