Captain Gopinath to enter Hospitality

After having crafted a new space in the Indian aviation realm, Captain G R Gopinath is entering the hospitality business. He, together with a couple of others, has incubated a hospitality venture to set up a country-wide chain of mid-tier business hotels and resorts.The promoters are targeting to build the country's largest mid-tier business hospitality chain of some 1,000 hotels across 100 cities and towns over a span of ten years. Each hotel will have about 125 rooms and will need an investment of up to Rs 50 crore. The other promoters are Madhu Konety, an investment banker from the US, and Girish Rao, former head of Tangerin Hospitality and former marketing head of Leela Hotels, Palaces & Resorts. Konety has interest and investments in India, Europe and the US.‘‘It would be tough for the company to develop such a large chain on its own. Therefore, the plan is to adopt multiple models including completely (land and brand) owned hotels or just brand-owned, franchised hotels. Acquisitions are also planned,'' said a source at a merchant bank.When contacted, Gopinath confirmed he was entering the hospitality business but refused to divulge details. Sources said an official announcement is expected in September. The promoters are currently talking to leading private equity players and institutional investors for funds, said sources. The major chunk of the investment will be raised through external funding. Most of the top executives of the new venture are being hired from overseas. The promoters are said to have travelled many times to the US, Singapore, Australia and Malaysia to meet and interview prospective candidates with cross-geography exposure. ‘‘They are looking at people with over two decades of experience with leading hospitality brands,'' said a source.The company is expected to be called Deccan Hospitality, while the brand name will be Pine Wood Hotels.The country currently has 120,000 hotel rooms in the organized sector, of which 50% are in the 4 and 5 star category. ‘‘So there is a huge demand for mid-tier business hotels and leisure properties,'' said a hospitality industry analyst.

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