Surprise! Subrata Roy's Sahara group eyes Mumbai hotel

Written by Shalini Nair | Mumbai | Updated: Sep 5 2014, 23:18pm hrs
Sahara GroupThe Plaza Hotel, New York owned by Sahara Group. (Reuters)
The Sahara group is a keen contender for Mumbais first floating hotel project, even as it is in the process of selling off its iconic hotels Grosvenor House in London, Plaza Hotel and Dream House in New York to secure the bail bond for the release of its chairman Subrata Roy.

Sahara India Tourism Development Corporation Limited was the only entity that sent its representative to the Mumbai Port Trusts (MbPT) pre-bid meeting for the flotel recently. The 500-odd room five-star flotel will be anchored 3 kms on the Arabian sea from the Gateway of India site in Mumbai.

Others present at the meeting were those interested in the proposed three floating restaurants. Officials state that these include Essel Group, Drishti Marine Solutions which runs the H2O water sports complex at Girgaum Chowpatty beach, Backbay cruises, the boating group Ocean Blue among others. Two others have also made their interest known to the port trust in writing, although they were not present at the pre-bid meeting.

These include Nishiland Water Park resort and Rashmi Developers. The latter has been keen on investing in a floating hotel since their first failed attempt more than 15 years ago at setting up a restaurant in Zheng Dong, a ship that was stranded off the Bandra coastline on its way to the ship-breaking yard at Alang in Gujarat.

Asked about the groups involvement in the project, a Sahara group spokesperson said, Sahara has always been involved in prestigious projects but it is too early to comment on this. MbPT chairman RM Parmar confirmed that the Sahara group was among those who were present at the meeting. Some of the big names from the industry have shown interest. We will know the list of final of bidders only once we start the sale of tender documents, he said. Tenders for the projects are expected to be opened in another month.

The port trust has fixed the base price for the flotel at merely Rs 64 lakh per month. The structure will be allowed to occupy approximately 10,000 sq m of the water area which works to a tariff of Rs 640 per sq m per month. Another Rs 11 lakh has been fixed as charges for the use of landing and boarding point at Ferry Wharf, water conveyance charges and passenger fees. Similarly, for 2,000 sq m water area for the restaurants, the monthly base rental is Rs 447 per sq m at the Chowpatty site, Rs 356 per sq m at the Gateway location and Rs 85 per sq m at Ferry Wharf.

This is in keeping with the Union shipping ministrys recently released Land Policy 2014 that fixes the tariff for water area at half the state governments ready reckoner rate for the adjoining land areas. However, the current market rentals for commercial properties in each of these prime areas range from Rs 2,000-2,500 per sq m.

We have arrived at the rates after evaluating the price of the nearby land areas as required under the policy, said Parmar. The flotel and restaurants will be allowed to operate for 24 hours a day, eight months a year barring four months of monsoon.