Area development norms may be eased for hotels

Written by Vishakha Talreja Guha | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 30 2012, 08:15am hrs
Hotel developers are set to get a policy breather as the government plans to ease minimum area development norms for upcoming hotel properties, keeping in view the spiralling real estate prices across the country.

In the proposed guidelines of the tourism ministry, stipulating new classification norms for star-rating of hotels, the minimum size of the room for a hotel to be rated as five-star is likely to be reduced from 200 to 175 sq feet. Same set of norms would be introduced for the lower star categories of hotels.

Alarmed by skyrocketing land prices, the ministry is also mulling dropping the present mandatory norm of having at least two restaurants (one speciality and one multi-cuisine) for four-star hotels. These properties could operate with only one multi-cuisine restaurant, if the new policy passes muster.

We are working on the guidelines and are talking to the stakeholders. The existing guidelines definitely need changes. Though for some, we will need clearances from other ministries, said a ministry of tourism official.

Owing to the limited floor space index (FSI) that hotels have in metros, the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI) has suggested that the room size and, consequentially, the size of bathrooms should be reduced in the guidelines for the star rating. From existing 120 sq feet (excluding bathroom) for one- and two-star category hotels, it should be reduced to 80 sq feet. Whereas for three-star, it has suggested reduction from 140 to 100 sq feet and, for four-star, from 140 to 120 sq feet.

These proposals have drawn inspiration from norms for hotel development in European countries, which have a tremendous scarcity of real estate.

According to FHRAI, keeping in view the shortage of land and high cost of real estate in metro cities the classification guidelines should be tweaked. Also the duration of travellers stay in metro cities is shorter, therefore big rooms are not required. If the room size is reduced hoteliers can build more number of rooms in the same land area and offer competitive tariffs. There are some other minor obsolete requirements too, which should be changed in the guidelines,says Kamlesh Barot, president, FHRAI. FSI in India varies from one state to another. For instance in Delhi hotels are allowed FSI of 2.25 that was increased from 1.5 in 2008, in the wake of Commonwealth games and need for more rooms to accommodate visitors to India.