These projects are expected to go on stream in 2009, only after the company completes the launch of its upcoming seven five-star properties. Capt CP Krishnan Nair, chairman of Hotel LeelaVenture, told FE, There is a tremendous need for smaller hotels everywhere. Once all our planned properties are up, we will focus on smaller three- and four-star hotels, which may be christened Leela Gardens.
Pilgrimage tourism is estimated to attract visitors in excess of 100 million and Tirupati alone attracts more than 18 million visitors a year. Capt Nair said, My dream is to build many hotels around the pilgrimage places like Hrishikesh, Haridwar, Vaishnodevi, Amarnath, and across the country. Some hotels have come up in the past few years but they are not enough. It will not take us long to build these hotels and the investment too will be one-third of a five-star hotel. A couple of state governments have already approached the company to build hotels around places of pilgrimage. With the planned budget brand, Hotel LeelaVenture will join the league of five-star hotels such as the ITC Welcomgroup and The Taj group, which own mid-scale brands Fortune and Ginger respectively. The company had recently more than doubled its capex programme from Rs 1,200 crore to Rs 2,500 crore.