Sinclair group of hotels: Room for more view

Updated: Feb 26 2005, 05:30am hrs
The Kolkata-based Sinclairs Group of hotels has carved out a niche for itself as an end-to-end service provider for tourists as well as corporate houses. With properties in picturesque locales of Port Blair, Siliguri, Dooar, Darjeeling and Ooty, the group is eyeing more acquisitions in the eastern part of the country.

Navin Chand Suchanti, chairman of Sinclairs Hotels, says that the immediate target for property azquisitions is in the hill stations of Gangtok in Sikkim and Kalimpong in West Bengal. The group is also eyeing a property in Kolkata to gain a stronger foothold.

Most of the star hotels in India are priced steeply but in the long run the winner will surely be budget hotels. The Tatas have realised this and have already started their budget hotels. As a hotel chain, the priority for us is to offer value-for-money products and services, says Mr Suchanti.

However, according to Mr Suchanti, more than the acquisitions it is the consolidation of current business that is driving the debt-free company towards offering new products and services.

Experiential service
For instance, Sinclairs Retreat at Chalsa in north Bengal has a nature cure centre manned by trained personnel from Kerala. The centre is now a top draw for corporate houses not only from Kolkata but also from the rest of the country.

Says Suresh Bhatia, vice-president of Sinclairs, Corporates have taken a liking for this centre. Not only does the environment help the executives destress naturally, authentic ayurvedic treatment by doctors qualified in ayurvedic medicine and naturopathy works wonders for them.

According to Mr Bhatia, another reason why executives of companies like ITC, Tata Motors, Ranbaxy, HLL and Indian Oil make frequent visits to the hotel is the spirit of togetherness that each trip to the hotel has to offer. Many new inductees form a part of the team that visit our hotel in Chalsa. When they go back, they go back as a team, says Mr Bhatia.

Sinclairs had built the 69-room Dooars property in 1998 which is the only hotel that the group has built on its own so far. The company has acquired the remaining hotels in the group. According to Mr Bhatia, various innovations are carried out in this hotel, which if successful, is then replicated in the chain.

We have converted a few rooms as theme rooms with its decor resembling a particular Indian state. This again has worked well with corporate houses where team members come from different parts of the country, Mr Bhatia says.

To add more fizz to the package meant for corporate houses, the hotel organises various outdoor entertainments like camp fires, outdoor cooking etc. that is aimed at creating bonhommie among team members.

Interestingly, the hotel has started getting business from corporate houses from neighbouring Bangladesh as well. For corporates as well as individual tourists, Sinclairs takes care of everything from transport to hotel transfers and accommodation.

However, the Rs 10-crore Sinclairs groups Siliguri property is the only one that generates business round the year. All the other hotels in the chain thrive on tourist seasons for business. The group comes out with various schemes to promote offseason tourism like concessional rates of accommodation and discounts for senior citizens.

We are eyeing properties in Gangtok and Kalimpong as they are frequently part of packages that we devise. Specifically, we are on the look out for old buildings in these two places. However, in the long run, our aim is to drive the existing properties in a self-sustained mode, says Mr Bhatia.

The Sinclairs group has also expressed the desire to take over the Great Eastern Hotel in kolkata which has been put up for sale. Sinclairs has been shortlisted by the West Bengal government as a bidder for the prime Kolkata property.