With the political situation in Pakistan reaching equilibrium business visitors are returning in numbers for the capital Lahore.
Their first port of call is often Avari Lahore Hotel, which is considered by many to be the finest hotel in the city.
Here Breaking Travel News catches up with Qasim Jafri to discuss the latest developments.
Breaking Travel News: Avari Lahore Hotel was last year recognised by the World Travel Awards as Pakistan’s Leading Hotel, the fourth occasion on which the property has claimed this prestigious honour.
What do you think it is that separates you from your competitors in Pakistan?
Qasim Jafri: What distinguishes us from other competitor hotels in Pakistan is customised service, renowned food quality, a highly dedicated and trained staff and an ideal location in a garden setting.
This has resulted in a ratio of our repeat guests at 28 per cent which is high by any standard.
BTN: You have been nominated for the title again in 2011. Have there been any developments are the property over the past 12 months to help you take the title?
QJ: In the last year we have completely renovated our main Conference and Banquet Halls.
This is in addition to all the public areas which were refurbished two years ago in fine Mughal theme.
BTN: How about the coming year? Are there any investments or developments on the horizon for the Avari Lahore Hotel?
QJ: Within this year we will be opening another fine-dining specialty restaurant which is in addition to existing five restaurants which include authentic Japanese and Chinese cuisines.
Another project being undertaken next year is complete refurbishing of guest rooms.
Avari Lahore Hotel was recognised by the World Travel Awards as Parkistan’s Leading Hotel
BTN: Tell me about the market in Lahore, and Pakistan more generally, at the moment. Is the travel sector recovering well?
QJ: Market in Lahore is now on the upswing after a couple of slow and dull years due to regional political situation.
We are now touching 70 per cent occupancy with a healthy average rate.
Situation in the region is settling down and businesses are starting to pick up with a bright future outlook.
BTN: Who are the clients of the Avari Lahore Hotel? Are you principally aimed at the business market, or do you take more a leisure angle?
QJ: Primarily, our client base is corporate and business travel drawn from national and multinational business houses, diplomatic community, World Bank and U.N. affiliated organisations.
Most of this business is generated from UK, United States, European Union, Japan, China, India and ASEAN countries.
This is in addition to domestic corporate clientele. Leisure business is slightly low at the moment but is picking up speed.
Avari Lahore Hotel is perfect for business or leisure travellers
BTN: What facilities can you offer to the MICE sector?
QJ: For MICE, Avari Lahore has substantial conference, convention, meeting and banquet facilities.
Three main halls ranging from capacity of 300 to 900 persons are augmented by various small meeting rooms and board rooms for breakout sessions.
In addition, large cocktail parties and weddings are held accommodating up to 3,000 guests since the hotel is located in a 16 acre garden setting.
BTN: How about the spa, I believe that is important to your offering?
QJ: The hotel already has a gym and a spa which are being further expanded due to increasing popularity and demand. Recently refurbished Spa features Massage, Steam room and aerobics.
A beauty salon for ladies and gentlemen is run by the most prestigious company renowned for salons in Pakistan.
BTN: What do you consider to be your key asset at Avari Lahore Hotel?
QJ: While it is difficult to consider any one single feature for hotel’s continued success, in one sentence one would attribute this to highest quality service and staff striving for consistent excellence.
BTN: Talk us through your membership of Avari International Hotels. What advantages does being part of such a prestigious chain confer on the property?
QJ: Avari Hotels International with national and international presence brings with it advantages of cross cultural exposure and expertise.
We are in the process of adding a Five Star plus hotel in Islamabad which is due to open in 2013.