Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts is taking over management of its first property in the northern Indian state of Gujarat this month, and will additionally move in to the resort sector in Kerala later this year.
Le Meridien currently manages properties in the six major gateway cities in India - Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Mumbai, Pune, and two in New Delhi.
These moves mark the beginning of the next phase of expansion for the London-based operator, which has identified India as a principal growth area over the coming decade.
Regional managing director Sami Zoghbi said: “We see India as one of the prime countries for growth and development of the brand, in line with our target to double the number of properties from 22 in the Middle East and West Asia by the end of 2004.”
In Ahmedabad, Le Meridien is taking control of an existing 63-room hotel located city centre near the Nehru Bridge, and will focus on promoting its business and leisure facilities to a wider audience.
The property is owned by Associated Hotel Limited and Shahid Balwa, the company’s chairman and also chairman of Le Meridien’s landmark Mumbai property said: “This property will cater for both business and leisure travellers and, with the brand promise of the Le Meridien name, has already attracted considerable attention in the market.”
Unique features of the property include the only hotel discotheque in the city, plus a health club with indoor pool. Other facilities range from a conference hall and boardroom, to the business centre, lawn and rooftop event areas, limousine airport pick-up and babysitting on demand, plusÊ in-room satellite TV, hairdryer, minibar, tea/coffee maker, dual line telephone and electronic safe.
According to general manager Joseph D’Couto, Le Meridien will bring a new level of style of hotel operation to Ahmedabad. He said: “While existing properties in the city together offer a range of facilities, we are theÊ only hotel to cater to both the business and leisure markets with a superb central location and every amenity to suit all requirements.”
Strengthening its global resort hand, Le Meridien Kovalam Beach Resort has 148 rooms plus 40 cottages and four suites in the adjacent Halcyon Castle on a prime site in Kerala, and additionally boasts a health club, three pools and an ayurvedic spa.
The property is owned by Kovelam Hotel Limited. Company chairman, P. Mohamed Ali, said: “Kerala as a destination has been gaining global recognition as a beach resort of unspoilt beauty, and we are delighted to be able to contribute to its development as a new destination for international travellers with a luxury resort such as Kovalam Beach.” Ali is also chairman of the owning company of Le Meridien Cochin.
The hotel has a convention centre, three restaurants and all rooms feature air-conditioning, satellite TV, dataports, hairdryer, minibar, tea/coffee makers, personalised voice mail and bathrobes.
General manager, Mughis Khan said the addition of Le Meridien’s name would add the stamp of international management to what is acknowledged as the number one resort in Kovalam.
“With unrivalled spa, leisure and beach facilities, Le Meridien Kovallam Beach Resort is a major addition to the group’s portfolio in India,” he said.