Ankur Bhatia talks passionately about his latest product, Roseate Hotels and Resorts, perhaps the newest Indian Hotel chain brand to enter the Indian and International market. With a portfolio of 4 operational properties, 2 in the UK and 2 in New Delhi, the brand aims to strengthen and operate within a niche of its own targeting well-heeled guests who have an appreciation for design, art and the best in service.
Could you share with our readers, the concept behind the brand?
As Bird Hospitality, we had four hotels, two in the UK and one in Delhi, which was called the Dusit Devarana and one almost ready to open at Aerocity. The whole intention was that the hotels which we own and operate have a similarity, similar service styles, a certain association to art with a lot of personalized details in terms of the whole curation of guests staying with us and the F&B offerings. Since the Aerocity, which is the largest property in our portfolio, was set to launch, we thought this would be an opportune time for us to also launch our own brand.
The Roseate is a part of the Bird Group. Regarding the name, we had a lot of options on the table and chose the Roseate which is a type of a bird and is also linked to something which is rose coloured. Since the existing Delhi property had quite a few elements of rose, we decided on this.
Roseate Hotels and Resorts has two sub-brands, The Roseate, which are out of the city, more resort-like experiences. These are The Roseate, New Delhi and The Forbury Roseate which is in Reading, UK. Then we have the Roseate House, which is the Aerocity property in Delhi and The Royal Park in Central London. We have got them onto one common sales platform which is the ‘roseatehotels.com’ as our selling site. We will be representing the hotels as Roseate Hotels and Resorts across various media and advertising.
The intentional is create something which as a luxury boutique experience does not exist currently in the country. The detailing is more centred around the experience of the guests and about how we can do something different from what other hotels usually do. The guest experience is personalized and is an ongoing process which we intend to keep building upon.
Could you elaborate on the personalized experience?
This is more individualized. It is more about people coming into any of our hotels and concentrating on them. We do a bit of a research on our guests. For instance, if someone has a taste for wines or is interested in a wellness experience then we will create a journey around that. If someone is just coming in for a night, then ensuring that the room is comfortable. Everything is available in terms of charging gadgets and other such things. There is something new we are working on for the Aerocity Hotel which is not yet branded. It is an experience of sharing work spaces. This isn’t seen often in hotels. Guests we feel may not like to work in their rooms but also work in common spaces. Another exclusive experience to Roseate House Aerocity is a 70-seater theatre. We are the only hotel in the country to have this! Most people coming to India had heard about Bollywood. We have everyday between 6pm to 9pm, a screening of a Bollywood movie for in-house guests with subtitles. It is also a multi-purpose space which works out well.
At The Roseate which is our flagship, we have created an ‘out of the city’ experience despite being in New Delhi. The London hotel gives a very English London house feel being in the heart of the city which is very rare in that area. The Reading hotel is the only 5star hotel there.
When you walk into a Roseate, is there anything indefinably similar about these properties.
No nothing like that. There is no architectural element which will look similar. But you will know you are at a Roseate when you look at the softness of the look, the softness of the logo, the rooms or when you get into numerous little elements such as branding pencils.
What does it mean to build your own brand today?
It’s a process that we just started recently. It is a continuous process. I think it is seemingly easier than what it was about ten years back with the advent of social media and the internet. There has been a good take in terms of popularity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
What are the challenges along the way?
In terms of challenges, there are always things to overcome when starting any new brand. Having said that, this is the exciting bit of doing business. There is joy in creating a brand that is your own. I must also say that after the Oberois that happened 30 years back we are the next Indian hotel brand to have significant overseas operations and projects.
In terms of building a team, what is the process?
We are an entire in-house training set up. Have been doing so since that past 5 years. It works best as the training is as per our own brand standards. Our people get trained in terms of the quality that is required in accordance to our brand ethics and brand needs.
Where do you position Roseate Hotels in terms of competitors?
I don’t think there is any comparison to any other brand. We are not a Leela for sure. We are not a Taj. What we have created is very different from what these brands present. We are a high-end luxury boutique brand. In terms of the services and in terms of the offering I don’t think we are less than any of the top hotels in the city. We are of course much younger.
Specifically, what sets apart the Roseate House from other Aerocity hotels?
Within Aerocity, we are not in comparison with any other property. We just happen to be in this district. The only other hotel which is a lifestyle hotel is the Hyatt Andaz but the scale is very different. They are about 500 keys while we are boutique.
How is the business environment for the UK hotels currently?
Doing good. With Brexit, it has been a bit uncertain for hospitality particularly. As the pound went down we became more appealing for the Europeans and the American travellers and that is our key audience. We saw an increase happening this year. Within Reading, which is a more resort property, we also saw an increase because those from UK who were planning on holidaying chose to stay within the country. We don’t know what will happen when Brexit happens.
What is the profile of guests targeted for the two properties?
The niche has already been created, and yet remains a process of creation. At the Aerocity hotel we see a lot of bankers, guests with a taste for arts and people who like plainness and simplicity in design. We have a lot of repeat guests as well. The other Indian property is more luxurious. That’s more for couples coming in for the weekend. For example, we are more of less already sold out for Valentine Day celebrations. There is some romance in that property. We also have film shoots, magazine covers and a whole set of different audiences.
Apart from social media what else are you doing to sell these two properties?
Sell in the sense we have the standard channels of GDSs etc. and travel agencies. For marketing, we do participate in certain trade fairs. We do a lot of online marketing which we believe is the way moving forward. We are more driven through an online strategy.
What next with Roseate? I believe you have plans for Goa and Jaipur?
We have plans for more properties in India and overseas. Next up is a Roseate in Rishikesh with 16 cottages on the Ganges. Hopefully it should open by the third quarter of this year. Goa and Jaipur are large projects. These are 25 acres each. We will hopefully start them soon in terms of development.
Trends for 2017: Ankur Bhatia
Aerocity 2017: Last year was not bad at all. There was the convention centre coming next door. That has gotten stalled. There is a lot of demand here in this area. It is not just transitory, but people coming and staying here and using it as their base to explore the city. It is a new destination really. I think GMR is doing a lot to promote it. There is beatification of the area being done. There are a lot of retail options and shops set to open with World Mark and others.
Hospitality post demonetisation: We are waiting for GST to happen to rationalize the taxes. Right now, there is something like 40-45% taxes on tariffs include service tax, excise tax and luxury tax. If this all gets combined into one, then yes it will be beneficial. Regarding demonetisation, I don’t think we got affected, apart from a few marriage events that were booked with us and called off. I think cash is back in circulation. I don’t see much of an impact at all. Hospitality from the aviation side has gone up. Full service airlines have gone up to a very large extent.
Foreigners coming to India: There was a lot of negativity about demonetisation across international media. That does affect the number of foreigners coming in. Right now, we are playing with very small numbers of tourists coming in and I think it has to grow. As an individual and as a hotel owner I don’t think I can make any change in the number of people coming in to the country. Of course, we have our UK sales office that sells India as a destination. Overall speaking there could be a slight decrease in the growth but there will be growth for sure. I don’t see a negative growth.