Sterling Holiday Resorts, a subsidiary of Thomas Cook (India), buoyed by a steadily recovering leisure travel segment, has decided to double its pan-India inventory to 5,000 rooms in the next three years.
Vikram Lalvani CEO and MD of Sterling Holiday Resorts told in an interview, “We are doubling our inventory across the country in next three years to 5,000 rooms. We are now finalising location which has potential for leisure as well as business.’‘
Some of these new locations would include Pench in Madhya Pradesh, Igatpuri in Maharashtra, Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu and Karwar (expansion) in Karnataka. The firm has already announced new properties in Madurai and Kalimpong in West Bengal.
“We are exploring multiple models, including new properties under ‘operate and manage’ model, setting up our own resorts and also expanding existing properties,’‘ he added.
The hospitality player currently operates 37 resorts, with 2,300 rooms, across the country and offers different types of holidays including jungle, beach, rivers and mountains, heritage destinations and pilgrimages.
Explaining what gives Sterling Holiday Resorts confidence to embark on an expansion mode, Mr. Lalvani said, after over two years of complete lull, leisure travel started ramping up from March this year and the trend would continue as a large population was expected to travel within the country, especially when inter state and intra-state restrictions were fully off and also hospitality brands have revamped their hygiene protocol in each of their properties.
The industry overall, he said, has started recovering since March and now reached pre-pandemic levels. Sterling Holiday Resorts itself saw its occupancy rate going up to 73% in the April-May-June quarter, which was a 50% increase over the JFM quarter.
Mr. Lalvani further said, “Market is looking buoyant as of now, we don’t see any sign of recession affecting the domestic travel sector. But there is a bit of inflationary pressure, and we are trying to manage it through better cost optimisation without passing the extra cost to the customers.’‘
On industry outlook, he added, “We are also consciously optimistic as the industry itself is very sensitive to what happens in the environment. However, tailwinds currently are in the right direction.”