Hospitality Firm Tamara Banks On Religious Tourism We have already positioned projects to be developed in Kumbakonam, Guruvayur and Velankanni, says, Shruti Shibulal, CEO, Tamara Leisure Experiences
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Having tripled its capacity in the last five years, Shruti Shibulal, CEO, Tamara Leisure Experiences Pvt. Ltd., is bullish about expansion across all segments. Tamara houses three brands at present - The Tamara Resorts ( luxury segment), O by Tamara ( upscale business properties) and The Lilac Hotels ( mid-segment chain). "We recently opened a 141-room hotel property – O by Tamara in Coimbatore last month. This property was acquired last year and completely renovated before its launch. With the opening of this property we also surpassed a milestone of having over 1,000 keys - a goal that we were aiming to achieve by 2025 but were able to exceed far ahead of schedule," said Shibulal.
Religious tourism also plays a significant role in upticking sales. "Eyeing this increase in demand for affordable, thoughtful hospitality across temple towns, we have already positioned projects to be developed in Kumbakonam, Guruvayur and Velankanni. We are also in the process of beginning our first project in Bodh Gaya, Bihar where we have already acquired land."
The CEO is specifically looking at an asset-light expansion model for the Lilac Hotels, with which it is actively looking to get into management contracts. For the luxury segments, Shibulal has far reaching plans. Most recently, it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Kerala's Tourism Department to develop comprehensively eco-conscious projects that will be credited as being green initiatives. "One of these projects is the upcoming luxury houseboat resort in Alleppey. This resort will integrate end-to-end principles of green tourism including a focus on local recruitment and the use of biodegradable, vernacular material to support native economies, a closed-loop waste management system to preserve local resources as well as a plan to repurpose surplus construction materials that will reduce negative ecological impact," she said.
Talking about international expansion, she added, "At present we are in the process of identifying and acquiring both land and suitable properties in Germany."
Business hotels and the mid-segment chain, in particular, are doing well. There is considerable resurgence in business travel, MICE and wedding bookings at these properties. In recent times, the luxury segment has faced a few challenges. During the pandemic and early post-pandemic era revenge travel fuelled strong demand for domestic getaways to luxury retreats. However, as the world has opened up, travellers have access to many more international destinations which has slightly shifted focus away from domestic luxury travel. "We do continue to see robust occupancy rates across all segments during festive seasons," she explained.
The financial sustainability will encompass lean asset models, socio-economic sustainability such as continuing to source from local vendors and using vernacular materials, and environmental sustainability such as innovative solutions to reduce carbon footprints. Shibulal is also looking to further diversify the portfolio geographically. There is an active focus to move into the northern and northeast states of the country. "Our focus remains on creating distinctive experiences that are authentic to the culture and heritage of the region where each property is located. From a marketing perspective, for instance, we have a clear mandate to attract international guests at our NABH certified Ayurvedic hospital and resort, Amal Tamara in Alleppey. We are working towards this through tie ups with international travel agencies combined with PR and digital marketing campaigns," she added.