The Leela eyes big

The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts’ hotel in Gandhinagar will be the first luxury hotel in India to be constructed at the airspace of a railway station.

Kanchan Nath

With the latest addition of Mahatma Mandir and The Leela Gandhinagar to the group’s portfolio, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts has reinforced its plan to expand into the international conferences and events space, underscoring its asset-light growth strategy. Elaborating on the same, Vivek Nair, Chairman and Managing Director, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts and Executive Committee Member, FHRAI, said, “The Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Center is a facility for 6,000 persons and has about 10,000 square feet of exhibition space. The location of Mahatma Mandir is also very important. This was set up about four years ago and run by the Gujarat government. It was felt that the standard of excellence was not maintained at the property. Therefore, the facility needed to be run professionally. Top hotel operators in the country and abroad were invited for bids. We were the ones who won the bid in September last year. We started operation of the facility from April this year.”

The convention centre as well as the hotel have been funded by a joint venture of the Ministry of Railways and the Gujarat government. Leela Gandhinagar is the first luxury hotel in the country to be constructed at the airspace of a railway station and will be built 25 metres above ground. The logistics issue of bringing people, especially if there was a conference of 6,000 people, was realised.

International projects

Elaborating on the brand’s foray into the international market, Nair said, “A number of dignitaries and royals from the Middle East have stayed with us, especially at our Chanakyapuri property. We plan to have an 80-room Leela Palace there and two other service apartments. The construction of that has just begun. We want to take that on a fast-track basis and it should be ready in two years. Then we have a project in Dubai itself on the Jumeirah beach, very close to the Four Season’s hotel and one in Business Bay, which is in Burj Khalifa. We have recently entered a contract to develop a property in Nha Trang, Vietnam. This is going to be the destination’s finest hotel, a large property which is currently
under development.”

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