French hotel chain to open more luxe hotels in country, target no.1 position, says exec.

New Delhi: India should expect to see more luxury hotels of brands such as Fairmont, Raffles and Sofitel in the years ahead besides hotels of other brands from Accor’s luxury and lifestyle division, said Sébastien Bazin, group chairman and CEO of the French multinational hospitality chain and Europe’s largest hotel cha- in. Accor will open 30 hotels in India totalling about 5,500 keys in the next three to five years. The chain current- ly has 62 hotels in India totalling around 11,000 rooms, but that’s not enough, Bazin said.

“We have 2,000 hotels in France and less than 100 hotels in India. Going by the size of the country, we should have well over 1,000 hotels in India. I know this is going to take very long but it should happen in future and is going to be worth it. We will need more Accor employees here across many different layers over time and we will have to give them greater decision making powers,” he said. “India’s a country that shouldn’t be missed. It’s very rare that you have the world’s most populated country growing the fastest for the last five years and a country that’s probably gotiment. We are doing trains, yachts and hotels under this brand. That brand has enormous potential in India. Raffles probably has the most potential as it signifies elegance, heritage and palaces,” he said.

Accor set up its luxury and lifestyle division about 18 months ago and has around 550 hotels and 24 brands including brands such as 25hours, Delano, Mondrian, Ma- ma Shelter and MGallery. It opened Raffles London at The OWO, London’s most expensive hotel last year in association with the Hinduja Group.

“We are number two in the world behind Marriott in luxury lifestyle.

It’s going to take time but we are probably going to be number one,” he said. Accor opened 291 hotels adding 41,000 rooms to its portfolio last year. Bazin said it will open a similar number of hotels totalling around 48,000- 50,000 rooms this year. It hired 120,000 new people last year.

“America belongs to American chains. In China, chains such as Jin Jiang and Huazhu control the show. The rest of the world belongs to Accor. Besides Europe, we are the number one operator in the Middle East, in South America, and in Asia Pacific across markets such as Australia, Korea and Ja- pan,” said Bazin.

He has made a commitment to the shareholders and analysts to grow by 9-12% every year for four years.

“With every passing year, we will be stronger. Travel and tourism is a booming industry and it will grow at around 5% per annum for the next 20 years. It’s not that Marriott, Hilton and Accor are very smart. We are just blessed to see a lot of demand in travel. I have ma- de this commitment to make sure I stay disciplined in delivering the results,” he added.

It’s rare that you (India) have the world’s most populated country growing the fastest for the last five years and a country that’s going to grow the fastest for next five years.

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