Bharat Hotel buys property in London

In line with the latest trend of home-grown hospitality companies acquiring hotels abroad, Delhi-based Bharat Hotels, which operates the Lalit brand of hotels, has acquired a 70-room heritage property in the heart of London.

"We have recently acquired a heritage college, Lambeth College building, in London that will be turned into a hotel. It will be operational within the next three years," said Jyotsna Suri, chairperson and managing director, Bharat Hotels.

However, Suri did not disclose the price at which the property was acquired. "We made a bid for this property that was being eyed by other international players too. There were no Indian contenders," she said. The London property will be a luxury boutique hotel and will be called the Lalit Hotel. This will be the group's second property abroad, with a project already under development in Koh Samui Thailand. The group had a project in Dubai, too, where its JV partner was Nakheel. "The project is defunct now since Nakheel is bankrupt," she said.

Bharat Hotels has earmarked R1,500 crore for expansion by 2015. While R500 crore will be for the expansion of its mid-segment brand of hotel The Lalit Traveller, the balance will be for its luxury brand The Lalit. The group is targeting 17 luxury properties by 2015, of which nine are already operational and will be opening about 25 mid-segment hotels by 2015. The first Lalit Traveller will be opening its doors in a couple of months in Jaipur.

Other hotel companies, too, are eyeing acquisitions abroad with the low valuations in the wake of the Eurocrisis and slowdown.

For instance, Sahara India is planning to acquire 85% stake in Sant Singh Chatwal's flagship property Dream Downtown Hotel in New York through its Mauritius-based subsidiary Aamby Valley. Sahara group is also in talks to acquire The Plaza, a 105-year-old landmark property in New York. In January, Sahara group had also bid for Marriot Hotels in London sold by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

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