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‘With our projects underway, we would be India’s fifth largest hospitality firm’

The Indian hospitality industry is driven by realty players working with brands to develop hotel assets across the country. Julian Groom, CEO, DB Hospitality Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Dynamix Balwas Group converses with Rajesh Rodrigues about the company’s plans in this sector and the vision it has in the forthcoming years

Wednesday, October 6, 2010, 11:00 Hrs  [IST]

julian_groom.jpg

Q: What was the objective when DB Hospitality Pvt Ltd, the hospitality arm of DB Realty was launched in 2006?
A:
We already had hospitality base within the parent company. However, since the company had long-term plan in the hospitality sector, we decided to start a new arm to fully focus on it. We have our interests not only in the luxury but also in the high-end segment. Over the last four years, we have managed to get prime sites for development. At the same time, the economy has turned around and the prospects of this business looked very positive. We believe that the future of the hospitality sector in India is bright. As a Group, we are looking at investments in this sector for a long-term.

Q:  DB Realty has been in the hospitality sector for a long time now. Do you have any plans to launch your own brand?
A:
  We have been in the realty business for very long and our core strength lies in development. So we will stick to the core strengths and let professional management companies operate our hotels. This will include both international and domestic brands. We are in constant touch with them for all our projects. Besides that, as a principle, we do not make any announcements regarding our projects or plans till all permissions, funding, clearances and strategies are in place.

061010_i_1.jpgQ:  Please enlighten us with the status of the much talked project ‘India Towers’.
A: 
Recently, we have received the required legal permissions for this project in South Mumbai. It is aimed to be the second tallest building in the world; a mixed-use development with retail, a custom-designed residential-style Park Hyatt hotel and serviced apartments, and long-lease and duplex penthouse condominium apartments. It will be ‘United States Green Building Council’ (USGBC) LEED Gold-rated project. The uniqueness of this project is that it will be designed to have the least possible impact on the environment. The tower will integrate current innovative sustainable systems and technologies throughout the building – solar shading, natural ventilation and lighting, rainwater harvesting and green interior finishes and materials – to make it one of the greenest skyscrapers in India. This project will cost in excess of Rs 2,500 crore.

Q:  What are the challenges that you face in the Indian market?
A:
Besides the usual problems and delays faced in getting permissions for a project, we have often faced problems of talented manpower. To combat the same, we have taken advantage of the downturn in the Middle East and have brought back experienced and talented Indian and expatriate professionals, with specialised skills, to give momentum to the company so that we can deliver on time. Most of our projects are structurally unique and thus we need these specialised skills. Other than that, logistics and imports of goods and services are still a problem. Though there has been some improvement they need to be further simplified and eased.

Q:  What has DB Hospitality chalked out for the next few years?
A: 
We aim to be a significant player in the Indian hospitality market. Currently, there are nine properties underway and with the openings of these hotels, we would be the fifth largest hospitality company in India with 3,000 rooms. At present our current billing is at USD three billion. Depending on the market conditions and our future plans, we might also go in for an IPO. We are also looking at operating restaurants at major Indian airports. It all depends on the opportunity that exists and we also want to grow in our air catering business.

 
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