Asmita Mukherjee | Hyderabad
Larisa Hotels & Resorts – a 22-key boutique property brand started its journey in 2015 with its first property in Manali. The brand believes in exclusivity and considers its people as an integral part of its growth. While explaining their growth journey Priya Thakur, Founder, Larisa Hotels & Resorts said, “After seeing a lot of success in Manali, we went on to open in Goa, Mussoorie and Shimla subsequently.” Moving forward with an ambitious spirit, the brand is planning an aggressive expansion in the southern region of India in the near future .
Thakur believes in growing slowly but steadily. Most of the properties that have been introduced by the brand are because of the fantastic response that it has received from consumers. She believes that consumers are the catalyst which fuelled Larisa’s growth.
Thakur gave an example of the effect of consumer response on their growth by saying, “After a fantastic response to our Morjim property in Goa, we decided to open another exclusive resort in North Goa – Larisa Resort Ashwem. The property boasts 2.5 acres of gorgeous Goa greenery and simple elegance.”
While speaking about their near term ambitions, Thakur stated that Larisa is currently targeting properties in the extreme northern locales such as Rajasthan, Varanasi etc, and has plans to target South India in the future. “In the next 10 years, we plan to increase our portfolio aggressively in South India,” she added.
The brand which is self-funded and follows a mixed business model is planning to go asset-light in the future. “We are looking to bring in strategic and financial partners along with raising debt as and when required. Currently, all our projects are self-funded. However, going forward we are working only on asset-light properties,” informed Thakur.
As the industry is seeing higher growth amongst domestic travellers, various small and boutique properties have mushroomed to capture the huge market luxury boutique hotel segment. Speaking on the challenges that Larisa faces from the same segment, Thakur commented, “All markets where we exist currently are all very popular destinations. Competition is there across all the markets, however, Goa has seen a lot of new options with various hotels, resorts and villas opening. In my opinion, one has to stay true to their beliefs; in our case we believe that customer experience is our utmost priority.” However, Thakur mentioned that locations are Larisa’s USP. “We try our best to create & curate memorable stays for our guests. Choosing the correct location has always been another priority for us, which also gives us an edge over our competitors. All our properties are a bit away from the hustle and bustle of the main city area, so people prefer to come and enjoy their stay at our property. We are preferred by travellers for our luxurious ambience, nature trail, amenities, and local food. We also hire local staff to make sure to support the local community,” she added.
The brand is also contemplating on expansion in consulting and F&B businesses along with taking their business operations to a new country. Thakur stated, “We intend to open 1-2 properties every year. Our aim is to have more than 10 properties under the brand in the next five years. Two upcoming properties are Larisa Goa – Ashwem and Nubra. We definitely want to go global and have an international presence, especially to locations which are in the range of 5-7 hours travel distance. We aim at being Larisa enterprises, providing hospitality, consulting, FnB services, etc.”
COVID-19 has taken the world by surprise and has had a decisive impact on the hospitality industry. During those trying times, Larisa survived and learned the lesson through the setbacks, Thakur said.
“As Covid came with its own challenges and setbacks for the hospitality industry. We have sailed in the boat as others but fortunately have sustained due to the strategies and support from our colleagues. There were negative as well as positive learnings. We have learnt to sustain and manage in difficult times and it has been a huge learning curve. On a positive note, we got time to do self-introspection,” she concluded.