On the sidelines of the inauguration of DoubleTree by Hilton hotel at Kadamba Plateau VIKANT SAHAY met with the Hilton’s senior vice president and Country Head of India, Navjit Ahluwalia to know what plans Hilton has for Goa.
HERALD: What brings you to Goa?
NAVJIT AHLUWALIA: We are here in Goa to open our 18th hotel in India which is DoubleTree by Hilton. This is our second hotel here. Every new hotel is obviously exciting but when it is in Goa, it is even more so because it is such an important location for anybody in India. I mean it is our premium resort destination very well connected across India. We really love the location, the fact that it is on top of this Kadamba plateau you get lots of rooms with great view of the water and a lot of greenery.
HERALD: What has been your experience with the first hotel in Goa?
NA: We launched our first hotel in Goa in 2012 at Arpora and it is doing great business. Goa has a very global market and it is only here that you would see that the market is still growing despite new entrants in hospitality industry coming in. We are also soon coming up with another hotel near Candolim.
HERALD: The competition in stiff, so how is it going to be sustainable?
NA: There is a strong demand growth in Goa. So every year hotels have opened up in Goa and they have all been absorbed by the market. The number of travellers and tourists in Goa is increasing. The demand is definitely growing. Earlier it was just about the North and the South, you decided whether you wanted to go either way but now there are many micro-markets developing and certainly there are different kinds of customers coming for different purposes. You might be coming here to have a wedding or you might want to be closer to the airport, to Panjim so it depends on your intended stay and what your requirement is.
HERALD: As a guest of the hotel, what are the facilities a guest can expect from you?
NA: There are 160 rooms in this hotel. It also includes nine suites and 50 per cent of our rooms are overlooking a river. In terms of banquet spaces, total spaces including indoor and outdoor, we have 10,000 sq feet space which has 4,000 sq ft of ball room. We also have meeting rooms, beautiful lawns etc. So you can cater to different markets and to add on to that we have a nice spa with almost six treatment rooms, one of the largest spas within our DoubleTree brand.
HERALD: Any USP which you have, especially when Goa has so many restaurants?
NA: Apart from the regular sea-food we have also added a twist of Mangalorian food which is not available in the other hotels. We did our bit of research and found out that it is pretty much close to coastal cuisine. So it kind of resonates a bit with Goa. You always have to give a USP. How do you differentiate and create different experience is the most important part for our customer.
HERALD: What is the growth plan of Hilton in India?
NA: I think it is very important that we talk about our growth. In next few years we are looking at doubling our portfolio. Currently we have 18 hotels all over India and now we are hoping for 36. By the end of this financial year, we are supposed to have 20. This is because there is all likely-hood that domestic travelers will increase and we have the opportunities.