Oberoi notes changes in the definition of luxury

Oberoi Hotels & Resorts provide a subtle blend of service, luxury and quiet efficiency and have received many awards to support this. Ketaki Narain, director of corporate communications spoke to TTN about the company’s plans.
The Oberoi Amarvillas in Agra

What do you think are the new trends hotels across the country must incorporate?
There has been a change in the definition of luxury.

Awareness and experience of global standards in hospitality has increased greatly among luxury travellers.  They are more demanding and discerning as well as more focused in terms of what they expect from a luxury experience. With the definition of luxury becoming customer-centric, service is not expected to just be efficiency but service has to be personalised and genuinely caring – it has to be intuitive and anticipatory.
We have also seen an increasing preference for leisurely travel. Travellers are seeking the unique experience, opportunities to learn a skill, acquire knowledge, create a memory and tell a story. 
The growing awareness concerning the environment is an important factor. 

How popular have spas become? What is percentage of revenue is driven by spas?
Today, a spa in a luxury hotel is as common as a florist.  While the contribution of the spa to the overall revenue of the hotel is not significant – approximately 0.5 per cent to two per cent, this facility is integral to the overall experience on offer to resident guests.  

What are your plans for the Middle East region?
There are four new projects under planning and development in the region. The 254 room Oberoi luxury hotel in Dubai, Two Oberoi luxury hotels in Abu Dhabi and a 30 room Oberoi luxury hotel in the Sultanate of Oman.

What kind of brand recognition does Oberoi have internationally?
Oberoi Hotels & Resorts offer a combination of breathtaking locations, luxurious environs and every modern day amenity together with attentive and warm service, delivered with genuine care. 
Oberoi Hotels & Resorts have been repeatedly ranked among the best in the world. Recently, The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur was rated the best hotel in the world in a readers’ poll conducted by Travel + Leisure.  In the same poll, The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra and The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur were rated 10th and 11th best hotels in the world, respectively.  In another readers’ survey by Condé Nast Traveler magazine, three Oberoi hotels were rated amongst the top six in the world.

What about expansion plans of your luxury hotels in India and internationally?
New projects under planning and development in India include four properties under the Trident Hotels banner including a 436 key Trident hotel in Bandra Kurla, Mumbai, a 320 key Trident hotel at the new International Airport in Bangalore, a 334 key Trident hotel at Cyber City, Hyderabad and a 200 key Trident hotel in Chandigarh. 
Under Oberoi Hotels & Resorts there are plans to open luxury hotels in Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Goa, Banglore and a luxury train which will be built by a Joint Venture company in India. Outside India, we will have new properties in Maldives, two luxury hotels in Bhutan, at Paro and Thimpu as well as the UAE.

Are Arabs changing their travel trends, choosing India over Europe?
India is fast emerging as a preferred year round tourist destination for the discerning international luxury traveller not only because of its cultural and historical wealth, geographical diversity and natural bounty but also because of the options it offers in terms of award-winning hotels offering the ideal combination of luxurious environs, the best of modern amenity and efficient and personalised service.
It is not only the traditional tourist circuits like the golden triangle comprising of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and the beaches of Goa that are popular but other destination like Udaipur, often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’, ‘City of Lakes’ and Shimla, in the Himalayas - the erstwhile summer capital of the British, which are gaining in popularity. 

How important is corporate social responsibility; does the hotel place importance on green issues and sustainability?
The group has always involved itself with initiatives for the betterment of the community. Some of the environment conservation measures adopted at its properties are: introduction of a “Green Team” that continually conceptualises and implements new and innovative ideas to conserve energy and preserve the environment, afforestation drives, use of environmentally friendly products, use of natural fertilisers and treated waste from sewage treatment plants and bio-pesticides adopted across all hotels and resorts, installing rain water harvesting systems, where water for potable use is filtered and sanitised. Noise pollution control and the preservation of air quality are also prime concerns. 
The orientation of the building, maximising the use of natural light, insulation of the roof, use of cavity walls on the exteriors of the building, double glazing of external windows are some of the features of the design of a standard Oberoi & Trident Hilton hotel.
The company is also involved in other initiates like protecting and preserving monuments and heritage buildings in India.
It has initiated the Systematic Training and Education Programme (STEP), the only one of its kind in India, offering opportunities to young people.  Additionally, each of The Group’s hotels has identified initiatives that allow it to contribute to the local community.  For instance, The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, Rajasthan contributes to the maintenance of the 370 hectares Lake Pichola.  The hotel also assisted the Udaipur Municipal Cooperation in revitalising the Doodtalia Lake in the city.