Mumbai, Aug 21, 2010

Accor's designer hotel 'So' set for debut

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French hospitality major Accor is introducing a new hotel brand- So-in the Indian hospitality market. The first hotel in India will come up in Mulund, a Mumbai suburb. Uttam Dave, president and chief executive officer, InterGlobe Hotels, told DNA Money that So is a sister design brand of Accor's luxury offering called Sofitel.

"It's a totally new concept in the global hospitality market. India is the only country after Bangkok and a few locations in Europe where we have committed a So hotel as of date," said Dave.

Dave said Accor will be very selective in expanding the So brand in India.

"It's a very niche product and there are only 3 to 4 cities in the country that would qualify," he said.

The So hotel in Mulund will also have a Sofitel hotel adjacent to it. Work on the 180-room designer hotel and a little over 200-room Sofitel is expected to start soon.

The So and Sofitel hotels will add over 400 keys to the Mulund hospitality market, which currently has no presence of any of the reputed Indian or global hospitality majors.

While Accor has set itself a target to launch both the hotels sometime in 2013, a lot will depend on the Nirmal Lifestyle promoters (its realty partners) to ensure the hotel meets the set timeline.

Accor and Nirmal Lifestyle came together in December 2006 to develop Mumbai's largest cluster of hotel developments along with a large convention centre facility at the Mulund location.

The Accor hotel brands to come up at the development included two Sofitel hotels and one Novotel, Ibis and Grand Mercure Residence hotels.

Accor had signed a management agreement with realtor Dharmesh Jain, chairman and managing director, Nirmal Lifestyle, in 2006 for the five hotels with an overall inventory of 1,000 guest rooms.

The hotels were to come up by 2011-12 at an overall investment of around `1,000 crore. But not one hotel has come up since four years of the announcement.

Meanwhile, work on Accor's flagship Sofitel hotel at Bandra Kurla Complex is progressing well and the property is currently in the fit-out stage.

The 311-room five-star hotel is now expected to hit the market by mid 2011 against the earlier schedule of 2009.

Industry sources said the overall development plan of this hotel had to be reworked to make the hotel suitable for Indian environment.

The entire project cost had to be reworked and there has been an escalation from the original plan, sources said.

Accor has partnered with Shree Naman Hotels Pvt Ltd, the hospitality arm of real estate firm Naman Developers, for this property.