Priyanka Saxena Ray
Mr. Radhey Tawar, who has been with the Cinnamon Hotels group for about two years now shares that this is the first time that he has seen normalcy return to the pre–pandemic levels. In an exclusive chat with BOTT, he talks about opening the group’s biggest hotel in Colombo, the importance of India market for the group and how MICE travel is bouncing back.
India: An Important market
This is the most exciting time for us at the Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts in Sri Lanka since the pandemic – it has been a very strong rebound, especially from the India market, which has been one of the most important markets for us, keeping the proximity in mind. It is a very well-performing market and is currently our No. 1 market for tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka this year thus a very important market for Cinnamon Hotels also because we are the largest hospitality group in the country as get around 15% of the total tourist arrivals to the country and we would like to take this figure up.
Existing portfolio in Sri Lanka
In Colombo, we have three well-established hotels and within the country, there are 8 resorts, which makes Cinnamon Hotels the hospitality chain with the largest inventory in the country. We have a variety of properties – like 2 properties along Bentota Beach, then Cinnamon Wild for wildlife enthusiasts close to the Yala National Park, which is one of the densest leopard-forests outside Africa. We have the Trinco Blu Resorts along the East Coast. Then we have hotels in Kandy and two small resorts – Cinnamon Lodge and Cinnamon Village in Habarana.
Cinnamon Life Integrated Resort
Scheduled to open in Colombo next year, the Cinnamon Life Integrated Resort is a city icon and integrated lifestyle complex which will include two residential towers, a mall and an office tower. It will be home to two hotels featuring 800 guestrooms and suites, 15 restaurants and bars with live entertainment in the evenings, 2 wellness centres, a kids’ club, 80,000 sq.ft. of events and meetings space, and 4 swimming pools (including one private spa pool).
The Hotel is set to open in August 2024 and will also include a casino, operated by an international license holder and operator. State-of-the-art event spaces include separate conference lobbies, spacious pre-function areas, an extensive car park, five unique venues range from a striking pillar-less ballroom that can seat up to more than 1,000 people to an exclusive cantilever space on Level 22.
The interest is Indian Weddings is mutual – from the customers and us. Our flagship resort in Cinnamon Bentota Beach attracts a lot of Indian weddings, for example, this year we are targeting 12 weddings, out of which 6 are confirmed. These weddings come from all over the world – NRIs living in US, Africa, UAE or in India. I think we will cross the target of 12 weddings very soon. We also have an Indian Chef at the property and most of these weddings are buyout events. MICE Travel is another big sector for us and Sri Lanka is the hub for it. These conventions bring in a lot of industry partners.
Sustainability, CSR or ESG is important for us and helps us to show our commitment to transparency and management approaches to non-financial impacts.
Cinnamons ESG program is guided by 3 pillars;
1. Well-being of our planet
2. Empowering and well-being of our people & communities
Some of our ‘Key Initiatives’ include –
Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts’ commitment to under 2025 Goal to eradicate single-use plastic(guest-facing) by 50%. To date, Cinnamon Maldives resorts have eradicated over 86% of single-use plastic (guest-facing).
Biodiversity loss is closely interconnected with climate change. Flagship project ‘CinnamonRainforest Restoration project’ in collaboration with Sri Lanka Forest Department, RukRakaganno and John Keells Foundation, aims to restore a degraded 50-acre plot of forest land in the buffer zone of Sri Lanka’s Sinharaja Rainforest, over a period of three years. Thereafternature will take over the regeneration process. Additionally there are Biodiversity Management Plan assessments that are conducted periodically.
Crisis Response Initiative including a Food Security Programmes:
Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts has empowered over 1000 households with home gardens impacting over 4000 persons and has empowered 27 farmers with Good Agricultural Practices and farming techniques in locations where our local resorts are located.
Waste Upcycling & Social Empowerment:
Making waterproof beach bags using recycled umbrella cloth. The sale of the bags supports students at schools from inhabited islands in the Maldives, in providing them with a personalised aluminium water bottle – to reduce plastic.