PRIYANKA SAXENA RAY
How has the year 2023 been for your brand in terms of occupancy and ARRs?
We witnessed a 21.5% growth in the overall revenues in Q1 of 2023. However, there has been a slowdown in Q2, especially because of the weather conditions in the hills where we have a large inventory. We are hoping that the business will pick up in Q3, which looks very good on paper right now, especially because we are receiving great business from MICE, weddings, corporate and travel trade. August onwards, the European markets, which form a large segment of our client base, also become active and this seems to be the case this year as well.
What steps are you taking to firm up your footprint (of jüSTa Hotels & Resorts) in the luxury resorts space in India?
We have worked very hard over the last couple of years to redefine the ‘jüSTa’ brand and its offerings. We have moved away from the city hotel model for this brand and have instead focused extensively on resorts and retreats. As a result, since October 2020, we have opened 10 luxury resorts and retreats under a revenue-sharing model.
We have also emphasised on delivering great experiences to the guests and offering them the best-in-class modern amenities and personalized service at par with the best luxury hospitality brands in the market.
A lot of effort has been made into brand development as well as strengthening our sales and digital marketing efforts, with a special focus on the B2B market. The results have been great with almost all agents looking for a resort experience now reaching out to us.
Have you added any feature/facility/renovation to your property? Or any expansion planned for the near future?
Upgradation has been happening at jüSTa Rajputana Resort & Convention Centre in Udaipur and the property has been overhauled in a big way. We have also started investing in renovating the jüSTa Lake Nahargarh Palace in Chittorgarh. We are adding rooms at jüSTa Rasa Retreat & Spa in Rishikesh, jüSTaSajjangarh Resort & Spa in Udaipur and jüSTa Birding in Dharamshala.
Is your hotel brand following any sustainability / eco-friendly measures or adapting any means to give back to society?
While we are not 100% sustainable, we are taking firm steps towards adopting sustainable and eco-friendly practices at our hotels. We are trying to reduce single-use plastic by using natural spring water instead of bottled water at most of our properties. Most of the staff at our hotels are locals, we procure most of the ingredients locally and encourage our guests to try local cuisines as well as cultural experiences. One of the biggest environment-friendly initiative that we have taken recently is the tree plantation drive at our hotels in Rajasthan. During this monsoon season, we are planting over 2,000 trees at five of our properties in Rajasthan.
Are you more focussed on the domestic market or Inbound or a mix of both?
The pandemic has taught all of us in the hospitality business the value of domestic clientele and even though inbound travel is back, I don’t see us shifting our focus completely to that segment. In fact, MICE, weddings and corporate segments are major revenue generators for us. Going forward, I would like all our three brands – jüSTa, Bookmark Resorts and NUO – to focus equally on both inbound and domestic markets.
In terms of trends, what is ruling the hospitality sector at the moment – Leisure, FITs, Weddings, MICE, Staycations? What kind of traffic do you get at your property?
In terms of revenue, weddings and MICE are holding the pole position. With the picking up of the international travel trade and the foreigners coming back, I think FITs – Indian or foreigner – will hold a large portion of giving you the base to work with. As far as the traffic at our properties is concerned, around 35-40% of our business consists of weddings, MICE and F&B.