Hotels hope to jingle all the way to New Year amid Omicron fear | Business Standard News

Clipped from: https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/hotels-hope-to-jingle-all-the-way-to-new-year-amid-omicron-fear-121121300061_1.html

Average daily rates at leisure sites breach pre-Covid levels, say industry executives

Raffles UdaipurA stay from Dec 30 to Jan 1 for two adults at Raffles Udaipur to cost nearly Rs 3 lakh

Waking up to the idea of celebrating Christmas in the picturesque resorts of Udaipur, Jim Corbett or Goa? You could be late! Most of them are fully booked. Try shifting your vacation goalpost closer to the New Year, and you may be in for a small, a very small margin of luck. You can get your desired destination but after paying a premium of 30-40 per cent.

Sample this: Depending on amenities, a two-night stay from December 30 to 1 January for two adults at Raffles Udaipur, including breakfast, can cost anywhere between Rs 2,24,200 to Rs 2,95,000 (taxes included). Spending a couple of nights at Taj Corbett Resort & Spa at Ramnagar in Uttarakhand on these dates can cost Rs 1,00,300 (inclusive of taxes and meals). This is a steep climb from Rs 37,945 (inclusive of taxes and breakfast) that one needs to pay while checking into the property on 15-17 December.

Ideally, a scenario like this should have made hospitality firms laugh all the way to the bank. But with the Omicron looming large, nobody is celebrating yet.

While hotels are in the perennial fear of pandemic-induced advisories from local authorities, travelers are afraid of last-minute changes to their itinerary.

“All of us in the hotel industry are cautiously optimistic. We are following the protocols. Leisure locations at drive-able destinations and stay-cations are doing rather well,” said K B Kachru, vice-president, Hotel Association of India, adding that given the uncertain scenario, it would be premature to comment on the Christmas and New Year booking trends.

Others echoed this sentiment. “It is still early days to see what impact this new variant will have on the industry and we are not currently seeing a surge in cancellations,” said Nikhil Sharma, regional director- Eurasia, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.

As of now, bookings are extremely high at majority of leisure locations, said Nandivardhan Jain, CEO Noesis Capital Advisors. “But I am not sure whether these will hold if the external factors become unfavorable.”

Boxed in by the pandemic, travel-hungry Indians are crawling out to soak in some sunshine and cool chimes. The consequence: Hospitality firms and those in the travel business have more on their plate than they expected.

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Online travel aggregator (OTA) EaseMyTrip had witnessed the advance booking trend in August for travel for the current month (December) jump four times this year when compared with last year, said Prashant Pitti, co-founder and executive director.

“Following the news about the new virus strain, we did see some knee-jerk reactions, leading to a dip in bookings. But bookings started to recover after it was claimed that its severity isn’t high,” he said, adding that average daily rates at leisure locations are 30-50 per cent higher than 2020.

Rajesh Magow, group CEO and co-founder at MakeMyTrip, said the OTA is seeing consumer sentiment improving again. “If the Omicron situation remains under control, we hope to see domestic travel momentum picking up,” he said.

The rates at leisure locations have surpassed the pre-Covid levels, said a hotel industry executive.

Vibhas Prasad, director at Dehradun-based Leisure Hotel Group said Leisure-owned and operated properties in UP, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh have seen the average daily rates increase 15 per cent YoY and 30 per cent over 2019. “As of now the average occupancy across our properties is 60 per cent. We expect to reach optimal levels closer to the events,” he said.

The soaring rates at leisure locations is attributable to a robust demand, which apart from revenge travel, is being fuelled by Saya (auspicious Hindu marriage dates) dates, which has led to brisk demand for destination weddings, said Pitti.With inputs from Aneesh Phadnis in Mumbai.

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