The Residency : Mulling expansion
Serving a niche clientele, The Residency in Coimbatore has also managed to bring in an attitudinal shift in the city's residents, says its Managing Director.
An impressive frontage
IT WAS an idea that almost went wrong. Though conceived in 1992-93 to meet the needs of the business traveller at a time when the economy of Coimbatore was buoyant, The Residency opened in 1997, when recession had crept in. The 1998 serial bomb blasts added to the gloom. Thrown in a situation where it could do little, the hotel prepared itself for a long haul and to make the best of the situation.
Five years down the line, a relieved Ravi Appaswamy, the 38-year-old Managing Director of the Appaswamy Group, which runs the hotel chain, says there is no cause for regret. With an occupancy level of 60 per cent, the 135-room hotel also manages to pack in the crowds in its two specialty restaurants - Chin Chin and Afghan's Grill, and Coffee Pot, its 24-hour coffee shop.
Ask Mr Appaswamy if he expected the hotel, the second built by the group, to succeed in a city that was known to be conservative in its spending habits, and he admits there has been an attitudinal shift. "The travelling population and those who have recently shifted to Coimbatore look out for a place like this. The city serves as a gateway to Udhagamandalam and Kerala, hence many tourists come in. And, the functions that take place here are value-additions to the town," he opines.
The group's first hotel started in Chennai in 1991 as an economy business class hotel. The third is The Richmond Hotel in Bangalore, started in 2001.
The Coimbatore property won the 1998 edition of the H and FS award for the "Economy Hotel of the year" in its very first year of operations.
Now, the Coimbatore branch is mulling an expansion of Coffee Pot, bringing in the concept of a permanent on-the-spot counter, where the food will be cooked in front of the customer, a private dining room and a children's corner.
Primarily meant for the business executive, the hotel manages to draw the family crowd during weekends and food festivals. So, is there any cut-throat competition with other city hotels to woo visitors? "No," says Mr Appaswamy. "In Coimbatore, the market is small. All the existing hotels have a niche market. Each one of us has our share of clientele. All fall under different pricing segments," he adds.
The tariffs at The Residency here start off at Rs. 2,150 and go up to Rs. 2,995. The taxes are a bit steep though - 25 per cent. The restaurants also seem to have contributed to the attitudinal shift. "Sometimes, our guests complain that the restaurants are crowded.
The locals throng these places. The city's spending power is reflected only in the Food and Beverage (F and B) section, not in the occupancy levels," he avers.
Spend an hour in the lounge and you can see a whole lot of foreigners walking in and out of the hotel. "Foreign collaborators of local companies," Mr Appaswamy explains.
Some apparently go on to stay for more than half a year, in which case the hotel caters to their specific needs.
The chain's fourth hotel, located in Chennai's Pondy Bazaar, will throw open its 175 rooms to the public sometime in March this year.
SUBHA J RAO
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