Will the Ashok regain its shine under a new owner?
When it opened in 1956, the Ashok, then known as the Ashoka Hotel, was the nation’s capital’s fanciest hotel, with an imposing facade in a prime location. It has hosted not only world leaders but also Delhi’s cool crowd, with one of the city’s first nightclubs and exotic restaurants serving French and Japanese cuisine.
From stories of Nehru coming on horseback to oversee its construction to a struggling Dhirubhai Ambani storing his luggage with a member of staff as he toured the ministries, the hotel is literally the stuff of legends, its hallways testifying to Guests like rebel Che Guevara, Cuban President Fidel Castro, LTTE leader Prabhakaran and even terrorist Maulana Masood Azhar.
Over the years, as other five-star private hotels opened in Delhi, The Ashok gradually lost its shine, largely due to the sarkari label. Attempts made a decade ago to sell the hotel had to be abandoned due to labor issues and past property contracts. Now that the Centre, which has an 87% stake in hotel parent company ITDC, is consolidating its divestment plans, the iconic property is up for grabs along with two adjacent plots of land of 6.3 acres and 1.8 acres each. According to the sources, the property could fetch the government around Rs 7,500 crore.
Read also| ITDC will hold a roadshow for the monetization of Ashok Hotel on Monday
Allowing for the refurbishment of the hotel and the development of serviced apartments next door, as well as the creation of retail and commercial spaces within the complex should make the property a leading center in the heart of the capital and the hotel a gem again.
While the details of the sale will be finalized after a roadshow planned by India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) on Monday, major hotel players Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) and ITC have reportedly already expressed interest, in addition to players like the DS group.
Industry insiders like KB Kachru, Vice Chairman of the Hotel Association of India and Chairman Emeritus and Senior Advisor, South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group, expect the interest to be “phenomenal”. , with not only major hotel brands, but also real estate and foreign companies. vying for the main property. Considering that one cannot go wrong with the location of the property and the rental model that will ensure a good return on investment, Ajay Bakaya, general manager of Sarovar Hotels and Resorts, expects at least three to six suitors serious that could also include corporate America – the “big boys” – as he puts it.
Believing that a mixed-use commercial development with hospitality and retail uses will make good financial sense for the project as well as the potential investor, Jaideep Dang, MD, Hotel and Hotel Group, India, JLL, said: “It is among the best locations in the country and deserves world-class development. And, today, we have credible Indian conglomerates, including leading property developers, private equity funds and hotel companies, that could join the process.
Emphasizing that the government should be flexible on the project and not impose conditions such as maintaining the original facade of the hotel, which he says will only remove the assessment, Manav Thadani, founder and chairman of consultancy firm Hotelivate, said he was expecting players from the south such as Embassy and Prestige Group or Mumbai and Bangalore to bid for the project, seeking to establish a foothold in the north.
Pradeep Shetty, honorary co-secretary of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India, said he expected several hotel companies to bid for the project, which he said would be a great addition to the city’s tourist landscape.