New Year’s Eve parties in five-star hotels don’t come cheap. But if you want to usher in 2016 at one of the top properties in leisure destinations like Goa and Udaipur and are yet to book a room, be prepared to pay a bomb. Hotels like Oberoi, Taj and The Leela in Udaipur are sold out for the New Year’s Eve and the price for a base category room is upwards of Rs 1 lakh a night for a couple. The demand is driven by domestic travellers, as there is a drop in foreign tourist arrivals.
“The domestic segment has picked up significantly this year and for the first time we are seeing close to 40% of our guests being domestic tourists compared with 20-25% last year,” said Rajesh Namby, general manager of The Leela Palace in Udaipur, adding the property is sold out.
With high demand for rooms, premium hotels have made it mandatory for guests to buy coupons for the New Year gala dinner, which costs around Rs 30,000-40,000 for a couple. A base category room at The Leela Palace, Udaipur, is priced Rs 68,000 a night for a couple. Add to that the Rs 38,000 for the gala dinner, and the total goes to over Rs 1 lakh.
Leisure destination hotels bank on Christmas and New Year’s Eve to get a chunk of their business, with tariffs 50% higher than the rest of the year. “While Goa saw a 4% jump in room rates (from last year) for stay on the last weekend of December 2015, cities like Udaipur have seen a huge 35% growth for the same period,” said Amit Taneja, chief revenue officer at Cleartrip. The portal has seen 25% growth in bookings for the New Year weekend over last year. While Russians may have given Goa a miss, it hasn’t damped business for the beach destination’s top hotels, which are 80% booked, and the last few rooms would now come at a premium.
“The number of Russian charters has gone down, but that of the UK charters has gone up and this year we see an equal mix of domestic and foreign tourists,” said Ranjit Phillipose, area director for the Taj Group, which operates four fivestar properties in Goa. Phillipose, who is also the general manager of Taj Exotica Goa, said the hotel expects occupancy of around 82-85% during the New Year, which is in line with last year’s.
Shridhar Nair, general manager at The Leela, Goa, said the lead time for bookings, which used to be 30-35 days, has come down to 7-10 days. “There is tremendous potential to increase the pickup as people now book even 3-5 days prior.”
While leisure hotels have clearly seen a marked rise in domestic tourists, foreign tourist arrivals have seen an 8-10% drop this year. “New markets like Sri Lanka and Vietnam have opened up and they are much more competitive in terms of dollar pricing, which is probably why there has been some movement away from the country into these new markets,” said Nair. The Oberoi Group expects 100% occupancy across its leisure hotels.
“Over 90% of our business is from foreign nationals. Though the foreign business to the country has been very slow, we are still recording 25% growth over last year during this period ,” said Hemant Medirata, vice-president, leisure sales, at the Oberoi Group.