10 December 2015 08:03:48 IST

Easier visa norms make me want to invest more in India: Chatwal

Hampshire Hotels, Castlewood Group eyeing 20 properties in Asia

“My son’s wedding was in India and it was spread across 10 days. We Indians love to spend money on weddings. People need destinations for this,” says Sant Chatwal, Chairman, Hampshire Hotels Management LLC.

The New York-based hotelier is gearing up for the official opening of luxury property Dream Phuket in January, which he believes will become a draw for destination weddings, apart from attracting vacationers.

Chatwal’s Hampshire Hotels has tied up with Singapore’s commercial real estate developer Castlewood Group to jointly develop luxury hotels across Asia, starting with the property in Phuket.

Big plans “We plan to build 15-20 properties in Asia with Hampshire group brands and other brands, which we can develop ourselves. But I don’t think our partnership is going to be limited to Asia,” says Christopher N Comer, CEO, Castlewood Group.

Going forward, the tie-up aims to develop destinations that will be logical and sustainable, Comer says.

“We don’t want a market share, we would rather be the market,” he adds. New properties could come up in Bali and at another island in Indonesia. For India too, Chatwal has plans to develop two properties in Goa and Mumbai. These are, however, not part of the tie-up with Castlewood.

“We are working with a local developer in Mumbai. We may zero in on the Bandra Kurla area, as that’s where the new commercial complex is coming up. We have been in talks with existing hotels in Goa. It’s easier to turn around a hotel than go through the bureaucracy etc,” he says.

The two properties will be developed at $75-100 million each, with the launch scheduled in 2018 and 2019.

“We also have land in Jaipur bought eight years back. We have recently got the approval. A feasibility study is on for viability of the project. Jaipur is also a wedding destination,” Chatwal says.

The Indian-American hotelier is also optimistic on the Indian economy.

“I am very happy that e-visa has been launched. Visa process is becoming easier here, (this) makes me want to invest more in India,” he says, quickly adding that things need to get better in the bureaucracy.

The group currently has a Dream Hotel in Kochi and a Hampshire Plaza in Hyderabad.