Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India is on an expansion mode despite the Covid-19 pandemic, and will look at investing close to Rs 1,200 crore to add 1,500 rooms in its portfolio over the next three to four years.
The chain opened 10 new resorts in fiscal 2021, including four in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan in March. The other locations where it expanded presence in the financial year included the Andamans, Goa and Kerala. It is also looking at acquisitions in the Indian market besides new partnerships in international markets such as London, Phuket and Bali.
“The biggest problem in the hospitality businesses is debt and occupancy. Our occupancies in December touched 85% and were 87%, 84% and above 80% in January, February and March,” Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India chief executive Kavinder Singh said. “We have a member base of 2,63,000-plus. The fact that we have zero debt on our books also helps matters. We don’t need any debt or loans to grow our business.”
Singh, who is also its managing director, said when the chain started out in the pandemic year, it had around Rs 781 crore in cash. By December, this had increased to about Rs 848 crore. “This is despite most of our resorts being shut in April, May and June. We grew cash, we delivered 63% growth in profit after tax in the nine-month period (through December). From Rs 20-odd crore five years ago, we were hovering at around Rs 848 crore in December. We have grown cash. Our profit growth has been 24% CAGR over the last five years. We have added members,” he said.
The chain will add more properties in the April-June quarter this year, Singh said.
The company foresees a boom in domestic leisure tourism in the next five years. “I’m not saying people won’t travel abroad. But people who have been travelling abroad may begin to regularly do one India holiday. Dekho Apna Desh, the Atmanirbhar Bharat programme … all these are making us think why don’t we explore India. India has so much to offer. And that is where our sweet spot is. We were known for creating destinations such as Madikeri, Kumbhalgarh and Binsar and are now on a similar track,” he added.
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts currently has 79 resorts in its portfolio out of which 69 are in India. It has affiliate tie-ups with hotel chains and other brands in markets such as the US.
“We will look at opportunities to grow our resort network in Europe as well beyond the Scandinavian Europe that we are currently actively present in. Despite the pandemic, we look quite comfortable and we hope that the Covid second wave doesn’t become worse than what it seems to be. Vaccination will ensure people will keep travelling and the government has also said that this time, we are far better prepared,” said Singh.
He said the need to explore, travel and the sense of wanderlust in human civilisation would never change. “Travel could be for multiple purposes — to travel and explore, bond with family and friends, relax and rejuvenate, assimilate the local culture, or help a community while holidaying. The need to share and be a part of a community is never going to change,” he added.