Ananta Hotels & Resorts Aims To Own And Operate 50 Hotels Within Five Years

With 25 properties in the country currently, Ashutosh Goyal wants to expand the company’s footprint further by developing luxury resorts in offbeat areas that connect international and domestic guests with the local culture
Ashutosh Goyal, director, Ananta Resorts
Ashutosh Goyal, director, Ananta Resorts

As an avid traveler and third-generation hotelier, Ashutosh Goyal recognises the importance of having fresh and soft bed and bath linen in his hotel room. After all, people visit hotels to relax and unwind, and these accoutrements enhance the quality of their stay. Goyal himself is very particular about the quality of the bed and bath linen he uses, and which available in properties run by Ananta Hotels & Resorts.

To enhance this experience, he started Lavender, a laundry service for upscale hotels and households, which caters to over 20 properties pan-India. “Additionally, we infuse a hint of lavender fragrance, known for its anti-anxiety properties in the fabric. My vision is to expand Lavender across hotels that prioritize quality,” he claimed.

These small touches make all the difference in the world of hospitality. It is something that the 27-year-old learned whilst watching his father and grandfather slug it out during their years of building Ananta Hotels & Resorts.

“We started as garment exporters and had no prior knowledge of the hospitality industry. However, our experience of onboarding Radisson Jaipur City Centre in 2001 enlightened us about the significance of establishing our own brand,” he recalled.

Interestingly, before officially joining the family business, Ashutosh chose to roll up his sleeves and gained firsthand experience at The Ananta Udaipur, where he worked in every department for at least two weeks. It was while working in the housekeeping department, that he realised the importance of maintaining crisp bedsheets by making the beds himself, which prompted him to introduce the ‘Lavender’ laundry service for other hotels.

While studying in the USA, Ashutosh received job offers coincidentally in the hospitality sector, including from brands like Sheraton New York and placement in the Marriott Bonvoy program at Westin Maldives. However, he chose to join the family business in August 2019 during its expansion mode. He started in the crucial procurement and marketing departments, which were best aligned with his expertise,  under his grandfather’s mentorship.

In 2019, following the success of their hotels in Pushkar and Udaipur, the promoters took the strategic decision to form a company primarily focused on franchising and management. Since then, they have onboarded eight properties, each operating under a different model.

The Goyal family also realised that many hotel chains in Rajasthan aimed to offer a local experience to international guests. Hence, Ananta Hotels & Resorts decided to flip the narrative—they chose to provide an international standard experience to domestic travelers. Setting themselves apart from competitors, it allows them to bridge a notable market gap by offering luxury resorts that authentically immerse guests in local culture and the natural environment.

Since most of Ananta’s projects are greenfield constructions, the company is trying to balance internal and external funding to support this capital expenditure. It has introduced an investment model wherein investors can purchase a key under a perpetual lease agreement. Ashutosh revealed that this approach provides investors with annual returns and includes additional benefits like complimentary room nights and discounts on food and beverage services.

Many hospitality companies are increasingly opting for the asset-light route to optimize their operations and reduce their costs. Since Ananta has been focusing on the franchise model, it is in the process of becoming an asset-light company.

“Our emphasis has been on renewable energy and sustainable consumption, as we are integrating solar and wind energy across our properties. Moreover, we are also delving into digitalization to enhance productivity,” Ashutosh added.

The company’s portfolio of 25 hotels comprises three properties under the Elite category, two properties under the Express one, with the remainder under Inn. The decision to categorize properties is based on factors such as past performance, location, and the number of rooms.

The promoters’ primary focus has been to enhance and expand its properties to have complete control over them. However, to align with its vision of having multiple properties across the country, it does realise the merits of having a strong presence in franchising, revenue sharing, leasing, and management. Hence, it is actively seeking stakeholders with a strong hold in the hospitality industry in states other than Rajasthan.

Last year, Ananta Hotels & Resorts expanded its presence beyond Rajasthan, venturing into Goa and Gujarat. Currently, it is actively pursuing further expansion in states such as Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

“We remain committed to enhancing our existing brand, yet in response to the current demand trends in spiritual, wildlife, and wellness tourism, our strategic focus will be on these areas for the next couple of years,” Ashutosh revealed.  

The hospitality landscape changed significantly post-COVID, and many hotel companies are getting into the smaller boutique resort business because it offers better margins and lower operational outflow. Since its inception at the turn of the century, Ananta has tried to build or acquire properties with 50 or more rooms. It is now looking at smaller boutique properties, especially in mountain or valley regions, which will help it establish the brand’s presence pan-India.  

“Ananta has always been synonymous with being surrounded by lush greenery, so when considering any property, we prioritize this aspect. We are open to both options: buying a property, refurbishing it, and working on a revenue-sharing model, or taking it on a long-term lease,” Ashutosh claimed.

He cites the examples of the newly-launched 30-acre wellness resort in Ajabgarh with 144 keys and the Jaisalmer property featuring indigenous materials and a distinctive dune-shaped structure. Garnering two international awards, the latter encompasses 35 acres and boasts 180 keys. With instances like these, the company is trying to showcase the hidden gems of India by establishing properties in off-beat locations rather than popular areas.

“Additionally, I am keen on streamlining procurement for hotels and restaurants. I am in the process of creating something akin to an Amazon for hotels,” he claimed. “I believe procurement is highly unorganized and underrated, yet it is the core of all hotels. Streamlining it would save costs and enhance quality.”

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