"We see India as one of the prime countries for growth and development of our brand," said Sami Zoghbi, Le Meridien's regional managing director for the Middle East and West Asia (MEWA). "The addition of these three properties to our portfolio is very much in line with our target to double the number of properties in the MEWA region by the end of 2004."
Le Meridien already manages properties in the six major gateway cities including Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Mumbai, Pune, and New Delhi (2).
In Ahmedabad, Le Meridien has made its first foray into the Indian state of Gujarat. The 63-room city centre Le Meridien Ahmedabad offers panoramic views of the Sabarmati River.
"With the brand promise of the Le Meridien name, the hotel in Ahmedabad has already attracted considerable attention in the market," said Shahid Balwa, chairman of Associated Hotels Limited, owners of both the new property as well as the elegant Le Royal Meridien Mumbai.
As the area's only hotel to cater to both business and leisure travellers, Le Meridien Ahmedabad offers a health club with indoor swimming pool, restaurant, lobby bar, 24-hour coffee shop, business centre, limousine airport pick up, and the city's only discotheque. Conference and meeting facilities include three meeting rooms.
Le Meridien Kovalam Beach Resort is due to open in November this year and is the first five-star beach resort in Kerala. Featuring 144 rooms, 40 cottages and four suites in the adjacent Halcyon Castle. The resort occupies a prime site in Kerala and additionally boasts a health club, Ayurvedic spa and three swimming pools. Guests will also have the choice of three restaurants, including a poolside grill and bar.
There will be a Convention Centre for up to 500 delegates offering a range of meeting rooms.
The property is owned by Kovelam Hotel Limited. Company Chairman P. Mohamed Ali said: "Kerala has been gaining global recognition as a beach resort of unspoilt beauty, and we are delighted to be able to contribute to its development as a destination for international travellers with a luxury resort such as Le Meridien Kovalam Beach." Ali is also chairman of the owning company of Le Meridien Cochin Resort & Conference Centre, also in Kerala.
Finally, due to open in December of this year, the new 120-room Le Meridien Jaipur will be a haven of tranquillity, surrounded by lush green fields and nestled within 13 acres of landscaped gardens. It is located 25 km from Jaipur International Airport, 13 km from Hawamahal Palace, and just 6 km from the historic Amer and Jai Garh Forts.
Also designed for both business and leisure travellers, facilities and amenities at Le Meridien Jaipur will include a fully equipped health club, spa treatment and meditation rooms, games room, 42-seat cinema, golf putting green, high speed internet access, business centre, large guestrooms and bathrooms with walk-in showers and a Penguin Club with daily activities for children.
In addition, the hotel will offer two restaurants - featuring multi and Indian cuisines - and a bar and discotheque.
Meeting facilities include a ballroom accommodating up to 600, additional meeting room for 50, and a boardroom. The property also boasts lush outdoor venues for meals and receptions.
The property is owned by Mr S. S. Sharma, a prominent businessman who also owns two other hotels in Jaipur and Goa. "We have built this new hotel to provide international standards of service in the city of Jaipur to meet the needs of the increasing number of international visitors to the country," said Mr Sharma, "and we are delighted to be part of Le Meridien family".
"India is a growing market and these three new and very unique Le Meridien properties will further strengthen our position in both the leisure and business marketplace for inbound and domestic travel," Zoghbi said.
Le Meridien currently operates 29 city and resort hotels in its Middle East and West Asia division, and has outlined a rapid expansion strategy for the area in recognition of its potential for both commerce and tourism development.
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