The Luxurious Hotels of India: 1840 to 2019 & Beyond

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With a land frontier of 15200kms and a sprawling coastline of 7516kms, India is a country rich with heritage and countless scenic beauties. Since 1498, when Vasco da Gama entered India, the country has attracted people from different geographical regions for various reasons. One factor that is attributed as of the biggest reason for exploring India is Tourism. Today, in midst of 21st century, the Indian hospitality sector is booming at a rapid pace by the influx of new opportunities, the enhanced scope of work, and the rise of native travellers across the country.
A Date With History
Revisiting the pages of ancient India, it was the Buddhist monks who are regarded as the first community to institutionalize the concept of a ‘shelter’ in India. The Mughals and Afghans are credited to build ‘caravanserais’ along the highway and business routes. Post Independence, the first step taken to set up the hospitality sector was started with the evolution of ‘sarais’, ‘dharamshalas’, guest-houses, and nominal hotels. Much later, the concept of hotels with ratings were embraced from the western influence that laid the pathway for the luxurious chain of hotels and resorts in India. In fact, the first-ever western-influence hotel – British Hotel, with a was built in Bombay by Pallonjee Pestonjee in 1840. However, the first luxurious Indian hotel was ‘The Taj Mahal Palace’, Mumbai – built by Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata – a pioneer Industrialist, who founded the Tata group. By the end of the 19th century, multiple luxurious hotels in South India embraced western styles to the core. West End, Palm Beach, Imperial, Elphinstone, Ritz, New Woodland are some of the few.
The Change of the Century
The change of the century was the most decisive turning-point in the Indian perspective, but it carried a special relevance for the Indian hospitality sector. With new avenues opening up, there was a surge as the international, as well as national hospitality brands, started to invest in this sector. The promising platform created a market that paved the way for mergers and acquisitions,  and structures from the British-era were leased and bought by prominent houses. As the affluence of Indian tourism grew by each passing day, this sector witnessed the inflow of global tourists in India that further fuelled the space of luxury hotels and resorts across India.
Indians are known to be very cordial and receptive with guests and hence, maintaining the highest standards of services and impeccable human bonding, the sector had set the right trajectory of growth. Big players like Taj, Oberoi Group, ITC, Lalit Group and more were the torch-bearers in not only meeting the international standards but surpassing them in every possible way! Alongside, international brands like Radisson, Marriott, Hyatt, Accor had entered the Indian sector that led to a win-win situation for the services sector.
Driving on the Fast Lane 
Over the last decade, there has been a noticeable shift that has turned the tables in favour of the luxurious Indian hotels and resorts. There has been a substantial rise in domestic travellers who are not only staying at these elite places but also are spending a lot during their stay at the hotel. This shift has given the luxury hotels a much-needed shot in the arms as the domestic travellers have evolved as the biggest contributors to the revenue of domestic luxury and branded hotels.
As per industry experts, domestic leisure segment has emerged as one of the fastest-growing categories in recent times. Analysis suggests that while international tourists visit Indian for long vacations, Indian tourists prefers to take shorter breaks that are frequent in nature.  The rise of average household income, nuclear homes, online travel agents, greater accommodation options, offers, and discounts are some of the prominent factors leading to this change.
It’s the Start of a Highway 
Alongside being a potential source of employment generator, the rise of these luxurious hotels and resorts have emerged as the key drivers of growth in the services sector. With a collage of epic natural surroundings, modern architecture, colonial structures, backed by a plethora of food options, diverse cultures, India is undoubtedly the preferred tourist destinations for many. Digitalization is the mainstay as the majority of travellers use digital modes to enquire, plan, book, and experience a journey.
It’s a long road ahead for the luxurious hotels and resorts as been situated in the second-largest populous country of the world itself gives countless opportunities that are still untapped. Defining the correct market strategy to stay amongst the best is the need of the hour. As time goes, this sector is due to emerge as one of the biggest contributors to the economy in the service industry.

– Devasish Kanojiya

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