If you’ve not yet booked a hotel for the Christmas and New Year holidays, it’s very likely you’ll have to shell out a pile of money for a last-minute booking.
Go-to properties at top national destinations such as Goa, Kerala, Andaman and Rajasthan have reported that rooms under the base (affordable) range are fully booked, with only suites available for guests. Suites typically cost 3-5 times more than base rooms.
Even the Tata Suite at the Taj Exotica, Andaman, for instance, which costs more than Rs 2.5 lakh per night, is not available for New Year’s eve. The 71 other villas on the property, spread across 46 acres on the famed Radhanagar beach on Havelock Island, are also sold out.
Similarly, Aman-I-Khas from Ranthambore, which sells its rooms for $1,200-$1,350 (Rs 90,000-Rs 100,000) per night, does not have any available for December 31. Aman Resorts is an exclusive luxury hotel group with 33 properties in 20 countries.
Standard rooms at another famous luxury property, The Leela Goa, are available but are priced more than double for the final days of December at Rs 31,500 per night against Rs 13,500 for other dates. Suites are priced north of Rs 1,00,000 per night.
All set for peak season
The second half of December and most of January generally constitute the peak period for the hotel and travel industry, with a significant rise in occupancy as well as room rates. With 2020 heavily disrupted by Covid-19, the response to the bookings for this year’s peak season is a welcome sign.
Regional destinations such as Karjat, Lonavala, Kodagu, Kodaikanal and Ooty, to name a few, are not far behind in beating the Covid-19 gloom to keep up with their tradition of reporting a sell-out during the peak season. There are no rooms available at the Radisson Blu Karjat and Alibaug during the December holidays.
Speaking to Moneycontrol, Shwetank Singh, VP- Development and Asset Management, Interglobe Hotels, said: “December and January have historically been good business months for the hospitality industry as the peak domestic leisure segment coincides with the great Indian marriage season. This year we have seen an improved performance from December onwards with good traction amongst the social events with several confirmed events till January-end across the portfolio.”
Despite overall improvement in India’s Covid-19 situation, with the number of cases continuous falling each day, the pandemic continues to remain the biggest challenge in the way of a full recovery by the hotel and travel sector. Some states have brought in new restrictions and costs to curb the pandemic or keep it outside their borders.Until the first week of December, hotel rates were largely lower than last year as most people stayed away because of Covid. But demand has been rising steadily in the last week or so with rates for the Christmas and New Year period and the first half of January largely close to last year, though this is not uniform across the country. Some destinations, such as Jaipur and Agra, still have room rates slightly lower than last year.
Mandeep S. Lamba, President – South Asia, HVS India, said: “In the absence of corporate travel, most branded hotels were relying on the upcoming wedding and holiday season in most part to bridge their revenue shortfall. However, the fresh restrictions imposed by several State governments amidst rising Covid cases are expected to dampen the spirits.”
The Uttarakhand High Court ordered mandatory coronavirus tests of tourists visiting Nainital and Mussoorie. The Maharashtra government has also made it compulsory for visitors from Delhi, Gujarat, Goa and Rajasthan to undergo RT-PCR tests.Rattan Keswani, Deputy managing director, Lemon Tree Hotels, said: “At Lemon Tree we saw an uptick but with the changing evening curfews, RT-PCR test demands in various States, and now the unknown impact of farmer protests, it is an uncertain period.”