Hill Resorts, hotels see demand rise
NEW DELHI : Hotels and resorts in the hills report high demand as early as April and May, which are not generally considered holiday seasons, as summer heat peaks in the plains.
Online tour operators like MakeMyTrip as well as Thomas Cook India claim that northern hill stations outperform their southern counterparts, with Kashmir, Leh, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand recording 45-50% more occupancy than in 2019. Those in the south are growing at 25-30%. This is aided by the fact that the pandemic-induced lockdown and travel restrictions over the past two years have fueled people’s appetite for travel listings as well as non-standard staycations.
Demand for a resort in Gulmarg has been robust with average occupancy over 90%. Vinit Chhabra, General Manager of Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg, said: “We started April on a very positive note with such high average occupancy.”
Online tour operator MakeMyTrip told the company that destinations in Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Leh, Ladakh and Uttarakhand are doing between 45-50% better than in 2019 in terms of of occupancy. “We are already above April 2019 numbers for these locations. Most major cities are doing 25-30% overall and in some cases even 45-50% better than the same time in 2019. Where we are still seeing an increase in demand is the southern hills. Major hill stations in areas like Coorg, Ooty, Lonavala are seeing around 25% growth during this period in 2019,” said Abhishek Logani, Commercial Director of Hotels at MakeMyTrip.
The Kumaon, a luxury resort in Almora in Uttarakhand, is seeing higher occupancy compared to 2019 and expects the coming months to see a further increase in travel demand.
Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa at Thomas Cook India, said that due to strong pent-up travel demand coupled with an unprecedented heat wave, the company is seeing an increase in demand . As a result, the cost of accommodation in popular hill stations is 30-40% higher compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“We have pre-booked and purchased stocks in popular destinations like Kashmir, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Leh-Ladakh, Sikkim and the North East, keeping this demand in mind. This helps us respond to customer requests by offering special availability and rates this season,” he said. Lemon Tree Hotels has seen the fastest recovery in occupancy and average room rates in its leisure portfolios like Srinagar, Corbett and Katra.
A southern luxury resort company, The Tamara, saw 16% growth from 2019 to 2022 at its Kodaikanal property. But his Coorg property has seen growth of more than 55% from 2019 to 2022. “It’s exciting to see our hill station properties, The Tamara Coorg and The Tamara Kodai, almost fully booked for the summer. The opening of domestic and international travel has encouraged travelers to come to their resort,” said Shruti Shibulal, CEO of Tamara Leisure Experiences.