India's Country Club chain forays into Middle East

Thursday, 29 May 2008, 05:42 Hrs   |    15 Comments
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Dubai: Leading Indian leisure and infrastructure chain Country Club India (CCIL) Wednesday announced its foray into the Middle East with the acquisition of a four-star hotel property here.

"The acquisition of the Chelsea Hotel marks Country Club's entry into the Middle East," CCIL chairman and managing director Y. Rajeev Reddy said at a press conference here, adding that the hotel has now been re-christened as Country Club Dubai.

He added that CCIL bought the Dubai property in a 165-million dirham ($45 million) all-cash deal.

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE)-listed CCIL's major interest is in the concept of family clubbing and it has 200 properties in India of which 42 are owned while the rest are franchised.

Though the company has another international facility in Kandy, Sri Lanka, it was making Dubai its international headquarters.

"We are making Dubai our international headquarters and it will serve as the hub for our global acquisition plans," Reddy told IANS.

"This city is perfect for us because of its location, congenial business environment and local policies," he said.

Asked if the company was looking at more locations in the Middle East, he said: "As of now we are looking at the United Arab Emirates (UAE)... in the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Fujairah. We see a big future in Dubai and the UAE holds a lot of scope for us."

He added CCIL would also look at other properties in Dubai itself.

"There are plans to have a five-star facility in the Dubai Marina area but these are at a very initial stage," he said.

As for services to be offered in this region, Reddy said that healthcare and well-being were at the top of the agenda.

"Medical tourism in the UAE is at the top of our mind and we plan to have world class health spas across our facilities here."

According to Reddy, the company lays great stress on medical tourism as it was getting great feedback from foreign clients in its health spas in India.

"We have got a lot of clients coming from the Middle East and Europe. Our European guests tell us that the same facilities they enjoy here cost up to six times more in Europe," he said, adding the products on offer in the UAE facilities would come at reasonable prices and give value for money.

To a question about the Hyderabad-headquartered CCIL's other global plans, he told reporters that the Mauritius and southeast Asia were on the company's radar.

"The Mauritius prime minister (Navinchandra Ramgoolam) has personally invited us to set up base in his country," Reddy said.

"The Malaysian government is in touch with us. We are also looking at properties in Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand."

He added that the company was interested in Poland and some other European countries too.

The Dubai acquisition is the latest in a series of acquisitions the company has made in recent times as part of its 1-billion dirham ($272.2 million) strategic acquisition plan.

According to a company statement, in the last four months, CCIL took over properties worth 175 million dirhams ($47.6 million) in cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, New Delhi, Kochi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat.

"Our pan-India growth has been phenomenal. We have been growing at over 100 percent for several years now," Reddy said.

He also launched the Country Club Kool Global Dubai Card, which entitles members to a host of privileges at the Country Club Dubai and other CCIL properties around the world.
Source: IANS
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