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'Being a mid segment player the project cost of the property is extremely important'

Sucheta Goenka, director, Citrus Hotels and Resorts emphasises on the youthful nature of the hotels and how that in itself is their biggest USP. By Sayoni Bhaduri

Please describe brand Citrus?

Sucheta Goenka

Citrus has evolved as a young and vibrant brand. It always connected to the youth. It is a young at heart brand; vibrant, trendy and cheerful, quite unlike what you will find in other hotels. Citrus managers do not wear ties, they are willing to strike up a casual conversation and even help with shopping for a guest's wife.

Citrus menus are never complicated. They are clutter free and you would recognise classics like Fish and Chips to the homely Maggi. We might not have a selection of Champagnes but one will always find one brand of Champagne available and to go easy on your wallet, there are also Indian Sparkling wines.

We are value for money; our mini bar for example is not something which we make money on, it exists for guest convenience only and is therefore very fairly priced with everything just 10-15 per cent above MRP. We give pre-packed breakfast to all our guests if you check out between five am to eight am. Internet is free and with good speed. We make money on rooms, every other thing we would use is an add-on to get a guest to stay with us.

What is your growth plan for the future?

We currently have seven Citrus Hotels and we have 11 more on the anvil. These are all in work-in-progress mode. In fact we are increasing our inventory in our existing locations to cater to demand as well. In the coming years we will see Citrus opening in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Nagpur in business segments and in Tadoba, Pench, Thekkady, Alibagh, Jodhpur and Munnar in leisure segments.

How do the hotels imbibe the local culture of the destinations?

We have properties in both, resort and business districts. The locations are critical and to give a guest a feel of the place is extremely important. In Alleppey we have regular classical dance performances of Bharatnatyam and Mohini Attam. The walls in the rooms have Kerala motifs on them. The furniture goes with the local feel and the cuisine matches as well. In Goa we have live singer by the pool side and in Lonavala we have regular Ghazal evenings.

Our business hotels are in the heart of where the business is. The Pune hotel is five minutes from Tata Motors and close to business hub of Chakan and Bengaluru hotel is across the road from tech-parks like Salarpuria and Prestige Tech Park.

How important is the selection of a destination for Citrus hotels?

We are looking at becoming pioneers in a location but we will have to see that we can drive enough occupancy to sustain the business. Being a mid segment player the project cost of the property is extremely important. It has to be justified.

So about Rs 50 lakh a key for Category B cities and Rs one crore per key in Category A cities is what we look at. In Category C cities, we do anywhere between Rs 25 lakh to Rs 35 lakh a key. The prices are inclusive of land costs. We play the volume game and hence would always want to give our teams the advantage of price when they sell our properties in the market.

What is your opinion on the fact that mid-segment hotels segment has a lot of competition?

I am all for competition. Hotels who do not have quality offerings will definitely fall by the wayside but brands who give quality for price will give them a run for their money.

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