“By 2020, we will have four properties in Kathmandu and will add more than 600 rooms in total” – Prakash Jayadevan
Prakash Jayadevan is the General Manager at Hotel Fairfield by Marriott, Thamel, the first Marriott branded hotel in Nepal. Jayadevan started his career with Marriott at the JW Marriott in Mumbai in 2001 as a Demi Chef de Partie and has over the years worked in various Marriott hotel brands in India. He was part of the pre-opening team in Courtyard Chennai and grew to the position of Director-Food and Beverage before moving as Multi-property Director of Food and Beverage for the Hyderabad Marriott as well as the Courtyard Hyderabad. He also opened the Courtyard Kochi Airport as Hotel Manager before being promoted as General Manager there. Jayadevan’s most recent assignment was at the Courtyard Chennai as the General Manager where he oversaw the first phase of the renovation for the hotel. He graduated from the Institute of Hotel Management, Trivandrum and has also won the International Courtyard Manager of the Year Award in 2008. In an interview with Sujan Tiwari of Business 360, Jayadevan shared his expectations from Nepal, the facilities available in the new hotel and also the future of the Group here.
Please tell us about Marriott International.
Marriott International, Inc. was founded in 1927 by J Willard Marriott senior. The first hotel under Marriott was Twin Bridges Marriott. Today, Marriott International is world’s largest hotel company with more than 6,000 hotels around the world. We have 30 brands of hotels, which helps us position ourselves as a company that has a brand ready for anyone travelling with any purpose. We have the higher segments like JW and Ritz-Carlton which are for those who look for luxury travel experience, and we have Fairfield and Aloft for more affordable experience. Under Fairfield brand, Marriott has 800 plus hotels around the world.
How do you overview the tourism prospect of Nepal?
From what I have known, the tourism industry in Nepal was growing rapidly till 2015 earthquake after which it hasn’t yet been able to come back to the same level. Another thing is that the mix of tourists coming to Nepal has changed lately. There were more Europeans coming in for treks and mountaineering, but lately Chinese tourists are more in number. Tourists coming to see historical monuments have dropped because they have not been fully rebuilt and that has affected the industry. On the other hand, it is heartening to know that Lumbini is doing really well, the Japanese and Sri Lankan tourists are increasing, and Pashupatinath continues to attract Indian tourists. Nepal has a target of bringing in two million tourists in 2020, and I think it is attainable.
Nepal’s tourism is definitely going in the right direction. The infrastructures are getting better, and looks like the load shedding has ended and the roads are getting expanded too. These all are positive signs. After the airports in Pokhara and Bhairahawa will be constructed, Nepal will most probably see a boom in tourism once again. But I am concerned about the development process; it should not be an indiscriminate process and must not degrade the beauty, charm and simplicity of Nepal.
What are the facilities available at Fairfield Kathmandu?
We have in total 115 rooms in the hotel. We have a restaurant named Kawa and a bar by the same name. There is a convenience store named The Market where guests can buy ready-to-eat stuff. There is also a 24-hour gym. In addition, we have two meeting rooms for 20 people each and then there is a business centre on the sixth floor. ‘A stress free travel experience’ is the tag line of our hotel. Our service philosophy is all about taking care of travellers’ stress. And in Nepal it is even more appropriate as tourists coming to Nepal have to get through a lot of connecting flights and the airport is small with a lot of hassles. But once they come into the hotel, we guarantee that their stay with us will be totally stress-free.
As soon as they step in, we provide our best service. Even before arriving at the hotel, our customers can download the Marriott App from which guests can make reservations, know details of the hotel, and it also allows us to know when the guests will be arriving so we can aptly provide service without any hassle. All services that come with the room can be accessed through this app, and the app is available for both Android and ios. A single call will take care of engineering, maintenance, laundry and all other services. Every aspect of the hotel is designed in such a way that stressful elements are taken out.
What can Nepal’s tourism industry expect from a big brand like Marriott?
Along with our world class properties, Nepal can benefit a lot from Marriott International. Marriott has more than 15 million reward members who are our regulars. And among these members, there are avid travellers and trekkers. As we now have a property in Nepal, we publicise about it and Nepal to all our members all over the world. Even if one percent of these people come to Nepal, that will be a huge contribution to the tourism industry of Nepal. We have newsletters in which there is the news of the opening of the new Marriott in Nepal, and it is delivered to each and every member of Marriott. We have a 10 feet video wall in Delhi airport, and we are advertising about the new Fairfield Hotel. So, we have created a lot of awareness about Marriott property and Nepal as well.
Who are the target customers for Fairfield?
For our hotel, we are targeting value-oriented travellers looking for all the comforts at a price they are willing to pay. We will provide luxury at an affordable price. The rooms will be available starting at around Rs 9,000 plus taxes, which is an opening offer. Apart from rooms, we also have various packages to suit every need. We are targeting the locals of Kathmandu for our restaurant. The restaurant will be a place for locals to meet, where people can feel comfortable and have a good time. We want the locals to experience services of international standards. Locals can expect world class food and service here. We are a value oriented brand, and we will be offering a contemporary buffet at a very affordable price which you won’t find anywhere in the city.
What are plans for expansion?
We will have a full-fledged 5-star Marriott in Naxal which will be operational by the second quarter of 2018. We will also be starting Aloft Kathmandu in Chhayadevi Complex in Thamel in 2018. And then there is Sheraton in Kantipath which will offer services by 2020. So, by 2020, we will have four properties in Kathmandu, and will add more than 600 rooms in total.