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ITC makes debut with luxury hotel in Colombo

 

After more than a decade in development, ITC’s debut overseas hospitality venture is set to welcome guests. The Colombo project, named ITC Ratnadipa, conceived in 2012, will commence operations from April 25, overcoming numerous obstacles that delayed the INR 2,775-crore luxury endeavor.

Spanning 5.86 acres, the project comprises a 350-key hotel and a luxury residential development called Sapphire Residencies. Situated to provide stunning views of the Indian Ocean and Beira Lake, the mixed-use development is spearheaded by WelcomHotels Lanka (Private) Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ITC.

Sanjiv Puri, Chairman, ITC, described the forthcoming opening as a milestone event, stating, “Our first property outside India is going to open in Colombo on the 25th of this month. It is an iconic property in Colombo.”

The 30-storied hotel and 50-storied residence, connected by a skybridge 100 meters above ground, represent an engineering marvel. The project has been designated as a ‘strategic development project,’ granting ITC various fiscal benefits in Sri Lanka and exemption from foreign exchange regulations.

Despite facing challenges, including disruptions caused by the 2019 terror incidents and the COVID-19 pandemic, the project has persevered. ITC acknowledged these difficulties in its 2023 annual report, stating, “Project construction activity was adversely impacted by challenging socio-economic and operating conditions prevailing in the country.”

The project’s launch precedes the proposed demerger of ITC’s hospitality business by the year’s end. While the Colombo project remains a company-owned property, ITC has shifted its strategy to an ‘asset-right’ model, focusing on managing assets under contractual agreements.

“We have opened 25 properties in the last 24 months, and there is a huge pipeline of new properties, less of our own and more of management contracts. We will continue to focus on the asset-right model,” Puri emphasised to LSG members.

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