The Tatas may be among India’s most respected corporate houses and their Taj Hotels may be our benchmark luxury brand, but they are untouchables as far as Orient-Express Hotels, a super-luxury hotel chain in the US and other countries, are concerned.
<b1>Orient-Express has rejected an offer of strategic alliance from the Tata group’s Indian Hotels Company Ltd, which owns the Taj brand. More importantly, the US chain said associating with the Taj group would harm its brand image. This is the second time that the Tatas have been rejected by the US company.
The wording of its refusal has stirred up India Inc. In reply to Tatas’ proposal, Orient-Express, which owns New York’s prestigious Club 9 Restaurants and luxury hotels, said aligning with Tata’s "predominantly domestic Indian hotel chain" would erode the value of Orient-Express premium brands and "adversely impact" its premium properties.
Reactions have been swift. "This shows a colonial approach, uncalled for at a time when integration is taking place faster and isolation disappearing,” said Venugopal Dhoot, chairman and managing director of the Videocon Group and president of industry association Assocham. "The statement is completely biased against India and smells of arrogance."
The Tatas declined comment, as did the Confederation of Indian Industry.
(Additional input from Agencies)