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Suite Case

It’s like living at home but some thousands of miles away. Serviced apartments provide expats the ambience, facilities, space — and even a kitchen if you wish to cook. Manoj Sharma reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 20, 2009 23:22 IST
Manoj Sharma

Tony R. Daft, an engineer from London, came to India two-and-a-half months back to work on a Delhi Metro project. Looking pretty relaxed, he made himself tea in the kitchenette of his apartment, his “home”, half-an-hour after coming back from his office in Noida.

But his one bedroom apartment is not just like any other residential apartment in your neighbourhood — it’s a serviced apartment situated in Savoy Suites, a complex of 44 serviced apartments in Noida.

Daft’s apartment has a living room with a sofa, a working table, a bookshelf; a kitchenette equipped with microwave, toaster, electric kettle, fridge and cutlery.

“My job has taken me all over the world, but I never stay in hotels, especially if I am in a city for a long time. In a serviced apartment, I get much more living space, the atmosphere is relaxed and informal,” he said.

“You can bond with other guests as most of them stay for long periods.”

Most guests in Savoy Suites are expatriates who are on long-term projects with various companies in Noida and Greater Noida.

“We are different from a hotel as we provide double the space at half the price, besides the laidback environment inside the complex makes our guests feel at home,” said Kulbhushan Dhawan, General Manager, Savoy Suites, Noida. “Ninety five per cent of our clients are expatriates.”

The plush apartment complex has a lounge with a fountain, a roof top health club and a swimming pool for its guests — most stay for 2 to 6 months.

Luxurious living Not far away from Savoy Suites is Cabana Towers, which has 272 serviced apartments, making it the largest standalone serviced apartment block in the country.

The apartments situated in salubrious surroundings, only a few metres from NH 24, boast of everything that you have at home: well furnished living and bedrooms with sleek interiors, kitchen equipped with microwave, gas and a big refrigerator. Besides, the Cabana serviced apartments also have a club which boasts of a tennis court, a squash court, billiards, a pool and a bar.

Reggie Benger, Resident Manager, Cabana, said, “Seventy five per cent of our guests are expatriates. We give our apartments for a minimum of one month. We also provide our guests with maid, butler and driver service, if they want.” “We have had guests who have stayed with us for two years. The idea is to provide our guests the kind of lifestyle they are used to at home.”

At present Delhi and NCR have about 550 serviced apartments under branded category such as Savoy Suites, Cabana Towers and Enkay Condominiums.

Enkay, unlike Savoy and Cabana which are standalone apartment blocks, has 184 apartments in various apartments blocks in Delhi, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad.

Most serviced apartments in the city are equipped and designed to suit the lifestyles of expats and seek to position themselves as a home away from home — with even the freedom to cook their own food.

The charges vary from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh a month.

“Our apartments are fully furnished, tastefully decorated and professionally managed to suit the lifestyles of long-staying expats. Our charge ranges from Rs 50, 000 a month to Rs 1.25 lakh a month. We provide cost effective alternative to star hotels,” said Ravi Nakra, marketing manager, Enkay Condominiums.

Soon, International brands The Capital today is the biggest unorganised market for serviced apartments but lacks sufficient branded serviced apartments for the continuing influx of long-stay expats.

According to an estimate, Delhi presently has about 1,000 serviced apartments in the unbranded category.

“Forty per cent of hotel business in Delhi is extended stay and there are no internationally recognised branded serviced apartments in Delhi or NCR as of now. So there is huge potential for branded serviced apartments,” said Manav Thadani, Managing Director, HVS International-India, a consultancy firm.

But all that is set to change in the next couple of years.

By 2010-11, Delhi and NCR will see the entry of global international serviced apartments brands such as Oakwood,

Marriot Executive Apartments and Fraser.

“We hope to start our serviced apartments in Gurgaon by 2011 with 196 units. We are primarily looking at long stay corporate guests, but will be open to short stay business,” said Praveen Nair, country manager, Oakwood.