What’s in a name? A lot. A wrong one could take the unsuspecting Delhi’ite on a wild goose chase round the Capital, scouting for the right address. So, who are all being re-christened? Hotels.
The other day, I wanted to go to the big beige hotel near the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, very close to Connaught Place. “Hotel Nikko?” the auto-rickshaw driver enquired. “Yes, the Metropolitan,” I replied after a moment’s hesitation. He gave me a curious look. “It’s Nikko,” he insisted. No, it’s the Hotel Metropolitan now. The hotel dropped “Nikko” from its name after a strategic marketing tie-up with the Summit Hotel and Resorts based in Chicago in July, when its contract with Nikko ran the course. The Metropolitan, in fact, now is clean-cut American a member of the luxury brand of the Summit’s Preferred Group. “Call it The Met, that’s our new moniker for the hotel,” says director Vipul Gupta.
At least four big hotels in Delhi have new names mostly shorter ones. The ITC Maurya has shed the Sheraton tag to become The Maurya. “It is a now part of the luxury brand of the Starwood Group,” says Pratima Wasan, communication manager of the hotel. For the taxiwallah, however, it is still the Sheraton. “When did this happen?” asked the slightly foxed old cabbie. He looked knowledgeable in matters of hotel and hospitality trade, courtesy the foreign guests he transports from the airport. “In April,” I confidently quoted Vasan.
Sheraton has moved south to Saket, a stone’s throw from the PVR complex.
Confused? Well, the good old Marriott-turned-Welcome is now The Sheraton, New Delhi, after shuffling hands.
Mergers and acquisitions are very common in the hospitality sector. “You can call it the evolution of business. Hotels are now opting for shorter names because we want it crisp and snappy. People love to abbreviate and in this age of computers, why speak more than required,” explains Vipul Gupta.
The logic makes sense. The old-timer in the capital still remembers The Grand, New Delhi, in Vasant Kunj as The Grand Hyatt. It became The Grand after the agreement with the Hyatt group expired a few years ago. The elegant hotel on 10 acres of landscaped garden in Nelson Mandela Road is adjacent to the airport and the business hub of Gurgaon. Most cab and auto-rickshaw drivers seem to be familiar with The Grand minus Hyatt. “It has always been The Grand for us,” says a taxiwallah, who plies between the airport and the hotel.
But does anyone remember that the Crowne Plaza Surya Hotel in New Friends Colony was the Surya Sofitel till the Surya group inked a deal with the UK-based Bass Group for the Crowne Plaza brand at the turn of the decade. According to a PTI snippet in an old issue of the Daily Excelsior, the tie-up enabled Surya to become a star property. The Plaza has travelled a long way. “This year, it was adjudged the Capital’s best local hotel in the third Hospitality India Annual International Awards a month ago,” I volunteered by way of information to the taxiwallah. “It is an old hotel,” he shot back. Check out Thursday’s paper. There’s another re-christening ceremony in the offing. The Trident-Hilton property in Gurgaon will be re-branded as Trident Hotel. It follows a decision by the East India Hotels, owners of the Oberoi Group of Hotels, to end their marketing alliance with the US-based Hilton chain. For the Delhiite, short will always be beautiful.