IF YOU are looking for a room in one of the city's five-star hotels, here is the latest: forget about it. Not only are rooms booked until March next year, but many hotels have also hiked their room rates -- some by as much as 100 per cent. "Tariffs have shot up with the growing rush. Room rates have almost doubled," said Le Meridien's public relations director Akhil Mathur.
It is the same story at Shangri-La: from $275 (Rs 12,400) a night in September, room rates are close to $375 a night this month onward. "We have a huge influx of both business and leisure travellers," said Divya Prakash Ahuja, Shangri-La's director (sales and marketing).
The tourist season began in October, when hotels, in any case, start charging high-season rates. Said Harshita Singh, corporate communications manager at Claridges: "Business is very good. We revised our rates at the beginning of this month."
"There is a terrible shortage of five-star hotel rooms. So even budget hotels have increased their rates to near five-star levels but are still getting plenty of customers," said Amit Sarin, executive director (commercial) of the Anantraj Group that is building nine budget hotels in the National Capital Region. He claimed five-star hotels had increased their rates two and a half times in the past 18 months.
The shortage is around 10,000 hotel rooms, taking five-star and budget hotels together, estimated Manbeer Chaudhury, president of the Federation of the Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India.
The surge in demand is due to a variety of factors: the tourist season, international trade fairs and conferences and even weddings. "The shortage has been there for three years," said Chaudhury. "We pointed it out to the Centre and state government, but nothing has been done." Getting a room is not so much about splurging as it is about booking in advance.
(With inputs from Gaurav Choudhury)