The first letter of intent (LOI) has been signed for a hotel in Nasik to cater to the pilgrim market. “It’s a greenfield project. So it will take at least three years to come up,” said Sonica Malhotra, Joint Managing Director of MBD Group, who looks after the hotels business.
According to her, the country still doesn’t have a true no-frills, budget, bed-and-breakfast. “We want to disrupt the space by going very lean. Right now, what is available is not accessible to the mass traveller as their rates are upwards of ₹3,000,” Malhotra said.
“To make money on ₹2,000 is not easy,” she admited.
“We have been at the drawing board looking at how to minimise our investments and yet make money.”
“We are looking at a bottom-up approach rather than top-down, for MBD Express,” Malhotra said, pointing to how a lot of Category C and D towns require an organised hotel brand.
So initially, the focus will be tier III towns rather than metros.
The 60-year-old group has been in the hotel space for over 14 years now, with a couple of owned luxury hotels in Noida and Ludhiana that are branded MBD Radisson Blu.
It has also entered into a joint venture with German chain Steigenberger to manage and franchise hotels under the brands MBD Steigenberger and MBD Intercity.
The Indian group has 51 per cent stake in the joint venture.
According to Malhotra, the first MBD Steigenberger hotel, called MBD Zephyr, is coming up rapidly in Bengaluru’s Whitefield area in a mixed-use development, spread across two million square ft.
The development, which houses a luxury hotel and service residences, is wholly owned by MBD Group.
Additionally, the company has LOIs for two MBD Steigenbergers and two MBD Intercitys, she said.
The group is also planning to take its food and beverage brand, ‘Made in India’, overseas.
The first one will come up in London.
“We are looking at spaces in London. By the coming quarter, we should finalise a space and will then take 4-5 months to launch the restaurant.”