New Delhi, April 12 - The ITC-Welcomegroup has signed a 10-year franchise agreement with Starwood Hotels and Resorts to bring the latter's premium brand 'The Luxury Collection' to India.
According to the agreement, seven of ITC's star hotels in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Agra, Chennai and Bangalore will be re-branded under the umbrella of Starwood's 'The Luxury Collection'.
These properties, however, will retain the Sheraton connection, which was initiated on Jan 1, 1979, officials said.
'India is the fastest growing Asia Pacific market for the international visitor. With this pact, we hope to serve the growing number of visitors even better,' said Miguel Ko, president of Starwood Hotels and Resorts for Asia Pacific.
'The visitor spending in India has grown at a phenomenal rate in the last few years and this is expected to accelerate significantly over the next few years,' he told a press conference here.
'A new window to the world is now open to us and, together with our aggressive growth plans in India, ITC is well poised to meet the emerging needs of the discerning global traveler,' said ITC chairman Y.C. Deveshwar
The Luxury Collection is the third biggest chain of hotels with 60 hotels across the globe.
Speaking about the tariffs, Deveshwar said the rates will be in accordance to the room size, the amenities provided and the season. 'Of course, it will be value for money.'
Not willing to talk about investments involved, officials of the two sides said there would be exchange of systems, processes and people around the world to give the visitor in India a true global feel.
'We will collaborate and compete with the Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The aim is that both the partners should benefit from this association. But there will be no competition in certain command areas,' said Deveshwar.
ITC, a $3.5 billion listed company with interests in tobacco, IT, agri-business, paper and processed food, made a foray into hotels in 1975 with the Welcomegroup marketing brand and today has 75 properties with 5,500 rooms.
These include seven ITC hotels, seven Welcomegroup hotels, 18 Fortune hotels and 43 others under the WelcomeHeritage banner. In addition, 27 properties with 3,000 rooms are under development, officials said.