Leela, Aiana plan two hotels near this Indian landmark

The Aiana brand comprises five hotels in India, with several upcoming developments. The Aiana Munnar – A Moonriver Resort, pictured here, is under construction in Munnar, India. (Aiana Munnar-A Moonriver Resort exterior)

The Leela Group and Qatar 's Al Faisal Group signed an agreement to build a five-star hotel near Taj Mahal in Agra with an FDI of about Rs 500 crore, coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the Gulf state. 

The 250-room hotel, to be built in 30 months, will entail an FDI of about Rs 500 crore, Leela Group Chairman Vivek Nair told PTI after signing the pact with chairman of Al Faisal Group Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani. 

The agreement was signed after Modi's interaction with top business leaders of Qatar in which Sheikh Faisal was also present. 

The hotel will be built under the brand name 'Aiana' and will be the sixth such hotel in India, said Amruda Nair, joint managing director and CEO of Aiana Hotels and Resorts. 

The hotel will be built on an area of seven acres, just one km from Taj Mahal, Amruda said. 

"We will be developing a two-hotel complex with a total of 250 rooms. There will 100-room Leela Palace and 150 room-Aiana on top of a shared podium...," she said.

She noted that the brand 'Aiana' was launched in India about a year ago and this will be the eighth such hotel across India, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 

The hotel will be named as 'Aiana Agra' and Leela and Aiana will be its operator, Amruda said. 

Vivek Nair said the project will entail 100 per cent FDI. 

Amruda said Sheikh Faisal is keen to support the brand with additional properties in other locations as well -- Europe and Maldives. "So we continue to look at opportunities." 

Nair said Leela also has a plan, on its own, to build a 60-room hotel in the Prime Minister's Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi in 24 months. 

"We have now gone into asset-like strategy. Developers come to us and say 'please develop a hotel like Leela Palace or Leela Goa'. So, apart from Agra, we are putting up a hotel in Jaipur and a 1,000-acre property in Chandigarh -- a 27-hole Golf course and villas and a 150-room hotel," said Nair. 

"Internationally, we are just about to execute an agreement in Dubai with the royal family there for a hotel facing the Burj Khalifa. It will be a 250-room hotel. Another hotel in business bay," he said. 

"In January, we will start operating a hotel in Maldives. Island property," Nair said, adding: "So we are growing rapidly." 

Source: Economic Times