Leela heir strikes out on her own, launches Indian hotel chain Aiana

Amruda Nair, the scion of Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, is launching a new venture called Aiana Hotels & Resorts, which is currently scouting for properties in South India as it plans to launch a hotel chain in the country by early next year.

As Live Mint reports, Aiana Hotels was formed early this year as a joint venture between Nair and Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, chairman of Qatar-based asset management company Al Faisal Holding. It is currently in the process of developing its first flagship hotel in Doha which is expected to open by early next year.

Nair is the 32-year-old granddaughter of Captain Krishnan Nair, founder of the Leela Group. She said the new venture will be completely independent of Leela and offer a different kind of service and positioning—in the mid-to-high-end segment with a mixed portfolio of boutique resorts and hotels targeting a younger set of travelers.

“We are focusing on South India as it offers a diversity of leisure experiences from mountain-top plantations to backwaters and beaches. We are in discussions for several greenfield projects in weekend destinations but will also look at conversions going forward,” said Nair, who is joint managing director and chief executive officer at the company.

Locations identified by the company include Munnar in Kerala, Coorg and Nandi Hills in Karnataka, and Amaravati and Vizag in Andhra Pradesh.

“Under the Aiana brand, we plan to have seven hotels either operational or under development in the Middle East, India and South East Asia over the next five years, all under management contracts,” she added.

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