More India for Alila

Doris Goh, Chief Marketing Officer, Alila Hotels and Resorts, talks to us about the group’s properties in India and where they see themselves amongst travellers.

Tell us about Alila Fort Bishangarh.
Alila Fort Bishangarh is a unique example of Jaipur’s Gharana architecture, influenced by both the Mughals and the British, and is possibly the only boutique warrior fort of its kind in India that has been converted into a resort. Hidden away in the Aravalli hills of Rajasthan, an hour’s drive from Jaipur, Alila Fort Bishangarh commands a remarkable presence upon a granite hill with a 360-degree view of the Rajasthani landscape of hills, havelis, villages, and temples. The resort boasts of 59 spacious rooms and suites, individually configured to capture stunning views of the Aravalli hills. Within the walls of the old fort are two diverse restaurants, Amarsar and Nazaara, with innovative culinary options that have been specially curated by Chef Ranveer Brar. Deep in the dungeon, carved out between granite rocks, is Spa Alila. Alila offers a specially crafted Rajasthani journey for guests to engage with the local community, watch local artisans work their art of carpet weaving, silversmithing, and marble sculpting.

Is expansion on the cards for Alila?
This year, we opened Alila Fort Bishangarh after seven years of dedication and toil. We have also just opened Alila Yangshuo in Guilin, China, which was another project that took seven years in the making. Next year, we will be opening Alila Koggala, Sri Lanka; Alila Villas Koh Russey, Cambodia; Alila Tianxi Lake, Zhejiang, China, and Alila Villas Niushoushan, Nanjing, China, situated within a Buddhist cultural site, something that may entice our Indian audience to come and discover this culturally vibrant destination. Furthermore, we will be opening two iconic city hotels – Alila Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Alila SCBD in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Who do you see as your clients?
We seek to tap the segment of both business and leisure travellers. At all our properties, we have curated creative spaces for innovative meetings and corporate retreats, complete with destination experiences and team building activities to take people outdoors. It has proved to be very popular with guests and many now choose to bring their families along for extended stays. At Alila Fort Bishangarh, we have conceptualised 23 creative venues for meetings, events, and all other occasions.

How important is India as a market for Alila?
India is as important for us as China, both in terms of hotel development and outbound tourism. However, development projects take time to manifest as they are dependent on the right partnership. We have been fortunate to have good owners at both Alila Diwa Goa and Alila Fort Bishangarh. Ever since Alila Diwa Goa opened in 2010, it has done very well year-on-year and won acclaim from both domestic and international travellers.

Tell us about the competition you face.
We believe in healthy competition as it serves to benefit the destination. Our mantra is very different, giving us an opportunity to innovate. Travellers today have many hotel choices to cater to their business and leisure needs. We certainly need business hotels, but boutique hotels like Alila are also highly sought-after. We are not for the masses, but we do have a growing clientele. Typically, Alila guests are well-travelled and have a sense of adventure. They know what they want and are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in. We want to keep doing what we do, which is to push for sustainable tourism and deliver unique destination experiences to our guests while keeping things surprisingly different.

What is Alila’s philosophy?
Our business philosophy is to integrate commerce, conservation, and community. The hallmark of Alila is the combination of innovative design and crafted luxury in unique locations, set apart by private spaces, personalised hospitality, and bespoke journeys.