On September 27, boutique hospitality chain in India, Brij Hotels, opened its newest retreat, Brij Anayra, in Dharamshala, marking the brand’s 8th property in India and its second resort in Himachal Pradesh.
The brand has been on an expansion spree with it developing three sites in north India, the other two being in Bhowali, Nainital (Uttarakhand) and Bandhavgarh (Madhya Pradesh).
“Brij Anayra is a 161-year-old heritage property, spread over 10 acres of lush green landscape with 12 well-appointed suites and rooms. The Bowali property – Brij Atmanya – is a 12-key property, about 25 minutes drive from Bhimtal and Naini lake and the Bandhavgarh property is to be an 8-key property set in almost 20 acres of land with 5,000 trees,” shared Anant Kumar, co-founder, Brij Hotels.
A bespoke luxury segment from the well-established hospitality brand, Clarks Hotels and Hotels, Brij Hotels is driven by local experiences. “We are looking at building only 50 assets in India over the next five years,” said Kumar defining the brand vision. “And, those 50 assets could be achieved in two years or in five, there is no set timeline. We are not in a hurry,” he said.“But each asset has to speak for itself. It has to speak for the locality and basically ‘Brijwasis’. Every experience at Brij hotels must be better than the other,” he added.
Having hosted the likes of Jeff Bezos, Tony Robbins, Hillary Clinton, Gerard Butler, Brooke Shields (to name a few), the brand has already carved a niche for itself in bespoke experiences.
“For business, we follow two models – either we take the assets on variable lease or on management. We do not do Franchise,” stated Kumar, who founded this company along with his brother Udit Kumar in 2021.
“Brij hospitality is an asset light company. We prefer to be in total control of the asset. So, most of our assets will be on variable lease,” he shared. The brand has a very strong footprint in Rajasthan with properties in Kukas, Pali, Jawai, Bikaner and Jaipur. Brij Bageecha in Kukas makes for a perfect weekend getaway from Delhi and Jaipur and is an all villa pet friendly resort.
“We truly believe that luxury is intimate. And therefore, each location caters to a different target audience. Our Jawai and Bandhavgarh properties are meant for nature lovers and Varanasi or Bikaner properties would appeal to those looking to explore local culture. What we focus on is to add on to the local experiences and give something that our guests have never experienced before,” said Kumar.
For marketing, direct promotions have worked the best for Brij Hotels. “The highest producing domestic travel agent for us is our own website. 20% of our online business is coming to us through our website,” said Kumar, adding, “But soon, we will be launching our own experiences app.”
Within India, most of these bookings are from Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. “Currently, most bookings are coming from up north plus Mumbai, since most of our properties are in the north,” he shared. Internationally, the USA is number one, UK is number two and Europe is third in terms of inbound bookings.
Going forward, the brand is typically looking to develop properties around the beaches to fit in the seasonality mix. “We are looking at a few properties in Goa. And, because we are typically doing smaller sized assets, we would like to do 3-4 properties in the same customer segment/region,” he shared.
Beyond India, Brij Hotels has set its eyes on regional expansion mainly in south Asia. “We are building a hotel in Pokhara, which is due to open in 2025. That would be one of the most beautiful assets,” he said.
“Likewise we are also looking at Bhutan and Sri Lanka. We are well aware of our strengths and would like to build on the same. For us, our guest is as important as the community that we engage with locally. The idea is to build a sustainable product that would be remembered as different and special,” he concluded.