16          The story of Alila DiwaCOMMENT                                                                                ...
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The story of alila diwa


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Viability's Guy Wilkinson writes a monthly column for Hotelier Middle East Magazine. This article originally appeared in August 2010.
For more information about Viability, please visit http://www.linkedin.com/company/2347942 or http://www.viability.ae/

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The story of alila diwa

  1. 1. 16 The story of Alila DiwaCOMMENT As luxury brand Alila prepares to launch in Oman, Viability director Guy Wilkinson reports from the company’s resort in Goa and finds out how it came to fruition many it would face — was the five- very cyclical shipping industry. And the relative scarcity of beach plots star hotel now known as the Alila as any self-respecting Hotelier Mid- remaining in both North and South Diwa in Majorda, Southern Goa. dle East reader would have done, he Goa. They also had to contend with The seeds of the project were sown plumped for the latter. the rules of the nationwide Coastal when Nirav Parekh returned to According to Parekh, he identi- Regulation Zone, which prohibit Mumbai in 2005 after completing his fied Goa as the site for his future building on any land within 200 masters in biomedical engineering in hotel out of nine possible locations metres of the high tide line, and exert the US. Fortunately for him, Nirav’s across India. “The main reason why major restrictions on other buildings family owns the Parekh Group, a we chose Goa was that very few new up to 500 metres inland. third generation shipping empire hotels had come up there and many They chose South Goa because “it comprising 23 companies. The group old hotels needed renovation. Fur- is more family-oriented, more pre- looks after its own, and with seven thermore, over the last five years mium,” as Parekh explains. Even- young men of around Parekh’s age, there have been huge improvements tually, they found an idyllic 12-acre COLUMNIST the current generation of patriarchs in the air, rail and road connectivity plot next to a paddy field, set back decided that it would be good to of Goa, whereby future tourist vol- some 700 metres from the beach. few years ago, the Indian help each of them set up two differ- ume projections are optimistic. Goa “The present site was one of the rare A government took steps to encourage the country’s largely state-owned banks to lend money on easier terms for tourism projects. In Goa, the ent businesses. It was proposed that Parekh’s qualifications would make either hospitals (logically) or hospi- tality (why not?) appropriate choices for him, since both could allow cre- is the only true tourism destination in India,” he adds, pointing out that it receives no less than 16 flights a day from Mumbai in the high season. Parekh and his uncle Suresh then plots where within government regulations, we could built a facility which was not far from the sea.” Their next hurdle was to collect no less than 64 signatures from assorted country’s favourite beach tourism ation of long-term assets for the fam- set about finding a suitable site in members of the family that previ- destination, this resulted in a pipe- ily to offset the risks inherent in the Goa — not an easy task, considering ously owned the plot – which was line of some 20 new hotel projects, apparently good going in Goa, where including many planned for con- frequently hundreds are required, struction on rice paddies. However, thanks to the archaic Portuguese the green lobby got up in arms and WE WANTED AN OPERATOR WHO HAD inheritance laws still applied there. much stricter regulations were in- PASSION FOR RUNNING PREMIUM The hotel was then planned and troduced, causing many projects to HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS AND WHO WAS built over four years, requiring a be cancelled. One survivor of this challenging process — the first of HUNGRY TO PROVE ITS SUCCESS IN INDIA grand total of 171 permissions to be secured, a work force of 1200 people August 2010 • Hotelier Middle East www.hoteliermiddleeast.com