26 June 2011

Sri Lanka's Aitken Spence Plans Resorts Complex in East at $100mn

18th June 2011, www.lankabusinessonline.com

Sri Lanka's Aitken Spence group, which runs resorts in Maldives, India and Oman is in talks with two international chains to find a joint venture partner to build a 100 million dollar leisure complex in the island's east coast, an official said.

The complex will be made up of two hotels, residential villas and entertainment facilities. One hotel will be built by Aitken Spence under its flagship 'Heritance' brand and the second will be built by the joint venture partner.

The group owns 108 acres of beachfront property in Nilaveli in Sri Lanka's eastern coast.

"We are looking at a high end integrated mixed development," Malin Hapugoda who heads the Aitken Spence's hotel division said.

"We are talking to a couple of brands."

He said the entire complex may cost 100 million US dollars to build with the contributions from the chosen joint venture partner.

In 2010 tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka surged 46 percent to 654,000 from a year earlier after a 30-year war ended in 2009.

Up to May 2011 arrival are up 40 percent to 327,000 and investors are scrambling to build new hotels. The war's end has also opened the former battle fields in the east for economic activity.

Hong Kong based Shangri La has bought beachfront property in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo and Hambantota in the South. The firms are planning 500 million dollar, hotel, leisure and apartment complexes in Colombo.

Aitken Spence and Six Senses an international leisure group almost finished a resort in Sri Lanka's South West coast with residential villas and luxury tents.

Hapugoda said the new resorts with international brand names would raise the image of the country and help bring in high end tourists.

But Sri Lanka's west coast is lashed by monsoon rains from May, ending a 'winter season' for European visitors, which runs from November to April. The monsoons in the East start around November.

Resorts in the east can make Sri Lanka a year-around destination for sun seekers.

"Sri Lanka's market mix is changing," Hapugoda said. "Indians travel right round the year. Middle Easterners come from July to August."

Singapore's Banyan Tree said it was also looking to build an integrated resort in the east.

Related Info :

Aitken Spence Hotels Ranked Highest in STING Corporate Accountability Rating 2011 Tourism Sector by LMD magazine Sri Lanka

Six Senses Plans IPO in Colombo to Set up its Ops to Handle Resorts in the Region - Founder/CEO Sonu Shivdasani Reveals

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