Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces re-brands in Sri Lanka; to enter China

Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, the $71-billion Tata Group's hospitality group, and one of Asia's largest hotel chains, yesterday announced that it is re-branding and expanding in Sril Lanka and will make an entry into China, the world's second-largest economy.

Raymond Bickson, CEO of the India Hotels Company (IHCL), which owns the hotels and resorts, on Friday said in Sri Lanka that the company will re-brand and reclassify its hotels in Sri Lanka after the 26-year civil war ended last year.

With the ending of the protracted civil war, the island nation has once again become a hot spot for tourists and IHCL wants to capitalise on Sri Lanka's tourism industry that has risen over 68 per cent to $301 million in the first nine months of 2010.

Under its newly announced rebranding, th- 160 room Taj Exotica resort in Sri Lanka's western beach of Bentota has migrated to Vivanta by Taj in the upper upscale category, and will now be known as Vivanta-Bentota, Sri Lanka.

On 14 September Raymond N Bickson, managing director and chief executive officer, IHCL, had unveiled the new brand in Bangalore, where ha had said the second phase of the company's ''rethinking and rebranding exercise'' was aimed at ''rapid expansion of capacity in the key segment.''  (See: Indian Hotels unveils 'upper upscale' Vivanta brand)

The 130-room hotel Airport Garden Hotel near Sri Lanka's only international airport will migrate to The Gateway Hotels, in the upscale category, and will be called The Gateway Hotel-Airport Garden, Seeduwa, while there will be no change to its 300-room five-star Taj Samudra.