Home alone

The Singapore-based The Ascott and Chennai's Rattha group combine to promote serviced apartments in the South. Venkatachari Jagannathan reports.

Chennai: Like the deluxe hotel sector, the serviced apartment industry in India is attracting big names. The Singapore-based The Ascott (Ascott) group is entering the southern markets with big plans. With around 17,000 serviced apartments under its fold, the Ascott is the largest serviced apartment provider outside of the US.

Simply put, a serviced apartment is a hybrid between a hotel and a residential apartment or condominium. Take a deluxe hotel room and add a kitchen, washing machine, music systems and other basic consumer durables, and what you have is a serviced apartment. They could be two- and three-room apartments. In addition, several of them offer a restaurant, gym and a swimming pool.

These apartments offer the privacy of a residential apartment and the comfort and security of a hotel but at a rate that is far lower than room tariffs in deluxe hotels.

As to the economics of serviced apartments, unlike hotels they do not provide conference facilities or, business centres or plush lobbies. Though the occupancy ratio is normally higher than in hotels, the staff to manage the property (maintenance, servants, etc,) is comparatively low. This enables them to be cheaper alternatives to hotels and recover investments fairly quickly.