By Sumit Moitra

Guess what happened to the beleaguered hotel project in Kolkata that real estate major Emaar MGF said on Monday it sold off at a huge loss majorly contributing to its 2010-11 loss of Rs206 crore?

The 247-room Courtyard by Marriott Algiers is one of five Marriott properties opening in Algeria.
The 247-room Courtyard by Marriott Algiers is one of five Marriott properties opening in Algeria.

The project, where a 330-key JW Marriott hotel was to come up, has not been shelved and work there is currently on full swing by its new owners. “We expect to commission the property within the next 18 months to 2 years time,” Bipin Vohra, a Kolkata-based industrialist with interest in steel and a part-owner of the property, said on Thursday.

The contract with JW Marriott has been retained despite Emaar MGF exiting the project and in fact the scope of the agreement has also been extended. “Apart from the hotel, we are also building 4 lakh sqft of service apartments which JW Marriott would be managing. This was not in the earlier deal with Emmar MGF,” Vohra said.

The service apartments would be targeting the visitors to Kolkata’s IT companies, most of whom are located at Salt Lake city, close to where the hotel is coming up.

JW Marriott is next to ITC’s hotel at the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, on the eastern fringes of Kolkata — in fact the two properties share a common boundary wall.

ITC, which has a 238-room hotel there, is expanding the property adding another 500 rooms.

It doesn’t unnerve Vohra though. “I think the market in Kolkata can absorb both of us over a period of time. Once Y C Deveshwar (ITC’s chairman) pointed this to me in a flight and I told him the same thing.”

Vohra’s SPS Group along with Kolkata’s real estate developer the Mani Group and Bangalore-based Sattva Group in September bought out the hotel project from Emmar MGF.

“They had spent a little over Rs200 crore in 2006 to buy the 5.6 acre plot, which was perhaps the costliest land deal at that time, and then after four years sold it off at the same price of Rs200 crore,” Vohra, who owns 40% of the project, said.

Apart from the JW Marriott project, Vohra is now in talks with Marriott International Plc to bring in one of its budget hotel brands for a proposed project in Durgapur, an industrial city in West Bengal. “The brand could be either Marriott Courtyard or Marriott Fairfield Inn, we are yet to decide,” Vohra said.