Taj begins second inning in Nepal

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Kathmandu, April 11 (IANS) After a decade-long gap, India’s Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces has made a fresh foray in Nepal’s tourism industry and will manage a new high-end luxury resort in Chitwan, a popular destination for jungle safari in western Nepal.

Taj, a well-known luxury hotel chain, has signed a management contract with Chaudhary Group (CG) Hotels and Resorts for Meghauli Serai Jungle Lodge, a venture of Nepal’s first billionaire Binod Kumar Chaudhary, which has already started its operations.

Under the group’s luxury brand Taj Safaris, Meghauli Serai Jungle Lodge is focused towards serving the upper end of the market.

The resort offers 30 guest rooms, including 13 standard rooms, 16 independent villas with private plunge pools, and the Rapti Mahal presidential suites.

The resort offers elephant safaris, jeep safari, jungle walk, walk through a local Tharu village showcasing traditional village life and canoeing on the Rapti river. Meghauli Serai has incorporated local hues into its design and operations.

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The new property, spread over three hectares and built with an investment outlay of Rs.700 million on the banks of the Rapti river, commenced operations on April 1.

Rohit Khosla, senior vice president, operations, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, said: “We are delighted to extend the legendary Taj hospitality to guests in Nepal. The Taj group has a pioneering reputation for creating destinations and we are very proud to present the latest Taj Safaris’ Meghauli Serai Jungle Lodge at Chitwan National Park. We are committed to adding value to the community and the region.”

With overwhelming response from foreign travellers since its opening, the company expects to break even within the first year of operation.

As an introductory offer, the resort has been charging $250-$300 per night for standard rooms and independent villas.

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After the promotional scheme ends, the resort has set three price categories “$500 per night for standard rooms, $700 for independent villas and $1,500 per night for presidential suite” beginning from autumn this year.

Taj Safaris is the creator of India’s first luxury wildlife travel circuit in Madhya Pradesh.

“The first luxury wildlife travel circuit in Madhya Pradesh has shown a great result. When the opportunity came to set up this wildlife travel in Meghauli Chitwan, we thought it was the right place to be,” said Kirti Dhingra, director of Public Relations, Luxury of Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces.

“In fact, this is our second foray into Nepal and we are thinking it could be a huge success.”

Taj Group had dissociated itself from Hotel Annapurna in Kathmandu in 2004 on security grounds.

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The year 2015 had not been good for Nepal’s tourism industry and some investors still see risks in this sector — but Taj is optimistic.

“Tourism is building back in Nepal after what it had gone through last year. We see an upward trend in the industry. The hospitality industry here will thrive in a cycle of accelerating growth,” said Dhingra.

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