After selecting a new buyer for Air India, the Central government has accelerated the process of handing out luxury hotels belonging to the ITDC on a long-term lease of around 40 to 60 years, industry insiders said.
The details of the plan have been kept under the wraps even as an inter-ministerial panel has completed the consultation process on the issue.
As per industry sources, a draft note has been circulated on the matter and the likely lessee will be selected soon based on a bidding process.
However, it is not known if all the Ashok Group of Hotels which are 100 per cent owned by the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) will be leased via a single bidding process.
At present, ITDC has a network of three Ashok Group of Hotels and one joint venture hotel, amongst other properties.
Nevertheless, it is certain, said industry insiders, that The Ashok, New Delhi will be the first one off the blocks.
The hotel is amongst assets of the ITDC which are slated to be leased-out under the National Monetisation Pipeline.
It is widely speculated that the new lessee will be allowed to convert a part of the property by introducing service apartments as well as a new and enlarged retail space amongst other facilities.
A landmark property, The Ashok is spread over a 25-acre area next to the diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri in Lutyens’ Delhi.
It was Prime Minister Jawarahlal Nehru, who ordered the construction of the hotel to host a UNESCO conference in 1956.
Interestingly, several royals of erstwhile princely states at that time played a part in the development of the project with land donations coming from Prince Regent of Jammu and Kashmir, Karan Singh amongst others.