Chess Olympiad: Chennai hoteliers happy lot with guest check-ins

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Happy days are here again, say hoteliers in and around Chennai as their rooms are getting filled up with guests.

Giving them an additional boost is the decision of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to hold the 44th Chess Olympiad at Mahabalipuram near here in July-August 2022..

The venue will be the convention centre at the Four Points by Sheraton, located in the Mahabalipuram area, one of the main tourist destinations in southern India.

“The venue of the Chess Olympiad has been finalised. We have got the letter from the Tamil Nadu government confirming that. The Chess Olympiad will be held in our convention hall,” Satish Murthy, manager of the hotel, told IANS.

“All our 90 rooms have been booked to host people connected with the Chess Olympiad,” Murthy added.

“Around 2,500 persons — chess players, coaches, team managers, chess officials from different countries, journalists and others — will arrive in the city for the Chess Olympiad,” British Grandmaster and FIDE Vice President Nigel Short had told IANS earlier.

Many star hotels on the East Coast Road (ECR), parallel to Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), and nearby corridors have offered a sizable number of their rooms to the Tamil Nadu government for the Olympiad, hoteliers told IANS.

“No hotel will offer all its rooms for Olympiad players/officials. We have to cater to our regular guests and others who have reservations as well,” Yangya Prakash Chandran, Founder and CEO, Crossway Hotels and Resorts, told IANS.

“That apart, the resorts on the ECR do very good business throughout the week. The Olympiad is a two-week event. The resorts may not be inclined to accept bulk bookings at a discounted rate,” he added.

The room rates on the ECR goes up to Rs 1.5 lakh, depending on the star and room category.

Concurs Vikram Cotah, CEO, GRT Hotels and Resorts, which owns the 150-room Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay in Mamallapuram.

“We have offered 120 rooms for the Olympiad and plan to add 10 more. We also have our regular guests and there are guests who have reserved the rooms and they can’t be turned away,” Cotah told IANS.

He said the Radisson Blu Resort offers different staying options — rooms, villas, chalets — with tariff ranging from Rs 12,000 to Rs 1,50,000 per night.

Queried about the global media mileage that their property would get owing to the Olympiad, hoteliers told IANS: “The branding and media mileage will be derived by Four Points by Sheraton as it will be the Olympiad venue. For other properties, it is like any other business.”

Industry officials said that apart from the hotels on ECR, OMR and nearby places, the demand for rooms will spill over to city hotels till the Guindy area.

According to the hoteliers, the state government officials have held a preliminary meeting with them in assessing the room availability.

The tariff rates are yet to be discussed and finalised.

Certainly, it will not be the Covid rates — about Rs 2,500 per day inclusive of food — negotiated by the government during the pandemic period in 2020 and 2021, officials said.

“During Covid times, hotels wanted some business. But now the business is picking up due to the arrival of domestic travellers,” officials said.

The Chess Olympiad will give a big boost to tourist taxi operators, domestic airlines, places of tourist interest near the game venue and also for handicraft makers and sellers in Mahabalipuram, officials said.

The industry is unanimous in saying that hosting the Olympiad in Tamil Nadu is a proud moment for all.

Meanwhile, hoteliers here are seeing an uptick in their business owing to the arrival of domestic travellers.

“There is pent-up demand as domestic travel restrictions have been removed. The room rate has also improved compared to the previous year and occupancy has gone up as well,” Rahul Nama, General Manager, Mercure Chennai Sriperumbudur, told IANS.

The 100-room property Mercure, part of French group Accor, is located in the Sriperumbudur-Oragadam industrial area.

“The business in February and March has been good. In the past, star hotels were looking at international travellers for business. Now we have realised that domestic travel is also big and important,” Cotah said.

While hotels have learnt to work with lesser hands during the Covid pandemic, officials told IANS that hiring is happening in the industry.

“Those officials who were laid off and want to continue in the industry have been hired,” a general manager of a five-star hotel told IANS preferring anonymity.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

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