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Passionately Swiss

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The story of Mövenpick is an astonishing journey that started when Ueli Prager, the founder of this Swiss hospitality chain, was strolling on the shores of Lake Zurich more than 60 years ago. Stopping to watch a seagull (a ‘Möwe’ in German) swoop down to skilfully pick up food mid-flight, Prager found the inspiration to a successful yet simple business idea. A restaurant concept, serving quality food at affordable prices in the quickest time. Taking advantage of the new Swiss motorway as the perfect place to serve hungry car travellers, Prager’s first restaurant opened in Zurich in 1948 offering hitherto perceived ‘luxury food’ such as salmon, lobster and oyster at prices hungry motorists were happy to pay. And there was no looking back. “We aren’t doing anything extraordinary,” Prager was fond of saying. “We are simply successful because we are doing quite normal things in an extraordinary manner.”

Road to India

Reflecting the same sense of passion about delivering premium hospitality and culinary traditions, the chain’s first hotel opened in India in September 2011. “Mövenpick is a very strong brand, people know our ice creams. Our strength is F&B. Added to that is the fact that the brand is known for its reliability and service. It is a truly European brand. What a Taj hotel is to India, Mövenpick is to Europe. Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, owned by the Mövenpick Holding (66.7 per cent) and the Kingdom Group (33.3 per cent), is a billion dollar hotel chain with nearly 80 hotels across Europe, Middle East and Asia and the beauty of the hotel chain is that we have no sub brands. All our properties are either the five-star deluxe or the four-star category, business and airport hotels,” Biswajit Chakraborty, GM of the hotel explained.

The Mövenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore is the first hospitality venture of the developers, MS Ramaiah (MSR) group with interests in education, hospitals, real estate, engineering and medical colleges.

Biswajit Chakraborty

Within close proximity of Bengaluru’s new airport, the area where the Mövenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore is located has added a lot of room inventory over the last two years with brands like Sheraton and Vivanta by Taj opening hotels here. “Having the Manyata Tech Park nearby is an added advantage that translates into corporate business which accounts for nearly 95 per cent of room sales. Meetings space that cover 7,000 sq ft and 182 keys plus one Presidential Suite (The MSR Suite) makes it an ideal MICE venue,” Chakraborty states. “Our banqueting venues are huge and we have done many residential conferences. On an average we sell around 14 to 15 rooms per day for MICE activities, mainly for the IT and aerospace sectors. We get a lot of outside guests in our restaurants. Our locational advantage is that we have a lot of feeder markets around us,” he adds.

F&B flavours

True to the brand’s gastronomic traditions, the hotel has a variety of culinary experiences awaiting guests. Three restaurants and a bar, all with distinctive themes and authentic cuisine. The Italian restaurant Mezzaluna is a classic fine dining venue which also offers wine and cheese tasting experiences. Chakraborty elucidates, “We constantly fly down international chefs here from our other worldwide properties and a variety of authentic Swiss delicacies are served. Indians like Italian food and every day of the week has a different menu along with a selection of handpicked Italian wines.”

My Place, the all day dining restaurant serves the best of world cuisine with Swiss specialties. “The Sunday brunches are very popular here. The design of the hotel uses space outside the windows to plant herbs that are used in the restaurant’s kitchen. We serve a lot of health foods and on Wednesdays there is a Food for Life buffet,” he says.

The hotel will soon be adding an innovative gastronomic experience. Sky Brew will be a rooftop Bier Garten where one can celebrate every weekend in Oktoberfest style alongside the grills. “The restaurant which will have 70 to 80 covers is ideal for small private gatherings. We are hoping it will be popular with the expats who are familiar with the concept,” says Chakraborty.

How can anything Swiss be complete without chocolates? “Every day there is a Chocolate Hour in the lobby where guests can taste some of the finest chocolate creations our chefs cook up. We also serve some 13 flavours of Mövenpick ice creams,” he adds. No wonder, nearly 40 to 45 per cent of the hotel’s revenues comes from F&B.

For food for the soul, there is the hotel’s 4500 sq ft Sohum Spa. Chakraborty explains, “The spa is run on a revenue sharing model and has six Western and two ayurvedic treatment rooms. The spa is popular with resident guests as well as non-resident customers, while the gym is for select members only who we personally scrutinise before enrolling them.”

Business plan

Of Swiss heritage and headquartered in Zurich, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts is passionate about sustainable environments and respect for local communities. The Mövenpick hotel in Bengaluru has already applied for the Green Globe certification and hopes to receive the certification by this year end. The hotel which has also invested in rainwater harvesting, has been designed in such a way that there is a lot of natural lighting in all public areas which translates into energy savings. The general manager informs, “We have a Bonsai Lounge with around 30 bonsai trees which is maintained by the horticulture department. We will be adding a greenhouse soon with lots of orchids and other plants where guests can relax and have a cup of tea or a delicious scone.”

The Mövenpick brand looks at developing properties in virgin unknown destinations with a lot of potential. Keeping with this plan, the brand’s second hotel is coming up in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. “The 70 keys property which will house a massive and spectacular spa overlooking the Himalayas, is expected to open by end-2014. In Jaipur and Udaipur, we have acquired existing properties to take the brand to Rajasthan. Kolkata will have one Mövenpick within the next three years. In Mumbai and Chennai too, projects are in the planning stage. Overseas, a Mövenpick is under construction in Colombo which will see the end by end-2014 or early 2015 opening. There are two projects planned in Bangladesh. China will also have four or five Mövenpick in the next few years. All these hotels are part of Mövenpick’s goal of reaching 100 hotels by 2015,” concludes Chakraborty.

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