Darjeeling tea charms French hoteliers

French hospitality association Relais & Châteaux (R&C) is eyeing a tea estate in Darjeeling — Glenburn — to add to its membership list.

Glenburn was set up by a Scottish planter way back in 1860.

The 1,600-acre estate is by the Kanchenjunga mountain range and houses about 10-12 rooms.

“We are keenly looking at expanding our membership in India. Our group has visited 50-60 properties across locations such as Darjeeling, Udaipur, Fatehgarh, Rajasthan, the Himalayas and Goa. But we are keen on the Darjeeling property and are talking to the owners,” Jaume Tapies, international president of Relais & Châteaux, told The Telegraph.

Relais & Châteaux has 486 members, including hotels and gourmet restaurants, across 58 countries. The group is looking to expand in India and believes it is a “market with immense potential”.

At present, R&C has five hotel members in India. It is looking to bring 15 Indian properties to its fold in the next two to three years.

R&C has both traditional and contemporary hospitality chains as its members, said Tapies. The properties have a maximum room inventory of 29, which is one of R&C’s criterion.

Hoteliers pay an annual fee to become a member of R&C. The fee is determined by the number of rooms a property houses.

The group charges 7,500 euros to lend its brand name to a 10-11 room hotel. It charges 15,000 euros for a 29-room property.

Relais & Châteaux’s interest in the country’s hospitality industry is in sharp contrast with its membership list in neighbouring country China.

“We have been present in China for the last 10 years but have only three members there. But in the last two years in India, we have added five members,” said Tapies. The group had a turnover of 1.3 billion euros in the last calendar year, he said.

“We hope atleast 7 per cent of our total revenues should come from Asia and of this 3 per cent from India,” he said.

R&C has added two properties from the Sujan Luxury Hotels banner — Sher Bagh in Ranthambore and The Serai in Jaisalmer — as its members.

Source: Telegraph India