Kathmandu, Aug 3
Discounting the current political turmoil in Nepal,
the nine-year-old insurgency and declining tourists,
a billionaire non-resident Indian heading an international
chain of resorts and deluxe hotels worldwide has opened
a new five-star hotel in the kingdom.
Headed by Bangkok-based NRI Prem Sachdev, Le Méridien
Hotels & Resorts has opened its first resort hotel
in Nepal, Le Méridien Kathmandu, Gokarna Forest
Golf Resort & Spa.
Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, which has
137 properties in Europe, the Middle East and South
Asia, gained a foothold in Nepal three years ago when
it started the Gokarna Forest Golf Resort in the lush
Gokarna forest, about 10 km from Kathmandu's Tribhuvan
International Airport, traditionally the private hunting
ground of the royal family.
With its scenic golf course becoming the venue of
national and international tournaments and its Harmony
Spa becoming popular among the local upmarket clientele
as well as expatriates, the owners decided to add
a five-star deluxe hotel to the 780 acre resort.
In June this year, the hotel with 38 deluxe rooms
and a period suite inspired by the historic Malla
and Rana periods began operations. The Meridien seal
was put on the project from July 1 when the management
of the chain also took over the management in Nepal.
This year, Le Meridien plans to add another 30 rooms,
said its acting general manager, Patanjali Sharma.
With Le Meridien entering the hospitality industry
in Nepal, the kingdom now has seven five-star hotels.
Till last year, there were five - Soaltee Crowne Plaza,
the first luxury hotel in Nepal, Yak and Yeti, Hotel
de l'Annapurna, Radisson and Hyatt Regency.
However, this year, a four-star hotel, Shangri La,
reportedly got upgraded and recognised as a five-star.
Except Shangri La, all the others have a casino on
the premises to boost visitors, especially Indian
But Le Meriden, Sharma said, would not run a casino.
"We have a different character," he said.
"Our clientele is the upmarket local and expatriate
community who come here for the golf and spa."
While the other hotels have to offer facilities to
stave off competition and fill up their 300-odd rooms,
Le Meriden, with its planned 69 rooms would be self-sufficient,
deriving sustenance from the local market, Sharma