Colombo Courtyard puts Sri Lanka on global biz traveller’s map

Tuesday, 17 December 2013 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The World’s Luxury Hotel Awards, the pinnacle of achievement for luxury hotels worldwide, selected one of Sri Lanka’s leading business boutique hotels, Colombo Courtyard for a global award, namely the  ‘Luxury Business Hotel - Country 2013’. Arun Thapar, owner of this luxury boutique hotel, spoke of his property and its many aspects, combining business conveniences and amenities, in a luxurious setting, reminiscent of an oasis in the heart of a bustling metropolis. According to Thapar, amongst the key features of the property vis-a-vis the business traveller are its location in the heart of Colombo City in close proximity to all the various attractions the capital has to offer, yet combining this with a sense of tranquillity and privacy, together with a highly personalised service, which most weary businessmen find hard to resist, are amongst the star attractions for business customers, both local and foreign. “However we do have a very definite ‘fan base’ amongst the local leisure sector as well, with continuous repeat customers who frequent our restaurants, bars and other facilities,” said Thapar. “With occupancy averaging over 70 % for the past six months, I think we have very little to complain of. I was happy for Sri Lanka as this was the first time that a boutique hotel in Sri Lanka was winning a business award, which meant that Colombo Courtyard had put Sri Lanka on the map. However the hotel has much to offer guests both local and foreign who are in search of a venue which is both luxurious as well as happening.” In-house amenities The Amber Spa which specialises in Balinese treatments, especially volcanic hot stone treatments are the highlight of this spa. “We are flexible with timing, keeping in view guest needs, after a long international flight or stressful business meetings,” said Thapar. The Hotel’s movie nights too have proved to be most popular with guests flocking to the Cloud Cafe twice a month where the old classics are shown on a big screen, while relaxing over a drink and something to eat. Jazz too has proved to be very popular and in heavy demand at the Colombo Court Yard, with every Wednesday at the Loft Lounge and Fridays at Cloud Cafe being Jazz Nights. “This has become very popular with not only in house guests but also expatriates, as well as the local community,” said Thapar. Colombo Courtyard’s unique location, different and soothing décor, coupled with the feeling of an oasis, makes it quite different from the other boutique hotels. With an inventory of 32 rooms and five outlets it’s amenities and facilities are far superior to other boutique hotels in town. All 32 rooms come in different shapes and sizes, and are fitted and decorated to make the guests feel comfortable and relaxed, no matter how stressful their day has been.  “The basic USP is ‘personalised’ service and higher private space per person than large city hotels,” said Thapar. The Cloud Café, Loft Bar, Scarlet Room and Grape Expectations – the remarkably cosy lounge, along with the poolside, leave guests spoilt for choice and wanting to return for more. Thapar went on to say that the award was unique as it has to be voted in by tour operators, travel agents and hotel guests, with the final judges’ selection process taking the form of a secret visit to the hotel. “This makes the award very special for Sri Lanka”, said Thapar. He went on to say that this was the First Luxury Business Hotel award to be given to Sri Lanka by the World Luxury Hotel Awards, and that it was an endorsement of all aspects of the Hotel’s services; both software as well as hardware. “This award was given after extensive polling with guests, travel agents and operators as well as a secret visit from the members of the committee based in London and South Africa. It is the first time an award was given to a boutique hotel in the category of luxury business hotel.” Uniquely different Speaking of the key features of the property for business, Thapar said that the fact that various outlets for business meetings and launches were available (as in all other hotels), however in a uniquely different setting, made them very popular with local businessman. “Colombo Courtyard is likened to an ‘Oasis’ in the middle of town and thus it attracts business people as they can relax after a hard day’s work, yet conduct their business meetings at the same time. The urban business hotel concept perfectly captures the fusion of contemporary style with an essence of environmental design that makes it urban in nature.” Referring to its tagline of ‘Urban Boutique Business Hotel’, Thapar said that being located in the middle of a busy city such as Colombo, close to various business establishments with a Boutique concept meant that customers were assured of an extremely personalised service. According to Thapar, the concept of the hotel is based on recycling of old buildings, with a rustic touch and feel, keeping in mind guest comforts, particularly relaxation after a hard day’s work. Elements of industrial art in the hotel add to its charm, while open courtyards in the common areas, and rooms on the ground floor having their own private courtyards are amongst the star attractions with guests. “This also makes the property unique in the minds of customers. Now the challenge is to continuously up the game so that we keep innovating and attracting a continuous stream of guests both local and foreign to Colombo Courtyard,” he added. Varied mix of guests Speaking of the mix of guests, Thapar said that the majority of their guests were from the business category; however, the hotel has a few high end holiday travellers as well. “They all love it and we have a huge number of repeat guests from different parts of the world. Most of the time bookings come via company websites from different parts of the world. What attracts the business clientele to us is the exclusivity and privacy that Colombo Courtyard provides to a customer.” Talking of the service aspect, Thapar stressed the fact that one of the reasons for the global award was Colombo Courtyard’s exceptional service. “We try to hire staff that are passionate about service with excellence and then we place a huge emphasis on training and re-training, combined with motivational methods for the staff to achieve this. “So far we have achieved a level of service which even other hoteliers talk about, but I agree that this is a challenge and will be in the years to come, given the new hotels that are coming up in the city and the amount of people wanting to do white collar jobs. So the only way out is to remunerate one’s staff adequately and keep them continuously motivated to perform. Actually this is more of a leadership challenge than one of remuneration to my mind,” Thapar revealed. Talking of future plans, Thapar said it was his intention to make Colombo Courtyard the trend setter in the luxury business boutique hotel segment. “This will help Sri Lanka build a new positioning in the years to come especially with business travellers who will undoubtedly visit the country for follow up meetings, post CHOGM.” With the festive season drawing close, Colombo Courtyard has many activities lined up, and both local and foreign visitors are assured of a very merry holiday season at the hotel, whilst those who have to combine work with seasonal fun, have only one obvious destination, the Colombo Courtyard.