BWH Hotels expanding in India with WorldHotels

New Delhi-based Sorrel Hospitality is BWH's master franchisee in the sub-continent

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BWH Hotels
BWH Hotels aims to enter South Asia by introducing WorldHotels to markets in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Sorrel Hospitality, BWH's New Delhi master franchisee, targets 51 hotels across Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and India by end-2024. Ron Pohl, president of WorldHotels and international operations for Best Western, talked about the importance of the company’s presence in India.

ARIZONA-BASED BWH Hotels, known for brands like Best Western Hotels & Resorts, plans to expand into South Asia by introducing WorldHotels to markets including India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. BWH Hotels, the company that acquired WorldHotels in 2019, is now established in South Asia through Sorrel Hospitality, the master franchisee based in New Delhi. According to Indian media reports, Sorrel Hospitality will extend its presence into Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The company expects to have around 51 hotels by the end of 2024, including 3,000 rooms once the pipeline becomes operational. All these hotels are signed in these three markets, with an additional six hotels in the India market, the report in the Economic Times said.

Larry Cuculic, president and CEO of BWH Hotels, expressed the company’s commitment to strengthening its presence in India and raising standards in accommodation and guest satisfaction.

“This move, fueled by the landmark acquisition of WorldHotels in 2019, underscores BWH Hotels’ unwavering dedication to delivering exceptional service and creating unparalleled guest experiences throughout the diverse landscapes of South Asia,” he told the Economic Times.

Atul Jain, COO for India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka at BWH Hotels, said that the company currently operates 31 hotels in India, with an additional 20 in the pipeline. Jain, who is also the cofounder of Sorrel Hospitality, said he anticipates more hotel openings in India in 2024, and Ron Pohl, president of WorldHotels and of international operations for BWH Hotels, also said the company’s expansion in the country is ongoing.

“Partnering with Sorrel Hospitality, our esteemed master franchisee, we are poised to extend our influence in the dynamic South Asian market,” Ron Pohl, president of international operations and of WorldHotels, told the Economic Times.

Pohl also discussed the expansion during a press conference at BWH Hotels’ brand conference in September.

“India is the biggest democracy in the world with a huge population and limited number of properties,” Pohl said. “We see that as a significant opportunity, especially as we look at not only the luxury hotels that exist there, but especially in the mid-scale, the upper mid-scale segment, as that economy continues to grow, and the middle class continues to expand. Obviously, our membership is 65 percent, Indian ownership as well, so it’s a great interest to them to see us grow in their in their native country.”

The challenge, Pohl said, is finding financing for projects. There is money there, he said, to build in the right areas. Some of that investment also comes from Indo American hoteliers in the U.S., he said.

“There’s interest there. I think what we need to do is a better job of sharing the story and the opportunity back here with them,” Pohl said. “They have said to us on numerous occasions, I would love to create some opportunities funding to do more development in India. So it’s complicated, but it’s certainly something to consider.”

Built on the foundation of Best Western Hotels & Resorts, BWH Hotels was formed following BWHR’s acquisition of WorldHotels. It has a collection of hotels and resorts in destinations around the world in the upper upscale and luxury segment.

Cuculic further said that WorldHotels comprises four brands with 560 properties globally and an additional 35 hotels in the pipeline.

“It’s not just about quantity; it’s about quality. We aim for the right hotels and communities to deliver the experience customers seek,” he said.

The company operates through diverse formats in India, including franchising and hotel management contracts. With a robust presence in Punjab, India, particularly in Amritsar district, with eight properties, its current emphasis is on the North Indian market. However, the company plans to extend its reach, targeting locations along highways across India.

BWH Hotels is a global hospitality network comprising three hotel companies: WorldHotels, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, and SureStay Hotels. The company operates 19 brands, with five currently running hotels in India.