Saturday, November 22, 2014

GRT Group on an expansion mode

GRT Hotels and Resorts, which runs a chain of hotels and jewellery showrooms, would be setting up serviced apartments under the brand name “GRT Vibes’ in important metros and pilgrimage centers.

Talking to reporters after the formal opening its tenth hotel “GRT Regency’ in the temple town of Tiruttani, one of the six abodes of Lord Muruga, 85 km from here, GRT Hotels Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Vikram Cotah said initially the serviced apartments would come up in Hyderabad and Coimbatore and then move to other centers. 

He said Tirttani, which was witnessing rapid industrial’ growth, was one of the important destinations for the GRT Group as leading business conglomerates like Murugapa and MRF have set up their manufacturing facilities. Since more units are likely to come up in Tiruttani there was large scope for industrial growth, which in turn will also lead to the growth of the hospitality industry catering to both the domestic and international corporate travelers including the religious groups. 

The two serviced apartments, with 35 and 47 rooms in Hyderabad and Coimbatore respectively will be opened by March 2015, he said, adding, the investments in these two projects would be between Rs. 7 crores and Rs. 10 crores. The GRT Hotels Group was also conducting market surveys in ten places, including the important pilgrimage centres of Kanniyakumari, Rameswaram and Tiruchirapalli to set up serviced apartments for the benefit of pilgrims and budget tourists.

“Each of the GRT Vibe Apartments will have 50 to 60 rooms with an investment of about Rs. 7 to 10 crores each. The new star rated hotel at Tiruttani was equipped with all facilities and has occupancy rates of more than 50 per cent. “The occupancy rates were 100 per cent during temple festivals and auspicious occasions like wedding season”, Mr. Vikram added. 

Talking about the GRT jewellery showrooms, which has recently completed fifty years and has become a household name in the State, Mr. Vikram said the Group plans to have 50 showrooms by the end of 2017. “At present we have 25 showrooms spread across various cities in TN. By 2017, we will have 50 jewellery showrooms including New Delhi and Middle East and in States like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu”, he concluded.

Entries called for Third Indian Biodiversity Congress in Chennai

Call for entries have begun for the third chapter of the renowned Indian Biodiversity Congress which will be held from December 17 to 20 at SRM University, Chennai. The last date for submission of abstracts for the seminar is November 15. 

The Third IBC is being organised under the joint auspices of Thiruvananthapuram-based Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA), C.P. Ramaswamy Environmental Education Centre (CPREEC), School of Public Health, SRM University from Chennai and Navdanya, New Delhi. Indian Biodiversity Congress (IBC) witnesses people from different groups like scientists, conservationists, environmentalists, civil society groups and local communities across India who come together to support the event. It serves as the largest platform to discuss the current status of biodiversity in India and set up an inclusive colloquium to forward strategies and policies to conserve the rich biodiversity heritage of the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. G.G. Gangadharan, President, CISSA and Vice Chairman, IBC, said: “At a time when 2011-2020 has been declared as the “United Nations Decade on Biodiversity” (UNDOB), the biennial event intends to be a vehicle to support and promote implementation of the objectives of this synergistic Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and to mainstream biodiversity issues into broader development planning and in the economic sectors of various countries.”

Prof. Ch. Satish Kumar, Dean, School of Public Health, SRM University, Chennai, added: “The third IBC, to be convened at the Kattankulathur main campus of the SRM University, will focus on the importance on the theme “Biodiversity for Poverty Eradication”. Specific biodiversity related targets and indicators will be integrated into the goals on food security and nutrition, water and health, which makes the focal theme relevant.”

Dr. A. Biju Kumar, Organising Secretary, IBC 2014, said: “IBC’s aims to formulate a vision and alternate strategic plan for the conservation of biodiversity in the context of the prevailing concept of ‘Development at any cost’”.

The First and Second IBCs were organised at University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram (2010) and Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore (2012) respectively. 

IBC will showcase a wide array of programmes such as seminars, biodiversity expo, national photography exhibition, civil society meet, documentary film festival and children’s biodiversity conclave, besides a series of satellite and side events. 

The presentations by experts are also arranged in 9 parallel sessions. Leading international experts and biodiversity experts across India and abroad will play a part in the event. About 1,500 delegates, represented by a cross section of people working in biodiversity and related topics in India, include leading scientists and researchers, NGOs, bureaucrats, policy makers, community members and conservationists. The organisers have decided to have special sessions on “Biodiversity and Health” and “Biodiversity and Intellectual Property Rights” too as part of the event. 

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Nanditha Krishna, Chairperson, IBC 2014, and Director, CPREEC, Chennai, said: “The Indian Biodiversity Expo organised in connection with the event will showcase the rich biodiversity heritage of the country. The focal theme of the Expo will be Exhibition “Cultural Biodiversity of India”, where there will be a focus on cultural biodiversity of Tamil Nadu. The Expo is all geared up to witness over one lakh visitors.” 

National and State agencies, Research and Developments Centers, Universities, commercial firms and NGOs will participate in the event. The other thematic areas of the exhibition include State biodiversity profiles (showcase of biodiversity heritage of Indian States), institutional pavilions, ecosystem diversity, endangered species, institutional profiles, invasive species, biodiversity education, threats to biodiversity, organic food court, medicinal plant expo, and exhibits highlighting green business and innovations. 

Indian Biodiversity Congress Awards will be constituted this year to encourage people who have contributed towards the conservation of biodiversity in India and biodiversity education. The details of IBC are available in the websites of the Congress (

Honda Cars India enters Guinness World Records books

Honda’s ‘Longest Drive through Amazing India’ in the Honda Amaze, entered the Guinness World Records, registering the longest journey by car in a single country. The family sedan Amaze reached New Delhi, as the epic drive came to a close after clocking an amazing 23,800 km drive across the length and breadth of the country.

This drive was flagged off from Jodhpur on September 15, 2014. The journey covered a distance of through mountainous terrains, coastlines, flat highways, congested city roads and the interiors of India. It crossed more than 400 towns on its way and made pit-stops at the major cities. The 55-day journey saw the Amaze explore the nooks and corners of the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Hironori Kanayama, President & CEO of Honda Cars India Ltd. (HCIL), said: “We are happy to announce that Honda Cars India has added yet another milestone to its journey by entering The Guinness World Records for the Longest journey by car in a single country”.

He added: “The drive through various terrains is testimony to the durability, quality and reliability of Honda Amaze. These qualities have found their way into the Indian market and the car has garnered excellent response from the customers.”

Honda Cars India launched the ‘Honda Amazingly Indian campaign’ in September this year. The campaign is spread across all the major media covering TV, radio and on-ground activation. Honda’s ‘Longest Drive through Amazing India’ has been extremely successful in creating a buzz around the Amaze. The drive saw participation from the new and existing customers of Honda Amaze as they joined the travelers at various stages of the journey. Honda dealers also showed immense enthusiasm and hosted the travelers in various cities.

The campaign was initiated to celebrate the success of Honda Amaze in the country and for reaching 100,000 units sales milestone. This is the fastest in the history of Honda Cars India.

Suresh Babu rides Suzuki to victory in Raid de Himalaya Rally

Riding his Suzuki all terrain Suzuki RMX450Z, Suresh Babu, a Suzuki Motorcycles India employee, bagged second position in the Xtreme (Motorcycles) category of the 16th Raid de Himalaya Rally

A legend among racing and biking enthusiasts, Suzuki Motorcycle India Private Ltd. (SMIPL), a subsidiary of one of the world’s leading two-wheeler manufacturers, Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan, is extremely proud of the achievements of this member of the Suzuki family.

The rallyists started from Shimla, and rode for a grueling 8 days (October 3-11), through Manali, Kaza and the fabled Spiti Valley and treacherous Bara Lacha La pass to Srinagar. The 16th Raid De Himalaya had 50 competitors in Rally Moto Quad (motorcycles and quads), 41 teams in Rally Xtreme (4X4) and 51 teams in Rally Adventure. Traditionally, only 25% of the starters can withstand the harsh cold, the high altitude and hostile terrain to finish the race.

Mr. Atul Gupta, Executive Vice President - SMIPL, congratulated Suresh Babu on his success, “I am delighted at Suzuki’s victory in what is considered one of the most difficult races in the world. We are extremely proud of Suresh and his accomplishment. This win is a testimony to Suzuki’s world-class motorcycle technology and the indomitable spirit of Suzuki employees!’

Suresh Babu, the elated second place winner and National Head - Product Planning – SMIPL, said: “This is a great moment for me. I had to stay alert every second of the ride because the terrain is so different from what we are used to and the altitude is so high. Raid de Himalayas is of course the only motorsport rally to be staged at such a high altitude-6000 meters above sea level! However, the difficulties involved made me determined to conquer this race. It’s a great personal victory for me and also a win for all of us at Suzuki.”

Suresh Babu has been an avid racer since 1991 when he started participating in National Rally Championships and National Motocross and Auto cross championships. He has also participated in various international rallies as well, such as Qatar and Italy rounds of World Cross Country Rally Championship. In India, he has participated in Desert Storm Rally held in Rajasthan where he stood third.

Honda Cars India expands network with inauguration of 200th dealership

Honda Cars India Ltd. (HCIL), leading manufacturer of premium cars in India, has announced the opening of its 200th dealership in India with the inauguration of Metro Honda in Secunderabad. 

The state-of-art dealership, Metro Honda, was inaugurated by Mr. Hironori Kanayama, President and CEO, Honda Cars India. The company is aggressively expanding its network in the country focusing on existing & newer Tier-III markets and announced its plans to add 100 new dealers in the next 16 months by March 2016. 

Mr. Shigeru Yamazaki, Director and Sr. Vice President, Marketing and Sales, Honda Cars India, Mr. Jnaneswar Sen, Sr. Vice President, Marketing and Sales, Honda Cars India, and Mr. Nihar Mody, Managing Director, VSN Automobiles Pvt. Ltd., were also present at the inauguration event.  

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Hironori Kanayama, President and CEO, Honda Cars India, said: “We are delighted to reach the milestone of 200 dealers in India. Network expansion is a critical part of our larger business goal of achieving sales of 300,000 units per annum by March 2017. As we expand our business in the Indian market, we have to move closer to our customers to be able to provide them with best customer services at nationwide level.”

With the opening of the new dealership, HCIL now has network presence of 200 facilities in 130 cities in the country. Continuing the expansion drive, HCIL aims at expanding its dealership network by 35% during FY 2014-15 and take the number of dealerships to 230 in 150 cities by March 2015.

Backed by strong demand for cars like Honda City, Honda Amaze and recently launched Honda Mobilio, HCIL achieved more than 1 lakh sales in the current financial year registering an overall growth of 43% during the period April-October 2014 with 1,01,442 units as against 70,831 units during the corresponding period last year.

Metro Honda dealership is conveniently located at Bowenpally, RR District, Secunderabad. With a built-up area of 58,000 sq.ft., Metro Honda is a comprehensive 3-S facility designed and built to provide the complete range of Honda services to its customers – sales, service and spare parts. The facility boasts of a Showroom and a state-of-the-art workshop with 25 workshop bays and facilities for body & paint, wheel alignment, wheel balancing and other services. 

The dealership constitutes a team of enthusiastic, trained & dedicated manpower to provide highest level of customer satisfaction. The dealership is designed to provide unique experience to customers with facilities like lounge area, kids play zone. The dealership also offers facilities like Auto Terrace – Honda’s one-stop facility for Exchange &Pre-Owned Car Purchase and Honda Assure for all motor insurance requirements. 

Mr. Nihar K. Mody, Managing Director of Metro Honda, said: “We are extremely happy to partner with Honda Cars India for opening our dealership  and it’s indeed a proud moment to be the 200th Honda dealership in India.  I am thankful to Honda Cars India for the support and confidence they have shown in our business. Our showroom boasts of best-in-class infrastructure and we are looking forward to provide world class service experience to our customers.”

Pajero Sport’s automatic variant introduced

Hindustan Motor Finance Corporation Ltd. (HMFCL) – Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) added new muscle to their robust SUV range by launching the much-awaited automatic variant of Pajero Sport. The all new Pajero Sport is now available in 4x4 manual transmission and 4x2 automatic transmission with added features. This comes on the heels of the earlier introduction of limited edition dual-tone and the Anniversary Edition Pajero Sport. The new vehicle is priced at Rs. 23.55 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi. Bookings are already open across the dealerships from November 5.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation’s state-of-the-art vehicles are being manufactured under a technical collaboration and marketed in India since 1998, initially, by Hindustan Motors and later by HMFCL. The introduction of the automotive variant is an integral part of MMC’s new strategy – ‘New Stage 2016’ – to bolster the product sales in India and other emerging international markets. This global mid-term business plan of Mitsubishi for 2014-16 will focus on revenue growth through launch of new models and development of new generation technology. The launch of the new Pajero Sport Automatic and the facelift version of 4X4 manual transmission expands Mitsubishi’s variant list in its SUV family. 

Speaking on the occasion, HMFCL’s Managing Director, Mr. Uttam Bose, stated: “Mitsubishi has reinforced its commitment to HMFCL and India. Sales increase of SUVs will boost the business fundamentals of our operations.  Volumes will grow through launch of strategic models. We expect a quantum leap in our sales with the entry of the all new Pajero Sport and garnering of sizable market share. HMFCL will also focus on expansion of its channel network so as to ensure availability across India.”

According to him, Mitsubishi’s new stage 2016 strategy will provide new variants and models to go on sale in India.

Elaborating upon the new features in the all new Pajero Sport, HMFCL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. P. Vijayan, observed: “The new automatic variant is ideally suited for city driving conditions. Hence from a buyer’s perspective the automatic transmission provides comfort and smoother riding experience. From a driver’s point of view the automatic transmission gives effortless driving with quick acceleration using the paddle shifter which is a very unique feature in the diesel SUV segment.” 

Qatar Airways brings back ‘Double the Luxury’ offer

Back by popular demand, Qatar Airways is again offering its customers in India fabulous ‘Double the Luxury’ offer so that travellers can enjoy a fantastic 2-for-1 ticket offer with the World’s Best Business Class. Travellers booking one Business Class ticket will receive a second Business Class ticket for free, for their travelling companion. This fantastic offer can be availed to select destinations across Qatar Airways’ network worldwide.

The promotion will run till November 22 and is valid for travel until March 31, 2015. Travellers from India can book their tickets and avail the offer by visiting any Qatar Airways sales office, appointed travel partners or the official website of the airline, The Qatar Airways’ Frequent Flyer Programme – Privilege Club members also get a chance to earn 50% bonus Qmiles on their travel as a part of this offer by registering at least 24 hours before their travel. 

Qatar Airways Vice President Indian Sub-continent, Ihab Sorial, said: “We received an overwhelming response from the Qatar Airways Privilege Club Members and Social Media fans in India on the ‘Double the Luxury’ promotion. At Qatar Airways, we consistently strive to offer the most exceptional and enticing promotion for our travellers and given the popularity of this promotion, we decided to re-introduce it for the benefit of our passengers. We are sure that our Business Class travellers will take advantage of this great two-for-one opportunity and enjoy the luxurious experience of our award-winning five-star service.”

Awarded World’s Best Business Class for two consecutive years by industry audit Skytrax, Qatar Airways provides premium travel experience by offering unparalleled comfort, sophisticated luxury and excellent service. 

Passengers flying with Qatar Airways can also experience the world’s latest international gateway, Hamad International Airport, in Doha, with its state-of-the-art facilities and seamless connections to global destinations.

The airline offers a wide connection of flights from 12 cities in India via its hub in Doha to an exciting choice of destinations –Barcelona, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, London, Miami, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome, Washington DC and many more.

The airline has seen rapid growth in just 17 years of operation, to the point where today it is flying a modern fleet of 141 aircraft to 145 key business and leisure destinations across the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Africa, North America and South America.