May 25, 2012 (LBT) - Raffles Hotels & Resorts is close to sealing a deal with a Sri Lankan conglomerate, Cargills (Ceylon), to open a Raffles hotel in Colombo. The arrangement will see Raffles managing its inaugural hotel in Sri Lanka, housed within a Cargills-owned colonial building dating back to 1844.
The deal will also mark Cargills’ first foray into hospitality business. The company's other interests span the food retail and manufacturing industries – it owns Sri Lanka’s largest supermarket chain, Cargills Food City, and the local KFC franchise, among other subsidiaries. Hiran Cooray, chairman of Jetwing Hotels, said the entry of more international hotel brands like Raffles was a boon for Sri Lanka's hospitality industry.
“They will raise the standard of service and excellence, which will ensure that local brands have to follow suit or fall by the wayside,” he explained.
Raffles Hotels & resorts had earlier been in discussions with the Bank of Ceylon to rebrand and manage its 80-room Grand Oriental Hotel in Colombo, built in 1837 and believed to be the oldest hotel in Asia, as a Raffles.