John Keells Holdings’ biggest ever resort hotel investment, the five-star Cinnamon Bey in Beruwela costing Rs. 3.1 billion was soft-opened last week and was running 30 percent occupancy.
``Given that it’s the best property on the beach right now, we expect the hotel to be sold out in the forthcoming winter season,’’ Ajith Gunawardene, JKH Deputy Chairman and head of its hotel segment,’’ said.
The 200-room hotel, designed by architect Channa Daswatte, has been laid out on 10 acres of land in what was the previous Hotel Bayroo plus the adjoining Confifi Beach which JKH acquired some years ago.
JKH owned Bayroo which was wiped out by the tsunami while the Confifi property was later acquired and demolished.
A prime property on Beruwela’s Golden Mile, Gunawardene said that the hotel has a ``tinge of Moghul architecture.’’
``Cinnamon Bey is named with reference to (Beruwela’s) history and Bey is the term used to address provincial nobleman of the Turkish Empire. The unique location of the resort gives it the possession of having both the bay and the beach as its view including a natural pool ideal and safe for swimming,’’ the hotel’s publicists say.
``The first group came in on Thursday,’’ a spokeswoman for the owning company said. ``We’ve been brochuring it for the past four or five months and the forecast for the winter season is positive.’’
``Now that the Southern Highway is operational, you can get there in a flash,’’ Gunawardene added.
Asked whether the hotel sector in Sri Lanka is `over-banked’ with a large number of new and existing players looking for a slice of the cake, he said that it was natural that after years of being bogged down because of the war, there would be a surge of activity with many new hotels being built and existing properties refurbished and expanded.
Asked whether JKH was looking at further investment in the hotel sector, he said that their next hotel will be the 245-room city hotel rising to 24 floors now being built on Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha (Green Path) which will be operational early to mid-2014.
Other projects were under discussion and they were looking at sites, he said.
He remained tight-lipped on the mega.Colombo city property development plan encompassing several acres of prime land including JKH’s existing headquarters at Glennie Street and the adjoining sprawling Ceylon Cold Stores property, which is close to finalization.
``We can’t talk about it until the various regulatory approvals and other details are in place,’’ he said.