The MI Group founded by Mr. George Ondaatjie control some well known resort hotel properties in the country including Nilaveli Beach Hotel, its first foray into hotels, Tangerine Beach Hotels PLC, Nuwara Eliya Hotels, PLC and Royal Palms Beach Hotels PLC but has no presence in the Colombo city hotel segment.
"We are working on a new concept and looking at a particular niche market focused on the Wellawatte community,’’ Gerard Ondaatjie explained. ``The hotel has been under construction for the last 18 months and we expect to launch it early next year.’’
The 45-room property owned by Fairview Hotels is being built on an 18.5 perch block of land at Ramakrishna Road, Wellawatte, close to the Ramakrishna Mission and the developers plan to market the rooms at under USD 70.
"There’ a big demand for lodging at Wellawatte and we plan to fill this niche with an operation similar to the Holiday Inn in the US,’’ Ondaatjie explained.
In a recent stock exchange filing, Nuwara Eliya Hotels announced that it had invested Rs. 200 million surplus cash in Fairview in a related party transaction. Ondaatjie said that the other shareholders of Fairview are the Ondaatjie family and listed and unlisted companies of the MI group who have taken smaller stakes.
The total investment in the new hotel is estimated at Rs. 450 million.
MI is regarded as one of the strongest finance companies in the country with large holdings in the hotel sector and a very big portfolio of listed company shares, mostly focused on hotels, both on its own account and that of the group’s founder/chairman Deshanbandu George Ondaatjie.
"We are confident that people looking for lodging in the area will be attracted to a moderately priced hotel run by a chain of good repute,’’ Ondaatjie said. ``If this project takes off, we’d do another one in the north of Colombo where a similar demand exists.’’