Located right in front of the Tribhuvan International Airport, the Airport Hotel stands out from the rest of the hotels in the country. As a different kind of hotel, the Airport Hotel focuses on giving quality service and top notch hospitality to the lay over passengers from the airport. A hotel with good accommodation, food and hospitality, especially for airport passengers and short-stay tourists, was missing before Airport Hotel was established.
"Suppose a flight is cancelled at midnight. Where will the passengers and flight crew stay? We invite those passengers to our hotel. This is what the airport hotel is for," says Binayak Shah, Managing Director of the hotel. He adds, “Mainly international travellers and business visitors on short business trips come to us. They attend a meeting, stay for a night and they fly early in the morning.”
Park & Fly
The hotel has a special Park & Fly facility. Visitors can park their car, catch their flight and when they return they can go back home in their own car. The hotel does a sizable amount of business this way. Focusing on tailor made services, such facilities serve those who visit the airport to see off business partners and friends. “They may come from Pokhara to attend a meeting and within 2 hours they have to attend another business meeting and then they fly to Hong Kong etc,” says Shah.
The revolving restaurant at the top of Airport Hotel adds another dimension. With one revolution taking an hour, diners need not feel any sense of queasiness and can enjoy a panoramic view of Kathmandu as they dine.
The hotel is also positioned ideally. Pashupatinath temple, Kathmandu's International and domestic airport are located within walking distance. Kathmandu's central business and shopping district that includes Durbar Marg, New Road and Thamel are just around 5.5 km away from the hotel. Convenient driveways link the hotel with famous scenic tourist destinations like Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Nagarkot and Dhulikhel.
Any type of business takes time to be mature and some difficult phases are part of the experience. "The early days were a bit difficult. With business taking its natural course we are now a well established hotel in Kathmandu,” says Shah. During the starting period, the hotel had organised a FAM trip by inviting foreign guests to show them the facilities and the strengths of the hotel.
About the Facilities
In terms of ratings the hotel is classified as a three star but it provides facilities much beyond what a 3-star hotel does. The hotel has a total of 55 rooms (5 bedroom suites, 5 corporate deluxe rooms and 45 deluxe rooms) all well decorated and with full modern amenities. It is fully air conditioned with popular satellite TV Channels, mini bar, IDD Telephone. There are two multi cuisine restaurants, Atrium Café/Atrium Lounge and the Cloud Zero Revolving Restaurant serving Chinese, continental, Mexican and Indian cuisine.
The large banquet hall can hold a comprehensive banquet service, and there are souvenir shops, foreign currency exchange facilities, bell boy, valet parking. It also has a beauty parlor, spa, Jacuzzi and sauna. And a swimming pool is currently under construction. It has also been providing special services, mainly for its airport customers, called Park & Fly, Eat & Fly, Comfort & Safety for late night and early morning arrivals and departure. The hotel also provides updates on flight arrivals and departure information.
Trends & Marketing
From October 2014 to March 2015 business was above 80 percent and the hotel was operating at a profit. International online bookings (which cover 20 to 25 percent of the hotel’s bookings) were also high. To compensate for the booking cancellations that came after the earthquake the hotel is looking into utilizing other segments. "We are working on domestic tourism and business tourism, which have, in fact, already increased,” says Shah.
The most frequent visitors to the hotel are Chinese and Indian nationals, although there has been a rise in Nepali NRNs who come for a couple of days to attend events such as marriage ceremonies. Visitors from India mostly come for Pashupati Nath. The hotel arranges their visit to the temple for a sum of Rs 1,100. Such visitors generally stay for 3 nights.
Catering to around 110 people per day, the hotel can service 3000 guests on average per month. Normally, visitors just stay overnight. Airlines staff (managers, engineers) stay for longer time (up to 3 months).
The hotel says one of its key strengths lies in customer retention and customer satisfaction. It has also created excellent employment opportunities for its employees, who can gain work experience at the hotel and then go abroad. "Most of the employees are young people and for their career development we provide training and motivation," says Shah.
“As an airport hotel we are meeting the needs of the airport,” says Shah. “Our hotel has also helped to develop the area,” he adds. New schemes and packages are also in the pipeline. A food festival is planned for after Dashain and the hotel is also planning to promote the tourism sector.
“As the hotel’s main mission to increase the facility of the airport, the plan now is to improve the hospitality, accommodation, and maintain the quality of food. We hope in the next 5 years this area will be like Thamel, “says Shah.