T T Vasu, son of former Finance Minister T T Krishnamachari, was gregarious and a great networker. As Director of the TTK Group he was instrumental in concluding a number of collaborations for consumer products.
One of his more ambitious projects was setting up a five star hotel in the 1960s. He identified a prime property at the junction of Chamiers Road and Mowbrays Road and started building the Adyar Gate Hotel. Vasu struggled to raise the needed resources, then estimated at a ‘whopping’ Rs 3 crore (Rs 1000 crore in today’s terms). He couldn’t and hence handed it to the Goyals for development.
ITC, keen to expand into hotels, joined hands with Adyar Gate Hotel Ltd (AGHL). Soon the hotel came to be known as Adyar Park. Later ITC invited the Sheraton Group and expanded it as Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers into a 286-room property. For over three decades, Park Sheraton flourished as one of the leading 5-star hotels in the city enjoying great custom. ITC’s drive and leadership enabled it to grow and grow.
The large spacious property attracted guests including cricket teams, diplomats and businessmen from India and abroad.
The spurt and the glut…
Chennai in recent years has seen large additions to hotel room capacity. Hyatt Regency, Hilton, Grand Chola and Leela Palace were added in quick succession, apart from dozens of smaller properties. Naturally these led to intense competition. The slowdown of the economy further impacted business. Occupancy reduced drastically.
ITC developed another major property on its own, the 600 room Grand Chola in Guindy nearer the airport. Understandably, ITC would endeavour to keep its own property more fully occupied than the one on
management contract. It should not, therefore, be surprising to see the end of the collaboration between AGHL and ITC when the present contract ended.
AGHL is entrusting the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) to run its property. Globally, IHG has four brands of hotel - Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. The Adyar Gate property is to be run as a Crowne Plaza Hotel. IHG already runs Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express Grand hotels in the city and around. But this is the first Crowne Plaza brand.
Chennai, enjoyed the boom in economic growth during 2004-10. But the severe power cut during 2011-12 and the econo-
mic slowdown curtailed much of industrial activity. The first casualty of such slowdown is the hotel industry. The sudden influx of new capacity severely impacted occupancy, tariffs and hence profits. The changes in Adyar Gate are the manifestations of this transformation.
Sadly T T Vasu is not alive to lend his skills in networking.