Colombo Hilton gets a face lift readying for tourism rebound
Colombo Hilton is now undergoing refurbishment with the aim of giving it a new outlook in anticipation of a revival of the country’s battered tourism owing to Covid-19 outbreak and present man-made economic crisis.
Hotels Developers Lanka Ltd. (HDL) is readying a revamped Hilton Colombo for the envisaged rebound in tourism following favourable country situation and relaxation of travel advisories by several countries.
The first-ever major refurbishment of Hilton Colombo after being opened 35 years ago is nearing completion with an investment of Rs. 2.5 billion. Around 253 rooms of Hilton Colombo is under-going a revamp whilst the five star remains operational and busy even amidst challenging times.
HDL Chairman Nimal Perera noted that the total refurbishment of rooms between 7th and 17th floor is scheduled for completion by March next year.
He said this is in addition to Rs. 250 million spent in the revamp and relaunch of the Chinese restaurant Wok which since has become most popular.
HDL also plans to revamp and relaunch its authentic Sri Lankan cuisine specialty restaurant Curry Leaf with an investment of Rs. 100 million and ready by December. A new fine-dining Japanese restaurant is slated to open in the second quarter of next year.
Hilton Colombo’s new offering Sunset Blue too has become the “must be” place for the best of entertainment in the city for the young at night.
Perera said that refurbishment of balance rooms of the 382-key Hilton Colombo, development of the third tower (with a possible 190 rooms) and prospects for a mixed development project on the over 2-acre land in the area of the Hilton Sports Centre are in the pipeline.
Hilton is the world’s most valuable hotels brand, according to a new report from the leading brand valuation consultancy, Brand Finance.
Chairman Perera said the emphasis is to further enhance revenue from Hilton›s market leadership in Food and Beverage (F&B) and Banquets whilst refurbished property will offer higher quality hospitality for tourists from the upcoming winter season onwards.
The new initiatives are hot on the heels of the revamped public spaces and the lobby at Hilton Colombo. Additional investments were put into the property and plant in terms of improved energy efficient equipment such as chillers and cooling towers, transformers and elevators. Further efforts are underway to maximize energy saving aspects including solar.
HDL is one of the best performing State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), says Perera. Since coming under the ownership of Treasury, HDL has seen State investment of Rs. 12 billion to keep flagship international five-star brand Hilton Colombo successful.
Unlike the majority of the SOEs, HDL’s debt (short and long term) is around Rs. 3 billion only whilst cash for recent upgrades had been internally funded. “We have reinvested our profits to improve the property and facilities,” the Chairman added.
Perera also attributes HDL success to excellent cross-cultural management and a model Public Private Partnership. The US-headquartered Hilton is a Fortune 500 company and Colombo also works closely with its Singapore office.
HDL and Hilton Colombo have also benefited from prudent risk management practices and strategies given the volatile exchange environment that prevailed in the past year and cash flow management etc.
procurement decisions and the decision to renovate whilst keeping the hotel operating and amidst COVID-pandemic were also wise moves.