Lion Royal Group of Hotels will be investing over Rs. 400 million to build two hotels in Digampathana Sigiriya and in Unawatuna.

Lion Royal Tourism and Lion Royal Resorts Chairman and Managing Director Dilan Wickramasinghe said that they have already acquired land for these two projects. “We will start construction by end of this year and the hotels should be ready for 2017 winter.”

“These hotels will be built and marketed on the line of city hotels and they will be affordable to guests.While being sold as budget hotels the two properties will have swimming pools in both hotels and all other luxury facilities.”

The Galle hotel to be built in Unawatuna will offer 50 rooms and the company hopes to invest Rs. 300 million for it. The budget hotel in Digampathaha Sigiriya would consist of 40 rooms and would be Rs. 75 million investments.

“We hope to invest out own money and bulk of the investment would come from borrowings.”

Currently the group own and operate the Kasspa Lions Rock hotel in Sigiriya with 51 spacious rooms and Coco Royal Resort in Kalutara with an inventory of 67 keys. “We will also re invest in Coco Royal Kalutara. A former Tour guide for the French market since 1983,Wickramasinghe said that he first invested in a hotel since he felt that he could offer a better product for a lower rate. “This was how I borrowed Rs. 30 million from People Bank and started to build the 40 room Lion Rock Hotel in Digampathana Sigiriya in 2004.

“The day after I laid the foundation the Digampathana camp was attacked by terrorists killing over 100 security personnel.But I was not disappointed and continued and today I have added 48 more rooms there.”

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Lion Rock Hotel in Digampathana Sigiriya

He said he was somewhat disappointed with the Sri Lankan hotel room rates. “I think the Sri Lankan hotel rates today are too expensive and overpriced. The room rates which were economical during the time of the war show up ‘unfairly’ after ending the war. I think this is not fair and I consider it a ‘wipe out’.”

“This is why I decided to invest in the 70 room Coco Royal Resort in Kalutara where I provide four star services for two star rates. I also don’t believe in classifying room categories by just widening the room by a few feet during construction and sell them at higher rates. I only have standard rooms and market them for less than the competitors without compromising quality of service.”

Commenting on the minimum room rate in city hotels he said that was a stupid move. “If you take two city hotels that offer the same rate the service and facilities of them are not at all equal which is unfair for the guest.”

He asked why ‘a minimum room rate was required’ when the ‘demand and the supply norm’ can determine the prices.

Having being in the industry since 1983 and opening up Lion Royal Tours in 1999 he said that he was very disappointed as an honourable tax payer to Sri Lanka. “The return what we get from the government is very low and out interests are not looked after. This worsened with adhoc taxes which keep on changing every month. Also tax on vehicle imports makes the government the laughing stock in the world and Sri Lanka may be the only country to levy a tax on the import of hybrid vehicles.”

He also said the government does not do a pre study and imposes tax and later due to pressure of the public are forced to fold them. “The classical example is the taxes on the health sector which is atrocious.”

This article originally appears on Daily News.

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