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AHMEDABAD, INDIA-The luxury hotel group Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts Worldwide says it is the largest international hotel operator in India now that it has brought three more hotels in the country under its management wing, giving it nine properties in eight cities.

The London-based hotel operator added properties in Ahmedabad, (Gujarat); Kovalam (Kerala) and Jaipur (Rajastan) and already managed properties in the six major gateway cities including Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Mumbai, Pune, and New Delhi, where it operates two properties.

Sami Zoghbi, Le Meridien’s regional managing director for the Middle East and West Asia, says India is one of the prime countries for growth and development of the company’s brand. The company’s goal is to double the number of properties in the MEWA region by the end of 2004, says Zoghbi. Le Meridien currently operates 29 hotels in the region.

In Ahmedabad, Le Meridien has made its first foray into the Indian state of Gujarat. With a 63-room hotel offering panoramic views of the Sabarmati River in West India as well as a health club, swimming pool, restaurant, lobby bar, 24-hour coffee shop and the city’s only nightclub. The property is owned by Associated Hotels Limited, which also owns Le Royal Meridien Mumbai.

The 144-room Le Meridien Kovalam Beach Resort is due to open in November 2003 and is the first five-star beach resort in Kerala, located in South India. Adjacent to Halcyon Castle, the resort includes a health club, Ayurvedic spa, three swimming pools, three restaurants, and an associated a Convention Center for up to 500 people. The property is owned by Kovelam Hotel Limited. Company Chairman P. Mohamed Ali also is chairman of the company that owns Le Meridien Cochin Resort & Conference Centre, also in Kerala.

Scheduled to open in December 2003 is the new 120-room Le Meridien Jaipur, located 16 miles from Jaipur International Airport, eight miles from Hawamahal Palace, and four miles from the historic Amer and Jai Garh Forts. The hotel will feature substantial meeting space, spa treatments and meditation rooms, a 42-seat cinema, high-speed Internet access, two restaurants and a Penguin Club with daily activities for children. The property is owned by S. S. Sharma, a prominent businessman who also owns two other hotels in Jaipur and Goa.

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