Shaligram, Mandala and Hacienda are not just the names of Tibetan motifs and a flower, but three of the several apartment hotels that exist in Kathmandu and are located in Jawlakhel, Baluwatar and Maharajgunj respectively.
For the medium-term visitor looking for a place to call a home away from home, this mix between a hotel and an apartment provides a blend of services and facilities that can cater to the needs of visitors who are around long enough to find a hotel stay impractical but for a period short enough not to warrant taking on more permanent accommodation. The advantage that apartment hotels have over hotels is that they provide the facilities of having an apartment with a high level of privacy and flexibility in service, while at the same time, having all the service advantages that a hotel may have. Kathmandu being the capital of this nation and the location for most consular and diplomatic offices as well as being the headquarters of a number of INGO and other international institutions, there are a large number of visitors both regular as well as seasonal. Complementing this influx of visitors is the tourist traffic as well as people visiting on business. It is true that the city has a large number of hotels for the requirements of short-term visitors but they do not completely meet the requirement of some travelers who wish to stay for longer periods.
No such problems at the Shaligram Apartment Hotel at Jawlakhel however. Located beside the Zoo, this place service the large INGO community located around that area and started service in 1999. Prabhakar SJB Rana, the owner, tells me that he feels that it is the location that makes a difference in the success of this type of business. He does not depend on tourist traffic though about 15% of his business does come from this sector. According to him, Shaligram has had a 50% average occupancy rate in its seven apartments and he maintains that business though not booming, has been sustainable. What is unique about his establishment is that the property also houses a health club, which includes tennis courts, a swimming pool, a gym and sauna, as well as beauty parlors and a restaurant and bar. This means that his place had all, and more, than most hotels can provide while at the same time providing an apartment kind of facility. He stresses that service is an important factor in this business and the level of personalized service that he and his staff provide make customers return to him. The more popular apartments at Shaligram are its older suites which are called the —. These are housed in an older style building that have a homely feeling as compared to the other modern structures there that house the other apartments. There are three apartments in this building and Mr. Rana says that they are usually occupied most of the time because of their unique appeal.
The concept of apartment hotels has been around for a while now but in Kathmandu, the first such service is credited to Hacienda Apartment Hotel, which commenced operation in 1997. Located behind Sheetal Mahal in Maharajgung, and a little off the road between the American Embassy and the Teaching Hospital, this establishment boasts 14 apartments with half of them having two bedrooms and the other half having a single room. Each of the rooms have all the amenities one expects to find in ones own apartment, including cutlery and linen, and is also serviced by a restaurant and business center and also has housekeeping services. In terms of exuding a sense of luxury and comfort, this place beats most others and is amongst the best-furnished apartment hotels in town. However, Sailesh Shrestha, who currently oversees the establishment, told us that in recent times the apartments have not seen much business as the diplomatic community, that formed a bulk of the clients, are not turning up as much as they used to. This is partially attributed to the fact that after the slump in tourist traffic, hotels began to move into the apartment hotel market offering deals in terms of service and rates that could not be matched by them.
A more recent player in the market is Mandala Apartments that is located in Baluwatar and also services a market similar to the one that Hacienda does. Shraddha Thapa is a manager there and tells me that they have had 80% occupancy in the last two years of operation, but that these numbers have fallen in the past year. Here too there are 10 apartments that come in one and two bedroom varieties and most command lofty views of the surrounding areas, which include the Rashtrya Bank and the prime minister’s quarters. These apartments have housekeeping support and are priced at around 800 to 900 US$ a month, which seems to be the average price across most apartment hotels in town. The rate varies according to length of stay with longer stays working out cheaper. Mandala also offers health club access as part of its value added services. The competition they face from the hotels in town however seems to be at a price level. A part of the charm that these arrangements have is that they provide a neighborly feeling also while staying in the same building.
SHALIGRAM APARTMENT HOTEL
P.O. Box - 3992 Kathmandu, Nepal
Phone : 977-1-543241, 534713
Fax : 977-1-522346
E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
HACIENDA APARTMENT HOTEL
P.O. Box - 1635 Kathmandu, Nepal
Phone : 977-1-410216, 419581
Fax : 977-1-415305
E-Mail : email@example.com
MANDALA APARTMENT HOTEL
P.O. Box - 1222 Kathmandu, Nepal
Phone : 977-1-412412, 429019
E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org