by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | July 01, 2006

The more than 100-year-old Indian hotel chain, Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces, is looking to grow its presence in North America, a direct response to efforts by U.S.-based hotel chains to increase their market share overseas.
    “For 30 years we managed to keep the Indian market all to ourselves,” said Raymond Bickson, Taj Hotels’ managing director and CEO. “But now that all these international chains have moved into our backyard, it has forced us to expand outward. If we want to be a global player, we have to go where they are.”
    Currently, Taj has a portfolio of 58 properties, including 18 outside of India. Of those, just The Pierre in New York City is in the North American market. The company took over that hotel in July 2005, ousting Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts from a multiyear management contract.
    Bickson says he is most eager to repeat the success of the Pierre acquisition. “We want to go from an $800 million company to a
$2 billion company in the next two years,” he said, noting that the chain now is looking to invest in resorts on the West Coast.
    “We think we are an attractive alternative to existing brands that are out there,” Bickson added.