Legendary Singapore-based Raffles Hotels is currently in negotiations with the Cargills Group to set up the Raffles at the old Cargills building in Fort which dates back to 1844, industry sources said. Officials from Cargills declined to comment on the project in which negotiations have been on for the past several months.
But officials at the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) confirmed that such negotiations are underway. They said initially the BOC was in discussions with Raffles to transform the 80-room Grand Oriental Hotel, said to be the oldest hotel in Asia built in 1837, into a Raffles product. "However some issues arose and we couldn't proceed.
Then Raffles began negotiating with Cargills," one bank official said. Hiran Cooray, a top industry leader and Chairman of Jetwing Hotels, said regional and international brands like Raffles have a bigger global reach and this is a positive for Sri Lanka.
"They will also raise the standard of service and excellence which would ensure that local brands have to follow suit or fall by the wayside." Cargills owns the country's biggest supermarket chain and is involved in a range of activities in the food sector including ice cream, processed meats and has the KFC franchise. This is the company's first foray in the leisure business. Raffles has nine luxurious properties in Singapore, Cambodia, China, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles and Paris.