Tiger Palace Resort at Kotihawa, Bhairahawa has been awarded a five-star rating by the Department of Tourism. The newly opened luxury casino resort received the prestigious ranking on Wednesday.Built at a cost of Rs5-billion, Tiger Palace Resort has been classified as Nepal’s first five-star casino resort. Dinesh Bhattarai, director general of the department, handed over the certificate.
The resort held a soft opening on September 15. “We will be announcing the commercial opening date of the resort within two to three days,” said Rajendra Bajgain, chairman of Tiger Palace Resort. The casino resort is likely to throw open its doors by the first quarter of next year, it said.
The trade and industrial hub of Bhairahawa, located in the southern Tarai plains close to the Indian border, is also the gateway to Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, and the site of the country’s second international airport which is expected to be completed by 2019.
The resort is a 15-minute drive from Bhairahawa Airport and an 18-minute drive from the Indian border.
The 100-room property, which is the first integrated five-star casino resort in South Asia, was developed by the Australian-listed Silver Heritage Group. In the second phase, Silver Heritage plans to offer 400 guest rooms.
Tiger Palace is spread over 15 bighas and features two villas, a gym, spa, swimming pool, restaurants and meeting and banquet facilities suitable for weddings. The resort will provide access to customers to a 2,471 square-metre casino floor.
The casino aims to provide expanded gaming opportunities to customers from the growing Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi markets. India represents one of the largest untapped and materially underserved gaming markets in the world as only two Indian states currently allow casino gambling, each with constraints, according to the group.
Its primary target market is the big Indian population living along the 1,700-km border connecting Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, besides Delhi, Mumbai and other key Indian cities.
“We have targeted high-end Indian casino players. We will be conducting helicopter charter flights from key Indian cities to bring them to Bhairahawa,” said Bajgain. The casino-cum-resort will provide 1,800 jobs, 95 percent of which will go to Nepalis, according to the hotel.
As part of its corporate social responsibility, the group plans to spend at least 2 percent of its annual revenues on tiger conservation in Nepal, he said.
The Silver Heritage Group debuted in Nepal in 2015 with the opening of The Millionaire’s Club & Casino at the Shangri-La Hotel in Kathmandu.
The group has planned a phased investment of more than $150 million to develop a chain of five-star properties across Nepal.
The Silver Heritage Group said it had been mulling to develop Tiger Resort 2 and possibly a third Tiger branded property with a combined offering of over 200 gaming tables and more than 1,000 electronic game machines along the border.
According to Bajgain, they are currently looking for land in Jhapa in the Eastern Region to develop a 500-room Tiger branded casino-cum-resort property.