Hotelier Talks

Surat's Hospitality Leader: Interview with the Area General Manager of Courtyard By Marriott Surat

Admin

03-June-2024

Surat's Hospitality Leader: Interview with the Area General Manager of Courtyard By Marriott Surat

In this exclusive interview, we sat down with Vikas Sharma, the Area General Manager who steers the helm of hospitality excellence at Courtyard by Marriott, Surat. Vikas Sharma is an accomplished hospitality professional currently serving as the Area General Manager at Courtyard by Marriott in Surat. With over two decades of experience, Vikas excels in driving sales and enhancing profitability in competitive markets. Vikas's career highlights include significant contributions to Gujarat JHM Hotels, part of Auro Hotels, and AURO University Facility Management. He has played a key role in major projects such as the Convention Centre, JW Marriott Surat, Golf Club, and Golf Course, collaborating with renowned entities like Smallwood Stewart, HBA-Hirsch Bedner Associates, and Troon. Known for his strategic acumen and integrity, Vikas consistently surpasses budgetary targets while maintaining precise financial records. His self-motivation, resilience, and innovation have led to significant organizational success, including the opening of numerous full-service hotels across various cities over the past 25 years. Currently based in Surat, Gujarat, Vikas continues to lead with excellence, driving his organization’s vision and setting new benchmarks in the hospitality industry. What strategies would you implement to enhance guest satisfaction and loyalty within the competitive hospitality market of Surat? At Courtyard By Marriott Surat, our strategy for enhancing guest satisfaction and fostering loyalty in Surat's competitive hospitality market is focused on personalized experiences, exceptional service, and community engagement. We prioritize personalized guest experiences by understanding individual preferences through robust profiling systems, ensuring every interaction is tailored to their needs. Exceptional service is fundamental to our identity. We invest in training programs to empower our staff to exceed guest expectations, creating memorable moments at every touchpoint. Seamless booking and check-in processes, along with diverse culinary options, further elevate the guest experience, while loyalty programs offer exclusive benefits and rewards. Feedback mechanisms are in place to continuously improve, and we actively engage with the Surat community through partnerships and sustainable practices, reflecting our commitment to being more than just a hotel. In essence, at Courtyard By Marriott Surat, we aim to create exceptional experiences that inspire loyalty, making us the preferred choice for travelers seeking unforgettable moments in Surat's hospitality landscape. How do you prioritize and allocate resources effectively to ensure the smooth operation of various departments within the hotel? At Courtyard By Marriott Surat, our approach to resource allocation revolves around understanding departmental needs, fostering collaboration, and maintaining flexibility. We start by listening to our team members and managers to gain insights into their requirements. From there, we work together to develop comprehensive plans that consider budget constraints, staffing levels, and upcoming projects. Communication is key, as we encourage open dialogue between departments to ensure resources are utilized effectively. Regular monitoring of performance allows us to adjust as needed, while investing in training and development ensures our team is equipped to maximize resources. Ultimately, our goal is to create a seamless operation that delivers exceptional experiences for both guests and staff, positioning Courtyard By Marriott Surat as a preferred choice in the competitive hospitality market. In what ways do you foster a culture of teamwork and collaboration among staff members to achieve operational excellence? At Courtyard By Marriott Surat, nurturing a culture of teamwork and collaboration is foundational to our operational excellence. We prioritize open communication, encouraging dialogue and idea-sharing across all levels of the organization through regular meetings and feedback sessions. Our shared goals and vision unite staff towards a common purpose, fostering a sense of belonging and commitment. We actively promote cross-departmental collaboration, breaking down silos to leverage diverse expertise and perspectives. Recognizing and appreciating team efforts are integral; we celebrate achievements and individual contributions, fostering motivation and morale. Investing in training and development programs further strengthens teamwork, with initiatives focused on communication, conflict resolution, and leadership skills. Leadership sets the tone by exemplifying collaborative behaviours, inspiring staff to work together effectively. Through these efforts, we cultivate an environment where every team member feels valued and empowered, driving operational excellence and delivering exceptional experiences at Courtyard By Marriott Surat. How do you stay updated with industry trends and incorporate innovative practices to drive revenue growth and profitability? We prioritize staying ahead of industry trends and embracing innovative practices to drive revenue growth and profitability. To achieve this, we're deeply engaged with the pulse of the hospitality sector. We regularly connect with industry peers, attend conferences, and participate in forums to exchange insights and gather inspiration. Additionally, we keep a keen eye on technological advancements relevant to our field, leveraging tools and platforms that enhance guest experiences and streamline operations. Our team members are encouraged to contribute ideas and experiment with new approaches, fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. By staying informed, collaborative, and adaptable, we ensure that Courtyard By Marriott Surat remains at the forefront of the hospitality industry, delivering exceptional experiences and driving sustainable growth. Describe your approach to developing and executing a comprehensive sale and marketing strategy to attract both corporate and leisure guests to the hotel. Our sales and marketing strategy aims to attract both corporate and leisure guests through a comprehensive approach. For corporate guests, we emphasize our modern facilities and business-friendly amenities, leveraging partnerships and customized packages. Leisure guests are enticed by our luxurious accommodations, culinary offerings, and recreational facilities, promoted through targeted campaigns and partnerships. Collaboration between sales and marketing teams ensures alignment and effectiveness in messaging and execution. We prioritize guest satisfaction and loyalty, delivering personalized experiences to encourage repeat visits and positive referrals. Continuous monitoring of market trends and guest feedback informs our strategy adjustments, ensuring agility and responsiveness to evolving needs. Our goal is to create a compelling value proposition that resonates with both segments, driving occupancy rates, revenue growth, and maintaining Courtyard By Marriott Surat's reputation as a premier hospitality destination. How do you effectively manage and mitigate operational risks, such as security concerns, health and safety regulations, and environmental sustainability, within the property? At Courtyard By Marriott Surat, ensuring the safety, security, and sustainability of our operations is a top priority. We take a proactive and comprehensive approach to manage and mitigate operational risks effectively. First and foremost, we prioritize the safety and security of our guests and staff. Our property is equipped with state-of-the-art security systems, including surveillance cameras and access control measures. Trained security personnel are on duty 24/7 to monitor and respond to any potential threats or incidents. In terms of health and safety, we strictly adhere to all regulations and guidelines set forth by local authorities and Marriott International standards. This includes rigorous cleaning and sanitation protocols, staff training on safety procedures, and regular inspections to ensure compliance. Environmental sustainability is also a key focus area for us. We have implemented various initiatives to minimize our environmental impact, such as energy-saving measures, waste reduction programs, and the use of eco-friendly products and materials. Our goal is to promote sustainability awareness among both guests and staff, encouraging everyone to contribute to our environmental efforts. What's your favorite aspect of working in the hospitality industry, and how does it motivate you in your role as the Area General Manager? One of the most fulfilling aspects of working in the hospitality industry is the opportunity to interact with guests from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Every interaction presents a chance to learn something new and gain insights into different perspectives. Engaging with guests allows me to hear their stories, learn about their travels, and understand their unique experiences. Whether it's a family on vacation, a business traveler attending a conference, or a couple celebrating a special occasion, each guest has their own story to share. Meeting people from around the world is incredibly enriching. It's fascinating to hear about their home countries, traditions, and customs. These interactions not only broaden my understanding of different cultures but also foster a sense of connection and camaraderie. This Interview is Published Exclusively on hospitalitynews.in.

The Intersection of Technology and Design in Modern Hospitality: Studio B Architects

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03-June-2024

The Intersection of Technology and Design in Modern Hospitality: Studio B Architects

In this feature, Ar. Anil Badan, Founder and Principal Architect at Studio B Architects shares insights on technology in the hospitality sector, boosting efficiency and guest satisfaction in hotels. Ar. Anil Badan, the visionary founder of Studio B, has made significant strides in the field of hospitality design, transforming his humble beginnings into a story of success and innovation. Originating from a small town in Jammu, Ar. Badan's journey into the world of architecture began with a strong affinity for design, which he pursued with unwavering dedication despite numerous challenges. Ar. Anil Badan's career is punctuated by significant milestones that underscore his talent and dedication in architecture. He gained recognition with Cloud Nine, Kolkata's pioneering nightclub project, followed by the successful creation of Ramada Plaza in Varanasi. Winning the interior design project for Dynasty Restaurant in Gurugram showcased his competitive edge. His work impressed industry leaders in Mumbai, leading to a crucial opportunity in Dubai, marking a turning point in his international career. Throughout, he has remained committed to creating accessible, functional, and aesthetically pleasing spaces, reflecting his perseverance and creativity in the architectural realm. Under Ar. Badan's leadership, Studio B has rapidly climbed the social ladder, taking on high-profile clients and making a significant impact in the hospitality sector. His creative and innovative mindset has been instrumental in the firm's success, and his projects reflect his dedication to excellence in design. How do you approach balancing the integration of smart technologies with the overall aesthetic and ambience of a hotel or resort environment? The key to including smart technologies with aesthetics lies in the idea of integrating them appropriately into the overall design. Firstly, the design should prioritise an unobstructed and clutter-free look. Smart lighting controls and entertainment systems should be included in the room’s design. Hidden design or built-in devices help to maintain a balanced look in the design, aligning with a minimalist look in design. Additionally, selecting technologies that complement the existing decor is essential. From programmed lighting solutions to smart music, each feature can enhance the ambience of the room. Collaborating with designers and tech experts can ensure a seamless integration and balanced style. In what ways do you see smart room automation systems evolving in the near future, and how can these advancements further improve guest satisfaction and operational efficiency? Advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning will make their way into the design, efficiently adapting to the guest's preference. This will personalise the experience and minimise the manual effort. Further, IoT devices will add to the idea of smart rooms, allowing them to control more amenities in a single interface. From adjusting room temperature and lighting to ordering room service, it allows guests to enjoy the convenience and control over their environment. Moreover, enhanced connectivity and data analytics gather insights and offer solutions based on their preferences and behaviours. With the increasing emphasis on sustainability in the hospitality industry, how do you incorporate eco-friendly practices into the design and implementation of smart technologies? Smart technologies can enhance the idea of sustainability in the hospitality industry by elevating the impact of energy efficiency. Integrating energy-efficient fixtures and devices can be an inception to the same. Smart low-performance processors, LED lighting, and smart thermostats can reduce the overall footprint of the hotel. Moreover, renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines integrated with IoT can save power and provide energy for seamless operations in the hotel. Using sustainable materials in construction can also align with environmental stewardship, reducing the carbon footprint of the hotel. Data privacy and security are paramount concerns when it comes to implementing smart technologies in hotels. How do you ensure that guest data remains protected while still delivering personalised experiences? Securing data in hotels is a key aspect when it comes to integrating smart technology. Begin with robust encryption that prevents unauthorised access and ensures that information is sensitive and confidential. Implementing a segmented network further isolates the guests’ data from other systems. Using strong authentication mechanisms and access controls allows only authorised personnel to access sensitive data. Additionally, conducting regular security audits and continuous monitoring can detect and respond to suspicious activities promptly. Implementing intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) can offer enhanced security. Can you share your thoughts on the role of artificial intelligence and machine learning in shaping the future of hospitality design, particularly in terms of personalised guest services and operational optimisation? Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are changing the guest experience in hotels. These technologies analyse data and behavioural patterns, offering solutions according to their needs. For instance, smartphone-equipped AI can adjust lighting temperature, and entertainment options based on individual preferences. Machine learning algorithms can also streamline the check-in process, anticipate maintenance needs, and improve inventory management, ensuring a seamless guest experience. Additionally, AR and VR technologies offer immersive experiences along with real-time data on locality and other required data. As the hospitality industry continues to evolve, what emerging trends do you foresee in the integration of smart technologies, and how can designers stay ahead of the curve to meet evolving guest expectations? One of the rising trends is the inclusion of voice-control systems for a better experience. Assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google assistants are becoming central for a smart room design. Another trend is the aspect of sustainability and energy efficiency. Smart lighting systems and energy management systems enhance convenience and promote eco-friendly living. Integration of health and wellness technologies like air quality monitors and smart fitness equipment are making their way into hotel rooms, reflecting the idea of holistic wellness. This Interview is Published Exclusively on hospitalitynews.in.

Crafting Memorable Experiences: Radisson Blu Palace Resort’s Customer-Centric Approach

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03-June-2024

Crafting Memorable Experiences: Radisson Blu Palace Resort’s Customer-Centric Approach

In this exclusive interview, we sat down with Mr. Somesh Agarwal, Chairman and MD of Radisson Blu Palace Resort, Udaipur, to delve into the strategies and decisions that have significantly contributed to the success and growth of the resort.  Somesh Agarwal, the Chairman and Managing Director of Rockwood Hotels & Resorts, is an entrepreneur with an indomitable spirit who continuously drives the world of hospitality forward. Growing up in Mumbai, Somesh pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Virginia Tech in the USA and furthered his education at the University of California, Berkeley. Somesh Agarwal’s innovative vision has significantly transformed the global destination wedding sector. He is renowned for introducing the largest pillar-less banquet hall in Rajasthan, a groundbreaking achievement in the hospitality industry. His contributions to tourism and his pioneering initiatives have earned his hotels several prestigious accolades, including the 'Best Luxury Wedding Hotel' by India Travel Awards in 2017, 'Best Wedding Hotel' by India Hospitality Awards in 2017, and 'Best Venue for Indoor Weddings' by EWPC in 2018. Apart from his professional endeavors, Somesh is also known for his passion for sports and travel, reflecting his dynamic and multifaceted personality. As the Chairman and Managing Director of Radisson Blu Palace Resort, Udaipur, you've been instrumental in its success. Could you share some key strategies or decisions that you believe have contributed significantly to the growth and reputation of the property? In 2007 when I initiated my entrepreneurial journey, I knew Udaipur was the right place for me. It was an emerging tourist destination back then, but I could foresee the city’s growth in the hospitality industry. I wanted to contribute to its development while pursuing my dreams: building a palatial, one-of-its-kind property with 240 rooms. This led to the establishment of Radisson Blu Palace Resort and Spa in the city of lakes. When I look back in time, it fills me with gratitude and pride to see I have achieved what I envisioned several years ago. Even though I chose an unconventional path of building a luxurious hotel, I am happy that I followed my instincts and made the right decision. Today, Udaipur is well-positioned on the global tourism map and holds a prominent place in the wedding tourism market. The hospitality industry has always been a dynamic, competitive market. Hence, we were prepared for other players to test their waters in the market. We realized that there are only two ways to have an edge: innovation and differentiated offerings. With this vision in mind, our motto has always been to offer top-notch services to our guests and ensure they have a comfortable and memorable stay with us. Simultaneously, keeping a tab on the ongoing market trends and connecting with industry stalwarts has been a continuous process. This helps us gain better insights and understanding of the industry landscape and provides us with an opportunity to evolve accordingly to service our clients better. We have even upgraded our rooms with world-class furniture, exquisite décor, and palatial interiors to provide a royal experience. With the change in customers’ demands and industry trends, we have been prompt to adopt customization and personalization features. This approach complements our customer-first ideology and helps us cater to their diverse requirements. Customer-centricity forms the core foundation of our operations as this aspect is a deal breaker for any hospitality player. This is why, every business decision by the brand is taken keeping in mind their benefit. Whether it is a corporate offsite, MICE, weddings and related functions, or even leisure travel, we offer diverse services falling under the gamut of events and craft memorable experiences for our guests that they can cherish lifelong. Today, if it is arranging a specific color or variety of flowers, serving authentic local and global cuisines with exceptional culinary experiences, or including activities that add to the grandeur of events, we fulfil every wish of our customers and organize the event just the way they want. The hospitality industry has faced unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic. How did Radisson Blu Palace Resort, Udaipur, adapt its operations and offerings to navigate through these challenging times, particularly in the context of the destination wedding market? India is a big fat wedding market. Viewed as symbols of traditions wrapped in the glory of opulence and grandeur, they are synonymous with exceptional hospitality. People desire to host lavish weddings and create memories that they can cherish for their lifetime. We understand that for couples, D-day marks a significant milestone in their life’s journey, and our constant endeavor is to transform their dream weddings into reality. This approach sets us apart from our competitors and motivates us to give our best.  The wedding industry has had a curvy graph ever since the pandemic. Owing to social distancing practices and Covid-related restrictions, there were operational hiccups, and we had to face several challenges. However, once the situation started resuming normalcy, we noticed various shifts and the market had to adapt to new norms. For instance, we moved from lavish weddings to intimate ceremonies and smaller gatherings. Making grand arrangements and curating experiences was a hurdle as businesses had come to a halt. Even manpower was an issue. This is when we took this as an opportunity and made certain modifications to our strategies to meet the customers’ demands. Thanks to our hardworking team and our vendors, by God’s grace, we were able to sail through the challenging time.  Today, as the trend of grand weddings has made a comeback, their grandeur is increasing exponentially. Even the concept of destination weddings is becoming commonplace as couples prefer celebrating their union in a serene, picturesque location. We offer anything and everything under the umbrella of wedding services to add to the charm and glory of their weddings.  Udaipur has emerged as a popular destination for weddings. What unique aspects or services does Radisson Blu Palace Resort offer to cater to this niche market, and how do you foresee this segment evolving in the coming years? Over the years, Udaipur has developed significantly. It has embraced hospitality players and given them an opportunity space to grow and prosper. Surrounded by the lush Aravalli range and dotted with lakes and stunning historic architectural marvels, the city provides breathtaking landscapes and natural views that serve as the perfect backdrop for weddings. Hence, it is considered to be one of the most romantic destinations to exchange vows. Additionally, Udaipur’s cultural heritage and amicable hospitality add up to its grandeur. It has become synonymous with grand-scale weddings and destination weddings, and our property is one of the top choices. We host 80-100 weddings annually and are known as one of the picturesque places for destination weddings. Overlooking Fateh Sagar Lake and the Aravalli range, we have the largest pillarless ballrooms in the state. Our indoor and outdoor event spaces are spacious and serve as the perfect venue for palatial sundowner weddings and related ceremonies. The palace radiates royalty and elegance with traditional architecture, a touch of contemporary décor, high-end facilities, alluring views and world-class hospitality. Whether it is decoration, curation of thematic events, or value-added experiences like royal welcome, romantic set-ups, butler services, personalized experiences, and rejuvenating spas - you name it, and you’ll find diverse services at our property.  Udaipur offers the right balance of tradition, luxury, and hospitality and is the best destination for weddings. Standing strong as a witness of several celebrity and high-end weddings, Udaipur’s relevance will increase all the more in the times to come with the rise in the trend of destination weddings. Consumer preferences and expectations in the hospitality industry are constantly evolving. What are some key insights or trends you've observed in guest preferences, and how is Radisson Blu Palace Resort staying ahead to meet these changing demands? The hospitality industry has always been dynamic and competitive. But yes, the pandemic had a major role to play in bringing about a shift in the consumers’ preferences and expectations from the sector. However, there is a silver lining as well. Amid the changes, the market got an opportunity to evolve and adapt an innovative approach. This led to several changes in the hospitality industry, driving innovation and disruption. For instance, hygiene protocols and contactless technologies have become an integral part of the operational functions. Simultaneously, travel trends like workcations, staycations, weekend getaways, luxury vacations, recreational holidays, etc., are shaping the hospitality industry landscape. Eventually, value-added services extending beyond bed and breakfast, experiential travel, and personalization of experiences to cater to individual preferences and choices have redefined customer-centricity in the hospitality industry.  The pent-up demand is driving the growth of the hospitality industry and we are moving from a linear approach of following day-by-day itinerary to experiential traveling. Hence, today, the focus is more on offering one-of-a-kind services like rejuvenating spas, wellness retreats, holistic well-being-focused programmes, recreational activities, romantic set-ups, yoga, meditation, etc. Guests not only demand but value such services as these add up to their holiday and stay experiences.  In recent years, sustainability and eco-friendly practices have become increasingly important in the hospitality sector. How is Radisson Blu Palace Resort incorporating sustainability into its operations and guest experiences? Today's travelers are increasingly supportive of environmental conservation and make conscientious choices. As a result, sustainability is now a fundamental aspect of the tourism and hospitality industries. At Radisson Blu Palace Resort, we are an environmentally conscious brand dedicated to protecting the planet and giving back to the environment in every possible way. Aligned with this vision, we have implemented several operational modifications. Firstly, we have adopted renewable energy sources, such as solar panels from a plant near Bikaner, to reduce carbon emissions. This initiative is both cost-effective and energy-efficient. Additionally, we have established efficiency systems and guest awareness programs to promote water conservation. The palace is designed to ensure natural illumination in all meeting rooms and public areas. Moreover, all artificial lighting is sensor-based and utilizes energy-saving LED lights. Our commitment to sustainability extends beyond operations to personalized guest experiences. The interiors and decorative elements, such as puppets and wall décor, are handcrafted by local artisans. Even the personalized welcome notes from the General Manager are made from eco-friendly materials. We believe that these sustainability-driven initiatives not only help preserve Rajasthan’s heritage but also positively impact the socio-economic development of the surrounding areas. With the rise of digital technologies and online platforms, how has Radisson Blu Palace Resort utilized digital marketing and technology to enhance guest engagement and drive bookings, especially in the competitive landscape of the hospitality industry? In today’s digitally driven world, integrating new-age tech solutions is vital to ensuring operational efficiency and fulfilling customers’ demands. The hospitality industry is highly competitive and technology can be pivotal to improving guest engagement, driving bookings, and fostering customer loyalty and satisfaction. To share an example: we have introduced QR codes on our websites to help our guests navigate to the application, which gives them access to lucrative deals and exclusive app-only offers.  Digital marketing is an essential component of our marketing initiatives. We follow a robust strategy to promote our property, showcase our achievements and milestones, and connect with customers by sharing real-time updates. These updates highlight event glimpses, preparations, venue set-ups, décor, high-end offerings, behind-the-scenes shots, and customer reviews. Such steps increase brand awareness and visibility, attracting potential customers. Customer feedback and reviews are crucial for improving our services. This is why we have a dedicated section on our website where valuable customers can share their feedback on their overall guest experiences and our tech platforms. Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and vision for the future growth and development of Radisson Blu Palace Resort, Udaipur? Are there any upcoming projects or initiatives that you're particularly excited about? Radisson Blu Palace Resort and Spa, Udaipur, is a well-known name in the hospitality industry. Our main focus is on business growth and expansion. In the short term, we aim to grow further in Rajasthan and become the top choice for events like weddings, corporate offsites, and leisure travel. We also plan to expand across India with a sustainable growth strategy. Our first step is launching Fairmont Palace in Udaipur, with new properties in Jaipur and Mumbai also in the works. Our property is 13 years old, so we decided it was time for a renovation to offer a warmer, more comfortable, and memorable experience for our guests. We have updated our banquet halls with the latest technology and done the same for our ballrooms, blending royal architecture with modern interiors and high-tech features. Next, we will redesign our in-house restaurants and add more rooms to the hotel. This Interview is Published Exclusively on hospitalitynews.in.

Enhancing Guest Experience: How COLORS OF OBLU Resorts Maintain Individuality and Brand Values

Admin

03-June-2024

Enhancing Guest Experience: How COLORS OF OBLU Resorts Maintain Individuality and Brand Values

In this exclusive interview with Mr. Christopher Baker, we delve into the strategic leadership strategies, sustainability initiatives, and culinary innovations driving success at COLORS OF OBLU's award-winning resorts, OBLU Xperience Ailafushi and OBLU SELECT Lobigili. How do you ensure that each property maintains its unique identity while still aligning with the overall brand values of the COLORS OF OBLU brand? Every resort within COLORS OF OBLU brand is individually unique to its own with OBLU SELECT Lobigili being an adults-exclusive private island, that was recently crowned as the No.1 Luxury Hotel globally AND No.2 Hotel in the coveted Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2024, outshining its own remarkable achievement last year as the world’s ‘Hottest New Hotel.’ OBLU Xperience Ailafushi and OBLU SELECT Lobigili share access to Only BLU, the largest under-ocean restaurant in the Maldives. OBLU Xperience Ailafushi is a colourful resort that caters to all kinds of travelers with a plethora of activities for everyone to explore. In the Maldivian language of Dhivehi, ‘Aila’ means family, and ‘Fushi’ means Island while the Fushi Plan is designed in such a way that it creates a free-spirited Maldivian holiday experience for the modern travellers - be it family, friends, or couples. OBLU SELECT Lobigili leans towards a serene, romantic escape. From colourful sunsets to exotic under-ocean dining at Only BLU, from snorkelling at the marine-rich house reef to relaxing in the garden spa, you really have it all here. However, both properties uphold the COLOURS OF OBLU'S core values of being Vibrantly Colourful, Genuinely Authentic, and Refreshingly Friendly. OBLU SELECT Lobigili is an adult-only island that caters to only adults for an ultimate serene and private setting, where one can sink into unmatched comfort in your haven of elegant luxury. With both properties being located within proximity to Malé International Airport, how do you manage logistics and transportation to ensure a seamless arrival and departure experience for guests? To ensure a seamless arrival and departure experience for the guests we have dedicated team members from airport representatives to the transportation team to guide the guests throughout the journey and for any assistance they may require till they arrive at the resort. Also, to enhance their experience we offer contactless app-based check-in by using the resort QR code, therefore guests can complete the arrival formalities prior to their arrival.  We also believe that clear communication channels and efficient logistics planning between teams, it help us to streamline the process without any hassle. As the General Manager of two distinct properties, how do you prioritize resources and initiatives to address the specific needs and challenges of each resort? As the General Manager responsible for managing two distinct properties, my primary goal is to ensure that our guests have an exceptional experience during their stay. To achieve this goal, I work closely with my experienced cluster team to evaluate the specific needs and challenges of each resort.  The cluster team analyses guest feedback, satisfaction rates, market trends, and competition to gain a deep understanding of the unique needs and challenges of each property. Based on this analysis, we develop detailed plans that are designed to optimize guest satisfaction and ensure that each resort is operating at peak efficiency.  Our plans include a range of initiatives, such as staffing and training programs, marketing strategies, and capital investments. We prioritize these initiatives based on the specific needs of each resort, which allows us to allocate our resources effectively and efficiently.  One of the keys to our success is our proactive planning approach. We plan up to guests ahead, which allows us to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate potential issues or challenges. This allows us to take corrective action before any problems arise, minimizing disruptions and ensuring that our guests receive the highest level of service possible. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that each and every guest has an unforgettable experience that exceeds their expectations. By prioritising our resources and initiatives based on the specific needs of each resort, we are able to achieve this goal and maintain our reputation as a leading destination for travelers. With OBLU SELECT Lobigili having a significant majority of women employees, could you elaborate on the initiatives in place to empower and support women in the workforce, particularly within the context of the Maldivian hospitality industry? COLOURS OF OBLU is a strong advocate for women's empowerment in the Maldivian hospitality industry. It's reflected right at the leadership level, with four out of eight General Managers being women. We actively support female employees through mentorship programs, leadership training, and flexible work arrangements. Additionally, OBLU SELECT Lobigili Resort has taken conscious steps to have women in its workforce.  Sustainability is increasingly important in the hospitality industry. Can you share some initiatives implemented at both resorts to minimize environmental impact and promote responsible tourism practices? We implement sustainable practices across the CORE pillars of Community, Operations, Resources, and Environment. For instance, we organize under-ocean marine tours for school students from nearby local islands. Held at Only BLU Under Ocean restaurant, the sessions are conducted by an In-house Marine Biologist. Kids identify fish and corals, connecting with the country’s fragile ecosystem.  We also invest in renewable energy, with the two resorts currently operating a renewable energy system boasting a capacity of 1222.59 kWp, comprising 712 panels across 16 roofs. Since transitioning to solar power (as of 2023), the resorts have generated 2,664,613 KWh of energy. This translates to 725,628 liters of diesel saved due to solar power.  We've implemented several initiatives, such as repurposing plastic food racks into shoe racks and transforming Styrofoam boxes into planters. We also actively seek local suppliers to reduce our carbon footprint and support the Maldivian economy. Given the tropical island setting, fresh seafood is often a highlight for guests visiting the Maldives. How does each resort incorporate locally sourced seafood into their menus? We recognise that offering locally sourced seafood is essential for providing our guests with an authentic dining experience that celebrates the natural flavours and culture of the Maldives. To achieve this, while designing the menus, we prioritise dishes showcasing local fish and seafood and conduct rigorous quality control checks to ensure that only the highest quality seafood is selected for our menu.  By working with local fishermen, we also support the local fishing community and promote sustainable fishing practices. Our talented chefs then use their culinary expertise to create innovative and flavourful dishes that showcase the natural flavours and textures of each seafood variety. We take great pride in presenting our guests with a diverse range of seafood options, including local favourites such as tuna, mahi-mahi, and red snapper.  In addition to offering exceptional culinary experiences, we also recognise our responsibility to promote sustainability and minimize our environmental impact. As such, we are committed to reducing food waste and implementing eco-friendly practices in our kitchen.  Overall, our goal is to provide guests with the highest quality seafood available while also supporting the local community and promoting sustainable practices. Both resorts likely cater to international guests with diverse cultural backgrounds. How do you ensure that the hospitality and service standards at each property accommodate the cultural preferences and expectations of your global clientele? We analyse the guest mix ahead of their arrival to determine their cultural background and preferences, including dietary restrictions and food allergies. Based on this analysis, our expert chefs tweak the menu to cater to the varying tastes of our international guests. Our menu features an extensive selection of dishes from the Indian Ocean, Asia, and International Cuisine, guaranteeing that we provide a comprehensive culinary experience that meets our guests' cultural expectations. Moreover, we provide extensive cultural and language training to our teams, which helps them to communicate effectively and respectfully with our guests from diverse cultural backgrounds. This training helps to foster an environment of mutual respect and understanding, which contributes to enhancing the overall guest experience. Could you share your vision for the future of both OBLU Xperience Ailafushi and OBLU SELECT Lobigili, and how you plan to continue delivering exceptional guest experiences and driving success for these properties? We have established a comprehensive feedback system, where we routinely collect and analyse feedback from our guests. We understand that the key to success lies in our ability to actively listen and respond to the needs and expectations of our guests.  We also have weekly “Think Tank” sessions to identify areas where we can improve guest experience, and we work closely with our team to develop and implement improvement strategies. This Interview is Published Exclusively on hospitalitynews.in.

Strategic Leadership in Action, Insights from Dr. Rathnaraj Livingston of HostBooks

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03-June-2024

Strategic Leadership in Action, Insights from Dr. Rathnaraj Livingston of HostBooks

In this Exclusive Interview with Dr. Rathnaraj Livingston, we delve into his strategic initiatives at HostBooks, his approach to global business development, and his vision for the future of financial solutions. Dr. Rathnaraj Livingston's professional career spans various leadership roles across diverse industries. He served as the Chief Business Officer and Director of Global Business at HostBooks, Inc., where he led strategic business initiatives. Prior to this, he held the position of Global Business Head & Senior Director at the same company, contributing significantly to its global expansion. Dr. Livingston holds a Doctorate in Management Studies from the Indian Institution of Business Management & Studies.  Before joining HostBooks, Dr. Livingston worked as the Sales Director at Rain Instant Pay and as the Associate Vice President South Asia at Hotelogix. He also served as the Vice President Sales at Winsar Infosoft Private Limited (WINHMS) and as the VP Sales and Marketing at Interlace India Private Limited. Throughout his career, Dr. Livingston has demonstrated a strong commitment to driving business growth and fostering strategic partnerships. Can you share some key initiatives you've implemented as Chief Business Officer - HORECA and Director of Global Business at HostBooks that have contributed to the company's growth and success in the Indian financial business? As the Chief Business Officer - HORECA and Director of Global Business at HostBooks, I have led key initiatives that prioritize the integration of advanced AI-driven analytics to improve financial reporting and decision-making capabilities significantly. This strategic focus has not only streamlined operations but has also enhanced our performance and adaptability in the rapidly evolving Indian financial landscape. Additionally, we have leveraged scalable cloud infrastructures to support a diverse range of customer needs, ensuring robust, secure, and efficient service delivery, which has been crucial for our growth in the financial sector. How do you approach developing and implementing worldwide business strategies to increase market share, revenue growth, and profitability for HostBooks on a global scale? In developing and implementing worldwide business strategies for HostBooks, we conduct a meticulous analysis of market trends and customer needs, coupled with an adaptive approach to product development. This strategic method has been instrumental in increasing our market share, boosting revenue growth, and enhancing profitability on a global scale. By focusing on creating flexible, innovative solutions that adapt seamlessly to various market dynamics, we position ourselves as a versatile and reliable partner in the global market. What methods do you employ to identify and capitalize on new markets, and how do you customize market entrance tactics for different regions and industries? To identify and capitalize on new markets, we utilize a comprehensive, data-driven approach encompassing detailed market research and competitive analysis. This information guides our customization of market entry tactics, which often involve forming strategic partnerships and adopting innovative distribution methods tailored to meet the specific needs of different regions and industries effectively. Could you share some examples of successful strategic partnerships or distribution methods you've established to expand HostBooks' global presence? One key example of our successful strategic partnerships is our collaboration with the hospitality industry to integrate our Business management solutions into their operations. This partnership has enhanced operational processes for our clients and expanded our global presence and market penetration. These strategic alliances are essential in improving our service offerings and facilitating significant growth and expansion into new markets. Among our valued clients are Royal Orchid, Deltin Hotel, Clarks Hotel, Sagar Ratna, and The Leela. How do you collaborate with cross-functional teams to ensure the smooth implementation of foreign business activities across diverse cultural dynamics, such as sales, marketing, operations, and product development? Ensuring the smooth implementation of our international business activities involves close collaboration with cross-functional teams. We emphasize alignment with local cultures and business practices through regular training and strategic planning sessions. This approach helps us effectively navigate the varied dynamics of international markets and ensures that our team members are well-prepared to manage and execute projects across different cultural backgrounds. With your extensive experience in various industries and regions, what insights do you bring regarding the unique challenges and opportunities in the BFSI, hospitality, healthcare, and government sectors? With over 20 years of experience across various sectors including BFSI, hospitality, healthcare, and government, I bring a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities present in these industries. This extensive industry exposure is invaluable in developing customized solutions that address specific sector challenges and enhance operational efficiencies. In what ways do you leverage technology sales, marketing, and cloud solutions to drive business growth and meet the evolving needs of HostBooks' international clientele? We leverage cutting-edge technology in sales, marketing, and cloud solutions to ensure that our offerings are not only at the forefront of technological advancements but also intuitive and user-friendly. This strategic use of technology helps meet the evolving needs of our international clientele, driving business growth and ensuring our solutions are both effective and accessible. Looking ahead, what are your priorities and vision for maximising HostBooks' global presence and delivering outstanding value to customers internationally? Looking ahead, my priorities involve further enhancing the technological capabilities and market adaptability of HostBooks. Our vision includes expanding our global footprint and continuing to deliver exceptional value to our customers through innovative solutions, responsive customer service, and a commitment to ongoing improvement and excellence in the financial sector. This forward-looking approach is designed to ensure sustained growth and success in the global marketplace. This Interview is Published Exclusively on hospitalitynews.in.

Digital Detox: Helping Guests Unplug and Relax this Summer Season

Shreenidhi Jagannathan

Editor in Chief

20-May-2024

Digital Detox: Helping Guests Unplug and Relax this Summer Season

This summer, Nisha Sharma, Operations Director – India at Eight Continents Hotels & Resorts, delves into the growing trend of digital detox vacations. In her insightful article, "Digital Detox: Helping Guests Unplug and Relax this Summer Season," Sharma explores how hotels and resorts are offering innovative packages to help guests disconnect from their devices and reconnect with what truly matters. Read on to learn how stepping away from your screens can lead to a more balanced, rejuvenated, and fulfilling summer experience. Read the full article below. In our hyper-connected world, the allure of a digital detox is becoming increasingly compelling. As summer approaches, many hotels and resorts are seizing the opportunity to offer guests a chance to unplug, unwind, and reconnect with nature, family, and themselves. These digital detox packages are designed not only to provide a break from the constant barrage of emails, notifications, and social media but also to foster a deeper connection with the environment and personal well-being. The Concept of Digital Detox A digital detox involves refraining from using electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. The goal is to reduce stress, improve mental health, and enhance the quality of life by disconnecting from the digital world and reconnecting with the physical one. For many, the incessant need to stay connected has led to burnout, anxiety, and a sense of constant distraction. Hotels and resorts that offer digital detox packages aim to combat these issues by providing an environment that encourages relaxation and mindfulness. The Rise of Digital Detox Packages The trend of digital detox vacations has been on the rise as people seek refuge from their demanding digital lives. Leading the charge are luxury hotels and resorts that offer bespoke packages tailored to help guests disconnect. These packages often include a mix of activities designed to engage guests physically, mentally, and spiritually. Activities Promoting Mindfulness and Well-being Central to these detox packages are activities that encourage mindfulness and present-moment awareness. These activities often emphasize the importance of being present and appreciating the natural world. Popular options include:- ·         Nature Walks and Hikes: Guided tours through scenic trails allow guests to immerse themselves in nature, promoting physical activity and a sense of tranquility. ·         Yoga and Meditation: These practices help guests center themselves, reduce stress, and improve mental clarity. ·         Art and Craft Workshops: Engaging in creative activities like painting, pottery, or knitting can be therapeutic and foster a sense of accomplishment. ·         Culinary Experiences: Cooking classes and farm-to-table dining experiences not only educate but also connect guests with the local culture and cuisine. ·         Wellness Treatments: Spa treatments, including massages and aromatherapy, offer deep relaxation and rejuvenation. The Benefits of Digital Detox The benefits of a digital detox are manifold. Physically, guests often report better sleep and less eye strain. Mentally, they experience reduced stress levels, improved mood, and a greater sense of well-being. The absence of constant notifications allows for uninterrupted thoughts and deeper, more meaningful conversations. Socially, guests find that they connect more genuinely with those around them. Without the distraction of devices, there is more room for eye contact, active listening, and heartfelt interactions. Additionally, being in a serene, natural setting often leads to a greater appreciation for the environment and a desire to protect it. Encouraging Digital Detox: Tips for Hotels and Resorts For hotels and resorts looking to implement digital detox packages, here are some tips:- ·         Create a Device-Free Environment: Encourage guests to hand over their devices at check-in and provide a secure place for storage. ·         Offer Engaging Alternatives: Design a variety of activities that cater to different interests and promote relaxation and engagement. ·         Educate Guests: Provide information on the benefits of a digital detox and how it can improve their stay. ·         Train Staff: Ensure that staff are supportive and knowledgeable about the digital detox concept, helping to foster a device-free culture. ·         Promote the Package: Use marketing channels to highlight the unique benefits of a digital detox vacation, attracting guests who are seeking respite from their digital lives. Conclusion As the demand for mindful travel experiences grows, digital detox packages offer a refreshing way for guests to disconnect from their screens and reconnect with what truly matters. By promoting such initiatives, hotels and resorts not only enhance the well-being of their guests but also contribute to a more balanced, mindful, and connected world. This summer, embracing a digital detox could be the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life, offering families and individuals a chance to recharge and create lasting memories.

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Discover Tranquility at The Brigadiers Cottage: Your Ideal Summer Retreat

Nishang Narayan

04-May-2024

Discover Tranquility at The Brigadiers Cottage: Your Ideal Summer Retreat

This summer, as the bustle of city life grows ever more demanding, find your sanctuary in the tranquil hills of Mussoorie at The Brigadiers Cottage. Known as the Queen of the Hills, Mussoorie offers a refreshing retreat with its cool breezes and misty mornings, setting the stage for a perfect getaway at one of India’s most unique homestays. The Brigadiers Cottage is not just a place to stay; it’s a journey into a slower, more thoughtful way of life. Owned by Neetu and Aseem Varma, former corporate professionals who traded city life for the mountains, this cottage offers guests a rare blend of luxury and natural beauty. Their commitment to sustainable living is evident in every aspect of the cottage, from its organic farms to the free-roaming poultry and the melodious sounds of a nearby brook. Guests at The Brigadiers Cottage can experience the joys of farm life with a modern twist. Imagine starting your day collecting fresh eggs for breakfast or taking part in milking the cows. The farm’s produce, including fresh milk, ghee, and honey, is not only organic but also embodies the essence of Himalayan purity. For those looking to explore beyond the cottage, the Varmas suggest delightful local excursions. Whether it’s enjoying a picnic by the Yamuna River, with tables set up in the shallow waters, or exploring the vibrant Sainji village, known as the corn village of India, there is something for everyone. The cottage itself, nestled in lush greenery and designed with an eye for elegance, has hosted a variety of distinguished guests, from diplomats to Bollywood stars, each seeking a slice of peace away from the public eye. Its exclusivity and personal touch make it a preferred retreat for those in the know. If you're seeking a summer escape where you can unwind, explore, and reconnect with your loved ones, The Brigadiers Cottage in Mussoorie offers an unmatched experience. Plan a stay of at least three days to fully embrace the serene surroundings and the vibrant life of Mussoorie. Call to Action: Ready to experience the serene beauty and organic luxury of The Brigadiers Cottage? Visit our May issue of the e-magazine for a closer look at this enchanting destination and start planning your perfect summer escape. For more details and bookings, follow us on Instagram @brigadierscottagemussoorie or visit www.brigadierscottage.in. This article aims to entice readers with the charm and unique offerings of The Brigadiers Cottage, encouraging them to explore further in your e-magazine.

Sweetening the World: Shwetha Rajashekar’s Vision at India Sweet House

Nishang Narayan

04-May-2024

Sweetening the World: Shwetha Rajashekar’s Vision at India Sweet House

Meet Shwetha Rajashekar, a dynamic entrepreneur who has transitioned from a successful corporate career to revolutionising the desert landscape with India Sweet House. With over a decade of experience at prestigious companies like Goldman Sachs and Tesco, Shwetha brings a wealth of knowledge to her latest venture, aiming to make India Sweet House a globally recognized brand for authentic and sustainable Indian sweets. In an exclusive interview in our May e-magazine, Shwetha shares her inspiration for starting India Sweet House. The idea was born from her desire to celebrate and preserve India's rich culinary heritage by bringing traditional sweets made with organic ingredients to a broader audience. India Sweet House stands out for its commitment to quality and sustainability, sourcing ingredients from its own organic farm, Karma Farms, ensuring that every bite not only tastes good but also contributes to a healthier planet. Shwetha discusses the significant role of Karma Farms in maintaining the purity and freshness of their products, from dairy to ghee. This dedication to organic farming highlights a broader commitment to environmental stewardship, which is woven throughout their operations. Empowerment is also at the core of India Sweet House’s ethos. Shwetha proudly leads an all-woman team, ensuring that the company not only produces delicious sweets but also champions gender equality in the workplace. This empowerment extends to nurturing their talents and fostering an environment where women can thrive and advance. The article also touches on how India Sweet House balances tradition with innovation. While they cherish traditional recipes, they are not shy about introducing modern twists to suit contemporary tastes, ensuring their delights meet the palates of today’s diverse clientele. Curious about the blend of tradition and innovation that Shwetha Rajashekar brings to the table with India Sweet House? Learn more about her unique approach to preserving culinary heritage while advancing sustainability in our exclusive May feature. Discover the full story and get inspired by her vision in this month's issue of Hospitality News e-magazine. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram at @indiahospitalitynews to stay updated with the latest trends and inspiring stories from the world of hospitality.

Mastering MICE: Varun Sharma's Strategic Play at Clarks Exotica

Nishang Narayan

04-May-2024

Mastering MICE: Varun Sharma's Strategic Play at Clarks Exotica

Join us in an enlightening conversation with Varun Sharma, the visionary General Manager, Operations at Clarks Exotica Convention Resort & Spa. Sharma's journey at the resort began in 2014, where he commenced as an Executive Chef. Over the span of 19 years, his career trajectory has been nothing short of remarkable. Through a combination of exceptional skills and a solid educational background in hospitality management, Sharma has ascended to a pivotal leadership role within the resort. His dedication, expertise, and years of experience have undoubtedly contributed to his success and the prosperity of the establishment. In our May e-magazine, Sharma opens up about the integral role of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) events in the hospitality industry, particularly at Clarks Exotica. He explains how these events substantially boost occupancy rates and overall revenue, especially during off-peak periods, and significantly enhance the resort’s reputation and brand visibility. Sharma also unveils some of the strategic initiatives Clarks Exotica has embraced to captivate the MICE market. These include offering bespoke services, such as customised event planning and state-of-the-art facilities, which provide unique and memorable experiences for guests. Additionally, Sharma touches on the importance of technological integration in enhancing event management and guest satisfaction, using tools like AI and virtual reality to create immersive and personalised experiences. The interview also highlights how Sharma’s leadership fosters an environment that prioritises staff development and service excellence, key factors that contribute to the resort’s success. His insights provide a glimpse into the complexities of managing a top-tier luxury resort and the innovative approaches that ensure its thriving presence in the competitive hospitality market. Are you captivated by Varun Sharma’s innovative leadership and keen insights at Clarks Exotica? Delve into the full interview for an in-depth exploration of his strategies and successes in our May issue of Hospitality News e-magazine. Follow @indiahospitalitynews on Instagram to stay updated with the latest trends and expert perspectives in the hospitality industry.

Pioneering Modern Hospitality at Hyatt Centric Juhu Mumbai with Shilpi Khanna

Admin

03-May-2024

Pioneering Modern Hospitality at Hyatt Centric Juhu Mumbai with Shilpi Khanna

Shilpi Khanna, the General Manager of Hyatt Centric Juhu Mumbai, brings over two decades of expertise in the hospitality industry.  As the General Manager of Hyatt Centric Juhu Mumbai since October 2023, Shilpi leads the hotel with dedication and passion, ensuring the highest standards of guest satisfaction and operational efficiency. Prior to her current role, Shilpi served as the Director of Operations at Conrad Bengaluru. With a strong background in hotel management, Shilpi has also held significant positions at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar and The Oberoi Rajvilas Jaipur. At JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar, she served as the Director of Rooms, overseeing the entire rooms division operations with a focus on guest satisfaction and quality standards. Similarly, her role as Executive Housekeeper at The Oberoi Rajvilas Jaipur showcased her expertise in maintaining hygiene standards, managing laundry operations, and overseeing landscaping activities. Throughout her career, Shilpi has demonstrated a keen eye for detail, exceptional customer service skills, and a commitment to driving operational excellence. Her leadership has been instrumental in achieving success across various hotel properties, earning her recognition and accolades within the industry. What motivated you to join the team at Hyatt Centric Juhu Mumbai, and what aspects of the hotel's vision and ethos resonated with you as a hospitality professional? The Hyatt Centric brand represents two key concepts: being at the center of the action and being well-informed. It's about immersing yourself in local shopping and dining, experiencing the vibrant energy of the area, and discovering hidden gems with the help of our knowledgeable staff. Located in the bustling entertainment hub of Juhu, our hotel caters to guests who are influencers and travel enthusiasts. While they may be well-traveled, they still rely on local insights to enhance their experiences and share with others. I was drawn to Hyatt Centric because of its reputation and location. The brand's commitment to caring for its employees deeply resonated with me. At Hyatt, we prioritize the well-being of our team members, ensuring they have the support they need to thrive. In-the-now: Hyatt Centric embodies modernity, sophistication, and global awareness. We aim to ignite curiosity, stimulate discussions, and cultivate a strong desire for exploration among our guests. Lighthearted: Our approach is vibrant, carefree, and optimistic. We infuse every moment with joy and playfulness, incorporating unique elements and clever details to enchant our guests. Adventurous Spirit: We foster a spirit of curiosity, spontaneity, and liveliness. While embracing local culture, we also encourage venturing off the conventional path to uncover memorable experiences worth sharing. As someone with extensive experience in the rooms division, how do you prioritize guest satisfaction while ensuring operational efficiency?  As hoteliers, our primary focus is guest satisfaction. However, achieving this isn't solely about monetary investments. The attitude and training of our team are crucial factors, and often, small, thoughtful gestures can greatly enhance guest satisfaction. Being a small boutique hotel, we take pride in delivering personalized experiences tailored to each guest. Yet, operational efficiency remains paramount, especially in a smaller establishment. We constantly seek ways to optimize efficiency without sacrificing the quality of the guest experience. Training and mentoring team members are crucial aspects of your expertise. How do you approach developing talent within your team, particularly in a fast-paced environment like the hospitality industry? Today's Generation – Gen Z, has a plethora of options, unlike our own experiences upon graduation from hotel school. Their attention spans are shorter, and brand loyalty is less prevalent. What truly matters is cultivating an engaging workplace environment where continuous learning is prioritized. Personally, I place great value on building meaningful connections and take pride in mentoring numerous individuals over the years. While we may not communicate frequently, I am confident that whenever they face career challenges, I will be their first point of contact for guidance and support. Given your background in standardizing processes, can you discuss when you identified inefficiencies in hotel operations and implemented effective solutions to streamline processes? I firmly advocate for implementing processes and procedures rather than relying solely on personnel-driven policies. This simplifies operations and provides the team with clear guidelines for handling various situations, empowering them to make immediate decisions without waiting for approval from senior managers. The true measure of success for any department lies in its ability to function seamlessly, akin to a well-oiled machine, even in the absence of direct supervision from department heads. As the General Manager of Hyatt Centric Juhu Mumbai, what efforts do you employ to differentiate the hotel in a competitive market and attract discerning guests?  As a modern luxury hotel, we embody contemporary hospitality, providing immersive experiences for curious explorers seeking adventure and authenticity. Located in the bustling Juhu Neighborhood, our hotel serves as a lively hub easily accessible from all parts of the city, including the airport, local railway stations, business districts, and iconic filming locations. At Hyatt Centric Juhu, we treat every guest like a celebrity, offering personalized attention from our dedicated team. Our young colleagues are praised for their warm hospitality, and our rooftop swimming pool offers stunning views of the sea, with one of the city's best sunset vistas. Our restaurant, Sesame, has garnered numerous accolades, including the recent Times Award for Best Newcomer Restaurant. Guests often visit specifically to savor our Japanese cuisine. Alongside our exceptional offerings, I am fortunate to lead a talented team dedicated to crafting unforgettable experiences for our guests. How do you stay updated with the latest trends and innovations in the hospitality industry, and how do you incorporate them into your hotel's operations? The hospitality industry in India is evolving rapidly, especially with the integration of technology. I take pride in being part of the Hyatt team, where we have access to Hyatt Ideas, a platform for learning and training among colleagues across the continent. We exchange best practices and innovative ideas that enhance operational efficiency and guest satisfaction. Additionally, I am involved in various professional groups where we share insights on emerging trends and innovations. Staying updated with changes in the hospitality sector is crucial, so I frequently engage in discussions with industry peers and explore ways to adapt and implement new ideas in my current role. Your anticipation for welcoming guests to the new Japanese restaurant, Sesame, at Hyatt Centric Juhu Mumbai, is palpable. Could you share more about the unique culinary offerings and ambience that guests can expect at Sesame, and how you aim to elevate their dining experience to make them feel #LikeACeleb in the vibrant city of Mumbai? At Sesame, our specialty restaurant offers a modern take on Asian cuisine, mainly Japanese. We aim to create an exciting experience for our guests with flavorful dishes. Since launching our new menu in October, we've received fantastic feedback and even won three awards. Led by Chef Rahul Shrivastava, Sesame guarantees a culinary adventure with dramatic food presentations and crafted cocktails at the bar. Currently, we're celebrating the Sakura Matsuri festival, showcasing cherry blossoms' season in Japan with special décor and menu. We also host various monthly activities like sushi rolling classes and painting workshops to combine food and art uniquely. Next month, we're introducing a special mango menu with a Japanese twist for summer. Our Sesame bar offers an intimate setting to enjoy drinks while watching live sports. Our team is always ready to provide insider tips and engage in great conversations over well-crafted cocktails. If you prefer fresh air, our alfresco area is perfect for enjoying chilled beer and refreshing summer cocktails. Our entire food and beverage experience is designed to bring the #theatreofflavours to life, ensuring a memorable dining experience for our guests.

A Sweet Revolution: India Sweet House’s Journey to Redefine the Dessert Experience

Admin

03-May-2024

A Sweet Revolution: India Sweet House’s Journey to Redefine the Dessert Experience

In our conversation with Shwetha Rajashekar of India Sweet House, discover how a deep passion for authentic Indian sweets drives their ambitious plans for growth and environmental stewardship. Shwetha Rajashekar, Co-Founder and Director of Communication, Branding, and Design at India Sweet House, has carved a niche for herself in the entrepreneurial world after more than a decade in the corporate sector, including tenures at Goldman Sachs and Tesco. Her entrepreneurial journey began with her role as a founding team member of Unventured, an experiential travel company specialising in bike, hike, and dive tours across India and Southeast Asia. In addition to her work at Unventured, Shwetha co-founded Transact Dairy with Vishwanath, overseeing operations and customer interactions. She also leads sales and marketing at Transact Building Corp, managing their various residential and commercial projects. Another innovative venture she co-founded is Transact Holidays, offering guests a unique experiential stay at Karma organic dairy farm. Here, visitors can engage directly with the dairy farming process—from feeding and milking cows to observing the delivery of fresh milk to the kitchen of India Sweet House through automated systems. At India Sweet House, Shwetha aims to establish a globally recognized brand known for its nostalgic taste and superior quality, driven by her all-woman team. Her ventures reflect a commitment to providing unique, quality experiences across various industries. What inspired you to start India Sweet House, and how does it differentiate itself from other confectionery brands? The inspiration for India Sweet House stemmed from a profound desire to revive and celebrate India's rich culinary heritage. Recognizing a gap in the market for genuinely authentic Indian sweets and savouries made from the purest ingredients, I was driven by memories of the traditional delicacies prepared by my family during my childhood. My aim was to share that same joy and authenticity with a broader audience, using only the finest organic ingredients. India Sweet House distinguishes itself in several ways. Our steadfast commitment to organic ingredients is fundamental. It all begins at Karma Farms, our dedicated organic sanctuary, where we source the freshest milk, ghee, and khova. Our passion extends beyond just offering popular favourites; we explore and revive forgotten recipes, uncovering culinary treasures from various regions of India. This commitment to authenticity is complemented by our farm-fresh sourcing, efficient production methods, and the warm hospitality present in each of our stores. Our extensive menu features over 200 traditionally prepared delicacies that capture the diverse flavours of India. From delightful desi snacks to melt-in-your-mouth halwas, each item is crafted with meticulous care. Moreover, the allure of these traditional flavours reaches beyond Indian borders—we proudly share our sweets and savouries with enthusiasts in the USA and Australia, allowing a global audience to experience the enchantment of Indian culinary art. Could you elaborate on the significance of using organically farmed ingredients and how Karma Farms plays a role in ensuring the quality of your products? Organic ingredients are the cornerstone of everything we do at India Sweet House. We believe they not only enhance the exceptional taste and quality of our products but also foster a healthier, more sustainable future. Organic farming eschews synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, allowing the natural flavours of our sweets and savouries to truly stand out with a purer taste. Research indicates that organic produce may contain higher levels of certain nutrients and antioxidants compared to conventionally farmed alternatives. By choosing organic ingredients, we aim to provide a healthier indulgence for our customers. Moreover, organic farming practices support soil health, biodiversity, and water conservation. By sourcing from Karma Farms, our dedicated organic haven near Bangalore, we contribute to a more sustainable food system. Karma Farms is integral to the ethos of India Sweet House, deeply embedded in the quality of our products. Our healthy cows roam freely, and a state-of-the-art milking parlour ensures we collect only the freshest, purest milk, which is a fundamental ingredient in many of our delicacies. The farm adheres to rigorous organic standards, eliminating harmful chemicals from our ingredients. The organic milk, ghee, and khova harvested daily are quickly transported to our kitchens, ensuring the freshness and quality that define our offerings. By emphasising the taste, health benefits, and environmental responsibility of using organic ingredients, and detailing the pivotal role Karma Farms plays, we highlight our commitment to quality and sustainability. Women's empowerment seems to be a core value at India Sweet House. How do you ensure that your female employees feel supported and empowered within the organisation? At India Sweet House, fostering a supportive and empowering environment for our female workforce, which numbers over 100 strong, is not just a value—it's a fundamental pillar of our organisation. We are committed to empowering women by nurturing their talents and fostering their growth. We believe that investing in our female employees not only enriches their lives but also strengthens the fabric of our company. This collaborative effort is central to our mission as we work together to revive the legacy of Indian sweets and savouries. Each handcrafted delight we produce is a testament to the skill and dedication of our team. Through empowering our female workforce, we are not just creating exceptional products; we are building a more robust and successful future for India Sweet House. With over 200 traditional delicacies on your menu, how do you strike a balance between preserving tradition and embracing innovation? At India Sweet House, with over 200 delicacies on our menu, striking a balance between honouring tradition and embracing innovation is essential. Traditional recipes form the foundation of our offerings. We adhere meticulously to time-tested methods and techniques that have been perfected over generations, ensuring the authenticity and depth of flavour in our sweets and savouries. We are also committed to reviving forgotten regional recipes, bringing these culinary treasures back to life for a modern audience, which allows us to expand our menu while staying true to India’s rich culinary heritage. Understanding that palates evolve, we occasionally adjust sugar levels or portion sizes in certain recipes to cater to contemporary tastes, ensuring a delightful experience for all. While our recipes remain deeply rooted in tradition, we embrace innovation in our presentation. We provide beautifully designed and convenient packaging options, making our treats perfect for gifting or indulging at home. By honouring tradition while embracing innovation, India Sweet House offers a taste of India that spans from familiar classics to rediscovered gems, weaving a vibrant culinary tapestry that’s presented with a touch of modernity to satisfy today’s discerning palate. Could you share some insights into the process of rediscovering and reviving forgotten recipes, and how you decide which ones to feature in your offerings? The world of forgotten recipes is a realm brimming with hidden flavours and stories awaiting discovery. For me, reviving these culinary gems is a source of continual excitement. The revival process begins with extensive research. I explore historical cookbooks, delve into regional archives, and consult with culinary experts and home cooks throughout India. This rigorous approach helps me uncover a plethora of forgotten recipes, each with its own unique history and cultural significance. Engaging with local communities, especially the older generations, is vital. These interactions spark memories and yield invaluable insights into traditional cooking methods and ingredients that have been used for generations. Grandmothers and family cooks are often guardians of cherished recipes passed down through the ages, offering a precious glimpse into the past. With a treasure trove of rediscovered recipes at hand, the selection process is critical. The criteria are straightforward: taste and authenticity are paramount. The revived recipe must be delicious and true to the essence of the original dish. We prioritise dishes that highlight unique flavours and traditional techniques, ensuring that each bite offers a taste of history. Regional representation is equally important. I aim to reflect the diverse culinary landscape of India by featuring forgotten recipes from various regions. This approach ensures that our menu provides a comprehensive journey through the vast and vibrant world of Indian cuisine. Practical considerations, such as the availability of ingredients and the feasibility of large-scale production, also influence the selection of recipes for broader distribution. The journey of rediscovering forgotten recipes is driven by a deep passion and curiosity. By incorporating these culinary treasures into our menu, I not only honour India's rich culinary heritage but also provide a unique and enjoyable experience for our customers. It's an opportunity to savour a taste of the past, presented with a modern twist to suit today’s discerning palate. India Sweet House has expanded beyond India to international markets like the USA and Australia. What challenges did you face in this expansion, and how did you overcome them? Currently, India Sweet House serves customers exclusively in the USA and Australia through online orders, as we do not have a physical storefront at this time. This approach allows us to focus on crafting and delivering our exceptional sweets and savouries directly to our international clientele. In what ways do you engage with your customers to understand their preferences and continually improve your offerings? To deeply understand our customers' needs and preferences, we have implemented a comprehensive engagement strategy at India Sweet House. Each week, our directors personally visit our stores to engage in face-to-face conversations with customers, gaining direct insights into their experiences and expectations. Additionally, each store is staffed with a dedicated floor walker who interacts with customers throughout the day, collecting valuable real-time feedback. We also offer a detailed customer feedback form, encouraging customers to share their thoughts and suggestions. All this feedback is meticulously analysed by our management team to identify trends and opportunities for continuous improvement in our offerings. This multi-layered approach ensures that we remain closely connected to our customers and responsive to their evolving needs. With the growing global trend towards sustainability and conscious consumption, how does India Sweet House incorporate environmental practices into its operations beyond organic farming, and how do you educate your customers about these efforts? At India Sweet House, we're dedicated to satisfying your sweet tooth while minimising our environmental footprint. Our journey begins with organic farming practices at Karma Farms, our dedicated haven near Bangalore, where healthy cows roam freely, and sustainable methods produce the purest ingredients for our delightful treats. Our commitment extends beyond organic farming! We are determined to make a positive impact across all aspects of our operations. That's why we're excited to launch our new ongoing initiative: Bring Your Own Bowl and Get 10% Off! Starting April 22nd and continuing year-round, this initiative allows you to contribute to a greener future with each delicious purchase. Just bring your own reusable container to India Sweet House, and enjoy a discount on your favourite sweets. This small, collective step can lead to significant environmental benefits. A sustainable environment is crucial for the well-being of our planet and future generations. By embracing organic ingredients and promoting the use of reusable containers, we can all contribute to a more sustainable world. Join us in this delicious journey of indulgence and environmental stewardship! What are your future plans for India Sweet House, both in terms of expansion and initiatives to further promote sustainability and community development? At India Sweet House, our passion is twofold: to spread the joy of authentic Indian sweets and to make a meaningful impact on the world. As we reflect on our journey, including the establishment of 25 stores and achieving a record revenue of ₹50 crore in FY 23-24, we are setting even more ambitious goals for the future. For FY 24-25, our target is to double our revenue to ₹100 crore and expand our footprint across Karnataka, bringing the taste of tradition closer to more people. Sustainability remains a core component of our vision. We are excited to launch our "Bring Your Own Bowl and Get 10% Off" initiative starting April 22nd, 2024, which will run throughout the year. This program encourages customers to participate in our environmental efforts with every delicious purchase they make. Furthermore, we are thrilled to announce another upcoming sustainability initiative. This new program will incentivize customers to reuse their existing India Sweet House boxes, thereby further reducing our environmental footprint. Our commitment extends beyond business growth to giving back to the communities that support us. We are actively developing initiatives that empower local communities and promote sustainable agricultural practices. With ambitious expansion plans, a robust sustainability strategy, and a dedication to community engagement, India Sweet House is poised for a bright and impactful future. We are eager to continue this journey with you, creating a world where indulgence in sweets and positive change go hand in hand. This interview is published exclusively on HospitalitlyNews.in. Image credits: India Sweet House

Ganesh Ramamurthy: Elevating Boutique Hospitality with a Touch of Tradition

Nishang Narayan

02-April-2024

Ganesh Ramamurthy: Elevating Boutique Hospitality with a Touch of Tradition

In an enlightening dialogue with Hospitality News, Ganesh Ramamurthy, the visionary behind Atithi Pondicherry's success, shared his approach to intertwining traditional charm with modern hospitality. His extensive experience and academic background in hotel management have not only shaped Atithi Pondicherry into a beacon of personalized guest experiences but also made Ramamurthy a mentor and innovator in the field. When asked about maintaining Atithi Pondicherry's unique identity, Ramamurthy highlighted the emphasis on human connections over digital transformations, ensuring the brand's distinctiveness and service excellence thrive in a competitive market. He also detailed the collaborative efforts across departments that guarantee a seamless guest experience, reflecting his trust-based management philosophy. A focal point of our conversation was Ramamurthy's strategy for community engagement and local partnership, which bolsters the hotel's authenticity and supports the local economy. Moreover, his insight into balancing innovation with tradition, such as introducing sustainability practices without overshadowing the hotel's heritage, underscores his forward-thinking leadership. Select responses reveal Ramamurthy's knack for efficient revenue management and cost-saving measures, like optimizing daily newspaper distribution, which underscores his commitment to sustainability and guest satisfaction. Furthermore, his personal recommendation to experience the hotel's infinity pool exemplifies his dedication to creating memorable guest experiences. Reflecting on the evolution of hospitality culture and offering advice to aspiring professionals, Ramamurthy underscores the importance of patience, learning, and personal interaction, crucial traits for success in the hospitality industry. Ganesh Ramamurthy's insights offer a fascinating glimpse into the art of blending tradition with innovation in hospitality. His dedication and strategic thinking illuminate the path for future leaders. For a more comprehensive dive into Ramamurthy's philosophies and practices, make sure to watch the full interview available on the Hospitality News YouTube channel and read the detailed discussion in Hospitality News magazine. Follow @indiahospitalitynews on Instagram for more updates and insights into the world of hospitality.

Nurturing Talent, Inspiring Excellence: Vinesh Gupta's Leadership Philosophy

Admin

02-April-2024

Nurturing Talent, Inspiring Excellence: Vinesh Gupta's Leadership Philosophy

In this exclusive interview, we delve into the illustrious career of Vinesh Gupta, General Manager of The Den in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India. Vinesh Gupta brings over two decades of rich and diverse experience in the hospitality industry, currently serving as the General Manager of The Den in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India. Beginning his journey with Hyatt Regency Delhi in 1994, Vinesh steadily climbed the ranks, showcasing his expertise in financial analysis and project management. During his tenure at Hyatt Regency, he served as Asst. Front Office Manager and later undertook various positions, including Regency Club Manager. Expanding his horizons, Vinesh joined The Imperial New Delhi as Front Office Manager, further honing his skills in guest relations and operations management. His career trajectory led him to Taj Hotels, where he contributed as Front Office Manager at Taj Lands End Mumbai and Accommodations Manager at Taj Bengal Kolkata, showcasing proficiency in budgeting and financial analysis. Continuing his journey, Vinesh assumed the role of Executive Assistant Manager - Rooms at Shangri-La New Delhi, demonstrating his capabilities in overseeing room operations and ensuring guest satisfaction. Further enriching his expertise, Vinesh served as Executive Assistant Manager at The Leela Palaces & Resorts, spearheading initiatives to enhance guest experiences and operational efficiency. His career highlights include significant tenures with leading international hospitality brands such as Hilton, Wyndham Hotel Group, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, and Dan Hotels Israel. 1. What initially sparked your interest in pursuing a career in the hospitality industry, and how has that passion evolved over the years? Studying Hospitality was more of an accident than a choice. I was bright & intelligent, but not studious; and the aspiration of alternate career landed me in hospitality. Initially, it was the excitement of doing something different – cooking, beverages, languages, etc. but later I developed a serious liking for this emotionally satisfying and a people centric business. A successful hotelier must be passionate to the extent of just short of being eccentric. It is a demanding profession, where your passion drives the results. The early success drove me harder and my urge to better myself and improve, innovate & be impactful stretches my limits of passion 2. With your extensive experience across various renowned hotel chains, what key lessons have you learned that you believe differentiate exceptional hotel management from merely adequate management? Humility and humanity in our leadership styles make us different. We are as good as our team, and I very strongly believe that the virtues mentioned above hold true for handling all stakeholders – be it guests, team members, owners, or corporate officers.  Leading by example and demonstrating it in front of your team will increase their will to perform and drive towards excellence both qualitatively and financially  3. As someone deeply involved in Food and Beverages, could you share a particular dining experience or innovation that you have spearheaded, which significantly enhanced guest satisfaction and loyalty? There is always something happening at The Den. Surprising things, interesting things, enjoyable things – but you will always find something to stimulate you. Food & Beverage is all about touching the hearts of your guests. One of the major challenges of any F&B operation is to give the first course to the guests in no time – and most of us falter here. At Layla, as soon as the guest enters, the waiter post greeting and seating , will bring the selection of Cold Mezze to visually pick and choose with hot Pita’s and then the Menu is given to the guest.  Being authentic, innovative, and original has always made us darling of our guests – be it Kanafe or a Filo Feta; Goat Milk Panacota or Shrimp Falafel; our small but crazy repertoire is our mantra to guest satisfaction 4. The Den prides itself on offering an environment where guests can seamlessly transition between eating, working, sleeping, and playing. How do you ensure that each aspect of this experience is meticulously curated to exceed guest expectations and create a memorable stay? As a definition, Den is an informal, quiet, and comfortable room in a house where someone goes to read, work, play and relax; and we have taken it to our cores. Eat Work Sleep Play is our DNA. At the heart of The Den is our authentic hospitality and a philosophy to do what you want do with comfort, panache and just a little edge. It is a place to sleep comfortably, work effectively, eat gloriously and play…well…we hope enjoyably. Employee retention and morale are crucial for the success of any hotel. What initiatives have you introduced to promote staff engagement and career growth opportunities within the hotel? We are as good as our teams is the basic premise at The Den. We are humane and humble. We practise the family values at workplace, and we believe in transparency.  The associates have a career path to be leaders and we have showcased the same where our team members have grown multiple levels and are in certain leadership roles.  We have our very own “The Den Academy” to nurture and develop the talent inhouse. All we ask for is the positive attitude, a will to work and need of the job. 5. In a competitive market like Bengaluru, attracting corporate clients is vital. What initiatives have you implemented to enhance The Den's appeal to business travellers and corporate events? The Den is a Millennial Luxury hotel. We have our value systems and a very well-defined niche market. It is a very stylish and classy hotel and at The Den you expect everything to just work. And it does. Perfectly. But more than that, the guest experience you receive is completely seamless. Each one of our team members is trained to deliver our unique Den hospitality. 6. As a prominent establishment in the Whitefield business district, how does The Den actively contribute to the local community and foster meaningful relationships with residents and businesses in the area? Local community, environment and sustainability are certain key pillars at The Den. From fund raisers to direct support; education to charity; training the underprivileged to embracing diversity, we have been able to create an amazing equilibrium that holds and respects human values. 7. In your opinion, what are the most crucial qualities a leader in the hospitality industry should possess, and how do you embody these qualities in your role as General Manager? Lead by Example, Attention to Detail, Innovative leadership, and Entrepreneurial Approach are quintessential for success in hospitality. Staff look to leaders for cues on how to behave and I model company values and behaviours that I want to see in the team. Leading by example include things like listening to the team, helping, delivering on promises, and being inclusive. Remembering employee’s names, if they have children, pets, birthdays, and life events makes a huge difference in creating more personal connections and keeping teams engaged. 8. Looking ahead, what trends do you foresee shaping the future of the hospitality industry, and how do you plan to adapt and stay ahead of these changes in your leadership role? Hospitality is a very dynamic and ever-changing world as we are dealing with Human Emotions at every stage. I would take a leap of faith with technology – especially AI and XI changing our very philosophy of hospitality. However, the differentiator will always be the Human touch. We need to be very agile and embrace the technology with the human touch, and that’s what I keep myself abreast with and implement it wherever possible. This Interview is Published Exclusively in hospitalitynews.in

Leading with Passion and Purpose in the Hospitality Sector. A Conversation with Balaji M

Admin

02-April-2024

Leading with Passion and Purpose in the Hospitality Sector. A Conversation with Balaji M

In an exclusive interview with Mr. Balaji. M, the esteemed Chief Executive Officer of Kamalya Group and Clarks Exotica Convention Resort & Spa, we delve into his illustrious career. Mr. Balaji. M has been serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Kamalya Group for over 24 years. Under his leadership, the group has diversified into various sectors including import & export, real estate, hospitality, and wellness. Recently, the group has ventured into manufacturing COVID-19 essentials and international trading of healthcare products. Mr. Balaji's commitment to quality and customer satisfaction has been instrumental in the group's success. Mr. Balaji's career began as an electrician and later transitioned into roles in tourism and human resources. His expertise in talent management and organizational behavior led him to senior positions within the company. Through his strategic leadership, he achieved significant growth in turnover and occupancy rates at Clarks Exotica Convention Resort & Spa, Bangalore, ultimately attaining the role of Group CEO. Outside of work, Mr. Balaji is an avid martial artist and fitness enthusiast, drawing inspiration from Bruce Lee's philosophy of continuous self-improvement. He is also passionate about agriculture and maintains a farm focused on organic farming practices. 1. What inspired you to pursue a career in the hospitality industry, and how has your journey led you to your current role as CEO of Clarks Exotica? My entry into the hospitality sector wasn't sparked by inspiration but by a sense of duty. When I was unexpectedly tasked one night with assuming the management role at Clarks Exotica, I faced the challenge head-on, despite lacking expertise in sales or operations. Leveraging my background in administration and a keenness to learn rapidly, I relied on the knowledge of my team, engaged in self-directed learning, and tapped into resources in research and development to navigate the intricacies of the role. Reflecting on my earlier experiences, I had the opportunity to work under an IAS officer during the formative stages of my career. These officers, accustomed to frequent transfers and varied responsibilities, imparted valuable lessons in adaptability and versatility. Observing their ability to excel in diverse fields, I embraced the challenge with enthusiasm. As an HR professional, I swiftly adapted, drawing upon my aptitude for quick learning and gathering insights from my team and peers. Additionally, I benefited from ongoing research and development initiatives in learning and development. 2. Clarks Exotica has garnered numerous awards and accolades under your leadership. Could you share one achievement or initiative that you're most proud of, and how it reflects your vision for the resort? One of my proudest accomplishments at Clarks Exotica is the nurturing and development of our staff. Under my guidance, our team has flourished, receiving recognition and accolades for their outstanding performance. I find great satisfaction in the knowledge that our employees, many of whom have been with us since the inception of the resort, feel empowered and have the freedom to express their talents. We prioritize internal promotions, fostering a culture where everyone has the chance to grow and advance. Our success is a testament to the dedication and skill of our team. At the heart of our organization lies our people, who serve as our strongest pillars. I hold immense pride in our staff, each of whom has contributed to our journey since the beginning. They are empowered to take ownership of their work, with minimal micromanagement. Our Heads of Departments have all risen from within the organization, a testament to our commitment to internal growth and development. As emphasized by Late Mr. Rai Bahadur MS Oberoi - "You can make a hotel of pure gold, but nobody will visit unless you provide quality service".  We prioritize retaining and nurturing talent, recognizing that our team is integral to our success. Awards and accolades are a reflection of the dedication and effort of our team, underscoring the importance of collective achievement over individual brilliance. Without our team, we would not have achieved the level of excellence for which we are known. 3. As a leader in the hospitality sector, how do you foster a culture of excellence and motivation among your team at Clarks Exotica, ensuring that each member is aligned with the resort's values and objectives? At Clarks Exotica, fostering a culture of excellence and motivation is built upon four fundamental pillars: people, quality, business, and culture. Through a steadfast commitment to our staff and operational processes, we ensure that every team member comprehends and embodies our core values and objectives. We place a strong emphasis on upholding the principles of hospitality, where each guest is treated with utmost respect and care, in line with our guiding principle, "Athithi devo bhava." In any organization, these four pillars - people, quality, business, and culture - form the foundation of success. We recognize the critical interplay between processes and personnel. With experienced staff, we benefit from their deep understanding of our organizational DNA and the expectations of our leadership. Cultivating a strong organizational culture extends beyond remote work arrangements; it requires adhering to fundamental principles. Even minor shortcomings in service, such as a flaw in a simple dish, can significantly impact the overall guest experience. Our unwavering commitment to the principle of "Athithi devo bhava" ensures that every member of our team is aligned with this ethos. 4. Event planning services are a key feature of Clarks Exotica. What types of events does the resort specialize in, and how does the team work with clients to create memorable experiences for their guests? At Clarks Exotica, we pride ourselves on being a truly unique property that caters to a diverse range of segments, including business travelers, airline crews, individual travelers, social events, and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions). Annually, we orchestrate an average of 40 weddings, showcasing our ability to handle events of varying scales, from intimate gatherings of 10 people to grand affairs hosting up to 5000 guests. Each event is meticulously planned and customized to meet the specific requirements of our guests. Our reputation for excellence was solidified when we successfully secured a major ocean-themed event, surpassing competition from a prominent venue in the city. Our professionalism, confidence, exceptional service, and high-quality offerings were instrumental in winning over the organizers. Additionally, we achieved a remarkable feat by flawlessly serving over 40,000 meals within a span of three days, without a single complaint. At Clarks Exotica, we specialize in crafting unforgettable experiences for our guests, whether it's through corporate gatherings, weddings, or social functions. Our dedicated team works closely with clients to tailor each event to perfection, ensuring that every moment exceeds expectations. Our commitment to delivering impeccable service and personalized experiences is reflected in our motto, underscoring our dedication to surpassing guest satisfaction. 5. How does Clarks Exotica solicit and incorporate feedback from guests and employees to enhance its offerings and services? Feedback from guests and employees is integral to our continuous improvement at Clarks Exotica. We utilize various channels, including in-house feedback systems and online platforms, to solicit input. Every comment and suggestion is taken seriously, and we are committed to addressing concerns promptly to enhance our offerings and services. 6. Corporate events, weddings, and social gatherings are significant segments for Clarks Exotica. Can you highlight some key initiatives that have contributed to the resort's success in these areas? Key initiatives contributing to our success in corporate events, weddings, and social gatherings include creating versatile spaces, ensuring convenience for guests, maintaining high standards of food quality, and fostering a culture of creativity and adaptability. Sustainability is also a priority, with efforts to reduce environmental impact through initiatives like waste segregation and upcycling. 7. In your opinion, what are the most pressing challenges facing the hospitality industry today, and how is Clarks Exotica addressing them under your guidance? In the hospitality industry, challenges like escalating overhead expenses, shifts in the workforce across generations, and the imperative for sustainability are prevalent. At Clarks Exotica, we tackle these hurdles through targeted initiatives centered on efficiency, employee engagement, and environmental stewardship. Our approach involves embracing diversity and cultivating a culture of ongoing learning to navigate these obstacles and sustain our leadership position in the industry. Specifically, we recognize the pressing issue of rising overhead costs, particularly in utilities like electricity, water, and fuel. To address this, we prioritize efficiency measures and explore sustainable alternatives to mitigate expenses while minimizing environmental impact. Additionally, we acknowledge the evolving workforce dynamics, with a significant portion of our staff comprising Generation Z individuals. We are committed to bridging the gap between generations by fostering mutual understanding, acceptance, and appreciation of diverse perspectives and work methodologies. Moreover, we understand the importance of sustainability in today's world and are dedicated to incorporating eco-friendly practices into our operations. From recycling and upcycling initiatives to addressing waste segregation and reducing our carbon footprint, we are proactive in promoting environmental responsibility. Through awareness programs, continuous training, and a culture of inclusivity and growth, we strive to navigate these challenges effectively, ensuring Clarks Exotica remains a beacon of excellence in the hospitality industry. 8. Innovation is often crucial for staying competitive in the hospitality sector. Could you discuss any recent innovative projects or initiatives undertaken by Clarks Exotica, and how they have impacted the guest experience or operational efficiency? At Clarks Exotica, our dedication to eco-friendly practices has led to significant achievements. One notable initiative involves the replacement of plastic water bottles with glass alternatives. This commitment has resulted in the avoidance of an impressive 14.40 lakh plastic bottles to date, showcasing our proactive approach to reducing plastic waste and promoting sustainability. Furthermore, we have taken steps to minimize plastic waste in other areas by replacing small plastic pet bottles with dispensers in bathrooms. This not only helps in reducing landfill waste but also prevents unnecessary wastage of resources. In our ongoing efforts to embrace renewable energy sources, we have installed solar panels on-site, generating 300 KW of power. Looking ahead, we are ambitious in our goals and aim to expand our solar capacity to 2 MW in the near future. This initiative underscores our commitment to environmental responsibility and reducing our carbon footprint. 9. Beyond professional endeavours, what personal values or principles guide your leadership style, and how do they contribute to the overall success and culture of Clarks Exotica? My leadership philosophy is rooted in personal values such as action-oriented mindset, discipline, humility, and the belief in influencing others through positive behavior rather than relying on authority. I draw inspiration from Bruce Lee's philosophy, emphasizing that "knowing is not enough; we must apply," prioritizing actions over personal branding. By leading with love, integrity, and a focus on empowering others, I aim to contribute to the overall success and culture of Clarks Exotica. I am motivated by Bruce Lee's timeless wisdom, reminding us that knowledge alone is insufficient—we must put our knowledge into action. I aspire to expand my sphere of influence beyond my immediate control, focusing on actions that inspire and uplift others. I believe in leading by example, letting my work and actions speak louder than any title or position. Just as seasons change, presenting varying challenges, I embrace adaptability and resilience. I recognize that excuses and reluctance only hinder progress. Like Krishna guided Arjuna, I aim to mentor and support others, helping them overcome their fears and uncertainties. Ultimately, I believe in the power of confronting the unknown, for therein lies true growth and transformation. This Interview is Published Exclusively in hospitalitynews.in

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