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‘We completely transformed the interior to give our patrons the ultimate Shangri-la brand experience’

Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 10:25 Hrs  [IST]

Prashant Rai Sood, Director of the EROS Group and Proprietor of Shangri-la’s Eros Hotel, is a passionate hotelier, who equipped with finance and entrepreneurship degree from Babson College Boston, and hospitality degree from Le Roches Marbella Int’l School of Hotel Management, steered an acquired ITDC property in the heart of Delhi into a luxury hospitality address in the last few years. Sood, a die-hard adventure enthusiast, shared with Hospitality Biz the different phases of upgradation that Shangri-la Eros Hotel underwent and how it transformed the positioning of the hotel in the National capital’s hotel landscape.

Q How significant is hotel business in Eros group’s overall real estate portfolio and how has been your journey in the hospitality business?
Over the years, Eros has expanded in areas like developing hotels, commercial towers and residential complexes. The group renovated Delhi’s Kanishka Hotel and elevated it to a level of deluxe five-star hotel by re-naming it Shangri-La’s - Eros Hotel, New Delhi. Besides this, the company also developed a deluxe five-star property at the Delhi-Faridabad border managed by Radisson.

Q Asset owners generally have a love-hate relationship with brand managers. However, for Shangri-la Eros for which you have been responsible has been steadfast in brand relationship. What helped you maintain the brand-owner relationship sustainable so long?
In today’s time to sustain brand-owner relationship, it is important to communicate frequently. The exact frequency one can choose depending on the relationship and activity level, but usually with main businesses it’s possible to combine email, phone contact and face-to-face communication to keep the work moving without burning out on the message. Another way is to spend time with the brand managers in order to build relationships. Be it spending hours or even a full day, there is no better way to really understand the challenges and figure out ways to meet them. This can be a real eye opener and help to cement lasting relationships.

Q How did your hospitality education in world class institutes like Le Roche help you handle your entrepreneurial responsibilities and challenges associated with this sector better?
My Alma mater has helped me in understanding my responsibilities in the hospitality industry. The knowledge gained has enabled me to recognise business openings; the capability to chase opportunities by breeding novel ideas and hunt the required alternatives; the capability to produce and function a new business; and the capability to reason in an inventive and imperative method.

Shangri-La Eros Hotel New Delhi - Exterior

Q Shangri-la Eros is an acquired property of ITDC. How did you transform it into a luxury hospitality address over the years?
Due to the government rule, we couldn’t change the exterior of the hotel. But we completely transformed the interior to give our patrons an ultimate Shangri-La experience. Hence, the hotel embarked on a journey to refurbish and refresh every one of its aspects. This was done in phases in order to make it a seamless effort, without disturbing the functioning of the hotel in any way. The year 2016 offered a brand new food and beverage hub on the ground floor featuring Shangri-La’s very own signature restaurant, Shang Palace, bringing the best of Yunnan, Cantonese and Sichuan to the food connoisseurs of New Delhi. Grappa is a welcoming, friendly alfresco bar creating a picturesque backdrop to the guest arrival experience, and is the ideal place to unwind, rejuvenate and revitalise after a stressful day’s work. Sorrento, the Italian restaurant, has won numerous awards and accolades within the first year of its opening, amongst others.

Shangri-La Eros Hotel New Delhi - Mr Chai

The year 2017 saw the existing Spa been rebranded into Shangri-La’s global brand, CHI, The Spa, which has already made its mark around the globe in more than 44 countries. The new accommodation facilities now offer state-of-the-art; well-furbished contemporary rooms and suites including a split level Horizon Lounge for guests to enjoy the best-in-luxury in the heart of the city.

Q How do you look at the changes in business that has come over in the CBD hotels since the advent of Aerocity Hospitality District?
Hotels situated in Aerocity Hospitality District work best for business travellers due to its close proximity to the airport and adjoining city Gurgaon. But Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi is located in the central business district of the capital. It is within close proximity to government offices, shopping centers and commercial, financial and business districts. The hotel is a 30-minute drive from the domestic and international airports and a few minutes away from the international grounds of Pragati Maidan and most embassies.

Q As a developer and investor, what prospects and opportunities do you see for hospitality investments in the country?
Mergers and acquisitions play a crucial role in the hospitality industry and usually driven by a necessity to consolidate. Mergers are intended to put hotel brands in a stronger position to negotiate management agreements, gain access to a significantly higher base of loyalty members and capitalise on a larger marketing footprint. Another emerging trend is increased focus on F&B offerings within the hotel. Hotels in tier-I cities, have been embellished with multiple restaurants offering various specialty cuisines. This has brought a positive change in the revenue and viability of the hotel.

The increase of hotel aggregators has affected the hospitality space. But the traditional hotels remain unaffected because they offer a higher standard in consistency and quality of product.

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