Next generation entrepreneurs don’t always believe in carrying forward the legacy and the brand name of the family business rather they creating their own venture with passion while sensing new opportunities of businesses.
Setting such a unique example Amruda Nair, Joint MD & CEO, Aiana Hotels & Resorts and the granddaughter of late Captain C P Krishnan Nair, Founder of The Leela Group decided to launch her own set of Indian inspired hotels in Doha, Middle-East to cater the Indians travelling to the GCC region and looking for affordable luxury segment.
Thus on the verge of expansion of her hotels and resorts in India Amruda Nair spoke to Entrepreneur India while talking about key entrepreneurial qualities she learnt from her grandfather.
While is The Leela is established name why did you launch your own set hotels and resorts?
Primarily there are two reasons, one it was completely opportunity led. With the new venture we were looking to focus on the upper upscale base what we call it as accessible luxury which is very different in every aspect whether it’s a design or service.
All of it is catering to much younger generation so it is very much hospitality to the point and there was a need to create something that fits to that space. So there was opportunity to create a niche in the hotel market.
Second, I was fortunate to find a partner who shares that passion for Indian hospitality and the focus really is to create properties outside of India where Indian travellers going outside and that’s what drives us.
Why didn’t you carry forward the name The Leela?
I think The Leela is always been associated with luxury and upper end of the luxury spectre And Aiana is more of accessible luxury so it was important to keep that distinction clear. It is a completely different niche and different segment and it is important even from a customer perspective for that distinction to be clear.
Tell us about your tie-up venture in Middle East?
Aiana was created as a joint venture between me and a Middle-East investor based out of Qatar. It’s been 18 months since we have signed the JV. The idea essentially was to create Indian inspired brand that would be based out of Doha. But Doha being international platform so essentially we are based out of Dona but the intention is to expand the brand from Qatar to Saudi where we have 611 room property under construction and we want to grow the brand across GCC.
The basic premise behind the partnership was to create a brand that resonated with the young Indian traveller. In India every year 5 mn travellers are coming in and around 18mn leaving the country. The number is supposed to extend to 30 mn by 2020 and that’s where Aiana wants to be where the Indian traveller is.
Presently how many properties you have in Middle-East and India?
In Middle-East currently we have 8 hotels under management of which three hotels with 1000 rooms are under construction at the moment.
In India currently we have six properties across Kerala and Karnataka. In Kerala we have tied up with Moon River Resort which is 33 villa project in Munnar. Under MoU with Funs Developers in Karnataka we have got four resorts. Also we are starting with one that is 75 villa project in Hasan which is the coffee plantation region. Everything is under Aiana so Munnar one will be called as Aiana Munar Moon River Resort similarly with Fun in Karnataka will be called Aiana Hasan Fun Resorts.
How many properties you are looking to expand ahead?
Further plans are to extend the brand to India, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Our focus currently is on South India on Kerala and Karnataka. Eventually we would like to go and cover the primary leisure destinations in other parts of the country and the same is with Middle East. Staring with Qatar and Saudi Arabia we are also looking at UAE and Oman because of the number of Indians travelling to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Dubai received 9,50,000 Indians last year and that is suppose to cross the million mark in 2016.
What are your key learning from your grandfather?
The one thing that I have learnt from him is take risk. He didn’t believe in good luck. He use to very famously say that the good luck comes to those who dare to act and I think in that sense I do believe that I have got that entrepreneurial spirit. Because at the end of the day everything you do is the risk as long as you got the vision and the belief in what you are doing. To create something from scratch having a clear vision of where you want to be is important. Also realising that there are multiple parts to get to the same end goal so be prepared to have delays and changes in terms of what takes you there.
I have clarity in vision, ability to take risk and the quality of accepting the fact that change is eventual thus use that to your advantage.