Going by the progress and the success of the The Lalit Hotels, Jyotsna Suri, Chairperson & Managing Director Bharat Hotels Limited definitely knows how to put her best foot forward. Leena Ghosh talks to Suri about her passion for hotels as well as her belief in being human while being a hotelier.
At 5-feet, two-and-a-half inches, Jyotsna Suri, stands tall. Walking through the lobby of the LaLiT Golf & Spa Resort Goa, holding the hand of her granddaughter, Suri exudes a calm confidence that comes from being in control of all she oversees – to the very last detail. She greets me with a namaste and a smile, offers “nariyal paani” (coconut water) and gets straight down to talk about the business of hotels; something that’s been close to her heart for almost three decades now. Also why it’s difficult for her to choose her favourite Lalit property. “It’s like asking a mother, who’s her favourite child. I can never choose because each Lalit hotel is close to my heart. I think all the Lalit properties are amazing and ideally located.”
But when compared to other hotels, Suri believes that Lalit Hotels have a distinctive edge over others. “There are two key factors that define the USP of this hotel group. Firstly, we own, develop and manage our properties. We are completely in control. There are many hotel chains that just manage properties and you couldn’t stand in some of their hotels for two minutes.”
“The second aspect is the location. Every single hotel of our group is ideally located. The LaLiT Golf & Spa Resort Goa is located at one of the best part of Goa, The LaLiT Grand Palace Srinagar is located on a unique piece of land, overlooking the Dal Lake. The LaLiT New Delhi is a business hotel and is based in the heart of the city. The LaLiT Laxmi Vilas Palace Udaipur hotel is located within the Aravalli hills and so on. We have the freedom to be inspired by wherever we are because we own and manage our own properties. Each property reflects the essence of the place it is located in.”
The Very Feni bar at The LaLiT Golf & Spa Resort Goa is a testament to that fact. To give a true Goan feel to the Lalit property at Goa, Suri went to famous cartoonist Mario Miranda’s house for inspiration. “I walked into his house, introduced myself and asked for his thoughts. In fact, the name, Veri Feni, was suggested by him.”
Suri believes in building hotels that inspire and looks into every aspect of hotel management for all properties. “I have been personally involved in each process of all my hotels. I know when any furniture in the hotel lobby is moved. I have never involved any event management company for any of the hotel events, as I believe in doing it on our own.”
To be in control of every aspect of a hotel needs good multitasking capabilities and Suri can easily be called a one-woman army. “I am good at what I do. I am passionate about anything that needs me to be creative. My chefs tell me I would make a great chef, so does my event manager say the same about my event management skills. I learn and adapt quickly.”
At the same time she believes every hotelier should be willing to accept mistakes when they make one. “It is important to be aware of your capabilities and limitations. The greatest sin is not to accept your mistake. We are human and we can make mistakes. There is no need to lie, as it is important to be human. You have to know the shortcomings and work at overcoming them.”
While the hotel group is rapidly expanding in Tier I and Tier II cities, competition from other hotel chains does not faze her. “Competition is healthy. There is enough scope for all of us to grow. It is better when more people come in. Without competition, you can get complacent. The customer has a choice now and knowing that keeps hoteliers on their toes.”
There is focus on MICE, but the hotel group plans to expand in the leisure and business segment as well. “We don’t want to narrow our arena. We cater to every need, be it of leisure travellers or business travellers. The Lalit Traveller is for the mid-segment. It offers all the necessary facilities needed by a frequent traveller. We have great venues for weddings and business events. Yes MICE is very important to us. Each of our hotels is equipped to hold MICE events. Goa and Udaipur properties are more suited for weddings while Delhi and Bangalore hotels are ideal for business events,” Suri pointed out.
While there are multiple plans ahead for the hotel group, Suri believes in putting her best foot forward. “My philosophy is to face all my problems and accept my mistakes.” One of the many reasons what makes Lalit Hotels what it is today — Traditionally Modern. Sublty Luxurious. Distinctly Lalit.