"Our first foot into hotels was in 1967, when we opened The Park on Park Street," said Priya Paul, chairperson of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels.
By 1987, the company had three hotels.
"My father had planned to renovate all the properties, but things changed with his
So, I set about changing things.
The biggest question in my mind was, 'How could we make these hotels stand out?'" she
in the early '90s decided to use design as a differentiator of the company's products, services, restaurants and people.
That inspired a collection of luxury boutique hotels.
"That has been key to our success," she
It has been a long journey for the hotel group from its initial three hotels to the now 11-from having to explain what boutique hotel meant in the 1990s, to becoming a pioneer in contemporary luxe hotels.
said the company's vision is to have 20 hotels by 2020, "whereby we will be able to offer our guests a slice of The Park in every city they travel to."
The company's focus is on India, according to Paul
A 350-room hotel in Kolkata is in the works, as well as a property each in Pune, Cochin and Jaipur.
The group is headed for an aggressive push in second- and third-tier locations where there is substantial demand and tourist potential.
"There is a rise in the number of industries being set up in smaller towns and tier-two cities, increasing the growth prospects of hotels in this sector," Paul
"Now that we have grown, we have realized the need to communicate our brand strength more boldly and in a more coherent manner," Paul
"Thus, the vision which we uphold today is that of leadership through differentiation."
said, the focus now is to have a brand differentiator and promote the group's new brand, Zone by The Park.
The commonality in the venture remains the accent on design, and a great emphasis on food and nightlife.
Given the immense tourism potential in the luxury segment, Paul
said, "The hotel has embraced each opportunity which seemed conducive to the attainment of our vision.
The modern-day traveler looks for a holiday experience and not just a place to rest, and it is this unique experience that sets boutique hotels apart.
"They look for surprises, and when planning trips, they seek hotels that are noticeably different in look and feel.
I see a lot of luxury travelers coming to India.
There has been a greater understanding of India as a luxury destination in international market and a growth of luxury travelers within India as well.
We see a remarkable number of tourists not only to experience the rich heritage but also to witness modern and contemporary India."
is optimistic of the potential in the hotel industry.
The current sluggishness she
attributes to the ups and downs that all industries go through.
"By liberalizing the economy, India is attracting tourists and foreign workers, which is positively impacting the hospitality sector.
Thus, one needs to consider the bigger picture of the hotel industry," she