History of Indian luxury hospitality.
Indian hospitality has been renowned for centuries as we believed in a phrase “Atithi Devo Bhawa.” – The guest is the god. We treat our guests like God. However, Indian luxury hospitality doesn’t have as illustrous past as European counterparts.
Mr. Jamshethji Tata was the first person to open famous Taj Mahal hotel Mumbai in 1903. He was peerless among luxury hospitality for years until Mr. Rai Bahadur Mohan Oberoi bought two Clark’s hotels in Delhi and Shimla in 1934.
The entire nation had just 3 luxury hotels till early 70’s. Taj Mahal hotel was secretly deteriorating and the verge of being sold off for years by then pioneer Mr. JRD Tata who was responsible for starting then flamboyant Air India. Oberoi wasn’t doing that great either.
However, as soon as 70s hit the calendar, Indian hospitality got a fresh lifeline in name of expansion. Tata went on a buying spree and bought few hotels across the nation. They added tourism to India and thus invited international luxury tourists to India and changed hippy place such as Goa into a serious tourist spot.
India found the third group of hotelier in ITC group of hotels who bought Hotel Chola in Chennai of all places and converted it into a popular destination. They opened another hotel in New Delhi named Maurya Sheraton. Maurya Sheraton was regarded as the most luxurious hotel of India for years to come.
On the flip side, Taj decided in 70s to rent out actual palaces with first being Taj Lake Palace Udaipur. They started converting palaces into hotels and making them landmark destination in themselves.
In 1986’s came the last stalwart of Indian Luxury named Mr. C.P Krishna Nair who opened the doors to Leela Mumbai current CSIA Terminal 2 airport.
We have various other luxury hotels that popped up across the nation but they are nothing on the top four groups as Indian Hotel Company (Taj Hotels), ITC hotels, Leela Group and Oberoi/Trident group of hotels.
All four groups consider themselves as a pioneer in Indian hospitality. All of them emote Indian hospitality in their own style. We will get deeper into their style of hospitality soon. It’s very interesting project to see how 4 groups represent Indian-ness with their own flavor to it.
In terms of size, Indian Hotel Company was peerless in India till recent merger of Marriott/Starwood making them largest hotelier of India. IHCL is the largest hotel chain of India, followed by ITC, then Leela and on the last spot is the Oberoi/Trident group.
Recently, Taj tried to create the partnership with Shangri-la but as far as I have been told, the partnership is still not live and on hold. ITC is running the luxury collection partnership with SPG/Marriott. Oberoi/Trident still has no partners where as the Leela is now officially a partner of GHA (Global Hotel Alliance).