I am a third generation hotelier and come from a family of entrepreneurs. I was an Economics graduate who went on to gain qualifications in Hospitality Management from CHN University in The Netherlands and a Master’s degree from the world’s leading hotel school, Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration in New York, which included exposure to Asian markets through the Nanyang Business School. I have worked in the hospitality field across the world, starting from New York, to Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, India and now the Middle East.
Tell us about your hotel business
Aiana Hotels and Resorts is an independent and completely new brand of hospitality, in fact we call it Hospitality 2.0! We aspire to becoming a global hospitality brand, with a presence across The Middle East and South East Asia.
The Aiana service culture, in tune with the needs of the next generation of travelers, is underpinned by our intuitive and unobtrusive Indian service ethic. Our signature hospitality is Indian inspired for an experience driven lifestyle. Aiana caters to the upper-upscale category of hotels with fresh and locally-relevant product design complemented with immersive, experiential concepts.
What drove you to become an Entrepreneur?
I am a very independent and driven individual and have always believed in pushing myself forward to accomplish my dreams and ambitions. This project is a brainchild of my aspirations.
I have been blessed to have hoteliers as parents (both attended the Hotel School at Cornell University) and my grandfather Captain Nair was a true entrepreneur who believed in taking risks.
I was fortunate to meet a partner in Sheikh Faisal who shared my passion for hospitality and supported my dreams and ambitions of creating an Indian brand with a global presence.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
My biggest challenge has been to create a brand that is India-inspired yet a company that is global in every way.
I am a very independent and driven individual and have always believed in pushing myself forward to accomplish my dreams and ambitions.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
My greatest achievement so far has been in identifying a gap in the lifestyle hotel space and tying up with the right partner who shares the same passion for hospitality to create a brand that is fresh, relevant and adaptive.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My mother is my biggest inspiration as she seems to know intuitively what I am capable of and is always there to nudge me along with support and guidance so that I continue to learn and grow and reach higher every day. Everyone needs a champion and if you don’t have one at home I recommend that you go out and find a mentor.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
Luckily for me none of this seems like work so I don’t necessarily carve out hours in my day dedicated to work and home. I attend to whatever requires priority at the time.
Everyone needs a champion and if you don’t have one at home I recommend that you go out and find a mentor.
What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?
The only person who can hold you back is yourself. Never give in. Hillary Clinton in her first campaign speech for President of the United States said that her mother would always tell her “Never back down from bullies or barriers.” I think this is the soundest advice and it is not surprising that it came from a women to her daughter.
Can you recommend any organisations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?
I have been a member of the Entrepreneur’s Organisation for a number of years and currently serve on the board for the Mumbai Chapter. It is a wonderful platform to gain access to a wealth of knowledge and resources you would not have access to otherwise.
If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?
Aiana Hotels and Resorts is a management company that does not invest in hotel assets but partners with hotel owners to operate hotels for them under the AIANA flag. While we are currently mainly focussing on greenfield projects that are built to our brand specifications, to grow faster we need to identify existing hotels that match the brand that can be converted.
What does the future hold for you?
My role as Joint Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Aiana Hotels and Resorts will be to position the company as a global hotel brand and establish a hotel management company which is innovative, intuitive and ever-evolving in service design and operating philosophy.
Our vision is to be a globally respected hospitality brand that embodies the best of Indian service culture as a leading operator of properties in South Asia and the Middle East.
Our aim is to exude a passion for innovation and creating unique, enriching experiences for guests, colleagues, and owners.
We will achieve our vision by innovating fresh service, design, and operating concepts, creating smart, stimulating places in tune with our environmental and social values as well as delivering an intuitive hotel management model that resonates with the next generation of travellers.
As of now my energies are focused towards building Aiana Hotels and Resorts to be a global hospitality player.
About Amruda Nair
Amruda, a third generation hotelier, is Joint Managing Director and CEO of AIANA Hotels and Resorts. She served as the Head of Asset Management of her family business which owns The Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts and her current entrepreneurial venture is a partnership with Al Faisal Holding to create a brand of lifestyle hotels.
She is a Board Member of Entrepreneur’s Organisation Mumbai, Associate Member of Sahachari Foundation and Vice President of Apne Aap Women’s Collective, an anti-trafficking organisation.
Amruda was awarded the “Generation Next Awards” for Hospitality (2011) by All India Association of Industries and Young Entrepreneurs Society and Young FICCI Ladies Organisation Women Achiever’s Award (2012).
This article was provided by WeAreTheCity Delhi committee member Ashish Bhardwaj.