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After Starwood, Dilip Puri to Roll Out Lausanne Hotel School’s Indian Campus at Manesar; Rajat Kalia Returns to The Leela Palace New Delhi, Suveer Sodhi Headed to Hyatt Regency Pune & Pawan Padeliya of The Claridges Relocates to Canberra

Posted: September 28, 2016 at 1:02 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

NOT LATER than Friday, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide will cease to exist in India, like it would elsewhere across the planet, and will be known simply as Marriott International, named after the U.S. behemoth that forked out $13.6 billion for a merger that has made it the largest hotel company in the world with about 30 brands, 5,500 addresses and more than 1.1 million rooms.

The new entity will operate 200-plus hotels in India, many of which are under development, and its umbrella of brands will extend from Four Points by Sheraton and Courtyard by Marriott to JW Marriott and Le Meridien, to the luxury brands St Regis and Ritz Carlton. Even the ITC-prefixed hotels are a part of the Starwood’s Luxury Collection portfolio. Marriott ranks after The Oberoi, Starwood and Hilton among the top five hospitality industry paymasters; Taj is at No. 5. Will Marriott change its salary structure to bring it on a par with Starwood’s? Industry observers believe that may not be the case.

The reverberations of the merger are naturally going to be felt in India, which will see the exit of Dilip Puri, who, as Managing Director (India) and Regional Vice President (South Asia), has been a prolific builder for the Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Under his leadership, Starwood’s hotel room count and rate of building new hotels was substantially ahead of Marriott International’s. It hasn’t helped his cause.

Starwood’s South Asian hotels will now become a part of the extending empire of the IHM (Pusa) alumnus, Singapore-based Rajeev Menon, Chief Operating Officer (Asia Pacific), Marriott International, the chain’s highest-ranking Indian executive globally. The new entity’s critical Greater China market will be headed by Stephen Ho, at Starwood’s President, Asia Pacific. Sanjay Sharma, Starwood’s fastest-rising star who has opened a record 12 hotels in the past one year, is rumoured to be in line to take charge of North India for the new entity. He is now  Starwood’s Area General Manager, India.

Where does that leave Puri? The Oberoi Centre for Learning and Development alumnus, who has worked with The Oberoi, the Taj and Duet Hotels, according to sources in the industry, will be the CEO of the Indian campus of Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne, the world’s most prestigious hotel school, which will come up on an extensive plot of land owned by the Vatika Group in the neighbourhood of the Hyatt Regency Gurgaon in Manesar. The hotel school is now based out of Lavasa. People close to the development say that Puri has put together a globally renowned board of directors, which will include his former boss, Frits van Paasschen, the Starwood CEO whose February 2015 exit set the ball rolling for the company’s acquisition.


FOR Rajat Kalia, who first caught our eye when he was briefly with Wasabi by Morimoto at the Taj Mahal Hotel on Mansingh Road, was a competent opening manager for Megu at The Leela Palace New Delhi and he came of age at Akira Back, the signature restaurant at the JW Marriott, New Delhi Aerocity. But then, he had a terrible motorbike crash and after he recovered he relocated to the One & Only in the Maldives.

From paradise to a chaotic capital may not sound like a salubrious move for a man who got married barely seven months ago (imagine enjoying a paid honeymoon!), but Kalia looks happy to be back at The Leela Palace New Delhi — this time as F&B Director. He replaced Samir Jilani, who hasn’t shared with anybody his next destination. The luxury hotel also has a new Executive Chef, Adrian Mellor, originally from Manchester, who’s much travelled and has served as the private chef of Jordan’s King Abdullah and Queen Raina. Watch this space for more about him and the hotel.

Suveer Sodhi of Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, after basking in the success of Sorrento and Shang Palace, has surprised everyone by moving to the Hyatt Regency Pune, which is headed by Vishal Singh, whom many of you may remember from the Hyatt Regency Delhi. The hotel is said to be gearing up for an F&B overhaul and Suveer has acquired a reputation for managing change really well. There’s been no replacement for Sodhi yet.

Nor has one been found for Pawan Padeliya, who has  just quit as F&B Manager from The Claridges, and relocated to the Australian national capital, Canberra, where he’ll be managing a family-owned Indian restaurant. Young Padeliya can use all the lessons he must have learnt at Dhaba, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, at his new workplace.