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Thursday, 29 November, 2018, 16 : 34 PM [IST]

The Brand Architect - Priya Paul

Priya Paul started her career under the guidance of her late father, Surrendra Paul, as the Marketing Manager of The Park, New Delhi. In the last three decades, she has been successful in developing the concept of design-led hotels in India. In her endeavour to provide a refreshing experience to customers and keep her properties contemporary, she has undertaken a massive drive to incorporate fresh concepts executed by eminent artists, architects, etc. to all her properties.

There was nothing extraordinary associated with Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels when Priya Paul joined her family’s hospitality business. After completing her graduation from Wellesley College in Boston with a Major in Economics, Priya was all set to join the financial services arm of the family business group. It is important to mention here that the group had also interests in other sectors like tea, shipping, real estate and owned the famous Flurys restaurant in Kolkata. But her father directed her to join Delhi Property of Park Hotels as its Marketing Manager. The property was strategically located on the Parliament Street and the number of rooms was 220. However, the occupancy level was not up to the mark. According to Priya, the day she joined, just around seven to eight rooms were occupied. So, her first lesson was to get business. She worked with the Sales as well as Public Relation teams to get a hang of how such teams work which ultimately helped her to get business. As the day passed, she realised that there is a dearth of hotels catering to the millennial travellers and hotels in India were dull and uninspiring. A closer look says that creativity is always close to her heart. Growing up in Kolkata (then Calcutta) helped her to get exposed to variety of interesting art. She also studied contemporary art and painting.And her father would take her (along with her sister) to different shows where he would often buy works for the properties. So, her affinity for design, art is quite palpable.

“When I entered the hospitality industry at a tender age, I really needed to look at our hotel company and make it operate like a group. I needed to establish common procedures. It was the 1990s, so I decided we could differentiate ourselves with design and started to build thereon. Even today my experimental bunch of colleagues and me are constantly coming up with innovative ideas to stay ahead. I carefully select creative people. Together we have been able to shake up the markets by being bold. We created this niche of design and stay ahead by selecting the right people. We also have a well developed reward system for ideas,” she quoted to a news site.

Priya’s aesthetics always get translated into her work and she always looks for originality in ideas, products and services. She distinctly remembers staying in at the boutique hotel, Royalton, in New York, and that experience had left an indelible impression on her mind. She worked with experienced managers and many designers and always tried to surprise customers with a refreshing experience.

Her challenge is always to offer new and interesting things to guests. And Priya is successful in this direction. For example, The Park Hotels have introduced “Anything But Ordinary” food experiences such as the “launch of home in 20 minutes”. With this, guests staying at any of The Park Hotels feeling nostalgic and missing home can order from the hotels comfort/soul food section. An “in-room picnic menu” has been introduced to enjoy a fun picnic in the room without having to step outdoors. There are bright plates and bowls, with food served hot in colourful traditional tiffin boxes, three dimensional coasters, large oversized napkins, and flasks for hot beverages. It all brings alive the child in guests and reminds them of the excitement that they felt during school recess hours – wondering what surprises the tiffins held.

Under “Anything But Ordinary” travel experiences, the group has introduced fun eco-friendly Reva cars at its properties in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam. Guests can explore the city; visit beautiful sights and shop during their stay in the Revas. For “Anything But Ordinary” Entertainment, the Park has added 39 movies curated by Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak to its library.

Paul’s arts affinity is shown by the hotel group’s New Festival, a contemporary performance arts festival organised by The Park Hotels and curated by the Prakriti Foundation. The festival started in Kolkata and is travelling to Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.

There is also a work bed table to provide a work bed facility to business travellers. Guests can “convert their bed into the most comfortable office in the world” - just by asking for the work bed table. This cushioned table with a small reading light, a beverage cup/glass holder and a small channel to keep your pen/pencil/stylus allows guests to work on their laptops from their beds.

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