THE GOLD STANDARD
OBEROI | ESTABLISHED IN 1934
RISE OF THE DESK CLERK
It may be hard to imagine the members of the Oberoi family as anything but wealthy. But, Mohan Singh Oberoi, the father of current chairman P.R.S. Oberoi, did not have a fairytale childhood. He began his career as a desk clerk at the nondescript Cecil Hotel in Simla in 1920, earning Rs 50 per month. Within a few years, his hunger for learning and business acumen led him to a new job at the Carlton Hotel, working for an Englishman named Clarke. Clarke went on to become the owner of the Carlton, and offered M.S. Oberoi a partnership in 1930. In August 1934, he became the sole proprietor of the Clarke’s Hotel in Delhi and Simla. As the story goes, he then told his daughter, “When you grow up, wherever you go, there will be an Oberoi Hotel.” In 1948, he established East India Hotels, now known as EIH Ltd, whose first acquisition was the Oberoi Grand Hotel in Calcutta. Today, the company has over 35 luxury hotels in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Egypt, Australia and Hungary.
“We want to be the best, not the biggest,” says P.R.S. Oberoi. That’s something his son Vikram and nephew Arjun abide by as well. The two share similar values and are focused on getting the brand to new markets over the next few years. With luxury in their DNA, most of the new hotels will be in the premium category. The company launched The Oberoi Sukhvilas resort & spa in Chandigarh earlier this year—the hotel group does not own the property, only manages it. In April 17, the group held a soft launch for The Oberoi Al Zorah, a natural beach resort in Ajman, UAE, which it manages.
A new property is being developed in Marrakech, Morocco, later this year. This aside, the group knows that London, New York and Paris are key international locations it can’t possibly ignore, and is also looking to make its way to Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong in the long term, even though competition in those markets is particularly fierce.
HEART FOR HOSPITALITY The late Mohan Singh Oberoi