As you en­ter the Or­chid, the 70foot wa­ter foun­tain wel­comes you with the ami­a­bil­ity sim­i­lar to that of the own­ers of the ho­tel. Sto­ries about Vithal Ka­mat’s sim­plic­ity and kind­ness are def­i­nitely known, we bring to you the scion of the Ka­mat fam­ily, Visha

Mandate - - Contents - By Vi­raj Sawant

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Vishal Ka­mat stud­ied at Cathe­dral and John Con­non School. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the In­sti­tute of Ho­tel Man­age­ment, Mumbai, he of­fi­cially joined his fa­ther with their hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness. To­day he leads the group as the Direc­tor of Ka­mat Ho­tels but his jour­ney wasn’t a cake walk. Re­call­ing his child­hood mem­o­ries, he says, “I was 13 when I was made the in- charge of the wa­ter counter at my aunt’s restau­rant in Sin­ga­pore. So, you can say it be­gan from there. I was too young to work in kitchen, so I was given the job of sep­a­rat­ing the used glasses from the un­used ones. This brought about a sense of hu­mil­ity in me at a very early age. The ground­ing is as im­por­tant as any­thing else. In the

ho­tel in­dus­try, if you have shame then it’s tough for you to sur­vive, you got to be out there. That’s is how my fa­ther trained me.”

Be­ing a part of a fam­ily that has been in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try from decades, I won­der if there was any pres­sure to fol­low the line, “Ab­so­lutely not,” pat comes re­ply. “Dur­ing our school hol­i­days, our fa­ther would take us to our ho­tels reg­u­larly. Ho­tels were very dif­fer­ent back then. The kitchen or the back area was and is still a very high en­ergy place. It would be very hot and crammed un­like the lav­ish back ar­eas that we have th­ese days.” He con­tin­ues, “And now when I look back I re­alise it was our train­ing pe­riod. We were get­ting used to the heat, noise and the en­ergy. You know, it grows on you and you get ac­cus­tomed to the en­vi­ron­ment. So they didn’t have to con­vince me at all. I nat­u­rally as­sumed that I had to be a part of the fam­ily busi­ness as I had a lik­ing for it. And my dad be­ing such an inspiring per­son­al­ity, it’s dif­fi­cult to not be in­spired by him.”

Vishal han­dles the two most es­teemed prop­er­ties of the Ka­mat group: The Or­chid, Mumbai and Fort Jad­hav­gad, Pune. The for­mer is the first Ecotel ho­tel in Asia, whereas, the lat­ter is the only fort that’s con­verted into a ho­tel in Ma­ha­rash­tra. Elab­o­rat­ing on the same he says, “Fort Jad­hav­gad is a one of a kind her­itage prop­erty in Ma­ha­rash­tra. You get a royal wel­come with trum­pets and drums. Ma­ha­rash­tra also has a lot of forts like Ra­jasthan but only a few of them are popular. This is just an at­tempt to pre­serve and cel­e­brate the cul­ture and her­itage of the state. And Or­chid is an Ecotel prop­erty, be­cause of the ris­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ards we de­cided to make it eco-friendly. Ev­ery ob­ject in the ho­tel is made of eco-friendly ma­te­rial.”

With huge projects in his kitty and given the mar­ket con­di­tions, I’m in­trigued to ask him how he com­bats re­ces­sion. He takes a lit­tle pause and says, “The last few years have been very tough for the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. It is still dif­fi­cult to say that there is an up­ward trend, but thank­fully, there is a pos­i­tive out­look among all cus­tomers. You must un­der­stand that, we are an Ecotel ho­tel and to cut down cost is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult. We are al­ready op­er­at­ing quiet ef­fi­ciently ac­cord­ing to the in­dus­try stan­dards. In that sit­u­a­tion, to get fur­ther ef­fi­ciency it re­quires cre­ative and in­no­va­tive think­ing and a lot of per­sonal own­er­ship from the team’s side. You know, lit­tle drops of wa­ter make a mighty ocean, sim­i­larly when ev­ery­one in the ho­tel con­trib­utes marginally, then it makes a cu­mu­la­tive dif­fer­ence. The sit­u­a­tion is get­ting bet­ter al­ready.”

Talk­ing fur­ther about the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try he says, “Peo­ple pre­fer the Or­chid and the Ka­mat group be­cause we have a tra­di­tional ap­proach to hos­pi­tal­ity. Many new com­pa­nies have started in­vest­ing in this in­dus­try but their fo­cus can get de­vi­ated to­wards their main busi­nesses. This busi­ness re­quires a lot of ded­i­cated ef­forts. My fa­ther has put in a lot of ef­forts into our ho­tels and the whole group. It will be shame­ful if I don’t do jus­tice to my fa­ther’s hard­work.”

On a dif­fer­ent note, I ask him about ad­vice given to him by his fa­ther that he fol­lows ar­dently. With a glint in his eye, he says, “‘Don’t get an­gry,’ is what he tells me. He al­ways preaches about be­ing calm and com­posed. When you are at a top po­si­tion in the com­pany, you have to be an epit­ome of con­fi­dence and in­spi­ra­tion.”

On a per­sonal level, Vishal is an avid movie viewer and a prodi­gious reader. He’s also fond of long drives. “When­ever I get a chance to visit our ho­tels in Goa, I fly one way and drive while com­ing back. Long dis­tance driv­ing is al­ways fun and peace­ful.” And be­ing an hote­lier, one qual­ity that Vishal aptly pos­sesses, is of be­ing a sheer foodie. “I make sure that I take time out to go to fa­mous eater­ies in ev­ery city that I travel to. Ev­ery cui­sine has its pe­cu­liar­ity. I am very fond of non-veg­e­tar­ian food. If you don’t like a par­tic­u­lar cui­sine, catch me and I’ll sug­gest to you what to eat ac­cord­ing to your taste.”

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