“It has been a very interesting journey. I started my career in the hotel industry in the eight standard when my cousin started a restaurant in Kolhapur, my hometown. At that time it was a completely new venture for me, given the taboos related to the industry, especially for people from reputed families.”

Before the hospitality industry, I was keen on joining the forces which require a certain discipline to be successful. Similarly, in the hospitality industry, it requires a fixed regimen of discipline to be successful. Yes, uniform is indeed an important aspect towards our role.

T he notion back then was that hotel management is for people who are unable to do something by themselves. Those were the initial days of people being open to pursuing hotel management by getting a professional degree. It was just then that tourism had started opening up channels in the world. From my eighth standard to my very final year of schooling, I was working with my cousin – that was 5 years, devoting my weekends and all my vacations to that work. By the time I was done working for him, I almost met the requirements for being a part of the hotel industry.

Back then, my dad was the Deputy Commissioner for the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation and he was well-connected in the society. So, when I took the decision of starting in this industry, my dad’s friends were quite apprehensive about him sending me to study hotel management, and even went on to comment that I was being sent to clean others’ leftovers.

Before the hospitality industry, I was keen on joining the forces which require a certain discipline to be successful. Similarly, in the hospitality industry, it requires a fixed regimen of discipline to be successful. Yes, uniform is indeed an important aspect towards our role.

The forces are definitely supreme, fighting for us on the borders, but within the country, it’s the hospitality industry professionals who do selfless service towards the people to put a smile on their faces and give them memorable experiences. Being an only child, my dad was hesitant about sending me to the forces, and there was this one incident where I ran away from home to give the entry level naval exam. But then I was caught and brought back home.

I had appeared for the NDA entrance exam too but couldn’t clear it by a very slight margin. During my 12th, I got my NCC certification. I believe that I was destined for the hotel industry. I spent the next 5 years with my cousin who has been exceptional in the catering business and made a name for himself in Kolhapur and also served eminent personalities like Late Rajeev Gandhi, Indira Gandhi when they visited Kolhapur. He was one of the pioneers when it came to catering in Kolhapur. He was also the very first person in the city to introduce the concept of buffet. So, all that experience while working alongside him did matter to me.

After that, I decided to get myself certified and put myself out in the industry. So, I decided to join the Sophia College in Mumbai. After getting done with my first year of B. Com, I decided to appear for the hotel management entrance exam. A boy from a small town like Kolhapur dared to dream big then. Even though I had studied in English-Medium schools, our level of proficiency back then wasn’t as advanced as our peers in the college.

So, my journey started with working for Oberoi Flight Services, then further at the National Sports Club of India. I was a catering manager at the National Sports Club of India. One of my uncles then decided to open a hotel management institute in Kolhapur. I was a part of the foundation team for that institute where my work profile ranged from deciding the courses to planning the curriculum for the courses. I was also a part of the teaching team in the institute. But I have always been a hardcore operations person and really wanted to put myself out on the field. So, I realised that teaching was just not my cup of tea and I found it rather monotonous to get up in the morning and open the book and start teaching.

That’s when I decided to join a resort in Kolhapur which was situated near Fort Panhala which was a unit under the Grand Hotel Bombay. Grand Hotel Bombay once possessed the ability to give tough competition to the Taj. It was also an establishment with over 100 rooms. Then I moved forward and joined Hotel Pearl which was a unit under the Blue Diamond group in Kolhapur. Then I shifted to Pune and later to Goa where I have been positioned for the last 12 years.

My last stint was with one of the most prestigious projects in India, for the first Indian cruise line, the Angriya. I was also a part of the inception team and was responsible for the planning and development of all the facilities of the entire project. Then a period of stagnancy came where I had nothing to do after the project was rolled out. So, I decided to return to my roots in Kolhapur since the cruise industry in India is yet to be explored. I believe that with age and its limitations, I would’ve found it difficult to sustain in that industry.
After that came the uncertain period of the covid age where everything just came to a standstill. It was in December 2020 that I joined Hotel Fidalgo.

Major changes to be expected in the hospitality space over the next 5 years Due to the covid situation, the entire population of India was forced to go digital. Apps started gaining more importance with increased use of technology. That however hasn’t been exactly the best thing for the hospitality industry since earlier we could say that this industry needs a human touch. And after the introduction of COVID, whenever we hear the term ‘human touch’, we tend to take a step back from it. A lot of our guests miss that ‘human touch’ in situations where we said that room service would be limited along with the waiters. I salute all the front line workers who kept serving the guests while keeping their spirits high. Hopefully if this pandemic situation goes away, I do see a real boom coming in the travel sector.