Where serenity and luxury resides: Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels
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Where serenity and luxury resides: Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels
“I knew it some 25 years back – one day I would make a small resort of my own which will challenge the traditional hoteliering norms.” Working with big names of the hospitality and tourism industry and leading a hi-flying corporate life for nearly 25 years, Himmat Anand’s professional voyage was smoothly sailing – he lived what we would consider a charmed life. Despite the money and comforts, Himmat’s dreams never felt home there and the pluck to give his passion wings only grew stronger with time. Finally, the blue moon appeared- leaving the corporate road at the peak of his career, Himmat decided to step into the entrepreneurial world in 2007. By and by, with a handful of savings and self-belief, Himmat inaugurated the construction process of the Tree of Life Resort & Spa, Jaipur. Encountered by a rough patch- Himmat’s project loan was initially refused by the financial institution since they felt that his project report did not make sense – 13 villas in 7 acres of land 15 kms outside of Jaipur! This screeching halt did not stop him. Himmat persisted and the Institution finally cleared the funding. Many friends and industry experts gave his project caution as “this model will not work”. He continued to nurture his dream and today, he stands as the proud owner of two brands with six boutique properties and growing.
Well-versed with the perfect balance of tourism and hospitality, Himmat’s passion came to fruition with the inception of Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels as an indigenous brand which brought ‘a new experience’ to the industry.
Further to our curiosity, we interviewed Himmat Anand in line with his entrepreneurial landmark, its journey and the future ahead.
Here are the edited excerpts…
Himmat, thanks for taking out time from the suitcase of your busy schedule. You have attained a comprehensive exposure in establishing as well as stabilizing a change catalyst for the resort industry. Give us a rundown of your voyage.
After doing a professional course in hotel management, I started my career with the Taj Group of Hotels. I left the hotel industry in two years as I did not like what I was doing, little realizing that I would get back to it some three decades later! The next year swayed in a state of being undecided – from selling filing cabinets and office racks to preparing for the IAS. It was then that I got a break with SITA Travels as a Management Trainee and within a short while, moved with them to be based out of Frankfurt. Having completed six years there, I then took up an assignment with the Jetair Group based in London and Paris. A decade in Europe and I was homesick! After coming back to India, I re-joined SITA Travels. The Company was bought over in 2000 by Kuoni Travel Group of Switzerland and in 2002 I was made the COO-India & South Asia for Kuoni Destination Management. I left the corporate world in 2007 to fulfill my entrepreneurial aspirations.
What brings you the most satisfaction in the resort business? What makes you happy?
I must honestly admit that the construction of my resorts gives me more joy and happiness than operating them. In every property I build, I commit three years of my life to it. I am involved from concept, all through to construction and finally handing it over to the Operations team. All my time is spent at the site itself – as the contractor!
What’s your competitive advantage and why can’t it be copied?
I believe that there is nothing which cannot be ‘copied’ – if you are worthy of anything, you will be copied. My competitive advantages are my passion for what I do and the level of detailing that I get into – these cannot be copied!
Kindly brief us about the innovative industry trends infused by Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels?
We have four non-negotiable for both our brands – Tree of Life and Tree Leaf. First, we will focus only on the leisure and holiday segments. Second, we will never be in a city centre – always 10 odd kilometers away. It is my belief that our cities are getting overcrowded & noisy and guests like to be away to where space and privacy are the luxuries provided. Third, we will do a maximum of 20 rooms in each of our properties and intentionally stay ‘small’. Lastly, all our properties will be pet-friendly.
How did you build a successful customer base?
It is my belief that hoteliers over-complicate lives for themselves by getting into too much of detail on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and in overtraining staff to what they think is perfection. Guest satisfaction is really very simple – let the staff be themselves after giving them broad guidelines; treat every guest as an individual, taking care of his particular whims and fancies; provide a happy, clean and well functioning environment. Hospitality is all about having happy people in a happy environment – you will be surprised how simple it actually can be.
What do you hope to achieve with Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels?
It all started with a desire to have just one small property – fate had planned otherwise. Within a span of eight years, we have established two brands – Tree of Life and Tree Leaf. Between them, we operate six boutique properties, which will go to ten by next year. But I am not necessarily in the numbers game – I need the numbers only to give my Company financial stability. What satisfies me most is that coming in with no family backing, giving up the most desired position in the tourism corporate world when I was at my peak, I have been able to achieve a whole lot within some eight to ten years.
Brief us about the milestones and awards earned by the organization.
Within six months of opening our first property in Jaipur in 2010, we were awarded the Architecture and Interiors Award. In addition, we have received the following recognitions:
- Outlook TravellerBoutique Hotel Awards – Best Romantic hotel 2016 ● World Travel Awards – Asia’s Leading Experiential Holiday Resort 2014 ● Yatra.com – Best Luxury Stay Hotel of 2016 ● Lonely Planet Travel & Lifestyle Award – Best Boutique Hotel of the Year 2017 ● Trip Advisor’sTraveller’s Choice Awards – 2015 / 2016 / 2017 ● MakeMyTrip – Customer Choice Award 2017
How has been your journey as a leader?
A leader is only as good as his team – this has been my belief in all my working years. And I have been extremely fortunate to always have amazing people work in my team, who understand my passion and are a part of my dreams. I was and I am just the catalyst.
Any advice for young entrepreneurs who are contemplating starting a resort business in India…
“Are you prepared to lose everything if it does not work?” is a question I always ask those youngsters wanting to leave the security of the corporate world and become entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, each individual is driven by his or her own entrepreneurial aspiration – create a brand which is respected; money as the motivator; following a desire and so on. It is an empty canvas when we start and each of us writes our own story on it. Not all are fortunate enough to complete their story – seven out of ten fail!