Hospitality comes naturally to the heir of the luxury Lalit group of hotels, but Keshav Suri has added his own brand of ambition to the fast-growing chain.
He has been busy with the launch of The Lalit London in late November, so Keshav Suri is happy to talk about what’s on the top of his mind. “The Grade 2 listed building housed St Olave’s Grammar School and, more recently, Lambeth College. So you will get a blend of the best of Indian culture, hospitality and cuisine with the finest Victorian architecture,” he says about the new high-end luxury boutique hotel in London, which comes soon after the launch of The Lalit Mangar, the first of its kind eco-friendly luxury hotel in Haryana. Suri is also looking at the nitty-gritties of an upcoming hotel in Ahmedabad and a hospitality school next year, besides more hotels in The Lalit Traveller segment.
It is evident that the young baron of the The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group is on a roll. Having completed his graduation in law and business from the University of Warwick, Suri went on to do his Master’s in international management from King’s College, London, and got another law degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. After the demise of his father, the founder of the group Lalit Suri, in 2006, his mother Dr Jyotsna took over as chairperson of the hospitality chain, with his sisters Divya and Deeksha taking care of different divisions. Keshav himself got involved in developing strategies for expansion, while spearheading the chain’s operation, F&B and marketing divisions.
One of the first things the 31-year-old did after coming on board was to launch the nightclub Kitty Su, the only Indian nightclub to be featured in DJ Mag’s list of the top 100 nightclubs in the world, and by GQ as one of the top six nightclubs in the world. “Having established Kitty Su in Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh, I now plan to expand it to Kolkata and Bangalore, where we have monthly pop ups which are a hit,” Suri says. He is also the force behind the launch of The Lalit Food Truck Company in 2014, which runs three Mexican food trucks and one pizza truck across India. From its first hotel in 1988, the chain now runs 14 luxury hotels across India and the world. “All our hotels celebrate the cultural ethos of the destination they are in,” Suri adds.
But even after all the success, Suri is aware of the contribution of his parents in his journey. “My parents have always been my role models. I never studied hospitality, but thanks to them, it was already in my DNA. They always taught me to give attention to every detail and respect to every individual,” he says with sincerity, adding that he shares a great bond with his mother. “Our different approaches bring about a great balance to the table. We share a common goal and can understand each other’s vision,” he says.
Suri admits he did not set out to be a leader, but to make a difference. “It’s been more about the goal than the role for me. I like to lead by example, follow an open-door policy and inspire and support my team,” he shares of his management style. He likes the fact that travel is everyone’s favourite hobby and people want to explore new places. “With better infrastructure, there has been a rise in inbound travel. There is a lot of fresh talent in the industry and most importantly an acceptance amongst the masses for innovations. This gives us more room for experimentation,” he says, adding that he envisions a future when more homegrown hospitality brands can compete with the international giants to make India the top global destination.
Suri admits to having inherited a lot of his father’s qualities and learning much by simply observing him during his formative years. “It can be daunting to be compared to a visionary like him. I simply want to be the one to realise his dreams and make him proud,” he signs off.