4 December 2016 | News

Queen of her own Empire

By VINAY AGRAWAL
She grew up in a hospitality atmosphere. So, it would be wise to say that hospitality runs in her DNA and determines who she is. Furthermore, her determine validates the upbringing and the illustrious lineage she hails from. Belonging from one of the prominent home-grown hospitality families, the Nails of Leela Group of Hotels, Amruda constitutes the. third generation of the mammoth group. She is hardly in her 30s, yet emits a sense of high ambition. Her eyes twinkle with excitement as she talks about the new legacy she is planning to create. Aiana, her personal project, built on the tenets of determination, perseverance and hard work. Though bequeathed with the insights acquired from her family’s business, Nair is keen to put her execution prowess to extreme tests. In an early morning conversation with Society, Amruda shares her dream, mixed with titbits from her life.

On The Decision To Go Solo
For me, it was a next step. I have worked in various spaces, from operations to being a consultant, everything from selling hotels to inviting owners in asset management. Basically, the whole gamut. And, I think it’s all about opportunity, pretty much

Her Dream
I wanted something that was nature related. I grew up in greenery and wanted to bring in a nature related element to the new brand. Hence, Aiana. It’s a Sanskrit word and there are two connotations to it. It means eternal blossom, and the logo also evokes the sense of evolution. It works from a Middle Eastern perspective as well.

The USP Of Her Dream
The way we pitch Aiana is hospitality 2.0. It’s an Indian inspired brand and thus, Indian service becomes a sort of the basis of everything we do. But apart from everything else, it’s about the trends of today. The way customers interact with the brand today is very different. Traditionally, the interaction was limited to guests arriving at the property, whereas, today, the interaction begins right from Google.

On Key Trends
The biggest change will be the business model. The other will be in terms of the way we implement technology. The philosophy behind Aiana is that the technology should work for you. The idea is to use technology to get rid of all the administrative process, from booking to feedback.

On Aiana, Munnar
Every property of ours is destination based. The way we approach design isn’t cookie cutter. In terms of Munnar, it’s a 23-acre site with beautiful natural springs. We were also able to use nature elements such as outdoor massages and natural water in our pools. It’s a property built on rolling hills and we have fortified the natural curves in terms of slopes. We have done as much we could to preserve the natural setting, which is important for both the owners and Aiana.

On Her Commitment Towards Sports
Sports is the greatest stress-buster. I believe that playing sports as a kid has developed my sense about people. You kind of become a leader and that happens much more naturally. You develop an innate sense of what drives people, which is important in a service laden industry based on human interaction.

On Her Equation With Her Sister, Aishwarya
My sister and I are two years apart. But, I like to see that as very long two years. We are completely different in terms of personality. She’s a typical Virgo and I am a Libran. So, that pretty much sums it all. She’s the in-house stylist, wine connoisseur and enjoys all the finer things in life, whereas I am on the opposite end of the spectrum. So, in that sense, I get a unique perspective from her.

On Her Grandpa, The Late Captain CP Krishnan Nair
He didn’t believe in the concept of good luck. He used to say, ‘Luck comes to those who dare to act’, and that’s something which has resonated with me to a large extent. He was one of those maverick people, who had conviction about what he wanted to do. With every new project of his, people used to say, ‘It’s too risky, this is the end of it and you can’t get anywhere.’ In that sense, he was a true visionary. If I hope to imbibe any trait from him, it would be determination.

On Her Business Partner, Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani
He is very similar in the sense of being entrepreneurial. He leads a very large conglomerate and invests a lot across various sectors—real estate, medical, construction. But, what we share is the passion for hospitality and it’s a great leveller. I am lucky to have found a partner who is driven by the same values that I have. Our families have known each other for a while, and in that sense, there’s always been a connection. He’s also very supportive, and it makes a big difference when someone is willing to take a joint risk.

On Her Daily Schedule
I am in three cities any given week. I split my time between India and the Middle East. Technically, I am Doha based. The office in India is a supporting one in terms of IT, HR and projects.