LIFE

A perfect host to stressed-out guests

'There is more satisfaction in achieving something in your own country.'

'There is more satisfaction in achieving something in your own country.'  

HE LIKES listening to Chopin and Mozart, and knows all the ingredients that go into the making of a great cocktail. That's Snehal Kulshreshta, General Manager of the Golden Palm Spa and Resort.

At the meeting over lunch, Snehal starts ordering bitters and sugar syrup, and a glass of fresh lime with soda. The talk turns to his interest in beverages and the scarcity of good tonic water in the market. We recall the days when Spencers used to market their own tonic water which was a must for every good bartender. Times do change. The gin-and-tonic is no longer fashionable, like many other things once popular.

Life has come a full circle for him. He studied at the Institute of Hotel Management in Bangalore before joining the Oberoi Group of hotels. The stint with the Oberoi — whom he considers one of the best professionally managed — was followed by several years with Holiday Inn, now Intercontinental Hotels.

``What I liked about Intercontinental was the way they valued and nurtured their human resources... They sent me to do my MBA in Hong Kong,'' Snehal remembers. The years in Hong Kong were also memorable because two Indian students bagged the five distinctions; one of them was Snehal.

"Getting back to the classroom in one's 30s is difficult but I soon got used to it. It was not all classroom lectures either. Once we were flown down along with visiting faculty to a destination away from the university and made to work out our own case studies. What was remarkable was the way suggestions from students were taken seriously by the faculty,'' he says.

The case study he worked on was something which keeps happening more often now in the corporate world. A buy-out attempt of a company managed with good people and with solid assets. Which brings the talk to the importance of human assets to any organisation, and the way to hold onto them and get the best out of them.

With the Intercontinental, there were years at places such as Ahmedabad, Baroda, and Agra. Also in West Asia, but "I didn't want to get typecast as a Gulf guy... There is more satisfaction in achieving something in your own country,'' he says.

At Ahmedabad, he came up with the concept of six-a-side corporate cricket tournaments, with teams from the companies which patronised his hotel. He is up to the same thing now in Bangalore, and is also getting ready to participate in the McDowell's Signature corporate golf event a week ahead.

Agra was a different experience, some of which he would rather not remember. "People coming into restaurants carrying guns was a regular occurrence as also crime and shoot-outs and a feudal atmosphere,'' he remarks.

Another important thing for Snehal is customer relations, and he went on to give a new dimension to a resort where people only came to get away from it all in solitude. "I introduced the concept of Sunday brunches for the entire family, away from the city and from TV and movies but with good outdoor fun, swimming in the pool, working up an appetite to eat a great meal, and go back refreshed and ready for the working week ahead,'' he explains. "Keeping people coming back is the key to the success of any business,'' he adds.

The hours are long in the hospitality industry. But Snehal does find time to read every day. "Mostly non-fiction, I prefer autobiographies. I often read two or three books at the same time,'' he says.

Music is mostly golden oldies, including the Beatles, Doors, and John Denver. "I don't much enjoy today's bunch like J Lo and Britney... I'm also into classical music both Western and Hindustani,'' he says. He is still not too sure about the nuances of Carnatic music but would like to attend concerts, listen to albums, and then form an opinion.

Snehal has literary ambitions of a sort. He wants to present a book of poems to his daughter when she turns 18, and is already penning them down.

Not all of them will be mushy stuff, and there will be those dealing with values in life. "Honesty in all dealings matters, or you have to live with guilt... No short cuts to success,'' he remarks.

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