Emphasising on Simplicity, Authenticity and a Natural, Regional Style

Our philosophy was always of minimal intervention with an emphasis on simplicity, authenticity and a natural, regional style employing local people.

THE COURAGE to attempt to restore and inhabit a ruin as large as Neemrana was never foolhardy in my mind. The world may have thought so. The friends who first saw the ruin which had crumbled over the entrance, only shook their heads sideways in dismay. I had convinced two friends O. P Jain and Lekha Poddar to get into this venture with me, half blindfolding their eyes! When we opened the first wing, the same friends were now shaking their heads in bewilderment. Later, the mother of Francis Wacziarg, who was to become my partner, confessed that she had advised her son never to put a penny in my projects! But once Neemrana was on track, and the original promoters disinvested, she took back her words and Francis joined willingly. We were a great team destined to enlarge the dream and go much faster. He particularly loved South India and took us their. 

Our philosophy was always of minimal intervention with an emphasis on simplicity, authenticity and a natural, regional style employing local people.  

Current scenario in the Indian and global hospitality markets

The Indian market has evolved significantly and guests have moved towards environment- friendly and experiential hotels. The global trend resonates the same. More and more people are travelling to see and taste that which is different from their own. 

In the case of Neemrana Hotels, it was us who carved a new niche that didn’t exist before: a less formal, even whimsical product full of history, local warmth, it’s non-hotel quotient overcompensated by the authentic local. Of course there is a whole segment of foreign clients seeking this, but we made the Indians proud of their Indian holidays. The pictures and panoramic postcards – in those days – created an irresistible destination. It didn’t look like the postcards from the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal. That was déjà vu.

Neemrana Hotels spelt discovery, surprise, design, minimalism (but not boutique nor Scandinavian natural wood or Singaporean glass). A whole new Indian heritage identity was created, quite subconsciously – or just intuitively – in which you didn’t have to be the owner to receive visitors. History and the heritage architecture was the host and you walked into its gates, naturally awed and charmed.

Biggest challenges in the recent times

The biggest challenge for heritage hotels has been the ability to identify and recruit trained and skilled manpower from the region in which they operate. Fortunately, the attrition rate at Neemrana Hotels is very low. Why would happy, well looked after locals go to the cities to be pushed around?

As the market is getting competitive because of the addition of supply a slowdown in demand, companies are not building talent. Instead, they are buying talent. A deep understanding of the organization’s values, service standard and product knowledge are the essential requirements for employees and this can only be developed over time through a specific training, and not by buying talent. 

Focusing on organic growth, both at the macro and micro level has always been our credo for manageable growth. An approach where talent is built from within, an organizational structure that rewards talent, and a management that executes a responsible growth strategy, keeps Neemrana on a solid footing!

New disruptors in the hospitality industry and their impact

A glut of pale copies of the fine hospitality products. When everyone thinks that tourism is a goldmine and suddenly invests in it, they fall into cutting costs to survive. Both the product and the clients suffer. 

There are several examples of hastily executed projects, rolled out by blindly buying talent. Outsourcing often doesn’t see one vision through all the way. Over the medium-to-long term while we do believe in the concept of efficient markets, with demand and supply finding the right balance, new entrants to the industry would do well to consider the damage to the hospitality ecosystem from such poorly evaluated projects, some of which shut down two years after launch, causing unnecessary and unproductive disruption. 

We keep our head above water by keeping our product unique and inimitable. 

Role of smart technologies in the new market

Immense! This is why the younger generation travelling across the country can now get to interesting venues – and vice versa. At Neemrana the average age of our team is fairly young and this makes us more flexible and agile. We hope to keep making leaps like our normal strides.

How is the industry going to perform over the next five years?

We don’t charge an arm and a leg at the Neemrana properties, so even if global economies feel amputated and India sees a slump, we hope to continue to provide that oxygen and adrenaline which achiever quests need. But if the economies do prosper, naturally there will be more conferences, weddings and celebrations. 

Vision for 2025

If heritage is well nurtured, it gets better with age – like wine and good friendships.

So our 14th, 15th, 16th century Neemrana properties, if discreetly infused with necessary modern facilities and technological marvels, shall continue to surprise our clients.We shall be offering the past and present with a future promise too. Millennials will feel more connected to their foundations as well as their expanding cyberspace – a cosmological victory for Neemrana and its clients.

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled '5 Years Young & Just Begun'

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Aman Nath Neemrana Hotels and Resorts


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