Kashmir Will Be the Davos of India: Saddam Zaroo

The young and dynamic Managing Director of Royal Khazir Hotels and RK Sarovar Portico, Srinagar, Saddam Zaroo talks on how he plans to put Kashmir on global map.


ROYAL KHAZIR Boutique was launched in March 2011 and did not receive any tourist flow until mid-May. By the end of 2011, it became one of the ‘most successful hotel in Kashmir’ when Saddam Zaroo became the Managing Director.

With a strong educational background from one of the best B schools in India and having gained some insights from Anil Madhok, the Founder of Sarovar Group, Zaroo changed the concept of a guest house to first proper mid-segment hotel in the valley. Riding high on success, Zaroo brought Sarovar Hotels and Resorts as the management company to bring professionalism in the industry, and thus became one of the first hotel in the valley to sign a management company.

With Sarovar coming in a lot of improvements were proposed to the hotel and required a lot more investment in the property. Zaroo followed the same until the property was up and running, however, the aim shifted to minimum dependence on financial institutions from other businesses and the property upgradation plan was divided into a five year plan where capital liabilities, upgradation and day to day running costs were given equal priorities.

As an advice to young entrepreneurs, Zaroo says, “There are some basic rules in business that one must follow to succeed: Have an original concept to begin with; It’s very important to understand supply and demand before entering a particular market; Keep up with the changing market trends; Not following a particular segment just because it’s popular; Accepting failure as part of the learning process; Being proactive and not reactive to various challenges.”

However, Zaroo has planned to work on the improvement of the infrastructure facilities in J&K. “Adding more facilities which an international traveller expects from hotels of our category, and to promote and market in the Gulf and South Asian countries is what we target for the season. We also want to conserve energy and reduce waste to save the environment,” says Zaroo who is a great advocate of MICE tourism in J&K. “Infact, Jammu and Kashmir is a tailor-made destination for MICE with scenic beauty, weather, mountain glaciers and the beautiful Dal, making it as good as any international destination. Thus, making it cost effective for companies to give away packages as incentives or to hold company conferences.”

An important MICE destination, Sher-I-Kashmir Convention Centre or better known as SKICC, is state-of-the-art convention centre with multiple banqueting halls and conferencing infrastructure. “As the Board of Governor for SKICC, I am working in complete coordination with the Tourism department of the state to hold a DAVOS like event in the valley,” he says.

However, there are not many restaurants specialising in other cuisines in the state , so Zaroo explains that how he has tried to maintain the traditional waza in hotels to give the guest a luxurious experience of the traditional wazwan. “Yes with Louvre tying up with Sarovar, we are planning to give Kashmiri Cuisine an international twist,” he concludes.

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