He heads Juniper Hotels Pvt Ltd (JHPL), a hotel development and ownership company that largely works with the Hyatt Group and its several brands, such as Andaz. Saraf, an unassuming owner-hotelier, is a man of few words, opting to stay in the background and let his work do all the talking. And yet, there is no doubt that he is not just a man who means business, but also one who knows how to run a profitable business. He is the son of Radhe Shyam Saraf, a hospitality pioneer who bought the Hyatt Group to India in the early 80s when global hospitality groups did not yet have India on their radar. The company traces its origins to 1975 when it began construction of its first property, Yak and Yeti in Nepal (which ultimately opened in 1978). Much like his father, Saraf takes several calculated risks.
The Hyatt properties owned by Juniper are also known as repositories of art — for instance, the massive art project he commissioned for Grand Hyatt Mumbai years ago, or the contemporary art that forms the core of the design of the 401-rooms Andaz Delhi, a joint venture between a subsidiary of Hyatt Hotels and JHPL. Andaz was the third hospitality business venture between JHPL and Hyatt. In the next five years, JHPL is looking at investing INR 2,400 crore in the business. Saraf has tied up with the Bihar Government and Magadh University to develop a resort at Bodh Gaya through the public private partnership model, in a bid to help develop India’s spiritual and religious tourism segment.
Footsteps of Buddha Pvt Ltd, a company floated by Saraf, will invest Rs 140 crore in a 160-key resort. He is also building nine upscale and mid-market hotels in cities such as Raipur, Hampi, Lucknow, Sarnath, Guwahati, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Jaipur, and Thiruvananthapuram, through two companies — JHPL and Chartered Hotels Pvt. Ltd, which will be managed by various Hyatt brands. For the astute owner, hospitality is an ever-evolving business that involves scouting for new markets and new formats, which will work in those markets.