Neel Raheja was in news earlier this year for the initial public offering (IPO) of Chalet Hotels Ltd., the hospitality business of K. Raheja Corp., the first of the many hospitality businesses to launch an IPO. The issue was aimed at raising INR 1,641 crore for the expansion of the hospitality arm of K. Raheja, which needed some urgent fund infusion.
Chalet Hotels, which has several five star and deluxe hotels in its portfolio, has emerged as a leading hospitality player in India due to the efficient management of properties and the buying of land at much cheaper rates. Like most scions of business houses, Raheja learnt the ropes of the business from his father, property tycoon Chandru Raheja. But he did opt for a formal business degree from the Harvard Business School, after completing a degree in law from the Mumbai University. Over the years, he has worked with his father to steer the diversification of the group’s businesses from real estate to retail brands and world class hospitality projects, such as Renaissance Mumbai Hotel and Convention Centre, JW Marriott, Juhu (co owned); JW Marriott Sahar, Mumbai; Westin Hyderabad; Marriott Whitefield, Bengaluru; The Resort - Madh Marve, and Lakeside Chalet - Marriott Executive Apartments.
Raheja is leading conversations with leading global hospitality brands to invest in his hotels, among them Marriott International, who is said to have an interest in picking up some stake in his business. The company intends to invest INR 3,000 crore over the next four to five years to expand rooms in existing hotels and spread to new geographies. He emphasizes that a critical part of the growth strategy is to focus on maximising cost efficiency of the hospitality portfolio and follow a disciplined approach to asset management, to drive profitability.