Power List 2017, Anil Madhok, Executive chairman, Sarovar Hotels

Many working professionals harbour the dream of becoming an entrepreneur; not many actually fuel this dream with action. Many fear leaving the cushion of a secure job, others are wary of failure.

But not Anil Madhok.

By 1994, he was already a veteran in the hospitality industry, having worked in the domain for close to three decades. Starting his career with The Oberoi Group in 1966, he had worked up the ranks of the organisation until 1991, where his last assignment was VP, Operations for Western and Northern regions, overseeing the brand’s properties in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Goa and Srinagar as well as Oberoi Flight Services and Oberoi Airport, Services. His tenure with the Oberoi Group even included overseas stints at Sri Lanka and Singapore, which was considered to be lucrative perks.
However, Madhok always nursed an entrepreneurial streak and craved something more – the autonomy to take risks and also reap the rewards that came with taking these chances. He knew that the only way to achieve this was by taking charge and establishing one’s own business entity. And that is how, in 1994, he founded Sarovar Hotels Private Limited (also known as Sarovar Hotels And Resorts Ltd).

Over the past 23 years, Madhok has seen the company grow and establish a network of 75 hotels, not just in India but also Africa. Earlier this year, Sarovar also announced the overseas debut of its value brand, Hometel, with the signing of a hotel in Nairobi. Currently, the hotel chain has around 510 operational rooms in Africa.

Over the past year, Madhok kept a close eye on the signing of seven new hotels under the company’s aegis and the successful openings of five new properties. These included Efcee Sarovar Portico, Bhavnagar, RS Sarovar Portico, Palampur, RBD Sarovar Portico, Bengaluru, Panorama Sarovar Portico, Juba in South Sudan, and The Lazizi Premiere, Nairobi, Kenya. He has great plans for the African continent and revealed, “We will continue to expand our footprint in Africa, and have three upcoming hotels at Nairobi, Lusaka in Zambia and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.”

Over the past five years, Sarovar Hotels has grown from 4500 to nearly 6000 rooms in over 50 cities. However, Madhok’s biggest achievement came in January 2017 when Paris-based Louvre Hotel Group acquired a majority stake in Sarovar Hotels. “This alliance will allow us to spread our wings further and bring in the benefits of global distribution reach, along with a bigger guest loyalty platform, sales and marketing initiatives and procurement platforms. We will explore new technology with a view to being ever more competitive. There will also be many more opportunities for our people to grow,” Madhok proudly stated.

What this also means is that brand Sarovar will now get easier access to the Chinese market as Chinese travel major Jin Jiang International Holdings Co Ltd owns Louvre Hotels Group. Additionally, since Louvre has a strong presence in Europe, Sarovar can leverage synergies with its reservations, marketing strategies. In short, it is a win-win association for all parties involved.

Madhok is actively involved in orchestrating the seamless transition of the acquisition agreement between Louvre and Sarovar brands. He added that Sarovar would continue to develop all its existing brands (Sarovar Premiere, Sarovar Portico and Hometel) and businesses, without exception. In addition, this development will grow and develop all the Louvre Hotel Group brands, led by Golden Tulip and Campanile. “We expect to see the company grow to 100 hotels by 2020,” he confidently proclaimed. And his optimism does not seem misplaced.
By Vinita Bhatia

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