Power List 2017, Priya Paul, Chairperson, Apeejay Surrendra Group
It was in the 90s, when she was just in her early 20s that the young Priya Paul took responsibility of the Apeejay Surrendra Group. 50 years later, and many years wiser, she has decided to stick to the niche that the company’s hospitality brand, The Park Hotels, is renowned for – design-led boutique properties.
What’s more, while many other brands are happy to talk about the number of projects that they have in their portfolio or in their pipeline, Paul is delighted with the limited number in The Park Collection – eight in all. Of these, six are in the metros and A-class cities, while the other two are in resort spots of Goa and Visakhapatnam.
Paul’s and her sibling’s initiation in art began early (her sister Priti is an architect), since both her parents would often take them to visit museums, expanding their knowledge about form, design, creativity and sensibility.
An arts graduate from Wellesley College (no surprises there), she joined her father in Apeejay Surrendra Group. After his demise around 1990, she started working on the three original hotels that existed in the company’s portfolio, where he had initiated renovation. Not wanting to follow a cookie-cutter style, she started looking at the design aspect afresh and given them an inspiring look with new food and beverage concepts. And thus began the journey for the aesthetically bound Park Hotels. Even today, she is keenly involved in the design decisions of the hotels.
In addition to hospitality, the Apeejay Surrendra Group conglomerate has many business interests including Typhoo Tea, shipping, real estate, retail and finance. In 2012, Paul was awarded the Padma Shri, one of the country’s highest civilian awards, for her continued contribution to the trade and industry.
By Vinita Bhatia