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TD Conversations: Nishanth Vishwanath, General Manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Pune

He tells us how the domestic leisure travel segment is breathing life into India’s hospitality industry.
Ritz Carlton Pune, Pune, hotel. General manager, interview, India
Nishanth Vishwanath, General Manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Pune.

The veteran hotelier, who has recently come onboard as General Manager of this luxurious property in downtown Pune, is self-confessedly driven by passion and creativity. Nishanth Vishwanath commenced his career with the Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre’s Food & Beverage team and has since swiftly moved up the ranks across Marriott International’s myriad brands in the last two decades.

He has a proven record of implementing strategic initiatives delivering financial success in tandem with customer satisfaction. His most recent role comprised that of the prestigious Area Director – Operations for South & East India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. While his early years allowed him to hone his skills to develop award-winning concepts and drive revenue and reputation; his role as Area Director and General Manager over the last few years has given impetus to his growth and appointment into the luxury market. Nishanth uses his creative flair to increase employee engagement, implement standards, drive guest voice scores, build relationships with key stakeholders and grow hotel market share at exemplary levels.

At the Ritz-Carlton, Pune, Nishanth leads the dynamic team to sustain the hotel’s positioning as one of the most preferred destinations for the social and business elite in the country. With five high-end restaurants and bars, a superb spa, and loads of personalised experiences, the hotel checks all the right boxes. We spoke to him about his positioning of the property, and other ways that he plans to put the Ritz-Carlton Pune on the map.

Ritz Carlton Pune, Pune, hotel. General manager, interview, India
The Ritz-Carlton in Yerwada, Pune, Maharashtra.

As business travel may not happen full-fledged for a while, how have you re-strategised? What are the new avenues of revenue? 

Our typical customer is the affluent leisure guests and top corporates looking for personalised experiences and service. We like to call this a rollout of the micro-vacation. With vaccination rates being up, the domestic leisure travel segment is breathing life into India’s hospitality industry, we are on the road to full recovery. There is a lot of pent-up demand, especially in the luxury segment of hotels. For example, we are seeing extremely high demand in Pune for local intercity travel in Maharashtra, our rates have not dropped. For domestic travellers, we are offering flexibility in their booking dates and a wholesome, future-ready experience tailored to the ‘new normal’ that we are all faced with today.

Gorgeous suites with a very green Golf-course view! Image: Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Pune.
Gorgeous suites with a very green Golf-course view! Image: Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Pune.
 Classic decor that's high on luxury: Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Pune.
Classic decor that’s high on luxury: Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Pune.

With proximity to the golf course, does the Ritz-Carlton, Pune, have any special plans for avid golfing enthusiasts?  What is the USP of Pune as a destination in your understanding of it? Have you incorporated the local culture and cuisine into the guest experience at the hotel? If yes, please describe how.

The Ritz-Carlton, Pune being the second property in India and the 99th in the world, has already set a benchmark of iconic luxury and lifestyle. With 198 well-appointed rooms, the hotel provides its guests with unparalleled luxury. Located close to the airport and across from the Pune golf course, The Ritz-Carlton is a gateway to iconic memories, enveloping guests in the sounds, flavours and imagery of a culturally vibrant and modern Pune. Whether you are looking for culture, adventure, or the chance to go off the beaten path, we are thrilled to be able to invite guests to explore The Ritz-Carlton, Pune. These are a few of the ways in which we connect our guests with the destination:

Cuisine: Celebrating the region’s distinct culinary scene, the hotel captures the essence of the destination with five signature dining experiences.

Golf: Find your next golf getaway against breathtaking landscapes and a course design that bears the imprint of the game’s most respected figures. Across from property and spread over nearly 100 acres, The Poona Club Golf Course has been hosting players since 1920. The 18-hole, par 71 course offers lush greens dotted with flowering trees, water features and 6,415 yards of play. At the club, players have access to a chipping yard, practice greens, floodlit driving range, pro shop, a pub, restaurant and clinics for all ages and skill levels. As a part of its Golf Programme, The Ritz-Carlton, Pune resident hotel guests receive complimentary access and golf rounds, private lessons with a Pro, round-trip transportation and post-game cleaning services for clubs, shoes and other accessories.

 The 18-hole Golf course at the Poona Club. Image: Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Pune.
The 18-hole Golf course at the Poona Club. Image: Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Pune.

What is your favourite thing about the hotel? (It could be a favourite spot to hang out, a special service, or anything else that comes to mind).

Undoubtedly, its people. At the Ritz-Carlton, we believe that every person embodies the true spirit of hospitality to uphold the Gold Standards and inspire a culture of service excellence with a focus on personalisation. Aside from that, for Japanese food lovers, I strongly recommend the bold flavours at Ukiyo; my personal favourite being the Pork Belly, braised and served with spicy miso and jalapeno salsa!

 The Japanese restaurant Ukiyo is a hot favourite. Image: Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Pune.
The Japanese restaurant Ukiyo is a hot favourite. Image: Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Pune.

Your advice to hotel management graduates who are entering the hospitality industry at this time…

My advice to those keen on the industry is: Set goals for yourself, measure your progress and don’t shy away from taking the road less travelled.

Beyond work, is there a skill or a hobby you picked up during the pandemic?

I’ve always enjoyed cooking and spent a few hours each week indulging myself in this activity.

The elegant Ritz-Carlton Tea Lounge. Image: Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Pune.
The elegant Ritz-Carlton Tea Lounge. Image: Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Pune.
Perfect Pune afternoons punctuated by this posh high tea. Image: Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Pune.
Perfect Pune afternoons punctuated by this posh high tea. Image: Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Pune.

Tell us three offbeat things a traveller can do in Pune that you discovered when you moved to the city.

Run, Run, Run! The city has some wonderful routes and hillocks to explore if you are a nature lover like myself.

As an avid traveller, have you always been fascinated by the hospitality industry?
For as long as I can remember – yes, I’ve always aspired to be a hotelier.

Which places are closest to your heart?

I remain partial to my roots with Calicut or Kozhikode topping the list, especially for Kerala’s outstanding coastal cuisine. Out of all the cities I’ve worked at, Bengaluru remains my favourite – the place smells of invention, culture, and diversity, not to mention great food!

Which part of the day do you enjoy the best?

I’m an early riser and happiest on my morning run. It’s a time when I am truly alive and connected to nature and self.

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