Amruda Nair has leveraged a family legacy of award-winning hospitality and a forward-thinking ethos that puts innovation and technology at the forefront to birth a new boutique hospitality brand, Araiya. In a chat with Traveldine, she shares a glimpse into the soothing Araiya Palampur, set in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra valley, her insights into making a memorable mark in the luxury hospitality market and the vision she has for the industry to thrive.
Hailing from the family that founded the award-winning The Leela Group, Amruda Nair has hospitality in her DNA. Her career has taken her across Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East, and straddles the launch of an ambitious 611-room hotel in Saudi Arabia in 2016. Closer home, she served as head of asset management for The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts during a period of major growth, which involved the opening of new properties in Gurgaon, Udaipur, Delhi and Chennai.
After 15 years of experience in the industry, Amruda has channeled her learnings into a young, boutique hospitality brand, Araiya Hotels. “The name Araiya means ‘divine and beautiful’. We wanted something that would demonstrate the essence of who we are, what we want to do and how we go about the experience. I believe all of that is rooted in the name,” she says.
Its newest property, Araiya Palampur, exemplifies the brand’s ethos of leveraging a deep-rooted knowledge of luxury hospitality while embracing new technology and staying on top of industry innovations. Set in the Himalayan valley of Kangra, in Himachal Pradesh, the boutique hotel is a destination unto itself, with cosy interiors that balance the vintage and modern, chic restaurants serving local cuisine, a restful spa and Dhauladhar forests for company. “A lot of brands talk about authenticity and immersive local experiences, but what we also do is deep dive into the essence of things. Because we’re a new brand, we’re also very technology-led. The idea is to leverage those systems in order to create a more responsive, intuitive service experience,” Amruda tells us.
In conversation with Traveldine, Amruda shares her insights into setting up a new hospitality brand from the ground up; the secret to building a successful hotel (“Location, location is key. But also a site that’s unique to the destination.”); adapting to different markets in India and abroad; and why it’s time for legacy hospitality brands to embrace innovation and change.