Kapil Chopra: ‘Mr Oberoi lives, breathes and dreams about hotels all the time’

Perhaps no one knows PRS Oberoi as well in a professional capacity as Kapil Chopra, who served as President of Oberoi Hotels from 2013 to 2018 before striking out on his own. Chopra recalls a boss who led from the front and knew more about hospitality than anyone else.

Kapil Chopra earned his hospitality chops at Oberoi Hotels. His journey at the group started in 1994 as a management trainee and continued till 1999. After stints with Hyatt International and the Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi, he returned to the Oberoi Group five years later to open the Trident, Gurgaon. From 2003 to 2018, he worked with the Oberoi Group, and served as its President from 2013 to 2018. In that period he worked closely with PRS Oberoi on some key projects, like building the Oberoi, Gurgaon and finally overseeing the massive renovation of the Oberoi New Delhi. Oberoi and Chopra enjoyed a great working relationship, with the two complementing each other.

As founder of The Postcard Hotels, a chain of high-end, boutique resorts, Chopra brings his learnings from his years at the Oberoi Group to his passion project.

Chopra calls Oberoi a “living legend”, someone who “lives, breathes and dreams about hotels all the time”. Anyone working with PRS Oberoi, therefore, had to be on top of their game.

Prs oberoi, biki oberoi, oberoi hotels
Doyen of Indian hospitality: PRS ‘Biki’ Oberoi. Image: Courtesy Oberoi Hotels.

Chopra remembers him as full of interesting anecdotes, having travelled the world from a young age and bringing a rich understanding of luxury hospitality to the table. Oberoi is a great conversationalist and there is a lot to learn from him, given his years of experience in hospitality and beyond.

A man ahead of his time, Oberoi was well aware of global trends in hospitality and luxury before they percolated down to India, which is why he launched the Vilas properties long before anyone thought of such a concept. The hugely successful properties went on to become an integral part of the Oberoi portfolio.

Chopra confirms the famous story about Oberoi checking even the colour of the egg yolks at his hotels. They had to be just the right colour, reflecting his legendary obsession with detail. And that’s what makes Oberoi Hotels such a great hospitality chain.

Kapil chopra worked closely with prs oberoi during his tenure at oberoi hotels, particularly on the oberoi gurgaon project.
Kapil Chopra worked closely with PRS Oberoi during his tenure at Oberoi Hotels, particularly on the Oberoi Gurgaon project.

Oberoi’s most practical advice to Chopra was to “never compromise on anything, because if you compromise, you compromise on the guest experience.” Oberoi always told Chopra to focus on controlling waste, not cost. The result are world-class hotels which continue to set new benchmarks for the hospitality industry to this day. “He is very eager to learn. That is his biggest superpower, I believe,” says Chopra.

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