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BW Businessworld

Priya Paul: She Followed Her Heart

The Chairperson of the Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, is driven by a never- say- die spirit

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Priya Paul achieved success quite early in life, overcoming the challenges that came her way. When she lost her father and chairman of the Apeejay Surrendra Group, Surrendra Paul, she had to take on the responsibility of looking after three hotels. She overcame that challenge, notwithstanding her lack of experience. She says she chose to follow her heart and not a hotel guidebook and the outcome was a 400 per cent expansion in the hotel business her father had left her. 

Priya Paul is known to have a firm head on her slender shoulders, which has enabled her to take on big responsibilities early in life. She was just 21 when she began her career as marketing manager of THE Park in New Delhi in 1988, equipped with degrees from Wellesley College, Harvard Business School and INSEAD. Subsequently, she took charge as general manager and was appointed director of the Apeejay Surrendra Group and chair of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels. Paul is director and member of the Group Management Committee of Apeejay Surrendra Group, established in 1910. 

Priya Paul is also ex-president and executive committee member of the Hotel Association of India. She is member of the National Council of Science Museums, National Tourism Advisory Council and chair of the South Asia Women’s Fund. She is member of the India Advisory Board of the Harvard Business School, the vice chair of the World Travel and Tourism Council – Indian Initiative Trustee and trustee of the India Foundation of Arts (IFA). 

“Last year has been great for the Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels. We opened three new hotels – THE Park Mumbai, The Denmark Tavern in Serampore and Zone Palace by THE Park in Jaipur. We now have 22 hotels across our three brands – THE Park, THE Park Collection and Zone by THE Park,” says Paul. “We are poised to take a leap into the capital markets soon. The current situation with COVID-19, will bring huge challenges for our company, for India and for the world. This is the time to restructure and relook at the way businesses are being operated. With our vision of leadership through differentiation, I am confident that my team and I will use innovative ideas to tackle the challenges ahead,” she goes on to say. 

In 2000 she received the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India award as the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’. She was awarded the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India ‘Hall of Fame’ in 2011. In 2012, she was conferred the Padma Shri by the President of India. 

“We are poised to take a leap into the capital markets soon,” says Paul. “The current situation with COVID-19, will bring huge challenges for our company, for India and for the world.”


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