Amandeep Grover-General Manager Hilton Goa Resort is a seasoned hotelier with over two decades of experience spanning across different positions worldwide. Throughout his career, he has worked with several recognized and established international brands in Florida, Switzerland, Oman and the Maldives before joining Hilton. In his last role, he served as the Director of Operations at Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa. With his in-depth knowledge and strategic outlook, he is adept in leading multicultural teams to drive the diverse requirements of the hospitality industry and delivering an engaging guest experience.
Amandeep is passionate about environmental sustainability and serves as Hilton’s Travel with Purpose Champion in India. He is responsible for the soap-recycling program with Sundara. Under his leadership, Hilton has recycled over 10,000 soap bars for distribution in local schools and villages in Ashte. More recently, Amandeep has been leading an initiative to eliminate the use of single-use plastic across Hilton’s hotels in India. He believes in perfection with an eye for detail, team collaboration and appreciates pro-activeness from his team. Amandeep graduated with a Diploma in Hotel Management from Institut Hotelier Cesar Ritz, Le Bouveret, Switzerland. In his free time, he likes to read, travel and explore new places, listening to music and playing cricket.
What makes Hilton Goa Resort stand out from other properties you’ve worked in?
Unlike the archetypal seaside resorts in Goa, Hilton Goa Resort is set atop the cascading hills of Saipem. It is the brand’s third property in Goa with 104 guestrooms. The resort offers a tranquil retreat amidst Goa’s coastal landscape. Offering scrumptious food, innovative cocktails, well curated high-teas and sundowners, offbeat local Goan trails, and unfailing hospitality. The unique hilltop location provides an edge over other properties as it offers unparalleled Nerul river views and is four kilometers from popular Candolim Beach, 10 kilometers from Panaji town and Goa International Airport is a 60-minute drive away.
Who is your typical customer?
Travel across all groups is seeing a spike from solo, couples, family etc. However, among these, family travel has seen the sharpest rise. Our recently launched ‘Great Small Breaks’ campaign offers a perfect getaway for families, packed with fun and creative activities for kids, complimentary meals for kids below 12 years of age and much more. Fortunately, Goa has seen a huge uptick in demand, as travellers across the country prefer Goa as their post lockdown travel destination. We are also seeing an increase in business travel as people are opting for work from hotels and combining work and leisure. Looking at these trends, we are focused on catering to all kinds of travelers and communicating with all segments meaningfully. Individuals are looking to balance their personal and professional life in this pandemic, and concepts like ‘staycations’, ‘workcations’, and ‘drivecations’ have given them a way to fulfill their travel itch. Goa has always been one of the most popular vacationing destinations in India and remains the preferred domestic travel destination even today.
If you could plan a one-day itinerary for guests looking to explore Goa, where would you send them?
Goa is a conflux of different experiences and caters to all kinds of travelers seeking relaxation, adventure, indulgence, etc. The landscape presents immense opportunities for hospitality brands to thrive with the right positioning and offerings. However, it is a challenge to stand out and brands must innovate to stay relevant in this ever so dynamic market scenario. Our focus is to bring forward the untapped side of Goa (#ExploreTheUnexplored) by creating local unique experiences. Some of which include the Happily Unhurried Pasoi: A Village Picnic; which includes an enjoyable walk down the quaint village lanes. The Surreal Underworld experience takes you on a journey of scuba diving, snorkeling and underwater photography of the unreal and unseen landscapes. These carefully designed experiences allow you a chance to peek into a side of Goa not well known to all and allow you an opportunity to witness Goa through the eyes of locals.
Building the right team is crucial for a property’s success. What are the key skills you look for when hiring new employees?
It is believed, ‘The greatest asset of a company is it’s people’ and I truly believe that the heart of the resort lies in it’s people, who are dynamic and passionate, who are committed to ensuring that every guest stay is memorable. The culture of the team is working together cohesively and sharing a family like bond. This has helped us stay together during these challenging times. Our endeavour as a team is to deliver a ‘Home Away from Home’ experience for all our guests. We look at candidates with the right attitude when hiring, as skills can always be developed.
What is the USP of your hotel?
Our unique hilltop location gives us an edge over other properties in Goa as it offers unparalleled river views and personalized experiences to cater to the various age groups. Our spacious rooms with private balconies are one of the largest in Goa. The focus has been on making the in-resort experiences stronger as we understand guests want to spend more time inside the property. Looking at this trend, we have curated activities for guests across all age groups. From culinary workshops, cocktail/mocktail sessions, curated local Goan experiences to kids interactive classes, unique @YourBalcony experiences and many more. Hilton Goa Resort also offers three unique destinations for food and beverage options. Guests can relax at @Saipe, the all-day dining multi-cuisine restaurant offering a pool and panoramic views. There is Doce which is our coffee lounge and Coco is a transformative high-octane bar and restaurant that features a Mediterranean inspired menu. All these options are distinct and offer a great dining experience. Having said that, an equal focus is laid down on enhancing the in-room dining experience and offer meals in a unique tiffin concept. We ensure all protocols pertaining to contactless food delivery are strictly adhered. Additionally our unique outdoor spaces allow us to host intimate social events.
What is the one dish that guests have to try when at your hotel?
The heavenly Tiramisu at Hilton Goa Resort is a mighty crowd pleaser. A must try for anyone and everyone visiting us here. Apart from that, several dishes revolving around jackfruit meat that is like meat for non-meat lovers has also been gaining attention recently. Faux Poie was created keeping in mind the increasing number of cautious eaters who cannot enjoy the non-vegetarian fillings that usually went with the Goan poie. With the poie filled with minced jackfruit, this is not just a vegetarian offering but vegan too.
2020 was a challenging year for the hospitality industry. In your opinion, how will travel trends change in the 2nd half of 2021?
Revenge Travel in the new travel trend – During these unprecedented times, the word revenge travel has become one of the fastest emerging trends in travel and hospitality. Revenge travel has picked up as everyone is trying to break free and have a getaway to a change of location while working from home/remote locations to relax and unwind. However, since the pandemic is still a daunting concern, along with ease of lock-down, people are embracing the fact that prevention is better than cure.
Was a career in hospitality something you always dreamt of? What is your advice to aspiring hoteliers?
I am an accidental hotelier who came across this industry through my real passion i.e. cricket. My cricket coach had recommended hospitality as a long term career due to my passion to meet people from different walks of life and as they say the rest is history.
Which cities are your favourites for: 1) food 2) history 3) fashion?
I am an adventure freak so my favorite city would be the capital of adventure ‘Queenstown’ in New Zealand. The food and history of the place are amazing. It would be a good idea to try the burgers from Fergburger restaurant which is known for its unique burgers, a definite must visit for people. I am honestly not fussy about following a particular fashion trend as my mantra is to wear just what suits my personality and be confident.
You have worked in several cities, which is your favourite city for work and play?
This hands down would be Maldives for me as I have spent more than half my career in these beautiful islands. Working on islands just teaches you things from a different perspective yet you have the liberty to switch off through the immense beauty that surrounds you.
When are you happiest?
I am happiest when I am around my wife, daughter and friends. Honestly I also get immense joy from opening properties as it creates bonds with people for a lifetime and they become like family.