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In Conversation with Rayan Aranha

Rayan Aranha is the General Manager of Grand Mercure Bangalore and the brand head for Accor’s Grand Mercure and Mercure hotels in India. A seasoned hotelier, Rayan brings over 20 years of domain expertise in the hospitality industry. In his leadership position, Rayan is responsible for spearheading operations at his hotel and ensuring growth and expansion with innovative strategies. His strong team building skills, expert approach towards business development and a resilient background in hospitality provides strategic and tactical depth to the hotel.

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His journey with Accor started in Bangalore in 2012, and he has since held leadership roles in the company in New Delhi and Mumbai. He moved back to Bangalore In 2017 as General Manager of Grand Mercure Bangalore and took on the additional responsibility of leading Grand Mercure Mysore in 2020. With an entrepreneurial background in hospitality, Rayan has previously worked with Taj Hotels at their regional office in Bangalore. He has completed his postgraduate programs in management from the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) and SP Jain Institute of Management and Research Mumbai.

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What makes Grand Mercure Bangalore stand out from other properties you’ve worked in?

Grand Mercure Bangalore is an all-suite hotel in Koramangala. It is uniquely located in a peaceful, serene residential area and provides an ultimate 5-star experience to it’s guests whether they are travelling for business or leisure.

Every spacious suite is equipped with a fully loaded kitchenette and a private balcony, offering guests all they need for a hassle free experience. Each little experience at the hotel is designed to give a taste of the local flavour to the guests, from the traditional welcome when they arrive to the authentic local fare at our restaurants. One can also experience the local touch of Hampi, a world heritage site located in east-central Karnataka; every wall of the hotel features the beauty of this historical site with portraits and artwork.

At our renowned restaurants, our chefs strive to satisfy even the most sophisticated gastronomic desires. They believe that food can truly elevate any guest experience and make it more memorable. Our menus aim to take you on a culinary adventure like no other with exquisite dishes that are sure to satiate every traveller’s palate.

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Who is your typical customer? 

We cater to both business and leisure travellers, who are mostly looking for a luxury accommodation for their extended stays. Over the weekends, we have many residents of the city who prefer a ‘staycation’ with us.

If you could plan a weekend itinerary for guests looking to explore Bangalore and around, where would you send them?

Bangalore has a host of leisure options, in and around the city. Over the weekends, many of our guests visit the nearby city of Mysore, where they have an option to stay at Grand Mercure Mysore, a 5 star hotel in the center of the city, and visit the iconic Mysore Palace, the Zoo or the famous Brindavan Gardens. Within the city of Bangalore, I would recommend a visit to Nandi Hills, the Bangalore Palace, Vidhana Soudha and the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. A popular itinerary includes pub hopping in Koramangala or Indiranagar, frequenting many fantastic breweries. After all, Bangalore is the pub capital of the country.

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Building the right team is crucial for a property’s success. What are the key skills you look for when hiring new employees?

What we look for in people has never changed. While it is important that hospitality professionals know how to elegantly open a wine bottle or operate property management software, the right attitude is what matters most. A friendly, outgoing personality and flexibility in working in changing situations with different people will always be valued. Apart from these, we also focus on attributes including communication skills, customer orientation, cultural awareness, problem solving skills and teamwork.

 What are the USP’s of your hotel? 

While the greatest USP of Grand Mercure Bangalore is certainly it’s key offering of spacious suites in a peaceful location, we are also a pet-friendly hotel. We understand that the pets of our guests are family and we welcome them, just as we welcome our customers.

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What is the one dish that guests have to try when at your hotel?

Our signature dish is Donne Biriyani. A matchless, spiced biryani local to the South, it gets it’s unique flavors from the short grain rice and mint leaves used in it’s preparation along with our chef’s unique meat marination technique.

2020 was a challenging year for the hospitality industry. In your opinion, how will travel trends change in the second half of 2021?

Guest expectations are constantly evolving and this will continue as travel resumes. Many guests will now look towards unique and bespoke experiences. At the same time, cleanliness, safety and hygiene will remain a priority. As international travel takes time to return to normalcy, we foresee a steep increase in domestic tourism as well as travel on business. Many travelers may also prefer to stay in locations they have visited earlier, showing comfort in familiarity.

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Was a career in hospitality something you always dreamt of?  What is your advice to aspiring hoteliers? 

My journey in hospitality started almost two decades ago and I have always been passionate about business in hotels from much earlier. While a lot about our industry has changed during the pandemic, I strongly believe that a career in hospitality will be rewarding to anyone who aspires to grow in the hotel business. I would advise my future colleagues in the industry to keep themselves updated on the changing trends, technological changes and marketing patters in hospitality.

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Which cities are your favorites for: 1. Food, 2. History, 3. Fashion?

Food: During my visits to Singapore, I thoroughly enjoyed their signature foods – and I have experienced the tastiest versions in the hawker centers, markets, and street-side shacks. I love the blend of cuisines offered there.

History: While multiple cities in India are rich in historical vibrancy, the city of Mysore is closest to my heart with it’s beautiful temples and of course the iconic palace. While travelling overseas, I took a great interest in London, and thoroughly enjoyed my visits to quite a few historic sights.

Fashion: Many years ago, I had an opportunity to visit Japan. I was fascinated by the mix of styles and genres in the street fashion that remains prominent in Tokyo, especially in their large urban fashion districts.

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You have worked in several cities, which is your favourite city for work and play? 

It has been said that once you have lived in Mumbai, a life elsewhere is never quite that exciting, energetic or satisfying. I completed my post-graduation in Mumbai and returned to work there many years later. The memories of that city will live with me forever. There is nothing quite like a having a chai on Marine Drive at the end of a busy week.

 When are you happiest? 

Though I have absolutely no experience in a professional kitchen, I am an aspiring home chef. Nothing makes me more joyful than cooking for my daughters. All three meals every Sunday are in dad’s hands.

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