Srijan Vadhera joined Hilton’s most iconic property in the country as General Manager at Conrad Bengaluru in the year 2019.In his role, Srijan spearheads the hotel’s growth and expansion through innovative and ground- breaking strategies and remains focused towards further strengthening Conrad Bengaluru, marking it on the global hospitality map as the preferred destination for business and leisure travelers in India. Possessing an impressive 21 years of rich experience in hospitality primarily in the luxury and upscale segments, Srijan was the General Manager of Fairmont Jaipur before he was appointed at Conrad Bengaluru. Prior to this, he has been associated with other hospitality brands such as Shangri-La, Marriott International and The Zuri Group Global and Hyatt in different capacities.
Known for dynamic leadership combined with the belief of building teams from within, an adept business development approach and comprehensive knowledge of international service standard procedures, he brings a new wave of expertise to every assignment he pursues. His knowledge and passion combine to resonate an extensive background in hotel leadership and sales and marketing. Srijan holds a Master of Business Administration and a Hotel Management Degree from Institute of Hotel Management Chandigarh.
What makes Conrad Bengaluru stand out from other properties you’ve worked in?
Conrad holds a very strong impact in my career as a hospitality brand, not only because of the ethos and culture it holds as Hilton’s luxury brand, but I have also learned the greatest experience of hospitality during the most trying times with Conrad.
Who is your typical customer?
We are a business hotel and ideally located 500 metres from MG Road in Bangalore. With five distinct dining venues, a 24-hour fitness centre and an infinity pool, each room and suite overlooks the city skyline and Ulsoor Lake. Being located in the heart of the city, we are best fitted to cater to a business traveler. However the current times have drastically changed the domain of our business travelers and the hotel in the last 2 years has evolved in to a most desirable wedding hub of south India. With the most iconic geo location, weekends and long weekends are bustling with leisure travelers.
If you could plan a one-day itinerary for guests looking to explore Bangalore, where would you send them?
To start the day, the most rejuvenating morning exercise could begin at the Cubbon Park at the heart of the city, post having breakfast you could visit Vidhana Soudha which is popularly known as the ‘Taj Mahal of South India.’ At the moment, the structure stands tall at 150 feet, with an opulent and exquisite Neo-Dravidian style of architecture. Post lunch it would be good to visit the Bangalore Palace, which is the private residence of the royal Wodeyar family. Built to resemble Windsor Castle, this quirky palace is filled with an interesting and eclectic collection of art from a bygone era. And the best time of the evenings and night are to spend in heart of MG Road, the bustling neighbourhood for shopping, short eats and some window shopping by the lanes of Brigade road and Commercial Street. And ending your day and dinner at our Mediterranean alfresco dining restaurant by the poolside. You’re under the stars at night and overlooking the magnificent Ulsoor Lake.
Building the right team is crucial for a property’s success. What are the key skills you look for when hiring new employees?
This goes along with a famous quote on ‘Great teamwork is the only way we create the breakthroughs that define our careers.’ – Pat Riley. For that we need to imbibe that spirit in our team members. What I really seek out is a good attitude, openness and willingness to learn. This point may be the most important with current time or any time. Communication skills are needed in virtually any job. To be able to work as a team player is an important asset to any employee who is part of an organization or who works with other individuals in their daily operations. Interpersonal skills are skills that allow you to interact with and work well with others. Learning skills are skills that enable you to learn new things and adapt to new situations within the workplace.
What is the USP of your hotel?
What sets Conrad Bengaluru apart is the central location. Situated amidst attractions, the hotel is at a comfortable proximity to key corporate hubs and lifestyle destinations. Offering unparalleled views from all 285 rooms and suites overlooking the scenic Ulsoor Lake and city skyline, these rooms are ergonomically designed and boast contemporary design. Conrad Bengaluru not only stands out as the tallest in Bangalore city, but is the tallest hotel in South India. The largest pillar less ballroom in the city makes it the most desirable venue for weddings. The inbuilt television mirror in the bathroom is first of it’s kind in the city and all the rooms are equipped with digital check in feature. We have a temperature controlled pool and our gym is equipped with life fitness equipment and not to miss out on the rejuvenating ICE fountain from our Conrad Spa.
What is the one dish that guests have to try when at your hotel?
‘Stay Fit’ Super Bowl Salad – Quinoa Salad, Sweet Potato, Mixed Beans, Seasonal Avocado, Broccoli, Baby Carrot, Basil Vinaigrette. The high vitamin and mineral content found in super salad can help your body ward off diseases and keep you healthier. When incorporated into a well-balanced diet, these foods can promote heart health, weight loss, improve energy levels and even reduce the effects of aging.
2020 was a challenging year for the hospitality industry. In your opinion, how will travel trends change in the 2nd half of 2021?
Hospitality business continues to be heavily impacted due to these lock-downs. International travel which contributed almost 60% + of our business (driven by international travelers) remains shut due to flight restrictions. Bengaluru city heavily depends upon business travel segment, driven by IT & ITES sector (more than 60%), which remains non-existent owing to most corporates having chosen to extend the flexibility of Work From Home for their employees
In our country as we have seen the vaccination drive pick up speed, we have observed that people want to step out and explore, however the fear of the variants still pertains. While most businesses were planning to initiate return back to office by Q1 FY 2022, keeping in mind the current scenario this has been pushed to Q2 or Q3 in most cases. For the 2nd half of 2021, we will see travel trends generating from leisure segments guests. Staycation (within the city) remains one of the primary segments of business for most hotels in Bengaluru city. Most hospitality establishments have focused upon curating value for money packages for locals within the city.
How has the pandemic changed the way you work?
The pandemic has changed a lot in the depths of my lives. Taking care of my 300 team members and their safety was my top most priority. I made it a point to stay in touch with my team on a weekly basis through webinars to ensure their mental health and overall well-being. Now when things are getting back on track slowly, and as team members are returning to work, I am happy to share that 99% staff are vaccinated and out of which 49% are fully vaccinated.
I have learnt to cherish every moment that is presented in front of me, more now than ever before. I have gained control on my thoughts, I ensured to continue my exercise regimen to keep my body, mind and soul fit. I have used the time to gain momentum in building thought leadership – from industry led webinars to connecting with university students. We have kept a constant guard and focus on each team member to follow procedures, continue to educate them through training and always encouraging them on their own self-assessment of their well-being.
Was a career in hospitality something you always dreamt of?
I was exposed to hotels as a child. It was the perfection in every aspect of a hotel that lured me. It seemed like an ideal world, where nothing could go wrong. You have happy guests at a hotel and a team that wears a smile on their face round-the-clock. I was very quick to realize the illusion of ‘a perfect life’ was nothing short of a mirage. My early days were in operations. I started my career as a waiter and moved across and up and switched over to sales and marketing and here I am today.
You have worked in several cities, which is your favourite Indian city for work and play?
The Magical Pink City of Rajasthan. Jaipur is a fine representation of the regal grandiose that has always distinguished the state of Rajasthan. Home to palaces, towering forts and holy temples, not only has Jaipur gracefully retained its royal roots but it proudly displays them to all. My heart always goes out, to the city, it’s rich culture, it’s people and the hospitality.
When are you happiest?
I enjoy spending time with my 12 year old daughter, my beloved wife – Nidhi and our second child, a beagle called Zoonie. Time spent with family is rare; I mean it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the pandemic in such magnitude.