Hotel Centre Point at Ramdaspeth has arguably been the most preferred choice for a typical Nagpur celebration or event. The hotel has been competitively handling the influx of big and small hospitality brands in the city. While Hotel Centre Point tops the bucket list of Nagpurians planning their celebrations and events, the hotel is braving a stiff competition from newer hotels vis-à-vis outstation guests and dining places. Nation Next speaks to Jasbir Singh Arora, popularly known as Mickey Arora, the owner of the hotel, about making of the biggest hospitality brand of Nagpur – Hotel Centre Point.
Please tell us the story behind the inception of Hotel Centre Point.
We used to reside exactly behind where Hotel Centre Point is now, but it was a vacant plot then. Nagpur didn’t have good hotels, having even basic facilities like centralised air-conditioned rooms, etc. So we decided to build a good hotel (in 1988) on that vacant plot as its location was perfect for a hotel. Hotel industry was totally a new experience for us as we previously dealt with automobiles, spare parts, paints and trading. Still, we tried to make a mark in the hospitality industry here by coming up with a quality hotel. Sardar waise bhi famous hote hai khatirdari karne main! (Sikhs are anyway famous for their hospitality!)
Your family migrated from Pakistan in 1947. Please tell us about your initial struggle days in Nagpur.
In 1947, my father migrated from Pakistan and came directly to Nagpur. We started a business, which involved sales of automobile spare parts, trading and paints. The shop was known as Deepak Paint Mart, which is still there in Sadar but with a changed name. When I was 16, I started looking after the shop. At the initial stage, we were not financially strong, so we faced lot of problems in trading goods. When our paint workshop and other related businesses got settled, we thought of entering into the hotel industry. Various schemes were available for financing ambitious projects. During those days, getting a loan was difficult. So, it took eight months for us to get the funds. Our project was finally sanctioned due to sheer dedication and hard work. But as we needed more funds for the hotel, we had to liquidate our assets, shares etc. Also, as not many experienced architects were available in Nagpur, we had to rope in architects from Delhi.
Hotel Tuli Imperial, which is at a stone throw away distance from your hotel on Central Bazar road, has come up with first of its kind roof top lounge ‘Ru-oo-fh 180’ in Nagpur. How do you plan to compete with them in terms of dining facilities?
Competition doesn’t mean it’s a threat to us. It was initially our idea to come up with a thematic rooftop dining area but it got delayed. As one of our competitors started it first, it helped us in our research. In a couple of months, Hotel Centre Point too would come up with a rooftop restaurant, based on Moroccan theme.
Hotel Centre Point recently went in for major renovation. Was this part of your strategy to compete with Tuli Imperial?
I didn’t feel any pressure to change the décor or ambience of my hotel. We wanted to give our hotel a fresh look and feel, that’s why we went in for a major renovation. This change was brought about for a personal satisfaction, rather than some other intention. We have not just renovated the entrance of the hotel but also the lobby, locker rooms, housekeeping and cafeteria. The lobby area was given a face lift, which also gives a positive feeling to our staff. The overall structure and the beauty of our hotel attracts more sophisticated customers now. This makes our staff happier and as a result they serve customers better. Our competitors are undoubtedly putting in a lot of efforts to supersede us but Centre Point didn’t become a brand overnight. It’s a result of our consistent quality services and goodwill.
Tuli Imperial is a boutique hotel with grand interiors, and there are no parking hassles there. How has your business got affected since its launch?
Tuli Imperial was never a threat to us. In fact, when there are similar products available in one area, the customer is benefited because healthy competition leads to better service and improved quality. The saying – ‘Survival of the fittest’ – definitely holds true. We have been serving our customers since decades. No matter how difficult the situation is, we have always emerged as the winners. We serve good quality food at a competitive pricing. We have ample parking space where at least, 80 cars can be easily parked but still our customers at times feel that parking is a bit chaotic. We are planning to upgrade our parking, which would soon accommodate more than 120 cars.
What do you have to say about frequent gambling raids in Nagpur hotels?
As per our hotel rules and regularity procedures, we always try not to encourage our guests or staff to get involved in gambling or other illegal activities in or around our hotel as we cater to the families. We have certain kind of limitations on our premises. When we allot a room to our guests, we are not supposed to enter it without their permission due to privacy reasons. We have to call them and wait. Still if there’s no response, we need to call the management, write down in our legal procedure book and then take any kind of action against the same. If we have given our 40 rooms for wedding purpose to our guests and if there is any kind of gambling happening in any of those rooms, we will never come to know. If we come to know, we definitely take an action against the same.
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It is rumoured that DCP Abhinash Kumar was transferred from Zone I to Zone III because of influential and strong hotel owner’s lobby of west Nagpur, which was upset with Kumar’s frequent gambling raids in prominent hotels…
Abhinash Kumar is a gem of a person. I have met him a couple of times. It’s his duty to raid a place if he receives any information, something that he had cleared to us long back. No one is so influential to get our DCPs transferred. There were few more internal changes in the zones after he got transferred from Zone I to Zone III. There’s nothing wrong in transferring our DCPs as most of them are still in Nagpur. It’s a general routine. Kumar might be more capable of handling his duties in Zone III like our former Commissioner of Police – SP Yadav – had said. I’ve never taken any kind of favour from any DCP or CP during raids. I’ve always followed all the legal procedures and the same is being followed by the police.
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Recently an FIR was lodged against your nephew Hardeep Singh Arora by his wife for sexual harassment and dowry. How do you respond to these accusations?
It’s his personal matter and I have nothing to do with it. There’s misunderstanding and complications between the two families, which has led to such an unpleasant scenario between them. This case has no relevance as there is no strong evidence against Hardeep.