Saji Joseph General Manager, Alila Diwa Goa Goa, India
Saji Joseph has over 14 years of expertise in the hospitality industry and is currently the General Manager, Alila Diwa Goa. Goa, India
Tell us about your hotel and its USPs. Alila Diwa Goa is a lifestyle and destination hotel. It is a personalized lifestyle hotel and part of Asia’s leading luxury boutique hotel and resort operator, Alila Hotels and Resorts. Located in scenic Majorda in South Goa, Alila Diwa Goa is Alila Group’s very first property in India. Created by India’s leading architect Toni Joseph, the interiors has been crafted by Lisa Garris from Plum, with landscaping by Bloom. Spread across 300 square meters, the hotel lobby is reminiscent of a traditional chapel that opens into the courtyard. How do you position the Hotel in the market? What is your marketing strategy? A surprisingly different destination experience in the 5-star deluxe category. The resort is further complemented with a family entertainment zone that includes a theatre and children’s activity centre, and a comprehensive event centre, which is equipped with a grand ballroom turned into a dramatic space with large doors and old Goan architecture, two meeting rooms with sophisticated and technologically advanced conference facilities and a large outdoor lawn that can accommodate up to 300 persons. How important is a Hotel in developing a destination? What has your company done in this regard? It’s a two way traffic that goes hand in glove with each other. Both the destination and the Hotel in the destination make it important for the entire development of the place. Being an international brand we have a stronger presence in the Global market hence can directly reach out to our loyal client base that is eager to try out Alila In Goa, India. Could you tell us about your background and how did you come to the industry? I have always wanted to be in the hotel business, was fortunate to follow the right path and get the right learning opportunity to focus on that dream and achieve it. I started as a Cook in Bakeries and Restaurants in Goa working part time during my studies in 1992-96. An alumni from IHM Goa, I began my career with The Leela, Mumbai as and then went onto to work with Rambagh Palace, Jaipur and Taj Lake Palace. In 2003 I joined Taj Garden Retreat, Kumarakom, Kerala as General Manager. After a successful three-year tenure at Radisson Plaza Resort & Spa, Kumarakom, I moved to Alila Diwa Goa as General Manager. Here my core responsibilities include strategy implementation, revenue management, achieving operational excellence, business development, creating unique experiences for the guest, creating an empowered and performance oriented culture and a congenial environment of cooperation with the local community. Tell us about your experience so far? Is there an unforgettable moment in your career which you can share with us? There are so many. I have had my fair share of learning and humbling moments to write a book on. This is one industry that keeps your experiences growing day by day. Never boring here, What plans – immediate and long term – do you have? Immediate is to look forward to the first complete financial year for Alila Diwa Goa and the opening of our 10 Room , Spa Alila from Bali. And the opening of the Premium wing of the Resort taking the inventory from the current 114, to 149 Rooms. Long term of course is to have one of the most successful opening of a Hotel and a international Brand in the country. Where would you like to see yourself, say, 10 years from now? Strangely I remember this question been asked when I joined the industry as a Management Trainee at The Leela Kempinski Mumbai by the VCMD of the group Vivek Nair and I had told him very confidently that I would be a GM of a Hotel. That was in 1996. But I did take on my first assignment as a GM in 2005. Going forward the goal is to be a content Hotelier and a human being, where I can add value to the lives of people that I can reach out to. No I don’t have any 10 year plan to reach a title etc. I think I have crossed that stage a wee bit earlier with the blessings of God, parents and people that I have come across in life. Now tell us about your family. I am blessed with a princess, her name is Ayeisha Marie Joseph (five years) from my wife of 10 years – Pinky Rosetta Joseph, and both these ladies in my life have been pillars of strength and blessing to balance my work and career. Tell us about your hobbies and other interests? My hobbies are cooking, swimming under water and driving. In my spare time I like to go biking and on long drives – which is limited now thanks to the control from home. Which is your favourite destination, and why? Goa undoubtedly has the right mix and balance of topography, weather, people and cuisine to be rated as my top destination. However destinations in India like Rajasthan and kerala along with coastal regions of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are equally breathtaking and awesome. India on the whole is a never ending place to explore and I have to sum it up that India will be on my top list. Followed closely by Bali , Vietnam and Thailand.
How did you become interested in hospitality business? Venturing into the hospitality industry was an unexpected turning point in my life and career. This industry has of course always held a fascina...