Associated with some of the world’s finest hotels, MPS, or Manvinder Puri has dedicated his career to working in the hospitality industry for nearly 40 years.
As 2014 marks the fifth anniversary of Nira Hotels & Resorts, Luxurious Magazine finds out more about the seasoned hotelier and the boutique luxury hotel group.
LM: Please tell us about your impressive career highlights during your time within the hospitality industry.
MPS: After studying Food & Beverage Management and Financial Management at Cornell University, and Business Management at Punjab University, I had the opportunity to work at some of the finest hotels in the world including Peninsula Hotels (Hong Kong), Raffles Hotel, The Fullerton Hotel (Singapore), Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton, Halekulani (Hawaii) and the Fairmont Hotel (Chicago).
I was Head of the Americas for GHM Hotels from 2004 and until 2007 also served as General Manager of The Setai in South Beach Miami. I was then taken on as a consultant for Orient-Express before founding Nira Hotels & Resorts, a London-based boutique luxury hotel management company, in 2009. In 2010, Nira Hotels & Resorts opened Shanti Maurice, a boutique lifestyle resort with a world class spa in Mauritius.
The second property in the collection, Nira Alpina – a ski-in ski-out hotel in Surlej, near St. Moritz – opened in 2011. This was then followed in January 2012 with a third property, as the boutique townhouse hotel Nira Caledonia, opened in Edinburgh. By the end of 2014, you will also see the opening of two new properties, Nira Montana in Val D’Aosta, Italy, and Nira Yana on Pemba Island, Zanzibar.
LM: You founded Nira Hotels in 2009. What concepts have you created/implemented to improve its luxury status and appeal?
MPS: There are currently three resorts in the Nira Hotels & Resorts group and they are all incredibly diverse. From Nira Caledonia, a Grade 1 listed building in the centre of Edinburgh, to the beach resort of Shanti Maurice in Mauritius, to Nira Alpina, a ski-in ski-out hotel in the Swiss mountains. At each, it’s the core values of Nira that make the individual properties stand out. Those values are excellent service, relationships, value for money and our on-going commitment to culinary art.
Nira is based on the tenets of Asian-style hospitality, with an emphasis on personalised and heartfelt service. Through Nira we have created a hotel experience in which luxury is defined not by opulence and formality but by attentiveness and positive engagement. We are devoted to pleasure for our guests and achieve this by a simple philosophy: ‘Guests arrive as residents, leave as friends and return as family’. When they come back they are part of the Nira community.
LM: What has been your greatest challenge since founding Nira Hotels & Resorts?
MPS: I think the biggest challenge has been launching the hotels during the current economic downturn and, consequently, the redefinition of ‘luxury’. Over the past 40 years the hotel industry has evolved hugely. I think we have seen a clear redefinition of ‘luxury’ with more focus on what guests need and want. Nira is very much about creating memorable experiences for our guests and our clients increasingly want to make the most of their holiday time. They have become more discerning and want to have fulfilling experiences but, at the same time, demand more value for money.
LM: Nira Hotels expands its portfolio to five properties this year, as it marks its fifth anniversary. Tell us more about your exciting plans, the new properties and their special offerings.
MPS: In December 2014, Nira Montana will open as a boutique alpine hotel in north Italy, while Nira Yana will launch on the idyllic Indian Ocean island of Pemba. Situated in the picturesque town of La Thuile, at the foot of Mont Blanc, 55-room Nira Montana is just steps from the ski slopes and hiking trails of the Italian Alps. The reason why we chose to open here is because La Thuile retains an authentic mountain village feel, with beautiful views of the Alps. Built in the style of the valley’s traditional houses, the attractive, three-storey Nira Montana will be constructed of wood and stone, using energy saving systems and will be a member of Design Hotels.
Nira Yana, a new resort on the beautiful island of Pemba, Zanzibar, is surrounded by powdery silver sands and will be a private beach resort comprising 30 spacious and elegant bedrooms. Known as ‘The Green Island’, Pemba is set amongst the pristine Indian Ocean waters, off the coast of Tanzania. Just a 20 minute plane ride from Zanzibar, Pemba offers an elegant and authentic way to experience the natural beauty of Africa’s East Coast, with its lush terrain and outstanding coral reef. We also have ambitious development plans for the brand and we have already earmarked sites in Africa, Asia and elsewhere in the Indian Ocean.
LM: Why have you decided to launch your new properties on Pemba Island, Zanzibar and in the northern Italian Alps?
MPS: We choose locations based on how best we can provide the experiences our guests are looking for. We want to be able to offer variety, so guests automatically think of staying with Nira wherever they want to go and whatever type of holiday they desire. Whether it’s skiing or relaxing on the beach, we want our guests to experience it with us. Both destinations – La Thuile and Pemba Island – hold great potential for a range of international travellers. At each, it’s the core values of Nira that make the individual properties stand out.
LM: Which is your favourite Nira Resort out of the existing properties and why?
MPS: It’s impossible to pick a favourite as they are all very different – it’s usually the last one I visited! However on a personal level, I consider the Engadin Valley, where Nira Alpina is located, my home.
LM: Where is your favourite luxurious destination in the world and why?
MPS: Generally I would always choose to travel to the east rather than the west. In particular Japan is a wonderful place to visit thanks to its unsurpassed commitment to quality and service.
LM: Tell us about your average working day at Nira Hotels & Resorts.
MPS: The key to my working day is that I have never tried to set boundaries between work and play, business and pleasure.
LM: What would be the perfect day in an ideal world?
MPS: A perfect day is when I can seal a good business deal, followed by a celebratory dinner in a nice restaurant with great wine.
LM: What is your favourite type of cuisine? Do you have a favourite restaurant that you like to dine at?
MPS: I love to try out the latest restaurants that have opened in the places I visit, but I need to have Asian food on a regular basis. One of my favourite restaurants in London is Pitt Cue in Soho and for authentic Indian cuisine with a contemporary twist, Moti Mahal is a ‘must’. It showcases the best of Northern India’s culinary traditions.
LM: What are you favourite pastimes when you are not busy working?
MPS: Travelling – for either business or pleasure – and discovering new destinations and cuisines.
LM: What defines luxury to you?
MPS: I come back to our Nira core values of service, value for money, relationships and passion for excellent food. Nira Hotels & Resorts is a natural progression of my vision of a nomadic, bohemian-chic, hospitality brand. At Nira, luxury is about the guest’s way, a touch of our hand and the passion that binds the two.
By Reena Patel