By Swati Chopra
Priya Paul, President, The Park Hotels
Priya Paul, President of The Park Hotels and a Director of the Apeejay Surrendra Group, is among the few ‘born to sweet delight’, as William Blake would put it. And rightly so, as today she is a part of the hospitality industry where sweetness counts. Despite her tough job, this elegant lady exudes complete calm. ‘I have been learning yoga and meditation for the past five years from a teacher, Tripta Bhanot,’ replies the charming lady when questioned about it.
Armed with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Wellesley College, USA, she started her career as the Marketing Manager of The Park in 1988. She soon climbed the ladder, being promoted to Acting General Manager and was finally given the chair of Director, Apeejay Surrendra Group, and President, The Park, in 1990.
Does spirituality play an integral part in her professional life? ‘I stopped the formal training for yoga and meditation six months ago as I realized that spirituality is within you. My spirituality is something very personal and private for me. It’s not something that I really want to share… Coming to meditation, it has helped me professionally by enabling me to distance myself from the chaos all around,’ she replies.
Priya is also Vice-President, the Hotel Association of India, and a founder member of World Travel Tourism Council (Asia chapter). Then, she’s a member of the Young President’s Organization, a member of the PATA Environment and Eco-tourism Committee and a trustee of India Foundation of the Arts.
‘My family has always been involved in philanthropy. We have set up a number of trusts and institutions. I feel it is important for every individual, every company and corporate to contribute to society in whatever way. And I am not only talking about donating money. We have set up a number of schools in West Bengal and tube well projects in our tea plantations at Assam,’ she elucidates. ‘I got together with some friends to set up the Seed Shop at The Park, Delhi, three years ago as I had felt a certain need in the market for a one-stop shop for organic products, for natural products. But we have created this with the urban market in mind. It has done reasonably well and we are hoping to expand that. We are planning to put it on the Net. Our site is under construction.’
What did she feel about the revival of New Age in the country? ‘I don’t think there is any revival as such. It is in the English language that you find this more written about. Where the country is concerned, all these things have always existed. I was in Hardwar, India, recently. People had traveled there for a yajna 12 years ago and the culmination of this was two weeks ago. On Karthik Poornima there were some six million people there. These people have never had a revival, a New Age. For them it’s a way of life. This has always been going on… Maybe worldwide there’s a revival.’
Frank and forthright-that, in a nutshell, is what Priya Paul is all about.
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