Himmat Anand: A Seasoned Personality With Decades Of Experience In The Hospitality & Travel Industry | CEOInsights Vendor
Himmat Anand: A Seasoned Personality With Decades Of Experience In The Hospitality & Travel Industry

Himmat Anand: A Seasoned Personality With Decades Of Experience In The Hospitality & Travel Industry

 Himmat Anand,    Founder

Himmat Anand


For leaders in businesses whose lifeblood is immediate customer satisfaction, success hinges on accurately assessing customer needs and motivations. Nowhere is that more evident than in the hospitality industry, where the essence of success is understanding and satisfying a diverse array of people whose ideas of satisfaction range from stereotypical to peculiar. Significantly, Himmat Anand is one of the renowned personalities with decades of experience in this space, spearheading his own brand of experiential resorts - The Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels. Himmat left the corporate world in 2007, after serving as the Chief Operating Officer for India and South Asia at Kuoni Destination Management. He subsequently followed through on a long-held dream by establishing Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels in 2010, which operates fourteen boutique resorts across the country and is a pet-friendly brand. He also runs A Dog's Story in three places, which offers fantastic retreats for folks travelling with their pets.

Himmat Anand engages in an exclusive interview with CEO Insights, wherein he enlightens us more about his professional traits and the unique proposition of The Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels.

Could you give a brief account of your professional background? What inspired you to establish Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels?
My first career option as a youngster just out of school was to join the Army. Fate had other plans for me, and I enrolled in the Institute of Hotel Management, Pusa. On completion of my 3 years course, I got my first job as a Captain with the Taj Group of Hotels, earning Rs.575 per month! I quit the hotel industry 2 years later on the spur of the moment as it was not the life I wanted to lead. SITA World Travel, India's leading travel agency at the time, recruited me as a Management Trainee, and I soon found myself in Europe with SITA
Travels in 1985.

I spent a decade in Europe, till 1995, working with SITA and then Jet Airways in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and very briefly the United States. I then returned to India in 1995 and rejoined SITA Travels as Vice President. The company was then sold to the Swiss conglomerate Kuoni Travels, where I reached the pinnacle of my career as Chief Operating Officer India & South Asia at Kuoni Destination Management from 2002 to 2007. I was then that I decided to pursue a 25 year old dream of establishing a boutique hotel brand that defied tradition.

The eventual goal is to send back guests who want to return to a Tree of Life

The Tree of Life Resort & Spa, Jaipur came to life in 2010 - just 14 villas on 6 acres of land, on the outskirts of Jaipur. Friends and well-wishers thought I had made a big mistake and that I would soon be looking for a job again! The rest, as they say, is history.

How would you define Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels as an organization and its position in the market?
For the Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels, ROI (Return on Investment) is not the driving force. ROE (Return on Experience) is what drives and differentiates us. We don't believe in Standard Operating Procedures because we believe that each team member is different, with unique abilities, and that we want them to be themselves on the job. The eventual goal is to send back guests who want to return to the Tree of Life. It is up to the individual staff to figure out how to do it. And the magic works.

Could you reflect on some of the toughest challenges you have encountered in your journey so far? How did you overcome them and what did you learn from them?
There have been two such key events in my career. One was in 2002 when I had just been promoted to Chief Operating Officer at Kuoni, and the entire senior team walked out to compete in a very unjust and pre-planned coup of sorts! I thought that was the end of my corporate career. Three years later and with a most amazing team which stayed back we doubled our turnover and maintained our leadership by far. In the second instance, circa 2008, I
had left Kuoni and was building the first Tree of Life in Jaipur. It is said that grown up men do not cry. I did so on two occasions, questioning myself in giving up a most amazing corporate career and plunging into entrepreneurship. When I look back I am glad I did so.

Going forward, what are the changes in market behavior that you anticipate, and the opportunities that you foresee?
It is very difficult to predict market behavior in the world that we live in today, and I have stopped looking too far ahead. I do see 'small' becoming more beautiful and more in demand people will pay a premium for exclusivity. I see travel not just for the sake of monuments but for the sake of experiences and immersing in all that is 'local'. I see more care and concern for the needy and underprivileged. I see a surge in pet travel.

In light of your strong experience, what advice would you give to budding industry leaders?
Self-belief is your biggest strength - never doubt it.

Himmat Anand,Founder, Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels
A day dreamer, Himmat left the corporate world in 2007 when he was Chief Operating Officer India & South Asia Kuoni Destination Management. He then pursued his decades-old dream and launched the Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels in 2010. He also operates A Dog's Story in 3 locations, which provides amazing getaways for those traveling with their pets. Starting his career with the Taj Group of Hotels, he then moved to tourism. Most of his corporate life was with SITA/Kuoni Travel, which included postings in Frankfurt, London, and Paris for a decade.

•Hobbies:Listening to the music of the 70s and 80s. Doing long self-drive holidays in the mountains. Spending all the time I can withmy Labrador Jugnu.
•Favourite cuisine:Street food and Thai.
•Favourite Book:None yet.The one I will finally write will possibly be my favourite!
•Favourite Travel Destination: The world is so amazing, it is difficult to choose one.

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