‘Present-day hospitality landscape looks promising’

Satish Kumar, General Manager, The St Regis Goa Resort speaks on the recently opened property, the offerings and the services as well as plans for future

Ensconced between the River Sal and the Arabian Sea on the most tranquil stretch of Mobor Beach is The St Regis Goa Resort that opened its doors for guests in the first week of November 2022. Set amid 49 acres of lush, sprawling greenery and sparkling lagoons, the property is around an hour from the Dabolim Airport and offers 206 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites under 11 categories – Lagoon Superior Room, Conservatory Premier King, Conservatory Premier Twin, Lagoon Deluxe King, Lagoon Deluxe Twin, St Regis Suite, Caroline Astor Suite, Manor Suite, Manor Pool Suite, John Jacob Astor Villa, Presidential Villa. The rooms are dynamic, ranging from Rs 35,000-Rs 5,00,000 per day with current ARR at Rs 35,000.

The man responsible for overseeing the operations and ensuring the highest standards of guest services synonymous with The St Regis brand is General Manager Satish Kumar, a well-recognised leader with over two decades of experience in luxury hospitality. Over the years, Kumar has successfully launched eight luxury hotels across various geographies. Excerpts from an interview with BW HOTELIER.

Talking about the property and its USPs, Kumar says, “Every St Regis hotel and resort is a reflection of its locale, with its own distinct voice and culture, where guests will consistently experience an exceptional level of service. The St Regis butler is a hallmark of the brand, offering personalised, round-the-clock service that allows for each guest’s stay to be completely customised according to their individual preferences. We continue to fine-tune our Butler Service experience across our portfolio.” He adds that Goa is a special destination where guests find themselves surrounded by Nature and sandy beaches. “We embrace the Goan spirit of slowing down. This resort offers a place where guests can renew and appreciate what is truly important. It is truly a ‘soulful sanctuary’, situated near India’s south-western coastal city of Goa, famous for its palm-fringed tropical beaches, historic Portuguese-era architecture, enticing seafood, and distinctive culture,” he shares, adding The St Regis Spa offers the best in Ayurvedic and holistic therapies. “The St Regis Brand Rituals which include Afternoon Tea, The Goan Mary and the evening ritual of Champagne Sabering are the key USPs of the property,” informs Kumar who, prior to this role, had served as General Manager at The Leela Goa and Conrad Pune. “I’ve led hotel operations with The Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, The Taj Group of Hotels and overseas properties like Marriott Marquis Doha-Qatar, The Westin & Le Méridien City Centre Bahrain and JW Marriott Jakarta- Indonesia and The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore,” says Kumar.

The property is emerging as a new F&B destination not only for local non-resident guests but guests staying in other resorts in Goa. “Riverside offering Italian cuisine and Susegado offering the best in Pan-Asian, seafood and grilled meats are frequently visited by guests. Offering a wide range of cuisines from around the world, Sunday Brunch at The Restaurant brings forth culinary delights through live cooking stations. Boasting of both indoor and alfresco dining options, it is the most preferred venue for a leisurely Sunday Brunch. Our day-cations are extremely popular among families who like to spend the day by the pool or the beach complimented with a curated menu for lunch and dinner,” says Kumar.

Sharing more information on the banqueting facilities at the hotel, the experienced General Manager says, “From picturesque venues to personalised service, The St Regis Goa Resort is a premier setting for gatherings of all kinds. Two distinguished outdoor banquet areas, the 10,000 sq ft Great Lawn and the 12,000 sq ft Beach, offer gracious space for unforgettable events. Emily and Flora are perfect venues for intimate executive meetings, whereas Caroline Astor Ballroom is perfectly suited for extraordinary celebrations and smaller family events. The 6,585 sq ft Astor Ballroom is ideal for weddings and other indoor events which can accommodate around 400 guests. Our trained hosts seamlessly facilitate every aspect of an event, from exquisite service to flawless catering. Then the St Regis Butler is available to provide any additional assistance needed.”

For hosting weddings, the property acts as the perfect venue for guests who wish to experience a retreat along with receiving the best service. “The F&B offerings spread across cuisines, from the best in Indian to delectable continental, Italian, Japanese, Asian, Mediterranean cuisine etc. The venue, the service and the F&B are the highlights due to which we are extremely sought after as a destination wedding venue,” informs Kumar.

On how is the property positioned for national and international travellers, Kumar says, “While the domestic travellers value exclusivity and respond to traditional signals of luxury along with expecting attentive service, appreciating recognition, delighting in bespoke experiences and offerings, international travellers prefer unobtrusive, thoughtful service. Worldly yet wanting familiarity, they look for elements of local immersion while reconnecting with self and family. The common thread unifying both our domestic and international travellers is a sense of purpose in their memory making, a desire to indulge an aspirational version of themselves, and the time, space and ease to achieve this. At our soulful sanctuary, we embrace the Goan spirit of slowing down to relish life’s moments to their fullest. A warm and welcoming respite, The St Regis Goa Resort is where you can renew, reconnect, and appreciate what is truly important.”

He says they would like to position the property as the first St Regis Resort in India. “As far as the sensory environment is concerned, it has to feel relatable and natural to the brand. We’ve been doing our sabrage for hundred-plus years across the St Regis hotels around the world and recently we thought how great it is that guests can experience it in the evening to celebrate that transition from day to night, but why don’t we also teach them something? We know our guests are curious and love to entertain and toast so we plan to introduce these sabrage master classes at our resort so that guests can reach out to our butlers or our sommeliers who will teach you how to do it themselves with bottles of champagne,” informs Kumar.

“I think that type of activity is interesting for everyone, no matter what your age group is. It’s creating fun, clever things to keep people interested. We need to keep up with activations, like philanthropy or charity events with the types of celebrations we do. We recently concluded our cake-mixing ceremony in association with Valentina’s Heaven Orphanage, to imbue festive cheer in young hearts and mark the beginning of festive celebrations at The St Regis Goa Resort.  All proceeds from our Christmas cake purchases will go towards the well-being of kids at the orphanage. This is our way of announcing the debut of ‘House of Celebration’, a range of celebratory offerings where timeless rituals become new traditions,” he adds.

The St Regis Goa Resort General Manager feels better F&B offerings add value to the overall operations of a hotel. “Absolutely. In order for our guests to ‘live exquisite’, the hotel is passionate about creating food and beverage experiences that encompass refined taste-making, modern indulgence, discerning expertise and iconic celebrations. To contextualise the property’s F&B narrative is a collection of unique insights – historical, physical, and social – that resonates with the resort’s storytelling. The better and more varied the offerings, the wider the reach to the guests,” he says. The resort offers four exquisite dining venues and two bars, The Restaurant is an all-day dining venue that invites guests to discover the delights of local cuisine and international favorites. 

On the present-day hospitality landscape and what does the future hold, Kumar says, “The present-day hospitality landscape is looking promising. With a sense of revenge tourism extending into the international market, we are noticing guests from UK, Russia and Kazakhstan returning to our property. Volumes are picking up and we hope they improve over the upcoming season. The current trends are looking very encouraging.” As for the biggest challenges for hospitality industry today, he feels that skilled manpower is one of the biggest ones, post the pandemic. “Brands like The St Regis Goa Resort, which offer immersive and personalised service, need skilled employees. The quality of hosts is of prime importance to provide the best service we are known for. With increased demands across hotels, sourcing the right material is also challenging,” he feels.

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