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Meet Subhash Sinha, the new general manager of the Westin Kolkata Rajarhat

He wants to put the star property on the culinary map of not just Calcutta but India

By Nandini Ganguly
  • Published 22.03.20, 8:20 PM
  • Updated 22.03.20, 8:20 PM
  • 4 mins read
Subhash Sinha Picture: Koushik Saha

Multilingual, inquisitive and a seeker of all things new and exciting, Subhash Sinha, the newly appointed general manager of The Westin Kolkata Rajarhat, wants to put the star property on the culinary map of not just Calcutta but India. With an experience of over 22 years in the hospitality industry across the country, Sinha has taken the reins of the Rajarhat property with wholehearted passion and enthusiasm. The Telegraph sat down for a chat with the fitness enthusiast over healthy juices...

What’s your first impression of this property?

It’s a beautiful hotel. It’s got a lot of character in each of the outlets. The rooms are really good with exceptional views. Very international feel with quite a bit of local touch. The hotel has a huge potential and we will be capitalising that potential.

What was that one thing which stood out for you?

As soon as you enter (the hotel), the first thing that you notice is the big mural. Of course, the height is very appealing. And then when I saw 31/32, the design and the overall place reminded me of Ku De Ta in Singapore. Nori, again, is a very beautiful restaurant with exceptionally good food, good music and view.

Where was your last stint?

I was in Pune for the last 11 years. I opened Courtyard (Courtyard by Marriott), then for four-and-a-half years I was with JW Marriott Hotel Pune. I opened that as an executive chef. I then moved on to become the director of operations over there. They had a conversion property named Marriott Suites Pune, which is the only all-suite hotel in Asia Pacific.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your journey in this industry?

I grew up in Jamshedpur, before moving to Calcutta. I realised that culinary art is something that fascinates me. My inclination went towards that side and I enjoyed every bit of it. My first job was at (The) Park New Delhi in 1997. Then I moved to Visakhapatnam for a short while as part of a task force and then to The Park Bangalore, in 1999-2000. I then joined Hyatt Regency Kolkata as an opening team member in 2002. I was the chef-in-charge for Guchhi. I freelanced in Bombay after that and was consulting at a restaurant called Nosh, which was supposed to be the only global cuisine vegetarian restaurant then. I joined the Goa Marriott Resort & Spa in 2003.

From there I moved to JW Marriott Juhu in 2006 as an executive sous chef. I opened JW Marriott Pune and Courtyard by Marriott. That was the biggest opening and for this I was also given an award called Global Chef of the Year. I was selected from the Asia Pacific team, and this was in 2012-13. I worked as the director of operations for four-and-a-half years at JW Pune before joining as a general manager for Mariott Suites.

You started your career as a chef. Don’t you miss playing that role?

Kitchen is not a profession, it’s a passion. The passion still remains. But right now, it’s more about leadership. Almost 80 per cent of my job is to make sure that I take my people along. As long as they are motivated and happy, goals are just a number. As a chef, I was working closely with people and it’s just about taking that aspect and putting it to use in a larger audience.

You seem to be someone who likes donning different hats…

As soon as I see that the hotel is achieving numbers, I look forward to seeking new challenges. That’s the way I am programmed to be.

Calcutta is a familiar territory for you. What’s your impression of the city now?

This part of Calcutta (New Town and Rajarhat), is very beautiful and international. The beauty of it is that it has both… old-world charm which needs to preserved and it is (being preserved), and then this more modern side of it. Once the metro construction is over, it will be like the newer version of a city, just like it is in all the other cities.

Which one is your favourite restaurant in the hotel?

Vedic because of the different concept. The food is something that you will remember and talk about. This is the future.

What are your immediate goals for the hotel?

To drive business but first is to get the team in sync with our goals. We would like to be talked about as a great dining destination. Innovative, curated F&B and curating experiences for our guests is something that we are focussed on doing.

What are your long-term goals?

To position Westin as the market leader in terms of the RevPar index.

Have you brought in any changes since the time you came in?

Subtle changes, yes. It’s about getting the basics right, for me. With my operational knowledge with lounges and clubs, what’s the kind of event calendar you do, the dos and don’ts and guest safety… that’s the mode we are in.

This part of the city has seen a growth in the number of hotels in the last couple of years. Where do you think you fare?

They aren’t in our league to be honest. They are more like business hotels. With the rise in visibility, we have seen footfalls increasing.

What’s the key in staying relevant?

Innovation and being connected to the market because people expect something new.

Have you had the chance of visiting any restaurant in the city?

I am yet to. But for me it’s been more about the nostalgia… like the kathi roll from Park Street was something I was craving for. I had to satiate my cravings first. Taking it step-by-step though. I wanted to go down memory lane.

Calcutta is a market where being socially present is very important. What do you plan to do with that?

I like meeting people and I do that generally without an intent. And I don’t think I will change that. This has worked for me and I connect with them fast. And this is a city of comfort for me.

Favourite part of the hotel where you like to unwind...

The spa and the salon. And this one particular table at Nori.

Starting from breakfast to dinner, what will be your choice of outlets at the property?

Breakfast will be at the poolside or in-room. I will then move to Seasonal Tastes for some mid-morning snacks. I will head to Nori for lunch. I would go to 31/32 for evening snacks and enjoy the sunset. Culminate the day with a light dinner at Vedic. I also like dining with my associates at the cafeteria.

What do you do when not working?

I play almost all sports but the most passionate thing is walking with Dollar (his dog) in the morning. I do the combing myself every morning, come what may. He communicates in his own way. One of the reasons why I got my entire house air-conditioned is because of him. I love gardening with my wife and son. We like to travel as a family and the last place we visited was Jerusalem. I love to read as well.