Swapan Seth celebrates the golden years of one of his best friends — The Park, which turns 50 today

The term boutique hotels was first coined by Steve Rubell in 1984, when he compared the Morgans Hotel, opened by him and Ian Schrager, to a boutique. They were characterised by their intimate atmosphere and idiosyncratic style.

Way back in 1993, India didn’t even have a whiff of what boutique hotels stood for. Priya Paul changed all of that

But boutique hotels were a whisper for the longest. No one really spoke about them. Schrager, of course, consistently raised the bar as far as boutique hotels were concerned. And even today, his PUBLIC Hotels are the cathedrals of cool.

But way back in 1993, India didn’t even have a whiff of what boutique hotels stood for.

Priya Paul changed all of that. Up until 1993, I had known Priya as a friend of my brother, Suhel. She was always exceedingly affable. I had just got back to India after a stint in Hong Kong. And was leading the creative team at Trikaya Grey, working under Nirvik Singh. Priya asked to see us. And soon we were working on The Park business.

I must set a context here. The Park was an uber cool brand. As was Trikaya. It was a marriage blessed by the gods. We did some terrific advertising for The Park. And they bought truly edgy work. Priya and Vijay Dewan were fantastic clients. Over time, we treated the business as if it was our own. I even released an ad without getting approvals from Mr Dewan. He indulged us.

And given that we were the agency and that Someplace Else and Tantra were the havens of hipness, we pretty much had the keys to the kingdom.

There are other reasons why The Park will forever be special to me. My farewell from Trikaya Grey took place there. The plan to start Equus was hatched there. And the day WPP agreed to invest in us, the facsimile reached Suhel and me at The Park. When I did launch my book in Calcutta, I did it at The Park.

And finally, in what is squarely serendipity, both The Park and I turned 50 this year. It is more than just a coincidence.

Copywriter, author, art collector, wine collector, son, brother, husband, father.... Swapan lives in Gurgaon. His heart, however, is in Calcutta


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