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Tete-e-tete with Vishal Sharma, the new general manager of Vivanta Kolkata

The Himachal Pradesh native moved here from his last posting with his family BY Anannya Sarkar

Anannya Sarkar | Published 17.12.21, 03:38 AM
Vishal Sharma, the new general manager of Vivanta Kolkata EM Bypass

Vishal Sharma, the new general manager of Vivanta Kolkata EM Bypass

With extensive experience in both operations and F&B, Vishal Sharma is looking to strengthen both at Vivanta Kolkata EM Bypass. The Himachal Pradesh native moved here from his last posting at Vivanta Dal View, Srinagar and brings with him his wife and two daughters as he takes on his first posting in the east. He tells us more:

When did you arrive here? Is this your first time?

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I joined this property in the first week of November and though this is my first time here, I have a lot of friends here. I know a bit about the city and its rich culture. I am looking forward to exploring the city and its food, people and culture more.

Tell us a little about your previous postings...

I did my hotel management course in Bangalore and then started my career at Jaypee Palace Hotel, Agra (1998) as a part of their pre-opening team and their front office but my interest always lay in F&B, and wine and cheese are my favourite topics personally. I shifted to President, Mumbai in 2003 and started working at Trattoria, their famous Italian restaurant. Then I got transferred to the Ambassador, New Delhi, which is known for its F&B offerings. Then I went to Taj (Mahal), Lucknow as banquet manager and was there for two-and-a-half years. Then I went to The Gateway (Hotel Old Port Road), Mangalore, where I worked for three years and learnt a lot about the coastal cuisine there. Then I went to Taj Tashi, Bhutan as their F&B manager in 2011 and it was a complete culture change for me in terms of food as I went there from the south. From there, I went to Taj Mahal, Lucknow as operations manager and I worked very closely on their renovations.

Then I went to Srinagar in 2018 (Vivanta) and within two months of my joining, the airport closed due to the Pulwama attack. It is an interesting place to work in and the place is beautiful. With the interruptions, we would close down a few wings and open up when needed.

What did you think about this property?

It is a beautiful property. The kind of rooms and renovation that has happened in the last few years has taken this hotel to another level. It’s a business hotel but adding more value is the way forward with offerings in our food and beverage. This brand in the city is known for its food and beverage offerings so enhancing those, creating different experiences and thinking from the points of view of our business clientele and in-house guests are what we are working on. For example, we have started breakfast with a lot of requirements, which we feel is important for a business traveller who travels for 20 days in a month. So our dosas are now multigrain and ragi, and there are healthy options, adding different juices and active food items. So our focus is on the business traveller but we are also entering the leisure market. We have added one more banquet hall to our kitty for business meetings and can accommodate 18-20 people, with all kinds of high-end technical facilities. It is being appreciated by a lot of companies and we have already done six conferences there. There are social functions lined up for the main banquet space too. We added these two venues, along with the pre-wedding space, for increasing the banqueting revenue so that the entire space can be sold as a package. Our inventory of 197 rooms can also now support banqueting and social events.

With your extensive experience in F&B, what have been your major learnings?

My whole idea is that when you are in a new city, you need to study the culture and catch the taste buds. You explore by eating outside the hotel at the local places. With both these things, you can come up with new ideas. For example, in the south, you cannot play around with the sea food and in Lucknow, you cannot play around with their cuisine. In Lucknow, the traditional chefs come with their own secret family masalas that they wouldn’t share the recipes of with anyone. Even the biryani is very different from the south and north, and even in Mumbai.

What are your plans for Vivanta Kolkata EM Bypass?

Our hotel is known for its Bengali food but we have also been working on the general menu for our non-Bengali clients and people have been appreciating it. So we are getting both the Bengali and Marwari cuisines in place and the hotel has been doing really well.

This hotel is purely based on the room and banquet business as of now and being from operations and F&B, I am putting a lot of focus on food. We are introducing a few promotions, high tea at Swirl with different kinds of tea, express lunches with a combo to target the nearby working clients and we will continue to serve our thalis. We also have Sunday brunches with a lot of live counters and we are revising our menus too to feature some signatures of Taj hotels. These will make this hotel a known place for F&B. For the rooms, we have renovated three floors and it looks great and the rooms business is also good here. 

Pictures: B. Halder

Last updated on 17.12.21, 03:38 AM
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