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The Lalit Great Eastern Hotel

Kamal Reza talks to The Telegraph about future plans, Kolkata connect and more

Excerpts from a candid chat with The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata’s new general manager

Zeba Akhtar Ali | Published 23.05.23, 09:57 AM
Kamal Reza, general manager, The Lalit Great Eastern

Kamal Reza, general manager, The Lalit Great Eastern

The Telegraph

Welcome to Calcutta. How have you been liking the city?

I am born and partially brought up in Bengal. Calcutta is not so new to me but working here for the first time is definitely exciting. I am loving the city although it has changed in some ways but still remains the same in its soul. Calcutta’s strong relationship to its colonial past, an inclusive culture, a rich literary tradition and a centre of great educational institutions make it vibrant. I am overwhelmed with the warmth of people here and that is what makes Calcutta different from other cities.


It’s already been six months of your stay here, what have been some of the recent changes that you’ve made to The LaLiT Great Eastern?

Soon after taking over, I carefully studied the market and business dynamics of my hotel and city to introduce a few facilities that will help our discerning travellers have a quality time while staying with us.

We have introduced a Kid’s Corner for our little explorers since family travel is incomplete without an experience for little ones. We have already started seeing a good response from people who travel with their families.

We have introduced flexible spa hours, this is essentially meant for business travellers who return late from work and wish to use the spa slightly late in the evening.

We are launching midnight hours to 7am bar service soon to attract late-night partygoers. All necessary licenses and permissions are in place for it.

We have also introduced a personalised service called ‘Refresh & Revive” for our Edwardian and Victorian Suite guests. This service facilitates our guests to get their personal belongings refreshed and revived. For instance, leather footwear, cleaning of frames/eyeglasses, cleaning of travelling bags, ladies bags’ restoration by experts etc... Usually travellers do not get time for these little things but it’s always on their mind.

We have also installed elevators for our rooftop terrace space that will facilitate our banquet users to reach the terrace straight from the porch disembarking area.

What are your future plans regarding the hotel?

We already have a rich history attached to our property. I want guests to feel the value of our heritage while enjoying seamless services. I am primarily a guest-focused person, my plan is to create an experience for our guests that is uncomplicated and personalised.

The Lalit Great Eastern is a historic hotel and I see a vast opportunity to promote our culture and heritage through our base. I am already working with a few government bodies to integrate the offerings that will give us larger attention as a destination.

I am also working towards taking The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group’s vision of making its hotel an exemplary product of sustainability and green initiatives. This will be achieved through waste reduction, energy conservation, encouraging guests to make conscious decisions while commuting through sustainable means or usage of resources while staying with us.

In terms of F&B offerings, what are some of the exciting things that the city should look out for at Lalit?

Our breakfast area just does not offer a great breakfast layout but also shows ‘Bengal’ through live Baul performed by a singer. We offer many healthy options like millets, gluten-free bread etc during breakfast for our guests.

Our Wilson’s Club is another place to be at. We are live screening IPL matches with some inescapable offers on drinks and snacks.

Our 180-year-old bakery shop The Bakery is one of the famous bakeries of the city that offers exceptionally luscious cakes and savouries.

We are the only hotel that does regular Pink Parties in our Kitty Su Pops up for the LGBTQIA+ community. This itself is a testimony to the fact that we strongly believe in diversity, equity and inclusion.

We are opening a new dining space that will offer a specially formulated menu encompassing all four specialities of Calcutta — Bengali, Mughlai, Anglo-Indian and Chinese.

Twenty-three years of being in the industry, what are your three big takeaways?

In my 23 years in this industry, I have learnt how to deal with any situation with patience and grace; to be fair with customers and team members even if the pressure is high; and last but not least to celebrate the smallest of achievements with the team.

You’ve worked extensively in India as well as abroad. How would you distinguish or rather describe the two markets?

My hotel career took me to different countries. As a matter of fact, travellers behave in different ways in different destinations. Working in India is a different experience since here we have the luxury of a large and trained workforce whereas while working abroad one does not get desired size and quality workforce to support, which in a way taught me to design effective SOPs to get desired results with fewer resources.

Post-pandemic, travel boom is a big thing. How do you plan to tap into that?

As we know that the world is opening up after the pandemic, India will also witness the travel boom. Now we as a hotel are tapping into MICE business since Calcutta as a destination is the gateway to the East and is going to be a host for many big events.

Our rooftop space is almost 15,000sq ft that is a perfect venue for showcasing Calcutta. One can see the Victoria Memorial, Howrah Bridge, Writers Buildings, Governor’s House, Shaheed Minar, and also the tallest residential tower of the city.... We are focusing on destination luxury weddings as we offer heritage products along with luxurious setup.

People visiting the city for leisure and business will continue to be on our priority list. We are constantly refining our offerings to retain our existing customer base and gain more customers through our large feeder markets sales force.

What are some of your favourite spots in the city?

I love walking around after my work hours. I try different restaurants to understand why customers like them. I love shopping, so usually walk into Quest mall from my hotel.

Share with us some remarkable moments in your career.

My hotel career gave me the opportunity to meet many successful people from different walks of life. In one of my previous hotels, while I was working closely with a Bollywood film production team for their shoot in the city, I was offered a  small character in the same movie called Velle. I shared the screen with Abhay Deol. There are two more movies that I am waiting to release, one of them is with Nawazuddin Siddiqui wherein I portrayed the character of a family doctor. The other one is directed by Guddu Dhanoa where I played the negative character of a country diplomat.

As a manager and head, motivation and inspiration are things that are key part of your portfolio. What mantra do you use for your teams?

I am a firm believer of “dreams and teams work together”. I create an atmosphere which is fair and without prejudice for all my team members. I empower my team members to think out of the box and follow their own style while doing the right thing.

What’s your preferred spot at the hotel, and what are some of the areas that you look to improve?

My favourite place in the hotel is The Bakery and Wilson’s. I usually sit there because it has the old-world charm where one can enjoy a cup of coffee with a few lovely savouries. I am working on the hotel’s façade; we are planning to open two new restaurants, a state-of-the-art nightclub and a couple of banquet halls to meet high demand during more significant events.

Has your family moved with you? If yes, how have they been taking the move?

My family is still in Delhi NCR, they recently visited me during Id. My kids love Calcutta food. Will bring them to Calcutta soon.

Picture: B Halder

Last updated on 23.05.23, 09:57 AM

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