Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi: Lord of Luxury

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“Lord of luxury”


Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi today is one of the most admired people for both his work and dynamic personality in the world of hospitality. The name may not sound familiar to some but his work; contribution to globally acknowledged hotel chain known as “THE OBEROI GROUP” which, operates 30 hotels and three Cruise-Liners in five countries under the ‘Oberoi’; luxury and ‘Trident’; five star brands. The Group is also engaged in flight catering, airport restaurants, travel and tour services, car rentals, project management and Corporate Charter-Air Travel. That the group is synonymous the world over with providing the right blend of service, luxury and efficiency, is acknowledged by one and all. (The Oberoi Group, 2010) Mr. Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi also popularly known as ‘Bikki’ Oberoi is a perfect role model not only in the hospitality industry but also as a person. In all spheres of life, he showcases a great personality. Even at the age of 80 years he is participating fully in the decision making process of the group and his imprint is writ large on all the important policy decisions. Most admirable trait of his personality, for me is that he is still very passionate about his work. In the words of Mr. P.R.S. Oberoi himself: “Well, I work a lot but I love my work. So it's not work really. I have a passion for what I do. And if you're passionate then it's not work anymore.”(Lorraine Hahn, 2004)

Another attribute of his personality which puts him in a different league is his risk calculating ability and risk taking capability. When he was to build the Raj villas Hotel at Jaipur, in which he invested $21,790,130, which was an enormous sum at that time and the hotel is now among the best hotel in the world, he was fiercely criticised by everyone that the hotel is too far from the city and that the room rates are very expensive. But with his firm determination and support from his father he made the Raj villas hotel a jewel in India’s hospitality industry (Vir Sanghvi, Tycoons, 2010). My respect for Mr. Oberoi knew no bounds when I read, that his father occupied the pedestal of Oberoi Group till his death although Mr. Prithvi Raj singh Oberoi was the force moving the Group to great heights. When asked the question that why he did not officially take the position of the chairman of the Group earlier, he replied, that he just wasn’t able to go to his father and ask for the chairmanship and that he also wanted, that since it was his father who had laid the foundation of this hotel empire he did not want him to feel left out of his own business (Lorraine Hahn, 2004) Mr. Prithvi Raj Singh oberoi was the third amongst five siblings, born to the legendary and founder of the Oberoi Group Mr. Rai Bahadur Mohan Singh Oberoi in the year 1922. He was more involved in the business than his older brother, Tilak Singh, endearingly called Tikki. Biki, as P.R.S Oberoi began to be called as a rhyme along to his brother’s pet name. He attend St. Paul’s school in Darjeeling (India). He was later sent to London to study chartered accountancy, which his father insisted he pursue. But neither the depressing weather nor the moribund accounting curriculum appealed to Oberoi. “I hated it. I can’t even finish any accounts today,” he chuckles. Instead, Oberoi decided to pursue his penchant for hospitality at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland. “It was the thing I knew more about than anything else in the world,” he says. After his graduation in the early 50’s, Rai Bahadur asked his son to travel the world and experience the world’s best hotels. “I went to America, Europe, everywhere except China and the Soviet Union,” says Oberoi. He still hasn’t...
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