In an exclusive interview Kapil Chopra, founder and CEO, The Postcard Hotel, and former president of The Oberoi group elaborates on his vision for India’s newest luxury brand ‘built to be picture perfect postcards and not just cookie cut hotels’ in his own words
From hotelier with the Oberoi Group to entrepreneur. How has the journey from The Oberoi Hotels to The Postcard Hotel been? What inspired you to conceptualise The Postcard Hotel brand?
Having been a student of luxury hospitality for the last 25 years, I realised that all the disruption and innovation was happening at the budget hotel segment and luxury resorts continued to provide beautiful sterile products with warm service. However, we felt that either experiential luxury was too expensive or what guests were getting was a sanitised hotel experience. We thus decided to curate plush hotels with local and community design inspiration along with authentic experiences and unravel newer corners of the world that aren’t privy to commercialisation or industrialisation.
We are creating a luxury hotel brand embellished with immersive and transformative experiences making the hotels not just stunning works of architecture, but warm abodes richest in terms of heart and soul. We wish to develop destinations, bring back the romance of travel and fulfil the longing of lazy sun kissed holidays. At all Postcard hotels, time should slow down, travels be customised and experiences be felt.
The Postcard Hotel. Fairly unusual name for a luxury brand?
Even though postcards are a thing of the past, when a place catches our fancy, the idea of sharing it with our loved ones in the form of pictures is still relevant in the current times of social media as well. We believed it essayed emotions of nostalgia, romance, simpler times and the love of sharing your special time with your special ones. The name also befits each and every one of our hotels as they are built to be picture perfect postcards and not just cookie cut hotels. Amongst the hundreds of names we researched to communicate our hospitality experience, this one took us back to a time of travelling, idling and documenting.
What is the core vision of The Postcard Hotel? Can Luxury be Transformative?
The core vision of The Postcard Hotel is to provide authentic experiences set in a background of comfortable, hidden luxury. Affordable yet aspirational luxury where there is a seamless integration with immersive inclusions.
How will the brand benefit local communities?
The brand engages with the local communities at various levels. All our vegetables, fruits, fresh fish is bought from the local farming communities. Artisanal and organic products are used which are locally produced. In fact, in our exploratory journey for the hotels, we ate at multiple restaurants and hole in the wall food joints to savour the variety of distinctive foods, and one of the best meals we had was cooked in a village home by their homemaker, Anju. To reproduce the subtlety and purity of the flavours and cooking techniques, we have that village house wife Anju along with our team of Chefs, cook for all guests at The Postcard Hotel. Our foliage is not artificial and is focused on a lot of indigenous produce. Our approach is inwards and sustainability is a core ethos.
Sustainability and environment. How does The Postcard Hotel score on these parameters?
We practice a no plastic policy and use alternate materials for amenities as well. Our toothbrushes are made of bamboo, the loofah from vegetable fibre, 100 per cent natural tissue paper and slippers from banana fibre.
We are very conscious of the wastage we generate and the treatment it goes through after. All vegetables, fruits, meats and perishables are brought fresh everyday based on the daily requirements. Not only does that ensure hygiene in storage and fresh food to the guests, but also as little waste as possible. A lot of our natural waste is converted to manure to enrich our gardens.
Why the first Postcard Hotels in Goa?
Goa for us is not just one state but it is the 334 villages and 12 talukhs. Through our travels and with the research for Postcard Hotels, we realised that there is a north Goa with dense forests as well as the party hubs, south Goa which is relatively quieter and dotted with coconut plantations; Old Goa rich with hundred year old churches; The Goa by the sea; and the “new” Goa that is Sindhudurg on the outskirts with virgin beaches and clean sands. Each unique from the other in its offering.
Thus the focus for us as a brand is on the uniqueness and cultural wealth a destination brings with it. As we grow; on the mountains, by the sea, in the wild, nestled in the laps of tea and coffee estates, valleys and arid deserts; a Postcard Hotel shall be found in the quiet nooks and crannies.
Which is the next Postcard Hotel to open? How many more in the pipeline?
Our goal is to have 50 intimate luxury hotels in the next 5 years. This is a very ambitious target however with our model of development, I hope to be able to achieve it.
Future roadmap for the brand?
We have debuted in the market with the opening of three hotels on day one and will be launching seven in the next 18 months. Expect a new hotel every quarter. We are in for destinations that offer a unique experience and are thus looking not just across India but as far as France, Greece, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and parts of the South East Asia as well.