The hotel business has gone through a rough road in the past few years because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Vikram Singh has over 20 years of experience, leading business innovation within the hospitality industry all over the world . Currently managing Aloft, a boutique hotel in central Kathmandu and one of  Marriott International’s numerous brands, Vikram Singh is a Nepal Veteran, having previously worked as the General Manager of Le Meridien Kathmandu from 2007-2010 fronting its transformation into Gokarna Forest Resort. Previously he was with Frasers Hospitality in Singapore, Turkey and Africa. 

How has your experience been running a 5-star hotel? 
My experience of running a 5-star hotel has been an amazing journey. I have been in this industry for  many years now! Running any property has its own unique challenges and opportunities from people, product and process.  
But in my experience, I always look forward to sharing all the good times with my associates and  encourage them to work as a team in an organization. When it comes to the challenges, it’s all about  coming together as a team and tackling them! 

What were the difficulties you face during the pandemic? How did you overcome them? 
The pandemic situation created by COVID-19 was one which had a negative impact on the entire world.  Things had changed in the blink of an eye, and we had to set down measures and protocols both for the  safety of our staff and guests.  
While we had our fair share of difficulties, thanks to guidelines from Marriott International especially  the We care program plus structuring of my team, finding the strengths of all the members, and  delegating tasks, we were able to improve and adapt our systems and processes to the new normal.  
This resulted in a team effort, with us delivering results that were impossible to get as the pandemic  situation was changing every hour. We had to be prepared for anything and have solutions for any  unknowns that could arise.  
This pandemic has been the most challenging experience in my career, both personally and  professionally. We can proudly say that we didn’t close the hotel for even a single day and never let go a  team player .

My other goal is to always ensure an excellent experience for all our guests and the wellbeing and  happiness of the entire team of Aloft Kathmandu Thamel.

What does it take to run such an esteemed hotel? 
As I mentioned before, running the hotel is not a one-man job. It takes a whole team of dedicated and  professional individuals. Another key element while running a hotel is honest and open communication  throughout the entire organization. I have been fortunate enough to work with a talented and  hardworking team since day one. You need to ensure that Strategic Business decisions are  communicated across the team and achieved, leadership though mostly democratic needs to have a sense of autocrat thought as a leader needs to chart his or her own way to run Things !

What is your main goal with Aloft? 
My main goal initially was to successfully pre open the property and then to ensure that we keep rising  each year with realistic goals across profitability, revenue and reputation with ethical practice. We will  be celebrating our 3rd anniversary and we hope to mark the hotel’s ever-growing success.  
My other goal is to always ensure an excellent experience for all our guests and the wellbeing and  happiness of the entire team of Aloft Kathmandu Thamel. 

What is a perfect hotel from your perspective? Do you think Aloft meets the standards of a perfect hotel? 
We are lucky to be a part of Marriott International, the world’s leading hospitality company and having a  Board of Directors which are well liked and respected for their various skill sets especially ethics.  
There is no definition of a perfect hotel. We all have our challenges and the path to perfection is and will  never be an easy one. In my many years of experience, a perfect hotel can mean anything. For me  personally it would mean the utmost satisfaction of all the guests that come and stay with us and come  back for a repeat experience, out of  loyalty to the hotel and the brand.  
We still have a long way to go, but I will always ensure that we are on the right path, and we will take  one step at a time to reach our achievements which includes positively improving our product, people  and processes as per the daily changing ecosystem around us  

What’s the next step for you as the General Manager of this hotel? 
I don’t make plans too much into the future, I guess wherever the wind takes us.  
The best of Aloft Kathmandu is yet to come, and I also look forward to the Owning Company / Group  expanding with new products and being a part of that. 

Any words of wisdom you’d like to share with the upcoming generation? 
Honestly the new generation never listens to you as they think they are better than the previous one! Make them learn as a friend or councilors (laughs)  
On a serious note, I think each new generation is a change agent. One advice though I can give them, is that while fundamentals of things remain mostly the same:

  • Learn to be a disrupter. Challenge the set products, people and process  
  • Reinvent yourself every few years.  
  • Know that life is all about moments. 
  • This generation is all about multi-tasking.  
  • Learn to be jack of all trades with continuous learning via any media