Varun Talwar, General Manager of Hyatt Place Kathmandu, has been in the hospitality industry for more than eighteen years. He has been associated with Hyatt for more than six years and started working in Nepal when he joined Hyatt Regency Kathmandu. Talwar has been with Hyatt Place since its construction phase and has seen all of its phases and even grown along with the hotel.
What has working in Nepal been like so far?
I always tell people that I am more Nepali than you, because most of these kids have come back from abroad and I have been here in Nepal for years. People and climate both are excellent here in Nepal and overall all these experiences have led to my growth and enhancement. The true essence of hospitality is here in Nepal where you do not have to train colleagues to be hospitable, it comes from within.
And what has working with Hyatt Place been like?
Hyatt Place has been an excellent opportunity for me because when I walked into the property it was still in the construction phase. I didn’t know it would be a full service hotel and that it would be this big and successful. Hyatt Place has taught me a lot. Each day is a new day to learn, grow and do our best for our colleagues, guests and shareholders.
Anything fun or exciting that Hyatt Place has been planning?
We are planning to extend the event spaces and will be able to host large weddings and conferences with a capacity of around 600 to 700 people. We are extending Zing – Skybar & Lounge and increase its capacity to 180 people. It will have both indoor and outdoor seating areas perfect for big events and parties. We even plan to bring big artistes and international DJ’s which the city is yet to see.
As you have worked in the hospitality sector for more than 18 years, what is a hotel in your view?
I don’t believe a hotel should be like a home. It should be an experience on its own. A person walks out of his house into a hotel to have an experience, so I believe in curating individual experiences for individual people. At Hyatt Place we keep on doing a lot of events and recently we collaborated with Raithaane where we did a festival on the Lost Cuisines of Nepal. We believe in doing local collaborations rather than international collaborations. Now we are tying up with Kathmandu Museum of Arts where they will curate art and convert the lobby and public spaces into an Art Gallery.
Describe behind the scenes scenario of working in a hotel?
Everybody thinks it is all glitz and glamour but it is not. There is a lot of hard work, dedication and passion which goes into it. If you cannot work long hours and don’t have the passion to deliver, it would be better not to join the hospitality industry. On the other hand, it is very exciting to work in any hotel, meet new people and learn new things every day. I started off as a management trainee, worked at various hotels and even joined my family business but realized that my true calling was the hospitality industry.
What is Hyatt Place coming up with for Christmas and New Year?
Hyatt Place has a tradition of doing things in a different way. We will be doing our annual Tree lighting ceremony in December followed by the Christmas ball and we are going to do brunches and a Christmas carnival for kids. We have three different events happening simultaneously for New Year: Bollywood Vibes at the banquet, for the Sky Bar we are planning a Retro theme and at the restaurant it is going to be more family and kids friendly.
Difficulties you faced during the pandemic?
The pandemic period was a blessing in disguise for us as the hotel was in construction phase. The main challenge was to get construction materials, furniture and fixtures from the border. But I won’t say the pandemic was that bad; it was an opportunity as well, since there were a lot of people who had worked abroad and returned home. So for us to get the right people it was a great opportunity.
What is your take on increasing competition in the hospitality industry in Nepal?
I feel that competition is always good. If you don’t have competition, then your services go down. I will always strive to do better in terms of food and services. If a hotel has launched a new restaurant and they are doing good food, I would go there and take my chefs along to experience their food and later ask them to do a better job than they are doing. I always say there is no harm in copying, but you should do better than just copy. Competition keeps you on your toes and then one can see the offerings from a different perspective.