In conversation with Mr. Koustav Mukherjee, General Manager, Ummed group of hotels. A true hospitality professional, Ms. Mukherjee has been associated with several premier hotel companies at Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands & Mumbai. His last assignment was to handle the entire operation of Taj Ummed Ahmedabad and now he is managing The Ummed Jodhpur, The Haveli Jodhpur, The Ummed Ahmedabad, and the upcoming Ummed Udaipur. A foodie by a passion he. Started from scratch to reach the pinnacle of his profession by sheer hard work and dedication, physically witnessing and confronting the terrorist attack at Taj Mumbai has only made him more candid and cool.
You are one of the pioneers in the hospitality industry in Ahmedabad. Tell us something about yourself, your background.
As a student, I was mediocre but my fond for food and luxury bought me into this industry. While childhood friends opted for much-sought engineering and medicine I chose hotel management during the days when this domain was not as popular as it is today. After completing my professional course I worked for the Park Calcutta which gave me the experience of how the3 five-star properties could be started from ground zero. Later I worked for Hyatt Regency Kolkata, Sun n Sand Mumbai, The Orchid Mumbai, and The Ambassador Mumbai and then got trained at Iconic TAJ Mahal Mumbai & Taj Lands end Mumbai over a time.
At Ahmedabad, I have been at the helm since TAJ Gateway days and have overseen the transformation of this asset from the Taj unit to an individual Ummed property.
What have been the challenges and achievements through this transition? What others can learn from it.
Having our own brand was a conscious decision as to run a property of this scale in a competitive environment required a structure that could facilitate flexibility, spontaneity and closer monitoring of tasks and fiancés. Such changes make it easier to respond to regional stimuli and local situations. Running a national brand with a national framework and perspective has its own limitations.
A major challenge has been to offer services of the same standard and we have been successful in that. Staffing is critical and we have been lucky in that as well.
Constant Commitment from owners has only improved the performance. I now also handle star properties of Ummed at Rajasthan- Ummed Haveli Jodhpur, Iconic the Ummed Jodhpur, & upcoming The Ummed Udaipur.
With nearly 40% of revenues coming from ‘food’ for most of the star properties tell us how it is different managing this at such places than at any typical food outlet.
As I said I am fond of food and so have always attempted something special in my F&B operations. At Ummed I started ‘Narmada’ which is known for authentic Awadhi cuisine. We present India a region of five flowing rivers from Sindh to Uttar Pradesh. We are also into banqueting and outdoor catering. ‘Bake House’ is our new venture which is into snacks and confectionery. Already we are successfully running multiple
Confectionaries at a different location in the city. Not only that, we are into commercial & VIP flight catering also, the same infrastructure has been built at the hotel where we do cater to VIP & catering operation.
Earlier I was associated with a renowned five-star hotel at Santacruz Airport. Here I could manage a surge of hundreds of guests which may flow at any time 24*7 without a warning. The operations were successfully managed along with a clear focus on controlling waste, leveraging resources, servicing clients to satisfaction and maintaining the profit levels.
When it comes to ‘food’ from star properties two things take precedence: quality over Quantity and astute Guest handling. At Ummed we have a privilege t handle VVIPs like the Prime Ministers and President of Celebrities, International tourists and management teams of multinational companies. Many times our chefs are trained to cook both global and regional cuisines. The margin of error is almost nil when it comes to catering international events and conferences like Vibrant Gujarat, Riverfront Chinese summit, Japanese and Israeli PM visit to name a few. The range of cuisines served along with the quantity is absolutely phenomenal during summits like Vibrant Gujarat or Afro Asian conference. The way the food is cooked, organized and served to VVIPs makes it so different from what is otherwise done at most of the other food outlets. To this effect, The Ummed is consistently winning awards of excellence from various organizations like Tourism Board, CondeNast Traveler, Outlook & TOI Magazines and different online & gastronomical portals.