A Kiwi Hotelier’s Indian Odyssey

Mike Gallagher
A Kiwi hotelier’s Indian odyssey

From warm welcomes to attentive service, Rotorua hotelier Mike Gallagher of the Arista Group sums up his Indian tiki tour through these amazing experiences.

From warm welcomes to attentive service, Rotorua hotelier Mike Gallagher of the Arista Group sums up his Indian tiki tour through these amazing experiences.

“I have amassed a lifetime of memories for sure,” says Mike. “But what I also bring back from my month-long trip around India are some invaluable lessons in hospitality.”

Always a warm welcome…

Whatever the time of the day, you can be assured of a welcoming smile behind the front desk and an extremely professional team.

“My check-in at Oriental Residency was in the middle of the night. And, it was as if they understood my fatigue from the long flight and made the check-in as seamless as possible.”

“Before I knew it my bags and I were delivered to the comfort of my room.”

On the flip side, there is a tendency for some people to be bland and formal. “They take their job too seriously and forget to indulge in the warm hospitality that sets this part of the world apart from the Western countries.”

People everywhere!

“Eight staff members watching three guests dine isn’t a sight that’s uncommon!” says Mike “It can be baffling to begin with, but it’s also easy to get used to the attentive service such a strong workforce can bring.”

He mentions that jobs are a treasured commodity in India and this drips through in the service. “Staff are willing to go the extra mile to keep the guests happy.”

It’s not all about the job…

The people behind the scenes made the journey special.

While staff go out of the way to be helpful as Mike found, many of them do it’s because it’s in the culture. “It’s the Indian way of hospitality – and this is truly amazing.”

“I found many such people as I journeyed through the country. From Nelson, who was on breakfast duty at Oriental Residency, to Victoria from Justa Panchsheel [New Delhi], who went out of her way to show me a local market, my every need was met. And, they went above and beyond to make me feel welcomed into their world.”

An experience that stood out for Mike miles above the others was the care provided by a staff at Surya Villa [Jaipur] when he was sick.

“I was crook as a dog with a nasty head cold when I reached this property,” says Mike. “From the time I arrived, Padam – a staff member – took me under his care and nursed me back into good shape with multiple good ‘ol ginger brews.”

“It was personal service to the next level, and something we could all bring into our hospitality businesses.”

It’s all in the family

This was a stand-out experience at Surya Villa. “The staff were treated like family members and this shows in the high service standards of this property,” says Mike. “There was almost a sense of ownership that brought out a personalised service that enabled one of the best hospitality experiences I have ever had.”

The food is next level!

Your taste buds will enjoy an Indian odyssey too.

When going to India, you expect nothing less than the best when it comes to tastes and variety.

“Well, India does not disappoint here for sure,” says Mike.

“From impressive breakfast buffets at the hotels I stayed in to chai tea on the street (it was boiled so had to be fine!) and everything in between, the invasion of flavours when you’re in India are amazing.”

It’s the little things that stay on

“A week after arriving home, I took out a shirt from my wardrobe and found a little laundry tag; a reminder of my trip to India,” says Mike. “Everything is immaculate and counted – a bit funny, but very impressive.”

Technology really brings us all together

As I moved from one hotel to the next from Mumbai to Surat and beyond to tour India’s famous ‘Golden Triangle’ (Delhi – Jaipur – Agra), the need for technology to take a property to its rightful heights was obvious.

“My tour ended up being a partial technology journey as most of the properties I stayed in had STAAH as their connectivity and/or booking partner.”

“I came to realise that STAAH is well entrenched in the Indian hospitality sector and as I exchanged notes with fellow hoteliers, the power of their technology to improve business became apparent.”

To sum it up…

India’s Pink City – Jaipur, part of the country’s famous Golden Triangle.

Don’t go to India and compare it to any place else,” says Mike. “Embrace it for what it is, with your heart – the people, the culture and the place.”

Mike Gallagher owns Arista of Rotorua Motel, an award-winning property that is recognised for its excellence in service and facilities. This property is among STAAH’s growing list of 6,000 partner properties worldwide.