He’s relatively unknown in India, but in the global hospitality industry, Mahendra Puri is a star, or five-star actually, and now more so after launching his own boutique hotel chain, Nira Hotels & Resorts. A 40-year veteran in the hotel business, Puri’s CV is as impressive as it can get. Originally based in London, he has served in key positions in some of the world’s best and best-known hotels and hospitality companies. That distinguished career graph includes stints at the Raffles in Singapore, where he was a key member of the team that redesigned and reopened the iconic property after its upgrade. He spent a decade with Raffles before moving to another now-famous Singapore property, the Fullerton, when it was just opening and was also part of the prestigious Fullerton Heritage Project. His other significant career move was to the Ritz Carlton in Hawaii at their landmark Halekulani property, which also included a stint at the hotel’s legendary La Mere restaurant. He was also general manager at The Setai, a well-known hotel on Miami’s south beach.
In 2009, with a wealth of experience behind him, he took the plunge and launched his own resort chain, the Nira (which means pure). It was a bold gamble at a time when the global tourism and hospitality industry was feeling the effects of the economic downturn. “I had learned the best practices at the world’s best hotels and decided to create the Nira brand,” he said in a recent interview. He currently runs three properties in prime tourist locations: The Shanti Maurice in Mauritius made up of private villas, an extensive Ayurvedic spa and the Nira Alpina, close to the ski slopes of St Moritz, Switzerland, and Nira Caledonia in Edinburgh. Next up is Nira Sathwa in Seychelles, currently under development. Puri says he is concentrating on Europe, the Indian Ocean and Africa. There is talk of a Nira hotel in Kerala, though Puri has been keeping future plans for India close to his chest.