Srinagar: As peace returns to the Valley, Kashmir has started getting its share of high-end tourist facilities to cater to ever-increasing visitors. The latest is the well-known Sarovar Hotels and Resorts chain.
This forest hillside resort is situated in the Royal Khazir property on the Gupkar Road in Srinagar, just two kilometres from the Lal Chowk city centre.
“With its 60 hotels and resorts in India and outside, the Sarovar concept of high-end hospitality was conceived by Anil Madhok, one of Oberoi Hotel’s most distinguished general managers who later rose to be group vice president (Operations)”, said Saiful Alam Ishaque, general manager of Srinagar’s RK Sarovar Portico.
Saiful’s unpretentious hospitality to the resort’s guests comes naturally. It is backed by his 14 years’ experience with the Taj group of hotels. He has also served with a hotel chain in the US for three years.
“We started our operations in Kashmir on June 1. We are already sold out for June, July and August”, Saiful, who is serving in Kashmir for the first time, told.
The hotel has state-of-art restaurants, conference halls, swimming pool, a business centre, a live kitchen, CCTV cameras for security and firefighting facilities which include exhaust systems, smoke detectors and hydrants in conformity with international standards.
“We have installed VRV (Variable Refrigerant Volume) system for the comfort of our guests during the winter months,” the general manager said.
The majority of the resort’s 90-odd staff, including chefs, are local. They were trained at the Taj group before the opening of the resort.
Firdous, 22, belongs to Pulwama district in south Kashmir and works in one of the resort’s dining halls.
“I am very happy to be part of RK Sarovar hospitality. We get regular holidays as per the resort’s roster,” he said.
The resort is starting food festivals from August onwards, where delectable food from various Indian states would be served.
“The festival will include south Indian, Gujarati, Hyderabadi, Bengali, Kashmiri and other cuisine. The festival would be held every second month. We have the advantage of a wide reach by way of our presence in most cities of the country. Say, for example, during the Gujarati food festival, we will bring in our best chefs from Gujarat, and so on and so forth,” Saiful explained.
“Our target is the middle segment of society – besides giving the locals a feel of world-class hospitality and comfort. Local people have now started visiting the facility and I am sure, with the passage of time, we would have a fair number of them to host. People don’t mind paying if they get value for their money and that is what we give them here,” Saiful told.
The general manager said Saddam Panzoo, the local stakeholder of the resort and owner of the Royal Khazir property, is a stickler for perfection.
“He simply does not believe in anything second class,” Saiful said, as he politely declined some tourists seeking accommodation at the resort. “Sorry Sir, we are fully booked,” he said, as waiters served the tourists fruit juice before they left.
– Sheikh Qayoom (IANS)