Customer Service is the key to our Success – Deepak Sathyapalan
In the heart of the city, quite unassuming there stands Kochi’s first 5 star Ecotel, Beaumonde the Fern. Living up to its distinction of being the first Ecotel, there is green envelope on the compound walls. The guard smiles at me pointing towards the parking lot. Enter the lobby, you get a warm reception and everybody welcome you with a smiling face.
Deepak Sathayalan sits in naturally lit room, living up with standards of an Ecotel and with a minimalistic design. Deepak who has done his B-Tech and later MBA from England proved to be a down to earth person to talk with. In a short interview he told me about the hotel, the history and future plans.
Kochi is an ‘aspiring’ metro city. What were your initial thoughts when you were planning to start a five star hotel in Kochi? Is your planning on course?
Yes, Kochi is fast becoming a metro city. You can see it in the culture of Kochi. In fact Kochi had this cosmopolitan culture for a long time. May be it’s because of this vibrant culture and wide acceptance that traders came and settled in Kochi. Kochi is emerging big time; the Cochin International Airport was the first trigger which catapulted Kochi into the developmental orbit. Now with taking of International Container Terminal, Smart City and Metro train projects, Kochi is all set to become a major port city in India.
Coming to the second part of the question, setting up a five star hotel was a natural progression for us. We were running a Three Star hotel called The Metropolitan here. The question What Next is always there. A five star hotel seemed to be a natural progression, even though it had a lot of hurdles.
Yes the planning is on course, we are working on the extension of the hotel to add another 25 rooms from the current 50. So many plans are on the anvil.
Kerala is known for the notorious harthals and other types of strikes? Is it affecting your business?
Anybody who wishes to start a business in Kochi or Kerala will be well aware of this situation. I have been born and brought up in Kerala, so like any Malayalee I know the difficulties well. But saying that, I would also like to say that every place will have its own advantages and disadvantages. The management will have to overcome these hurdles to conduct the smooth running of the business
What is the concept of the hotel?
Our hotel is a business class hotel; we cater to business travellers and also tourist who are making a stopover in Kochi. We are committed to the environment, we also tell our guests that they can contribute to the environment while staying in our hotel, The Ecotel classification requires stringent adherence to rules in areas from energy consumption to waste management.
You have told that there was a three star hotels in this place, before Beaumonde was established; can you tell our readers a little about the history of this hotel.
We are in the hotel business for some time now. My grandfather Late Shri K G Bhaskaran started a small lodging facility and hotel in this called, it was called the Ernakulam Tourist Bungalow. It was a place where authentic Kerala cuisine was served. It was one of the most sought after place for Kerala food at that time. In 1994, we established the hotel metropolitan here. Even Metropolitan had the same loyal customers, who supported us immensely. In fact Dr C K Devadas our Chairman was the Managing Director of the Metropolitan Hotel. His experience is a great asset for us as he comes with an experience of more than 20 years in hospitality. In 2012 we started Beaumonde here.
Your grandfather K G Bhaskaran had the foresight to start a hotel in heart of the city? What are your memories about him?
My grandfather passed away when I was an year old, so I hardly have any memories about him. But I have heard a lot about him from my parents, neighbours and the people of Vypeen. I sometimes become awestruck by hearing some of the stories. My I am writing a book on the life of my grandfather, I am trying to compile all the stories to reconstruct his life and times.
Fern Hotels is your hospitality partner. Can you tell us more about them?
Fern Hotels was established by a gentle man named Param Kannampilly. He developed the concept of environment friendly hotel under the name Fern Hotels, Fern hotels operate hotels of different classification, that includes Five Star hotel, Meluha The Fern in Mumbai.
What are the benchmarks for an Ecotel?
The Ecotel Certification is based on five areas of environmentalism, each of which is designated by a Globe award. These five areas are referred to as the ‘cornerstones of environmental responsibility’ or simply as ‘Globes’. These Globes are: Energy conservation, Water Consevrvation, Solid Waste Management, Employee environment education and Environmental commitment
Can you tell us more about the hotel and your team?
Currently we have 50 rooms; we are in the process of adding another 25 rooms, as I have told you before. Those 25 rooms will come under the heritage wing. Now if you ask me why heritage wing in business hotel, the answer is that our learning while interacting with our guests, anybody who comes to Kerala want to experience a bit of Kerala. If you are looking for a remarkable dining facility, Beaumonde The Fern, Kochi is the place to be. Taste the flavors from all across the globe under one roof only at ‘Cilantro’. Savor the Mughlai, Kerala or Thai cuisine and enjoy a lavish feast at this all day dining restaurant. If you are looking around for a soothing ambience, then ‘Gravity’, classic yet contemporary Restro bar is the best place to hangout. We also offer recreational facilities like a roof top swimming pool, Health Club, Spa Centre and a room to meditate and relax.
Mr. Mahesh Jasrotia is the GM of the hotel. His enthusiasm and leadership skills have proven to be of great advantage to our hotel. He helps run the hotel like a well oiled machine.
What are factors that differentiate you from other hotels?
We are an Ecotel, that itself is a huge differentiating point. When whole world is is moving towards green practices, being a green hotel earns us that differentiation. We can well boast of diverse culture as far as our employees are concerned, they come all different places in India.
We give our guest a very personal experience; we have provided channels so that our guests can interact with the top management. Personal expericnce is something you miss in a large hotel.
Tell us about your Marketing Activities? How intense is the competition?
We have Regional sales offices in all major cities in the country. We are also very active in the social media and especially in Facebook.
What are your Future Plans?
We are planning to start a five star hotel in Srilanka, The island country shares similar culture and cuisine of Kerala and the geography is almost the same. We are planning it to the first Ecotel in Sri-Lanka
Tell our readers about your family
My father is Dr. Sathyapalan, he is a physician working with PVS Hospital Kochi. My mother is Bhuvaneswary , she is one of the director of this hotel. I am married to Dr. Ayswarya, she is an ENT Surgeon. I have a sister, Priyanka, she is married to Dr. Sachin, and he is a paediatrician.
What are your hobbies, how do you unwind?
I travel a lot, for me travelling is all about learning and exploring. I was also interested sports especially cricket and swimming. I am quite interested in arts and I admire Raja Ravi Varma a lot.