“We develop destinations and not just hotels”- Dr. Jyotsna Suri, CMD, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group
Dr. Jyotsna Suri is known for her vociferous promotion of Indian tourism – both nationally and internationally. “Developing Destinations and not just hotels” is her conviction, as she believes that involving local people in such initiatives will help bring popularity to the destination, boost tourism and bring peace & prosperity to the region as it acts as an economic multiplier; giving jobs and livelihood to many.
It is the people at the destinations that account for the success of the Group’s hotels and therefore the initiatives involve the local population, their handicrafts, culture, food and also giving them training and employment to boost the economic environment. The people of these regions have come forward with great enthusiasm and The Lalit is now a successful catalyst for cultural awakening and rejuvenation in places like Kashmir, Khajuraho, Bekal (Kerala), Udaipur and Goa. In addition, with Dr. Jyotsna Suri’s vision, the Group has been able to revive interest in these destinations in the domestic market.
Some of the unique initiatives taken by The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group to develop destinations are:
The Lalit Polo Tournament in Drass (Kashmir): Determined to put Drass, the second coldest habitat on earth and its Polo heritage on the map once again, Dr Suri conceptualized the idea of organizing a Polo Tournament in the region. In August 2009, a polo match was held for the first time between The Lalit team and the Drass local team. Since then, four such tournaments have been organized with around 15,000 locals gathering every year to watch the match. During the event, The Group hosts lunch for the locals and distributes blankets.
The Lalit Shikarathon in Srinagar: Shikaras, the pretty boats dotting the Dal Lake are synonymous with Kashmir and have been a symbol of romance for many years. Since October 2011, as a homage to the Shikaras and their diligent boatmen, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group organises the longest ever Shikarathon on Dal Lake in Srinagar every year.
The Lalit Ponython in Gulmarg: As Pony Walahs are an institution of tourism in Gulmarg and major stakeholders in the prosperity of the region, The Group organises The Lalit Ponython in Gulmarg with an aim of educating the Pony walahs on the benefits of responsible tourism.
The Lalit Ice Hockey at Leh (Jammu & Kashmir): The Lalit Ice Hockey is organized on the country’s highest ice-skating ring, at 3483 meters above sea level, in the mountainous region of Leh, to promote and develop the sport as well as the destination.
The Lalit Walk-a-thon for Dabbawalas in Mumbai: The Lalit Walk-a-thon for Dabbawalas at The Lalit Mumbai, is a salute to the indefatigable spirit of Mumbai’s Dabbawalas who have won accolades around the world for their operational efficiency and impeccable service standards. More than 5000 dabbawalas participate in the event.
The Lalit Arts Festival: To promote the region of Khajuraho, Dr. Suri initiated The Lalit Arts Festival, planned annually on MahaShivraatri to celebrate Shiv ParvatiVivaha.
The celestial temples of Khajuraho, considered to be a commemoration of the wedding of Shiva & Parvati and the life forces of the entire Universe, come alive during the event. Over 10,000 people including locals, tourists and important dignitaries participate every year in this event, which promotes the art and cultural heritage of the city. To boost Indian railways, the event promotes a train journey to the destination.
The Lalit Tipaiya-thon in Khajuraho: Rickshaws are an integral part of the local Indian transport system. To recognize the efforts of these rickshawalas and to promote eco-friendly means of transport, the Group arranges The LalitTipaiya-thon with more than 100 rickshawalas participating in it.
The Lalit Chaupal in Khajuraho: The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group is connected with the “Real Stakeholders of Tourism” through its unique initiative – The LalitChaupal. Led by Dr. Jyotsna Suri, The LalitChaupal brought together civic and cultural officials of Khajuraho and nearby tourist attractions, to promote symbiotic relationship amongst all.
Chalo Chitrakoot Festival in Chitrakoot & Khajuraho: Chitrakoot has been undiscovered despite the fact that Lord Rama spent 11 and a half years of his 14 year vanvaas there.
To popularize the destination, the group initiated the ‘Chalo Chitrakoot’ festival. The festival showcases a cycle expedition, which starts from Khajuraho and culminates at Chitrakoot, involving over 100 local cyclists, crossing 73 villages across 144 kms in Khajuraho and Chitrakoot region. This is followed by a 10 day long Ram Lila enacted the traditional way on the banks of river Mandakini. This initiative brought this region into focus, resulting in the inauguration of the Chitrakoot airport.
The Lalit ‘Cycle-on’ in Bekal (Kerala) – To promote fitness, good health and green environment amongst the locals, The Lalit ‘Cycle-on is organised with over 1000 cyclists from local villages, schools and universities participating in it. The race starts from The Lalit Resort & Spa Bekal, ending at the Bekal Fort, capturing the enthralling beauty of this amazing destination.
The Lalit Kabaddi Tournament in Bekal (Kerala): Kabaddi a traditional team game of India is a unique amalgamation of the mind, body and intense concentration. The group organizes The Lalit Suri South India National Kabaddi Championship in association with the District Kabaddi Association in Bekal (Kerala).
Holi Parv in Udaipur (Rajasthan): The Group under its “Unified Celebrations of India” initiative commemorates “Holi Parv” at The Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace Udaipur with the core objective of making the guests & locals experience the Indian culture. The event includes a special 3-day package with a luxurious train journey from Delhi to Udaipur. The two special coaches dedicated to The Lalit are customized to suit the guests’ needs and reflect the ‘Limitless Hospitality’ ethos of the group.
The Lalit Festival of Canacona in Goa: To stimulate the local youth and promote sports & fitness, The Group coordinates ‘Festival of Canacona,’ starting with The Lalit Suri Football Cup and concluding with The Carnival Ano Novo. The ground where the football matches are held has been developed by The Group, including a club house with lockers and rest room facilities for players and spectator stands. The festival also has The Lalit Suri Beach Cycle Polo, The Lalit Run Cycle Swim, and The Lalit Beach Body. The Carnival Ano Novo is celebrated with the residents of Canacona preparing colourful floats for the parade, which also includes costumed folk dancers from the region.
The Lalit Caddies Golf Tournament: The Group holds The Lalit Caddies Golf Tournament in Delhi, Srinagar, Nainital and Bangalore. With caddies playing a vital role in the game of golf Dr. Suri believes in recognising everyone’s contribution.