PRS Oberoi dies at 94: Know about the man who inherited India’s first five-star hotel

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Image Source : EIH LIMITED WEBSITE PRS Oberoi, chairman emeritus of The Oberoi Group

PRS Oberoi, chairman emeritus of The Oberoi Group, passed away on Tuesday morning (November 14), leaving behind a legacy of building luxury hotels in India. PRS Oberoi, popularly known as ‘Biki’, was credited with placing Oberoi hotels on the map of international luxury travellers with the opening of several luxurious hotels in various cities of the country. He inherited India’s first five-star hotel, founded by his father. But how did he build an empire of such luxurious hotels and resorts which made him widely known as the doyen of Indian hospitality?

Who was PRS Oberoi?

He was the son of late Rai Bahadur MS Oberoi, the founder of The Oberoi Group. PRS Oberoi undertook his education in India, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. According to EIH Limited Website, PRS Oberoi was instrumental in pioneering the development of Oberoi hotels and resorts besides providing leadership for the management of luxury hotels in several countries.

PRS Oberoi was the Executive Chairman of EIH Limited, the Flagship Company of The Oberoi Group. He was also the Chairman of Oberoi Hotels Private Limited, the major shareholder of EIH Limited.

The “Oberoi” brand has come to represent fine luxury hotels. In January 2008, the doyen in the hospitality sector was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honour, in recognition of his exceptional service to the country. He was also conferred the lifetime achievement award at ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market) held in Cannes in December 2012. PRS Oberoi stepped down as chairman and director of EIH Limited on May 3, 2022.

His journey to building an empire

Rai Bahadur Mohan Singh had set up The Oberoi Group. He initially worked as a front desk clerk at The Cecil Hotel, where the owner later offered him a partnership impressed by his work. He lashed made his way and grabbed every opportunity and bought his first hotel from his mentor, The Clarkes Hotel. The group already had 13 properties by the time PRS Oberoi took over in 1984 after the demise of his brother Tilak Raj Oberoi or Tiki Oberoi who then headed the Group after their father’s retirement.

PRS Oberoi had already begun working with his father’s venture of ‘The Oberoi Hotels’, in which he was given the first assignment of managing The Grand Hotel in Kolkata. He was also the in charge of hour hotels in Pakistan through Associated Hotels of India, a company that was acquired by Rai Bahadur Oberoi). However, the hotels were taken over by the Pakistani government after the 1965 India-Pakistan war.

He draws ideas and lessons

He travelled across the world, visiting various countries and their hotels and seeking ideas and lessons from the world’s finest locations and hospitality corridors. He learnt from the standards set by the foreign hotels and the experiences the guests had during their stays, including the facilities offered to them. He quit, chartered accountancy course in London and started working in hotels in France and Switzerland before setting out on his hotel hopping journey.

He took over The Oberoi Group after the demise of his elder brother in 1984. PRS Oberoi stepped down in May last year. By this time, The Oberoi Group had already grown to include 32 hotels, a Nile cruiser, and an Oberoi motor vessel in the backwaters of Kerala.

He had also established The Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development in 1967. 

EIH Limited (formerly East India Hotels) and EIH Associated Hotels Limited are the two listed companies of the Oberoi Group. The Group currently owns and/or manages 20 hotels under the luxury brand of Oberoi Hotels and Resorts and 10 five-star properties under the Trident Hotels brand. The Group also owns and manages Clarkes Hotel, Shimla and Maidens Hotel, New Delhi. It also owns and/or operates two luxury river Nile cruisers in Egypt.

ALSO READ | PRS Oberoi, patriarch of Oberoi Hotels, passes away at 94: All you need to know about him
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