This Article was published as a Cover Story for Urban Melange Indian Publication for Valentines February 2019 Issue .
Mr. Deepak Ohri, Chief Executive Officer Lebua Hotels & Resorts is continuously flipping the hospitality industry on its head and focusing on experiential culinary experiences at each of his distinctive hotels, restaurants and bars
Here he talks us through his dreamy love story with his wife Mrs Anita Kaul, a never seen before the tale of two people falling in love and how essential it is to build the facet of trust, understanding and support in a fine fettle relationship.
Provide us with an insider’s view into your love story?
An astounding, one of its kind and exceptional love story started with a share of glance at a party in Delhi. There was a certain charm in her smile that made me fall in love and it was undoubtedly and unexpectedly love at first sight. When I saw myself not being able to look across this gorgeous woman throughout the party, that very moment I could understand what love meant and that was the very onset of our delightful love story. It was back in 1998 that we met and connected for the very first time. After two years of sugary and delectable courtship period, I planned to propose the woman of my dreams, the woman with panache and poise as her qualities, this way we tied knots in the year 2000 after which we simply abide by a happily ever after. We enjoyed our honeymoon in Bangkok and this place made us realise that we never want to move back, and we never did. Thereby we began to carve a niche with the very renowned and luxurious Lebua Hotels.
What according to you are the pillars of a successful relationship?
There are multiple factors that contribute to the success of any relationship, especially that of husband and wife. We lay immense trust on each other which is what makes us stronger and indestructible. With unusual traveling schedules, heavy deadlines to be met and endless meetings to be attended in different parts of the world, there comes a huge space for relying our trust on each other. It is twenty percent my input and a wholesome of eighty percent her input into this relationship that makes our boat sail so swiftly and smoothly. Other than this what matters in abundance to make any relationship a successful one is to be able to give respect to the other half. It makes a gigantic difference in the long run. To be able to give your better half the respect they deserve and the love they yearn is all that they ask for in a healthy and merry-full marital life. My wife supports me incessantly in ways I can not even describe in words. When I am out there working, I know there is someone who has my back all the time, someone who will support me in my ups and downs. These factors build our relationship and make us grow to new heights every single day.
How do you define love?
For me, another word to describe love is “happiness”. Yes, love is the purest form of joy and bliss. My wife is my life and loving her is what gives me a smile of satisfaction. A loving partner like her is what completes my life to bits and makes me ask for no more. In fact, she taught me the meaning of love when I first saw her. And with the passing years, we have grown together and so has the love between us. It has no boundaries anymore. She cares for me and understands me and that pretty sums up the definition of love for me. Her being able to empathize every situation I am in, giving me my comfort zone at work and understanding me at times that are rigid and tough is what paves way for more love for my wife. Every day we tend to learn more about each other, try to build our bond in newer ways and thereby fall in love bit by bit more every passing year. Still, I would say Love for me to describe in one word is “My Wife”.
What in your opinion is the best thing about your better half?
Words fall short when it comes to describing the qualities of my better half. she has enlightened me with the meaning of “better half” since the day we decided to spend our lives together forever. If there is one word that aptly elucidates her qualities, it would be her immense and unbelievable “patience”. She gives me the right amount of space when it comes to my work and understands me at the peak of everything. Her discipline and the way she lives her life makes me want to learn from her. Everything that she does is done exemplarily. My wife, Anita cares for me and makes sure we communicate no matter which part of the world I am in for work purpose. Communication is the key of our relationship and so is the amount of support I get from my better half without which I would not have been able to conquer and handle the entire business empire the way I am today. It is both the understanding between us as well the respect and trust we lay on each other that makes us two bodies and one soul. The Selfless loving caring nature of my husband. He is extremely amiable, considerate person, a Man with a Heart of Gold, beautiful Inside out. Privileged to be married to such a wonderful human being”, adds Anita.
We’d like to know more about your love for Thailand? Do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Thailand this year?
Whereby now it is obvious that my wife is my first and only love of life, but the second love of my life in Thailand. My love for Thailand has reasons more than just one. It’s a place close my heart not just because of my work being based there, but also the fact that we fell in love with Thailand and have made numerous memories in Thailand. This is also why we never left this place after once we landed here. Valentine’s day is special to me for various reasons. Thailand, on the other hand, is my second love, so why not celebrate this day with my valentine at a place we love and on the day we got engaged. Yes, I proposed to my wife on the valentine’s day which is when she said yes and we exchanged rings for a lifetime. So yes we will be celebrating this valentine’s day in Thailand.
Walk us through the success story of Lebua?
Myself, Deepak Ohri and lebua Hotels and Resorts have become synonymous with luxury and sophistication. Joining the company as its first employee 15 years ago, I have since then earned recognition as the visionary CEO behind the lebua brand. Central to my success is my unique vision of hospitality. I believe that the focus of hospitality should be on creating lasting emotional connections for guests, which was my vision for lebua, and has now become an industry-wide trend.
Lebua quickly became a trendsetting international luxury brand. Often credited with kicking off the rooftop dining craze, lebua Bangkok is also known for being the setting of the Hangover II movie, which earned its Sky Bar and Sirocco restaurant international recognition. Today lebua operates a distinctive family of hotels, restaurants and bars, including Bangkok’s best luxury hotel, the Tower Club at lebua and luxury resorts in Lucknow and Jim Corbett National Park, India and Rotorua, New Zealand, as well as an upcoming resort in India.
You reckoned to own one of the most romantic dinings in destinations in Thailand, Sirocco. What was the inspiration behind initiating it?
It is a saying that “If you propose a woman at Sirocco, you will never be denied”. Until today, there hasn’t been one case where a man was denied at the romantic destination of Sirocco. The inspiration behind Sirocco is undoubtedly the inexplicable feeling of love. To visit Thailand and not to visit Sirocco is said to be a sin, it is indistinguishable and never seen before kind of experience to be at Sirocco and one must get their ladies out here for the most Romantic dine-out. Though luckily I wasn’t rejected by Anita, my only regret till date is to not being able to propose her at Sirocco. It is not a destination, it is a lifetime experience for all the lovebirds out there looking for taking their relationships a notch higher and for everyone and anyone wanting to visit a serene dine-out place when in Thailand. I personally can not stop complimenting my wife when in Sirocco (and otherwise) as the vie of this one of a kid destination is something to definitely look out for and worth a visit.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? Do you have any plans for expansion?
We as a team have a lot coming our way in the next few years. Lebua no.3 is our brand new gin, vodka and caviar bar which happens to be the tallest in the world- located on the 52nd floor of the lebua hotel in Bangkok. Soon to come in 2019, Ohri will be expanding his lebua empire, adding The Chef Table and Champagne Bar to State Tower’s culinary roster. Visualized with modern style, The Chef Table and Champagne Bar are set to provide an exclusive culinary journey surrounded by sophistication. The intimate 46-seat restaurant will feature 20 counter table seats and an open kitchen where elegant and contemporary French cuisine will be served by the chef. Music, uniforms, lighting and staff will all be hand-picked and carefully selected to ensure a luxurious, yet comfortable environment is achieved. Other than this India is on the high radar for us for opening up new ventures in the years to come.
One final message for the readers?
I don’t have one but rather two major messages for the readers. Firstly I want each one of you to Read Urban Melange and catch up for the latest features and profiles; they are one of the best in the business. Secondly, very honestly it’s a suggestion and a request to all of the readers to visit Lebua Hotels when in Bangkok, it will be a lifetime experience and we will provide you and shower you with the best possible hospitality.
One word that describes you?
Romantic and passionate both.
What does Valentine’s day mean to you?
Your go-to destination?
Any place where I can get to eat Puri Aaloo.
Your favorite cuisine?
Punjabi Food. I am very modern when it comes to food choices and love enjoying my champagne almost every day but my love for Punjabi food has no limits, I relish the home food cooked by my wife and I am really lucky inspite of being a Kashmiri she makes the best of Punjabi Food for me. So I get to eat the best of both cuisines my all time favorite Punjabi food as well as Kashmiri food at home.
How do you define your passion for hospitality?
Hospitality for me is more of a hobby than my passion, my passion is to live life and enjoy every day.
Awards and accolades in your kitty?
I have been recognized as an award-winning entrepreneur and a celebrated speaker and have been honoured by numerous organizations, including being a three-time recipient of the ‘Most Enterprising Entrepreneur’ at the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards and the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ from The Best in Asia. I have also earned an ‘Achievers and Leaders’ award from the Indira Group of Institutes, received an ‘Innovation in Hospitality’ award from the Stars of the Industry Group and was most recently honoured with ‘The Extraordinaire” award from Brand Vision 2018. And will also be receiving Global Asian of the year award on 21st January in Singapore this year.
Spirit you admire
Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi, his journey fascinates me the most.
Designs that have caught your eye recently
Lebua No.3 has one of the best designs in terms of interior. Other than that museums in Paris and the very strong construction of Rashtrapati Bhawan has recently caught my eye.
Raw onion with Punjabi food
Best gift received from your wife
Your favorite city.
Lucknow, since I was born there and so was my ambition to build an empire of my own.