- November 20, 2022
- Posted by: Planet Goa Team
- Category: Life In Goa, Lifestyle & People
Senior Vice President – Goa for the Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), Vincent Ramos leads from the front – steering the prestigious company to greater heights with skill and ease. And that’s just a part of the wide ranging spectrum of this native Goan’s impressive accomplishments. Maintaining, supporting, adapting and expanding through the tough Pandemic period, the experienced hotelier continues to meet every challenge head on.
Planet Goa learns more in a wide ranging conversation with the multi-faceted leader.
The dynamic Vincent Ramos wears many hats with an enviable flair. Former Area Director-IHCL, Goa is currently is currently spearheading the largest hospitality chain in the state as Senior Vice President – Goa, encompassing a spectrum of brands – Taj, SeleQtions, Vivanta, Ginger, amã Stays and Trails, Qmin and TajSATS.
Amidst the challenging business circumstances posed by the pandemic, Ramos demonstrated exceptional leadership in effectively positioning IHCL’s various brands in Goa and has not only effectively represented the brand but has also been the voice of the industry as a whole, within the region.
He is actively involved with the local state authorities to achieve benchmark standards for tourism in Goa and is empanelled as a member of the Empowered Committees on the Goa Tourism Board for Land and Infrastructure Development, appointed as Mentor for the Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI) Committee – Tourism vertical and is a part of the Managing Committee of the Travel & Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) as an Executive Member as well as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Goa.
Goa is at the heart of all of these responsibilities for this award winning hotelier. Here he shares deeper insights with us:
IHCL opened the gates of tourism in Goa and is currently leading the tourism sector in the state. How has IHCL’s journey in Goa evolved?
Way back in 1974, on Christmas Eve, Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa, Goa, the first luxury beach resort in the country opened its doors to welcome the world to India’s Sunshine State. Thus, IHCL became pioneers in making Goa one of the most popular tourist destinations. Today, with a footprint of 21 unique destinations across the state and over 1500 rooms, IHCL is the largest hospitality operator in the state and leader in the tourism sector. Comprising of a spectrum of brands, IHCL encompasses Taj – the hallmark of Indian hospitality and recognised as World’s Strongest Brand, SeleQtions – a collection of named and distinctive properties, Vivanta – a smart collective of business and leisure hotels, Ginger – a chain of smartly designed staying spaces, amã Stays & Trails – the first branded product in the homestay market in India, Qmin – the gourmet culinary and food delivery platform by IHCL and TajSATS air catering.
Tell us about IHCL’s iconic brand – Taj in Goa.
Taj, World’s Strongest Hotel Brand and India’s Strongest Brand as per Brand Finance Hotels 50 Report 2022, is the hallmark of Indian hospitality, it personifies tradition and warmth. With idyllic resorts ranging across exotic destinations within the state, Taj delivers unmatched experiences and lasting memories for guests around the world. With a service culture that has been nourished over 118 years and practiced across 50 global destinations, Taj is all about the heart behind the process. The iconic Taj resorts in Goa include Taj Resort & Convention Centre in Dona Paula, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa in Benaulim, Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa in Sinquerim and Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa in Candolim.
How would you define luxury in these increasingly complex times, has the definition changed/evolved?
Luxury is a perception that has evolved over time, especially in a post pandemic era. In a pre-pandemic world, one would define luxury as the finest indulgences, rare and distinct from the ordinary. The altered new reality has resulted with guest preferences rapidly changing towards conscious choices prioritizing well-being at the helm of it. This evolution is driven by the significant change in lifestyle during the outbreak of the pandemic.
How does IHCL cater to the younger generation in Goa, especially when you have established international brands competing in the same segment?
Vivanta – a collection of sophisticated upscale hotels is a brand exclusively designed for the younger generation. The service design delivers experiences that are dynamic, spirited and unique with a dash of distinctiveness and an unexpected twist – a perfect fit for contemporary travellers. Disruptive in their purpose and persona, these unique hotels hold inside them many hints of surprises that make the modern traveller of today feel special. Vivanta celebrates the individuality of the inspired traveller.
How has ama Stays & Trails changed the guest profile you attract to Goa?
amã Stays & Trails offers untouched experiential landscapes ranging from charming residencies to heritage homes. In Goa, we have 9 distinct villas spread across the region with each seeped in the Goan way of living. amã Stays & Trails caters to an exclusive segment looking for immersive and authentic local experiences. Whether it is the morning alarm of birds chirping, the evening tea seated on your very own balcão, a traditional Goan sunset ritual or learning the culinary secrets of Goan homes, amã Stays & Trails is an experience like no other.
What does a property like Taj Resort & Convention Centre add to a destination like Goa?
Taj Resort & Convention Centre, an architectural marvel is a gift by the Fomento Group to the state of Goa. I can confidently say, there is no other hotel like it in the state. Goa required a Convention Centre facility; it is now fulfilled with the introduction of Taj Resort & Convention Centre. Located on a hillock overlooking splendid views of the sea, the resort offers signature hospitality encompassed in opulence. The property has increased the possibilities for potential business in Goa, we can cater to every category of guest, be it leisure, weddings or conferences all at one place. I can describe it as one of the finest convention resorts in Asia as it has the best vistas. If one were to go to the terrace or in any of the room balconies, the panoramic views of the magnificent Arabian Sea, Zuari River, Mormugao Harbour and Vainguinim Beach paint a resplendent backdrop.
Despite the Pandemic, Goa was the only state to thrive in Tourism. How has that worked for a brand like yours?
In India, we have the strength of the domestic tourism market. As most of the destinations overseas remained remain restricted for travel, the domestic demand was re-directed to local key markets including Goa. IHCL is a legacy brand building trust among its customers for over a century, it is this relationship of trust and recognition that has helped us soar in business amidst the pandemic. Additionally, IHCL is synonymous with Goa since its inception, offering a varied choice based on preference and guest comfort.
What are you insights on the changing tourism landscape in Goa?
Goa has been blessed with magnificent landscapes, rich heritage, diverse culture and abundant bounty, because of which the paradisiacal destination has been sought-after from across the world for many years. In the earlier days, it was the hippie culture where Goa would be the last stop on the hippie trail. Later, with the introduction of chartered flights, the state witnessed a boom in foreign tourists. Moreover, with international events such as the CHOGM in 1981, Goa got established on the international tourism map as a premium leisure destination. Domestic tourism initially led by the neighboring states, gradually extended to other parts of the country. Pre-pandemic, Goa witnessed a blend of domestic and international tourists contributing to the tourism landscape. In the more recent times, with the pandemic restricting international travel, domestic tourism has become the primary contributor to the industry. The evolving food and beverage industry in the state has also significantly contributed to the tourism scenario.
IHCL is the only representative from the private sector to be empanelled as a member on the Empowered Committees for the Goa Tourism Board. What are the future plans for tourism in Goa?
Goa has immense potential to position itself as the world’s best travel destination. With a combined and unified effort of all the partners and stakeholders in the industry, I am certain that Goa can achieve exemplary standards in tourism. It is an honour to be in service of the state and we look forward to empowering the State Government with all the required support in achieving our common goal of repositioning Goa as a world-class leader in tourism.
What are the expansion plans of IHCL in Goa?
Ahvaan 2025 is IHCL’s three-pronged strategy to grow profitably in the coming years. This will further accelerate profitable growth of IHCL by scaling its diversified brand portfolio across its traditional and new businesses. IHCL continues to re-engineer its margins, re-imagine its brandscape and re-structure its portfolio. amã Stays & Trails, a group of heritage bungalows, guesthouses and homestays will have new additions to its portfolio in Goa in the current financial year. We are also working towards expanding other brands in the region.
How does IHCL plan to contribute to the flourishing Food & Beverage industry in Goa?
With the food and beverage industry thriving, Goa will witness the addition of the globally acclaimed Italian cuisine restaurant Paper Moon, 7Rivers Brewpub, House of Nomad and other signature brands from IHCL. We recently launched Qmin Café at Ginger Goa, Panjim and Qmin Shop at Vivanta Goa, Panaji. What began as IHCL’s culinary food delivery platform – Qmin app, has now metamorphosed into its physical avatar. Additionally, the newly opened C2C (Coast to Coast) at Taj Resort & Convention Centre, Goa brings the finest coastal fare to the shore. The elegant dining is a journey of coastal cuisine from across the world, with a refined twist.
Responsible Tourism – the need of the hour in Goa.
Goa being predominantly dependent on tourism as the backbone of its economy, it is imperative to realign for a mutually beneficial association between all stake holders and the state. At IHCL, inclusion and business responsibility is embedded in our DNA and we proudly carry forward the beacon of community service laid by our founder Jamsetji Tata. Taking ahead IHCL’s over a century old legacy, Paathya forges a journey focused on Environmental Stewardship, Social Responsibility, Excellence in Governance, Preserving Heritage, Value Chain Transformation, and Sustainable Growth. We give back to society by enabling livelihoods for less privileged target groups through skilling and leveraging our business value chain to support traditional art, heritage and social purpose organizations. Moreover, our hotels support the neighbouring communities in Goa by maintaining and promoting public spaces, tourism spots and heritage sites. To amplify our reach in service of the local community, IHCL collaborates with various public welfare groups in Goa.
On a more personal note: Did you always have a love for hospitality?
Yes, indeed. Being a Goan at heart, I had the natural flair to set foot into the hospitality sector, it was undoubtedly a seamless blend. Furthermore, I had the privilege to be part of a team that personifies the hallmark of Indian hospitality – IHCL’s pioneering leadership which is backed by a rich 118-years legacy.
Admired for his drive and passion for hospitality, the Senior Vice President has received a slew of prestigious awards including the ‘Unsung Hero of the Hospitality Industry’ in 2017 and ‘Most Admired General Manager of the Decade’ in 2018. He made India proud receiving ‘Best Hotel of the World Award’ by TripAdvisor in 2016 during his stint leading the legendary Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur. The most recent recognition under his direction is IHCL, Goa being awarded the ‘Best Team Achievement Award’ for business performance through innovation at the Worldwide Hospitality Awards 2021 in Paris.
A true leader, Mr. Ramos loves helping the less fortunate and has constantly strived for local communities to share in the benefits of IHCL’s presence with maximized local employment and generating new avenues for business opportunities with a collaborative approach towards helping improve the quality of life and giving back to the state.
The hospitality industry in Goa is truly lucky to have this forward looking highly successful hotelier at its helm.