Industry Icons: The Tata Family

Jamesetji Tata (1839 – 1904), founder of the Tata Group. [Image: hochgeladen in en-Wiki von Chirags. Public Domain]
most-popular2Two pre-eminent Indian families have led the development and management of India’s luxury hotels for over a century. In doing so, they established two world-famous hotel chains – Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces (the Tata family) and Oberoi Hotels & Resorts (the Oberoi family). Today we look take a look at the Tata family. 

Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces currently owns and operates 100 hotels in 62 locations throughout India, as well as 15 hotels in places as diverse Maldives, Malaysia, the UK, USA, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Africa and the Middle East. The Vivanta by Taj, Amritsar is slated to open shortly.

Born in 1839, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, founder of the Tata Group, would open the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Colaba, Bombay (now known as Mumbai) in 1903. A brilliant businessman, he had tackled the British dominance of the textile market in India, and won; his successors went on to realise his vision of establishing an iron and steel empire, and bringing electricity generation to India. Hotels were not originally part of the Tata business empire, but when Jamsetji Tata built the Taj Mahal Palace, it was the first large luxury hotel in India.

Legend has it that Jamsetji Tata built the Taj Mahal Palace after Watson’s Hotel, which only accepted ‘white’ guests and was then the best hotel in Bombay, refused him entrance. Being white still mattered when it came to marketing, and in 1914, the Taj Mahal Palace was advertised as being under ‘experienced European management’.

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‘Owned and managed exclusively by Europeans’ was another variation used by the Hotels Cecil (Agra and Delhi) and Maiden’s Metropolitan Hotel, Delhi. In case there was any doubt that Europeans were in charge, Maiden’s also added in bold letters: ‘F Schmuck, Resident Proprietor’.

The family would thrive in the following years. The group would open its first five-star beach resort – Goa’s Fort Aguada – in 1974, and its first hotel outside India – Yemen’s Taj Sheba Hotel – in 1980. The company’s first wildlife lodge opened at Bandhavgarh, India, in 2007. The famous Taj Mahal Palace hotel is still owned by the Tata Group, which is now one of India’s largest and most successful business conglomerates.

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel first opened its doors on 16 December 1903.
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel first opened its doors on 16 December 1903.

Its luxury hotel division bears the name of its flagship hotel – Taj – while other accommodation options fall under one of several brands, including Taj Exotica (resorts and spas), Taj Safaris (wildlife lodges), Vivanta by Taj Hotels & Resorts (premium hotels), the Gateway Hotel (mid-market hotels and resorts) and Ginger (economy hotels).

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