Meet Steve Gupta, owner of 10 five-star hotels in Canada (With Image)

July 27th, 2010 - 12:43 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, July 27 (IANS) During the current global downturn when most businesses have put off expansion plans, Canada’s top Indian-origin hotelier Steve (Sudesh) Gupta, who owns 10 five-star hotels, is going ahead full steam.

“I am a contrarian. I create my own direction and niche. I do something totally different that the market doesn’t have yet,” says Patiala-born Gupta, who landed in Toronto with just $108 in his pocket in 1971 and today owns 10 four-star (five-star in India) in this country.

In fact, his Easton Group owns three - two Hilton Garden Inn and one Marriott - in the very heart of this city alone.

“They are all corporate and leisure hotels, with 650 rooms in Canada’s commercial hub,” the self-made multi-millionaire hotelier told IANS in an interview, sitting in the lobby of his Residence Inn Marriott in downtown Toronto.

“We have 100 percent occupancy, and those who come here once never go elsewhere. They know these are Steve Gupta’s hotels.”

He says he always wanted to own a hotel.

“As a student back in Patiala in the 1960s, I used to watch movies…like those where someone owns a hotel. I too used to imagine myself owning hotels one day. So this was at the back of my mind and I thank God I have realised my dream,” said Gupta, who was given the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2005.

The 61-year-old Toronto man ascribes his success to his contrarian philosophy, Indian values and his passion to exceed expectations.

“I have been in this business for about 35 years, but I have condensed 100 years of work in these 35 years - it is all quality work. I am an optimist and I don’t believe that anything is impossible,” says Gupta who started his Canadian life as an insurance seller.

“Go visit any other hotel of similar brand, and you will see the difference. I take a brand and exceed their requirements even though they (Hilton or Marriott) don’t want me to break their barriers. They say: don’t overdo. But because of my reputation, they allow me to make changes. I built my hotels my own way,” he says.

According to him, Marriott doesn’t allow bars in their Residence Inn hotels. “But I have one here in this Marriott. I am breaking the rules in building a new Marriott in Sudbury (up north from Toronto). It is Canada’s full residence (where customers can stay for years) hotel which will also have a two-and-a-half storey water slide. We always go beyond limits of set standards.”

The current downturn has not dampened his expansion plans, he says. “I believe in glass half full, not half empty. Downturns come every 8 to 10 years and stay for one year to two-and-a-half years. The trick is to be contrarian. I don’t stop…but instead of 10 projects, I concentrate on six or seven…and by the time the downturn is over, I am ready and ahead of others. I am adding 150 rooms in my downtown hotels.”

Though his whole extended family is in Canada now, he doesn’t rule out entering the hotel business in India.

“If I take my whole portfolio to India, I believe I can make it 10 times bigger in just five years because India is so big and the whole world is now concentrating on India. I am sure if and when I take my concept there, I can mint money in this business,” says Gupta.

But right now, expansion is Canada is his only goal, he adds.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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