Tête-à-Tête with Anup Shah: Managing Director, Resort Rio Goa
By Aarti Kapur Singh

Whether it is a family holiday, romantic getaway, fairy tale wedding or a business conference, I want Resort Rio to answer your every getaway need.
Anup Shah
Managing Director, Resort Rio Goa

Almost all of us dream of having an idyllic holiday getaway far from the madding crowd. But very few have the wherewithal. Anup Shah, 50-year-old owner of Resort Rio- a luxury five-star resort in Arpora, Goa, differs and says,” Destiny is a gamechanger too!” After all, Shah, Kenya-born, London-based lawyer, never foresaw that one day he would be helming the affairs at Goa’s Number 3 holiday spot ten years ago. Narrating his story, Shah jogs his memory to 2003 and says, “We were supposed to be holidaying in Mexico, but the travel plans went awry and so we landed in Goa. One evening I was idly staring into nothingness lounging in the resort we were staying at and I saw this board that said ‘Land for Sale’. What was intended as an act of boredom led me to not just buy that particular piece of property, but over time build it as a private holiday resort, later buying the area around it and within six years, developing it into a full-fledged resort!”

Resort Rio, on its fifth birthday, is a 154-room 5-star deluxe resort and compared to other top resorts in this category, is around 25% cheaper. Their suites are 1100 square feet in area. It claims to be ‘the only resort in India which has a dozen four-bedroom villas’. An example of Shah’s tenacity and vigour to simply not fit in is found in one of the Resort’s restaurants, Jalsa, which is a pure vegetarian restaurant with a separate vegetarian kitchen, in seafood paradise Goa!

Shah has personally looked into each and every aspect while setting up this 10 acres of riverside paradise. Right from the interiors to negotiating air conditioning, electrical, plumbing contracts and hiring and grooming the staff. He conceptualized everything – the lobby, its floor design, the style, number of restaurants, unusual design of rooms, swimming pool, spa.  “It was a difficult and tedious task especially since I was alien to the hospitality industry and came from another country and a very different culture and business ethos, but it was a kink in my head that kept me going. Especially, the locals who declared me mad and prophesised I was on the way to be doomed,” confesses Shah.

The couple’s very first entry into the hospitality industry and the real estate business began on a whim, but, the gamble has worked well with the 154-room resort tiding over the recent slowdown in tourism. ” Many people say that resorts have gestation period in their initial years when they don’t make money. But, I am happy to note that we made profit in the first year of our operation,” reveals Shah.

Resort Rio Goa

Resort Rio Goa

This 50-year old hotelier turned all the rules of hospitality on their head and yet made profits. So much so that expansion plans are being realised as you read this post. They are expanding operations and in grand style. “We will be starting another resort most likely by October 2015 close to where we are now in Arpora. We are going to increase our overall room inventory by 50%. We will use the brand ‘Rio’. We are planning to call our new resort ‘Rio Royale’ as it will be a more upmarket property.It has been great fun being here in Goa,” says Shah.

Obviously. In the last few days of December, the response was so tremendous that Resort Rio was sold out between Christmas and New Year. Not just peak season, but even in the lean touristy months of May and June, average occupancy is 75%, it claims. “We have realized that Indian clientele demands service and it likes to pay if it gets that kind of service. We are focussing on the domestic circuit, not charters. We realized that charter tourists may stay longer but that is not the only factor which is important. For instance, a charter tourist may stay for one to two weeks. But, he wouldn’t pay more than Rs 7,500 per day inclusive of food. A domestic tourist may stay for 3-4 days, but he will be comfortable paying Rs 10,000 per day. So, we worked our strategy around this,” reveals Shah adding that, they have been getting domestic and international travellers from markets like Mumbai, Gujarat, New Delhi, Europe, Russia, among others.

“My frequent flier miles are skyrocketing but I love this life. My wife Alpa, who helps me nurture this dream, and I are here almost every other month and we have a good rapport with the locals. In fact, some of whom we bought the land from, are employees of Resort Rio,” says Shah. He juggles between London and India and has his eyes set on building his dream of making a difference – to create a local economy, employ people from this land and return in many folds what he has received.

Resort Rio boasts of one of Goa’s largest conference facilities. It is also the only hotel in the city to have a resident acupuncturist, wing chun / kung fu master, reiki healer and astrologer. “Whether it is a family holiday, romantic getaway, fairy tale wedding or a business conference, I want Resort Rio to answer your every getaway need,” signs off Shah.

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