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The Leela | Success Story of India’s Luxury Hotel Chain



The Leela
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The Leela Palaces, Hotels, and Resorts are among the most luxurious hotel chains globally. C.P. Krishnan Nair founded the luxury chain in 1986 in Mumbai. The Leela is famous for its striking architecture, unique locations, ambrosial cuisine, and thoughtful experiences. The chain has provided its customers with charming accommodations for over three decades. It stands out among its competitors in India with its illuminating properties. As of 2022, The Leela has eleven luxury palaces and hotels across the country. 


The Leela is an Indian five-star hotel chain. It is the perfect destination to experience outstanding hospitality services. C.P. Krishnan Nair has named the hotel chain after his wife. He established the luxurious empire at age 65. Mr. Nair helped redefine the meaning of royalty and contemporaneity in the hospitality world of India. Leela’s restaurants have gained international acclaim for their top-notch dining and cuisine. In 2021, the hotel chain generated a revenue of $30 billion. The Leela is undoubtedly India’s fastest-growing hospitality company. 


On the 9th of February 1922, Chittarath Poovakkatt Krishnan Nair was born in Kannur, Kerala, India. At the time, India was under the British Raj. Chittarath’s father, Appu Nair, worked as a government bill collector. In contrast, his mother, Madhavi, was a paddy farmer. Chittarath had seven siblings. The family’s financial condition was not up to the mark. They struggled to make ends meet. However, Chittarath’s mother made sure that her children acquired quality education. Once, the Maharaja of Chirakkal paid a visit to Chittarath’s school. In Maharaja’s honor, little Nair wrote and recited a poem. The poetry touched Maharaja’s heart, and he decided to offer Chittarath a lifetime scholarship. 

After earning the gift of education from the Maharaja, Chittarath became a part of the Indian Independence Movement. He was just thirteen years old at the time. Chittarath met communists like P. Krishna Pillai and A.K. Gopalan, who later became his mentors. At age twenty, Nair traveled to Bangalore to join the Indian Army. The recruiting officer posted Chittarath to Abbottabad, Pakistan, as a wireless officer. During his youth, Chittarath was quite an adventurer. He resigned from the army to supervise ration distribution in Kerala. Later, he joined politics and created a strong relationship with India’s Freedom Movement leaders. But soon, Chittarath went back to the army. Upon his return, he rose to the rank of Captain in the Maratha Light Infantry Regiment of the military.

Establishment of The Leela

In 1951, Chittarath resigned from the army. While in the army, he married Leela, the daughter of a local industrialist in Kannur. The couple lived a happy married life. Leela became the guiding force for Chittarath. The two shared similar mindsets. After resigning, Chittarath joined his father-in-law’s handloom business. He worked as a sales agent and later managed exports. In 1958, he achieved significant success in the industry. Chittarath collaborated with Brooks Brothers and launched the iconic “Bleeding Madras Fabric.” The fabric’s clientele included top names like Tommy Hilfiger, Wal-Mart, and Macy’s. Following the launch, Chittarath established a lace-weaving unit in Sahar, Mumbai, Maharashtra. Simultaneously, he played a vital role in establishing the All India Handloom Board. 

During the late 1950s, as an All India Handloom Board representative, Nair traveled the globe. Soon he realized that the country needed a luxury hotel chain to match international standards. His wife, Leela, wanted him to build a hotel. As a result, Nair began working toward establishing a lavish hospitality industry. During the early 1980s, Nair launched Hotel Leelaventure Ltd. In 1983, Leela’s first project began in Sahar. Four years later, after crossing several hurdles, The Leela opened the gates to its first luxury hotel. Nair had to work hard to open a hotel with competitors like Taj, Oberoi, and ITC. However, his hard work paid off when The Leela instantly became popular. 

Pathway to Success

The Leela gained recognition among the elite class of people with its excellent infrastructure and hospitality. In 1991, the company opened its second hotel in Goa. The Leela established a lavish resort amidst the Arabian Sea and river Sal. Leela Goa’s architecture reflected the glorious heritage of Portugal and India. It became a hugely popular destination among international tourists. During the 2000s, The Leela continued to expand its business. It opened its magnificent branches in Bengaluru, Kerala, Udaipur, and Gurgaon. In 2019, Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management acquired The Leela for INR 3,950 crores. The company remains one of the world’s most luxurious and reputed hotel chains. As of 2022, The Leela has palaces, resorts, and hotels in most of the major cities of India.

Also read: Hilton | Success Story of the Multinational Hospitality Group

Who founded The Leela?

C.P. Krishnan Nair founded the Leela in 1986 in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Within a few years of its establishment, The Leela gained recognition among the elite class of people. It has eleven luxury hotels, palaces, and resorts across India.

Why is The Leela popular?

The Leela is famous for its excellent infrastructure, ambrosial cuisine, unique locations, and top-notch hospitality. It is one of the most reputed and prominent hotel chains globally. The Leela offers its customers a world-class experience for nearly four decades.

Who owns The Leela?

Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian investment management company owns The Leela. In October 2019, it acquired The Leela for $530 million. It was the company’s first acquisition in the Indian hospitality market.

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