27 November, 2020

Taj Demigod

Kerkar built the hotel chain on his own, not the Tatas

Taj Demigod

THE most unusual aspect of Ajit Kerkar's quite amazing career is that hardly anyone knows anything  about it. Obsessive about maintaining a low profile, the man who has single-handedly built the Taj group of hotels remains a shadowy and intriguing figure.

Unfortunately, his achievements too are, as a result, little-known. For this is the man who, among other things, has conjured up some of the classiest hotels in the world, like the Lake Palace at Udaipur, built up a 50-hotel global chain from one Mumbai property, and virtually created Goa as an international tourist destination.

Dropped smack at the centre of the badly-run Bombay Taj at the age of 28, Kerkar whipped it into shape and then started building a chain. When the Tatas refused to finance his expansion plans, he just went ahead by setting up different companies with different partners. In the early '70s, when he decided to set up a beach resort at Goa and the Tatas again refused to cough up the money, he, stunningly, convinced wealthy customers of the Bombay Taj to come in...



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