Skift Take

The next time someone asks you a positive aspect of the surge in average room rates, one of them could be Deepak Ohri’s entrepreneurial journey.

Deepak Ohri has stepped down as CEO of Bangkok-based Lebua Hotels, and now, for the first time, is sharing with Skift what’s next: An entrepreneurial venture that will debut in Napa Valley in the U.S.

The Napa Valley project is expected to feature 15 to 20 villas, a fine dining restaurant and an intimate bar.

Ohri thinks he has identified a substantial market gap, and his new venture seeks to address this void not only in the U.S., but in other regions.

He says no single brand is synonymous with the world’s renowned wine regions — Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rioja, and Barolo.

Beyond Napa Valley, the venture is designed to cover three distinct areas: wine tourism, art and design districts, and coffee plantations. A majority of the properties — Ohri pegs it at six — will be wine-focused, two will be dedicated to art and design, and two more will center around coffee plantations.

He envisions his project as a “dream,” one that he said has already garnered significant attention from discerning investors.”

The Role of Food and Beverage

Food and beverage (F&B) has played a pivotal role in shaping Ohri’s entrepreneurial journey.

He recognized food and beverage as a critical driver of customer loyalty and satisfaction and that’s where he put his focus at Lebua.

“Almost two decades ago, we, at Lebua, decided to be driven by food and beverage and not just by rooms,” he said.

Under his leadership, Lebua notably created the concept of a “vertical destination,” a collection of high-profile dining establishments under a single roof.

The hotel chain has gained international acclaim for its luxurious food and beverage concepts, most notably the world’s highest luxury rooftop restaurant, Sirocco, situated in its Bangkok hotel, along with two flagship restaurants — Chef’s Table and Mezzaluna — both of which were awarded two Michelin stars each.

His approach has proven successful and is now a cornerstone of his vision for the new venture.

Luxury rooftop restaurant Sirocco in Bangkok.

Ohri’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Ohri’s journey toward entrepreneurship was sparked during the Covid-19 pandemic, when he spent six months in the United States and saw the surge in average room rate.

“I’ve been in hospitality for a long time, and I never thought average room rates could reach such levels,” Ohri remarked.

While he wouldn’t disclose the identities of his two partners remain undisclosed, Ohri said they’re veterans of the hospitality industry and that at 55, he’s the youngest. 

“The core of our vision lies in the creation of a hospitality product that goes beyond just price and luxury. Our focus is on delivering an entirely unique level of service, aiming to create distinct and emotionally connected guest experiences, all within a more intimate, non-franchise format,” he said.

Exclusivity, Innovation and Sustainability

The vision outlined by Ohri for his forthcoming hospitality projects centers around exclusivity, innovation and sustainability. “This ambitious endeavor promises to redefine the concept of luxury hospitality, bridging gaps in the market and ushering in a new era of guest experiences,” he said.

Ohri anticipates that the post-Covid era will present significant opportunities and changes in the way the industry operates, particularly regarding customer expectations and asset management.

Despite the industry’s current recovery, Ohri remains acutely aware of the challenges that lie ahead, including market corrections and heightened competition.

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Tags: arts and culture, average daily rate, boutique hotels, coffee, coronavirus recovery, food and beverage, hospitality, michelin, southeast asia, thailand, wine

Photo credit: Deepak Ohri recently stepped down as CEO of Bangkok-based Lebua Hotels. Lebua Hotels

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