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Thursday, February 11

Merchant Clark, Cecil Hotel and a 30 year dream...

It's been a hell of a long time away from the blog. I feel guilty, anxious...and the fingers feel a bit rusty!! So where was I and what kept me so busy for almost 4 months!

Here's the story. A story of a small dream that first took root in the eyes of a 6 year old/ maybe 5. That's me. A dream that sort of has had a gestation period of 30 long years!!

Merchant Clark. When I was of Neo's age(that's about 6 yrs) I had learnt a new word Merchant which I thought was a cool word(cool and merchant sounds weird I know:-) and there was this 5 star hotel in Patna called Maurya Clark. So my little innocent dream was to open a hotel for travellers called Merchant Clark which would be the finest hotel in the country.
I don't think I ever shared this story with anyone. Locked in my head for 3 decades...

And that's where the dream/ desire stayed for the next 30 years. School. College. Engineering. Servicing. Creative Planning. Consultancy. The journey through life. But the dream like the stickiest of post-its never left me. I had ideas but no money. Ideas but no time. Some money but no team. Team but no consensus. And the dream gathered moss...Thick green, slippery moss...

Dare to dream. And then I read this fascinating biography of Rai Bahadur M. S Oberoi by Bachi Karkaria some years back. Of how Sr. Oberoi dared to dream. As the hotel bell-boy had the audacity and ambition to pawn his wife's jewellery to buy the Cecil hotel from the gora owner.

And the dormant thoughts of starting a hotel/ service brand again floated in my mind...I remember finishing the last pages of the book in the wee hours of morning. Warm tears on my cheek. Of life passing by. Feeling inspired. But that was the max that happened again. Work. Life. Sceptics. Naysayers. More work. Energy sappers. More Life. I-know-why-it-won't-work well-wishers...Tum to planner ho. Business-pehle-kiya-hai gyan!!

And then when I shifted to Gurgaon mid last year, between lazy beer sessions and some back of the napkin calculations, the truncated idea of a service apartment/ brand(prequel to the grand hotel) started taking shape...

It took a dedicated/ passionate team of four, four months and a couple of lacs to turn the 30 year old idea into a small reality! Our service villa - it's an apartment in a villa called Cinnamon Corporate Stays(it's got 5 interesting rooms - Green, Grand, Unwind, Doodle and Puraani Jeans and a bit of story everywhere.) Far from perfect but it's happened...

Cinnamon for us/me is a story of belief. Belief that stuff happens when you push it hard enough. Stuff can happen when you really wanna make it happen. That stuff happens not in a grand planned way but in the most random way when you least expect it to happen...

It took me/us a lot of time to convert the idea into reality. To convince a small team to move ahead when budgets and time were huge constraints. It's still some months to break even. But it's there. Our first brand/ service. Not to a client's brief but to ours. And it has been sweat, passionate obsession and bloody tiring. Especially with a full time day job! But immense lot of help, support from my team.

Along the way, I picked up a couple of lessons in brand building. This time around not between the pages of a book, but between visits to Lajpat Nagar and worrying about the leaking tap and the 'garam chai'. But more about that later...

Today I just wanted to share that it's important to hold on to your dreams. However, weird, wild and wishful. And sometimes it may take up to 30 years for a dream to shape up...But don't let any one's laughs or cynicism get you off-track.

If you really want something bad enough, the universe conspires to help you...Paulo Coelho saheb was right in his book Alchemist...At least even if I fail. I will have a story to tell my grandchild around the fireplace...LOL

You could check us out here. But in case you are travelling to Delhi/ Gurgaon and want to stay in a cosy little place mail us at cinnamonstays@gmail.com

We would be happy to host you...Cheers

12 comments:

Sonal Jhuj said...

well i have a dream too. but i guess i need to find the belief. thank you for this. i'll take this as a sign that i ought to get started on mine :)

Manish said...

all I can say is that don't wait for 30 years:-) just make it happen somehow, anyhow!

and do not feel shy of reaching out to people for help.

the world is also full of people who can help you realise your dream.

meraj said...

Hearty Congratulations on what you guys have achieved.

All the best and may this be the first in the line of many more such Cinnamon Corporate Stays.

btw, whats the idea behind the name, Cinnamon?

Pooja Nair said...

I would love to stay in a room called "purani jeans!!" :) sounds great. All the very best to you!!

Manish said...

thanks pooja..
i knew you wud like it...

well let me or shilpi know in advance and we will keep it ready for you!!

Manish said...

thanks meraj!

yes many more will happen. even more boutique and niche...

Cinnamon - i wanted a spice name. sort of neutral and having a nice soft feel to it. easy to expand in other service areas in future...

NoillyP said...

Lovely post Manish. And happy to see you blogging again. When I arrived in Delhi on the first day of a round the world back-packing trip over 16 years ago, we decided to stay the first night in a posh hotel before downgrading to back-packer places, and we stayed in the Oberoi Mansions Hotel. I had no idea of the story behind the founder of the business. That was a trip that in many ways changed my life, and I've been left with a huge fondness for India ever since. I hope one day to return. But the biggest lesson I learned from my travels was that anything is possible. Hold on to your dreams.

reshma said...

Nice to see one of your (many many) ideas come to life Manish...

I am sure you are working on some more even as i write this :)

Good luck and I really hope to come there and stay at the cinammon very soon

Manish said...

hey neil

thanks a lot! yes...holding on to the dream part is imp. read a nice quote sometime back. it said - if you want to see the rainbow, get used to the rain :-)

this is the book about Sr. Oberoi - Dare to dream - http://tinyurl.com/yfyj23g

its a bit expensive on amazon.com though. but very inspiring. i went to the Cecil hotel in shimla last year!!

Manish said...

thanks reshma...yes am hoping to catch you soon @ Cinnamon and get some more ideas to reality:-)

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Saurabh Sharma said...

Hi Manish, I stayed in this very simple but really nice hotel in Taipei city - it is called Just Sleep.
If you visit Taipei - you must try it. You will like it.
All the best!