The Chaudhary name is legendary in Nepal. Binod Chaudhary, the country’s first and only billionaire, leads one of the country’s most influential conglomerates, the Chaudhary Group. Under his leadership, their family business expanded from textiles and went on to pioneer many notable industry firsts in the Himalayan country, including being the first real estate company to introduce modern housing concepts, the first private commercial bank, and the first electronics company. The 140-year-old group’s influence is such that it played a pivotal role in rebuilding the nation after the 2015 earthquake.
Rahul Chaudhary is one of Binod’s three sons and acts as the Managing Director of CG Corp Global and the CEO of CG Hospitality Holdings. With his father as his role model, Rahul has proved his own worth and mettle as a hotel magnate by putting Nepal on the global map for hospitality and growing a mere three hotels and resorts to 169 in 12 countries and 112 destinations with more than 10,022 keys.
Under Rahul’s leadership, CG Hospitality’s diverse portfolio now includes some of the most iconic properties and destinations across the globe including Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives, and The Farm at San Benito, the Philippines. This year, the Miraaya Golf & Wellness Resort opened its doors as Nepal’s first boutique spiritual wellness and golf retreat destination.
What are you most excited about this year for CG Hospitality Holdings?
I think we’ve come a long way. In terms of our plans for hospitality this year, I think for one big achievement this year, I would say with all sense of humility, we’ve just opened our 100th hotel in India. And this makes us probably the second-largest management company in India after The Indian Hotels Company Limited. We’re adding almost 15 to 20 hotels in the year, with the largest number of openings in India for the past five years in a row.
We have five more signed and upcoming properties that we have acquired in Nepal and Bhutan that we are pursuing. Our strategy is we are now looking at growing our different verticals. We are looking at growing The Farm at San Benito’s footprint in five countries including India, Europe, and the Middle East. We are looking at an investment platform by creating a fund structure to raise capital to grow this brand all over the world including gearing up for a strategy to lift some of our key companies within hospitality. We hope to get to at least more than 200 hotels by 2025.
As CG Hospitality plans to further extend The Farm’s reach with a holistic medical wellness resort in Jordan, are there any updates you can share with us?
The property is a part of the strategy for the growth of The Farm at San Benito. We said we would open this year because it is already 75 to 80 per cent complete. The property is going to be built as an Aman Resort, so we are in negotiations right now to find a structure and a way to take this property over. It’s a stunning property just on the outskirts of the capital Amman and it is going to be a 75-room property in a 53-acre forest, which is rare in Jordan.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced and what did you learn from it?
I think the biggest challenge, COVID, was also my biggest opportunity. We were pushed to rethink, reimagine, re-evaluate all of our business models, and relook every single aspect of the business. But that also came with many opportunities, and we started focusing on our wellness business, leading to our expansion of The Farm at San Benito in Philippines. We even made some very key acquisitions during COVID, though some people might’ve thought we were crazy. But they are running well now so we are even going to do further development in those locations.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
My lifestyle has gone through a little bit of a change whereby now I wake up at 5.15 am in the morning to go to the gym at 5.30 am. I don’t look at my phone first thing in the morning anymore. I do that first after giving myself one hour to completely clear my mind and focus on myself in terms of my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
What is your favourite sport?
I used to play football and basketball for my country and even for North India. My favourite sport is undoubtedly football, but I got an ACL injury in my knee, so I stopped. I still play basketball off and on. I should start again.
If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?
I used to play the drums in high school so I would love to learn how to play the guitar. It would also be great to learn a new language such as Mandarin or Spanish, as these two are among the most spoken languages in the world.
How would you like to be remembered when your time on Earth is up?
Obviously, legacy is very important for us and leaving behind what you have created through many years of hard work and dedication as well as perseverance. And I would like to definitely be remembered as a hotelier and a philanthropist from our group’s perspective, that took Nepal to the world and also brought the world back to Nepal.