Authentic leaders talking openly about themselves and their journey so far
Founder & CEOArora Holdings Limited
Surinder was born in Punjab where he was brought up by his aunt before joining his mother in Britain at the age of 14.
Leaving school with few qualifications, Surinder joined British Airways as a Customer Services Officer and it was here his strong personal interest in aviation began; during this time he took private flying lessons, gaining his pilot’s license in 1978. Now, Surinder runs an expanding chain of hotels and is the leading hotelier to the aviation industry; making him one of the most successful and respected leaders in Britain today.
With a reputation for being people orientated and valuing long-term business relationships, Surinder admirably refers to members of his business as “being like family.” On AIJ.TV, he modestly talks us through his extraordinary and epic career; the strong family work ethic passed on through generations and how he has taught his children the value of life, not just money, and the belief that with dreams…anything is possible.
Surinder Arora has a fascinating story to tell – he arrived in the UK from India at the age of 13 and unable to speak English. He thought he was coming to live with his aunt and uncle however he quickly found out that they were indeed his real parents. Since then Surinder has shown huge resolve working tirelessly to create one of the fastest growing independent hotel companies in the UK and the leading hotelier to the aviation Industry. Simultaneously, he has formed a property portfolio with a significant number of these large properties being located at the UK’s major airports.
After leaving school, Surinder joined British Airways as a Customer Services Officer for 11 years, during which time he joined Abbey Life as a Sales Associate in addition to holding down various other part time jobs that allowed him to pay for the training necessary to hold a pilots licence.
He left BA in 1988/89 to concentrate full time with Abbey Life becoming a Sales Manager in 1989 and a Branch Manager in 1991. In 1988 he was the 2nd top sales person in the country and a member of the “Chairman’s Club”.
During his time with Abbey Life, he became interested in property acquisition and development and in 1993, he left Abbey to concentrate on this and other interests which included his first foray into the hospitality world.
Surinder has continued to build his businesses and he founded Arora Hotels in 1999 which has since become the largest hotel company at Heathrow and Gatwick airports. The primary focus of Arora Hotels is the design, construction and operation of luxury hotels. The company has a consistent track record of delivering superlative quality, award-winning service and hospitality with quantum revenue and profit growth.
The Arora Group’s portfolio currently comprises 6 hotels with over 2,850 bedrooms and 111 meeting rooms. Prime locations include the Arora Hotel Heathrow, Arora Park Hotel Heathrow, Arora Hotel Gatwick/Crawley, the flagship 605-bedroom, Sofitel London Heathrow, directly connected to the iconic Terminal 5 and Sofitel London Gatwick at the North Terminal. Both Sofitel hotels are operated under a franchise agreement with Accor Hospitality. The Renaissance London Heathrow, recently acquired by a division of the Arora Group and operating under a franchise agreement with Marriott completes the collection.
The property arm of the Arora Group – Arora Management Services – is involved in property asset management of a portfolio of landmark office buildings, primarily at key UK airports.
The development division of the Group secured agreements to design and construct five new budget hotels at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Aberdeen airports. Heathrow opened in December 2011, followed by Stansted and most recently Gatwick.
Excel Hospitality is another division created in June 2011, to bring in house all food and beverage services that were once provided by an external company.
Surinder has just agreed terms to be involved in the construction and management of a 452 bedroom luxury hotel with 3,000 sq mtr ballroom located at the O2 Arena.
He is Patron of Royal Holloway Entrepreneurs, a student society within the Royal Holloway University of London where he has established the annual ‘Arora’s Den’ competition and the Arora Awards for Enterprise.
Surinder’s achievements have been recognized by a number of awards including the Eastern Eye Asian Business Award 2007– KPMG Entrepreneur of the Year; the GG2 Leadership & Diversity Award 2009 – Entrepreneur of the Year and the Lloyds TSB Dual Awards 2009 – Asian Corporate 100. He was conferred as an Honorary Professor of the University of West London in November 2010.
Surinder is a keen golfer – so much so that he holds a minority interest in Wentworth Golf Club.