In a statement, his son and nephew Vikram and Arjun Oberoi said: “It is with deep sadness that we inform the peaceful passing of P R S Oberoi earlier today (Nov 14). A luminary in the hospitality industry, Oberoi’s legacy transcends borders, leaving an indelible mark on the global landscape. A visionary leader, (his) unwavering dedication and pursuit of excellence elevated The Oberoi Group to international acclaim. His influence extended beyond corporate success, touching the lives of countless hoteliers through mentorship and a commitment to unparalleled standards.”
Taking forward the legacy of the founder M S Oberoi, “Biki” ensured that the group set new benchmarks for Indian hospitality in terms of quality. His “impact, however, reached far beyond business achievements, as he fostered a corporate culture rooted in compassion, integrity, and genuine care for every member of our organisation… As we mourn the loss of a true icon, we also aim to celebrate the extraordinary legacy P R S Oberoi leaves behind. In the coming days, we will share details of our plans to honour and remember him,” the statement added.
Calling Oberoi a “perfect gentleman”, ITC executive director Nakul Anand (67) fondly recalled an anecdote from a meeting about a decade back. “Biki” had invited Anand and his wife to his farmhouse to watch an India-Pakistan cricket match. “We were served chicken sandwiches there. Mr Oberoi told me this must be the finest sandwich I have ever had. I tasted it and said, ‘I beg to differ’,” Anand said. Oberoi then told Anand he didn’t think “ITC can do better than this.”
“I said ‘I never mentioned ITC’. I told him about a central Delhi confectionary and he replied saying he had never heard of such a hotel. My exact words to him were, ‘there is good food beyond hotels’,” Anand said.
The next day Anand sent a box of chicken sandwiches from that confectionary to Oberoi. “He called me a few hours later to say, ‘for once you are right Mr Anand’. A gentleman to the core (he always referred to Nakul as Mr Anand despite the age gap). We agreed to disagree on many things but agreed on the chicken sandwich! The greatness of the man reflected in his attention to details,” Anand, who oversees ITC’s hospitality and travel vertical, said.
Educated in India, UK and Switzerland, Biki had received numerous awards including the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honour, in 2008.
His attention to detail was legendary. While the group has three brands — Vilas (uber luxury), Oberoi (luxury) and Trident — the level of service and personalisation is the same across them.
“Mr Oberoi was a legend in the hotel business globally. His idea to build world class hotels in India was way before its time. He believed in the India story as much as we do today, except that he believed in it 30 years back. And that is why he never compromised on what he was building. His focus on attention to detail and the dream of making the best hotels in India will continue to inspire generations and set new benchmarks of service excellence. May he rest in eternal peace,” said Kapil Chopra who was president of the Oberoi Group from 2013 to 2018 and then went on start his own hotel brand The Postcard and several other businesses.
“His many achievements were never sufficiently recognised. He made ‘Oberoi’ a global byword for the Indian luxury hospitality experience and the first to put an Indian hotel on the very top of global rankings. He also rallied the group heroically but quietly post the 26/11 attack on their Mumbai flagship. He was a class act. Period,” Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra said on SM.
Watch Hospitality icon, PRS Oberoi passes away: Oberoi Group mourns the passing of chairman Emeritus