Leading hotelier and Rajya Sahba member Lalit Suri died in London early this morning after a massive heart attack, family sources said.
The 60-year-old chairman of Bharat Hotel chain is survived by his wife Jyotsna and four children. His wife was with him when he breathed his last.
Suri's body will be flown to Delhi on Wednesday for the last rites, his family said.
Suri was a man who wore many hats -- an entrepreneur, a politician, an avid art collector and a philanthropist. He was a respected figure in domestic and international community for his vision and dynamism.
If he was better known for his achievements as a hotelier, he also made his share of contribution in the Indian political system as a sitting Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha.
Born on April 15, 1947 in Rawalpindi, an automobile engineer, Suri's tryst with the hospitality industry began when he took over the leadership to control Bharat Hotels as its chairman and managing director in 1987.
His no nonsense attitude in running business was reflected when the company's first project -- the 444-room super deluxe hotel in Delhi -- was completed in record time.
Commissioned on October 20, 1988, the InterContinental The Grand, New Delhi, considered as one of Delhi's most successful hotels, stands testimony to the values Suri aspired for.
Since then, there was no looking back in his journey as a hotelier. Bharat Hotels, which operates under 'The Grand' banner, offers seven top-line hotels in the country, -- four 'InterContinental The Grand' hotels in New Delhi, Srinagar, Goa and Mumbai and three 'The Grand' hotels in Bangalore, Udaipur and Khajuraho.
The group had planned three more hotels - The Grand Great Eastern Kolkata, The Grand Resort Bekal and The Grand Ahmedabad by next year.
Suri was actively involved in promoting both domestic and international tourism and is a global executive committee member of the renowned World Travel and Tourism CouncilĀ and honorary chairman of the WTTC India Initiative.
He was also the chairman of the FICCI Tourism Committee (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry), in addition to being the immediate past president of Hotel Association of India, a premier hotel body of the country.
Suri was a recipient of various excellence awards in recognition of his contributions in the fields of business and public services. On January 27, 2005, he was conferred the prestigious Special Award for InterContinental The Grand Palace (Srinagar) by the government of India.
In 2004, he was recognised for his contribution towards development of tourism in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. In 2002, he was conferred with the prestigious Global Network Award 2002 at the World Travel Mart, London, for excellence in all fields related to tourism in London.
On July 11, 2000, the then First Lady of United States, Hillary Clinton conferred Suri with the prestigious award for outstanding accomplishments in business and leadership at the International Millennium Convention in New York.
He has also received several awards, including Rashtriya Samman Patra for being amongst one of the highest tax payers in the country, for the assessment years 1995-96 to 1999-2000; the Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award in recognition of his socio-economic achievements in India; The Order of Merit from the Indian Council of Management Executives for service rendered to the public; The Hind Rattan Award for his services to the Indian public.
The visionary in Suri made him open the group's Srinagar venture, which is recognised as his initiative to develop tourism in Jammu and Kashmir state with the sole purpose of assisting the government in its socio-economic development, offering employment and promoting tourism.
Besides the hoteliering business, Suri had interests in aviation, exports, automobile ancillaries, real estate, telecom and information technology and newspaper publishing. Suri was also an avid art collector and philanthropist.
A student of St Columba's Delhi and St George School, Mussoorie, he earned an Honours Degree in commerce from the renowned Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University.
Suri had dreams to expand his business empire. By 2009 the company planned to offer more than 3000 rooms with plans for hotels in Chennai, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Noida, Hyderabad, Amritsar and other key locations.
His untimely death may have robbed him the opportunity to see his dreams grow bigger, but his spirit would definitely live on.