Meet Priya Paul Who Became Apeejay Surrendra Park's President At 24 After Her Father's Brutal Murder

A look into the inspiring life of influential entrepreneur, Priya Paul, who became the President of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels at the age of 24 after her father's brutal assassination.


By Rishabh Naudiyal Last Updated:


Meet Priya Paul Who Became Apeejay Surrendra Park's President At 24 After Her Father's Brutal Murder

Apeejay Surrendra Group is one of India's oldest and largest business conglomerates. It was established in Jalandhar back in 1910 by Lala Pyare Lal. However, in the later years, Apeejay Surendra Group shifted its headquarters to Kolkata from Jalandhar. From shipping, logistics parks, hospitality, real estate, and tea plantations to retail brands, marine clusters, and knowledge parks, Apeejay Surrendra Group's businesses are spread in some of the most profitable sectors out there.

Apeejay Surrendra Group is more than 100 years old, and as of now, it collectively employs over 43,000 people across India. Some of the most notable subsidiaries of this decade-old conglomerate include Apeejay Tea, Typhoo Tea, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, Apeejay Shipping, Apeejay Oxford Bookstores, Apeejay Infralogistics, Apeejay Insurance Broking Services, and many more.

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Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels IPO created a stir with its price band set at Rs. 147 to Rs. 155 per share

Apeejay Surrendra Group's The Park Hotels is one of India's biggest chains of five-star boutique hotels. The Park Kolkata received the prestigious National Tourism Award (2003-2004) from the Department of Tourism and Government of India for being the best boutique hotel in the country. When Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels IPO was held on February 2, 2024, it simply broke the headlines as the price band was fixed between the range of Rs. 147 to Rs. 155 per equity share of the face value of Rs. 1 each.

For the unversed, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels planned to raise Rs. 920 crore through the IPO and as soon as the news was announced, the conglomerate started dominating the news headlines. Well, over the decades, time and again, we have seen this sort of craze among investors and the general public about Apeejay Surrendra Group, as it is one of the most successful conglomerates in India.

According to a report by the Economic Times, Apeejay Surrendra Group's total net worth was over Rs. 6,000 crore in 2013, and with so much success in the last decade, one can imagine the group's gigantic value. However, things were not always smooth for Apeejay Surrendra Group, as they faced many difficulties like any other conglomerate of this stature. However, it was the assassination of Apeejay Surrendra Group's Chairman, Surrendra Paul, that shook not just the conglomerate but also the entire business sector in India.

Apeejay Surrendra Group's Chairman, Surrendra Paul was assassinated in Assam

Apeejay Surrendra Group's Chairman, Surrendra Paul was one of the biggest entrepreneurs in the country, and it was in April 1990 when unidentified gunmen killed him at Laipuli. The assassination took place on April 9, 1990, when Surrendra Paul was travelling in his car with the general manager of his company, Ashish Kumar Choudhary. The duo was on their way to visit a tea garden for their company, Assam Frontier Tea Ltd, when they suffered severe bullet injuries.

It was allegedly suspected that Ulfa cadres carried out the attack, but no proofs of the same were recovered. It was shocking news for India, as the assassination of one of India's biggest business tycoons raised numerous questions on the government. Even the President's rule was announced in Assam for some time. It was a delicate situation as the assassination of Surrendra Paul shook up the entire tea industry as entrepreneurs started fearing for their lives.

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Priya Paul stood up as the President of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels after her father, Surrendra Paul's brutal assassination

Surrendra Paul was married to Shireen Paul, and they were parents to four children, Priya Paul, Priti Paul, Karan Paul, and the late Anand Paul (who died in a car crash at the age of 17 in 1989 ).

As soon as the unfortunate news of Surrendra Paul's murder reached his family, it was complete chaos. From people raising questions about the government to financial experts worrying about the future of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, it was one of the toughest phases for the Paul family.

However, in that chaotic moment, Surrendra Paul's daughter, Priya Paul, stood up and took on the mantle of taking their family business forward. The 24-year-old stepped up as the President of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels.

The young entrepreneur transformed their three hotels into 'boutique hotels'. The idea of boutique hotels was not so common back then in India, which was why it turned quite profitable for the Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, who were the first to grab this space.

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Priya Paul was featured in the Forbes List of India's Most Powerful Businesswomen in 2006

As per Apeejay Group's official website, Priya Paul is the Chairperson of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels in India. She is also referred to as 'The First Lady of Boutique Hotels in India'. Her success in the last three decades results from her strong belief in making her hotel chain contemporary by adding fresh artists, edgy concepts, and more aesthetic elements. Priya was among the first very few people in India, who worked on the aesthetics of her hotels, and that decision turned fruitful in the coming decades.

Priya Paul's success isn't a work of luck but purely a result of her strong educational background. For the unversed, she completed her graduation in Economics from the prestigious Wellesley College. Not only this, but she also completed the Owner President Management Program at the Harvard Business School.

Due to her success with Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, she was appointed as the President of the Hotel Association of India and is also one of the board members of the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. Priya Paul was also bestowed with the prestigious Padma Shri Award for her extraordinary work back in January 2012. 

Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Chairperson, Priya Paul's personal life

Priya Paul is an extremely reserved person, as she hardly gives interviews and prefers to let her work do the talking. Talking about her personal life, Priya got married to Sethu Vaidyanathan back in 2004. There's no information regarding their children in the public domain, courtesy of their preference of living a low-key life. Priya Paul continues to make her mark in India's hotel industry, and we hope she continues to take her family business to greater heights.

What are your thoughts on the way Priya Paul took responsibility of her family business after the brutal assassination of her father in Assam? Let us know.

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