Bird Group’s Ankur Bhatia passes away at 48 | Condé Nast Traveller IndiaJune 4, 2021
India’s travel and hospitality industry lost one of its more dynamic leaders with the passing of Dr Ankur Bhatia. The Executive Director of Bird Group died of cardiac arrest on Friday morning. He is survived by his wife Smriti and their two children.
Bird Group runs a gamut of businesses across hospitality, travel technology, aviation services, retail and education. Under Roseate Hotels & Resorts, the group owns and operates six luxury properties in India and the UK. The family business lists Ankur’s brother Gaurav as fellow Executive Director, with their mother Radha Bhatia as the Chairperson and father Vijay Bhatia as President.
“Ankur was an exceptional entrepreneur, from technology systems to Roseate, he was a trailblazer. His keen understanding of architecture, aesthetics and design was evident with Roseate Hotels,” Kapil Chopra, CEO, The Postcard Hotel, told CNT. “Roseate as a brand redefined the look and feel for city hotels. He will be missed by the travel and hospitality industry. Gone too soon. My sincere condolences to [his mother] Mrs Radha Bhatia and the family.”
Ankur Bhatia: the early days
Bhatia’s plunge into the industry came very early. In 1993, he was still pursuing a degree at King’s College, London, when he set up Reservation Data Maintenance, a BPO for managing back-end airline operations and inventory control. In 1994, he brought the Amadeus brand of travel technology solutions to India—today, the software powers a bulk of the ticketing services for airlines and travel agents. Bhatia went on to add eco-friendly mobility solutions to the group’s portfolio—it became the exclusive distributor of Segway Personal Transporters and now offers a wide range of mobility options like Segway, E Bike, Electric Go Kart, Nine Bot Drifter. The group also runs India’s first natural and perennial indoor ice-skating rink and café–iSKATE, in Ambience Mall, Gurugram.
Among the many distinctions he earned was a Doctorate of Excellence for his work in the industry and the appointment as the Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Liberia in India. Bhatia also contributed to several charities and social causes.
‘Ankur leaves a huge legacy’
His friends recall Bhatia as a man of exceptional talent and grace. “Ankur! What a handsome, tall, strapping, smart, brilliant professional, kind, gracious, decent, very circumspect. That he was all of these things in a young nation made him only more special,” said chef Suvir Saran, whose friendship with Bhatia went back to their school days. “He was one of the first friends who came to see me when I came back to India after suffering a health scare,” said the chef who returned after retiring the Michelin-star winning Devi in New York.
“Modern School in Vasant Vihar, Delhi, has produced a number of entrepreneurs. Yet Ankur was the apple of everyone’s eye at school. He had done so well, so effortlessly, and at such a young age. People were very proud to have him as an alumnus. His vision was grand. His ability to turn a vision into lucrative success was par excellence. He thought ahead of his times and bigger than himself. He made dreams come true, and made reality seem sensual, beautiful and brilliant. He was an incredibly proud family man. He loved his parents and his brother. He loved his wife and was a doting husband. He was a very kind, engaged and generous father.
He was a poster boy for all things good in a human being and all that one should emulate. We have lost him too young and too soon. He was at the top of his game, but his game had only just begun. The heights he would have scaled had he been alive would have been mind-boggling and staggeringly rich. We’ve lost a man who was denied his share of life and living. However, in his short lifetime he has left a huge legacy. A void that very few will be able to fill. And big shoes for his successors to fill.”
“In 2008, when I took charge as Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Radha Bhatia was one of the first persons from the industry who came across to meet me,” recalls Sujit Banerjee, Secretary-General, The World Travel & Tourism Council, India Initiative. “The friendship we constituted that day remains strong and intact and I share the grief of Smriti, Radha, Vijay, Gaurav and the entire family today as I set out to write this for Ankur who was like a son to me. Over the years I have seen Ankur grow and evolve—his keenness to learn, the humility he had and the respect with which he always engaged with his peers and seniors in the industry. Ankur was a movie buff. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to borrow and watch from his huge collection, exchange notes on different genres of movies and share critical admiration on good pieces of work. He belonged to the new crop of young industry leaders, who would come out with infective energy as we drilled down rigmarole issues that India’s tourism industry grapples with every day. Today, in Ankur, we have lost a dynamic, promising, young professional who would have gone a long way to make a difference for India’s tourism sector. Our heart goes out to the family as they deal with this untimely separation. The industry stands behind them in this hour. Ankur’s legacy will live on.”