Surinder Arora, 48, was born in Punjab and his parents gave him
away when weeks old to an aunt. It wasn't until he was 13 that
he was reclaimed by his mother. At the age of 14, he joined his
mother in UK in 1972 . Before joining his mother, he was brought
by his Aunty in Punjab. He went on to work 20-hour days
- After school, he worked for British Airways as a customer
services officer for 11 year. During his time at BA, Arora also
held down several part-time jobs– including a stint as
a waiter – to pay for the training for his pilots licence.
- Abbey Life Company: During British Airways
job, he also joined Abbey Life as a sales associate.
- In 1988, he left BA to joined Abbey Life full-time and
after one year he became sales manager. He was recognised
as Abbey’s second best salesperson across the country
and was a member of the Chairman’ Club.
- In 1991, he became branch manager
- In 1993, he left the Abbey Life
- Arora International.
- Real Estate Developer: He developed B&B at Heathrow
Airport to house airline staff, growing the HSA Motel from
19 to 50 bedrooms which formed the basis for Arora International.
In 1997, the B&B was demolished to make way for the Arora
International Heathrow hotel that opened in June 1999 with a BA
contract to accommodate its air crews.
It was soon joined in 2001 by the Arora Park hotel at Heathrow
and the Arora International Gatwick/Crawley.
In 2004, he became the first in Europe to win a franchise from
Accor for its upmarket Sofitel brand. This was put to immediate
use when Arora bought the 500-bedroom Le Meridien London Gatwick
hotel and rebranded it the Sofitel London Gatwick in October.
In August of 2004, Sofitel London Heathrow, cost of £180m,
600-bedroom was announced: It is one of the largest and
most luxurious MICE hotels in Europe
- Arora won the highly-prized contract to open the only hotel
at Heathrow’s new Terminal 5, which comes on stream in
2008. Sofitel London Heathrow will be one of Europe’s
largest luxury hotels and conference centres, with facilities
for up to 1,500 delegates.
- Work started March 2006 after Sofitel paid BAA £65 million
pounds for the ground lease, and is due to be completed by March
Arora International Manchester:
- In between the Sofitel deals, Arora opened a smaller boutique
property, the 141-bedroom Arora International Manchester, in
a joint venture with Sir Cliff Richard – a partnership
highlighted by the presence of five Cliff-themed suites.
Wentworth golf club:
Outside of Arora International, Arora became a minority shareholder
in the Wentworth golf club in February 2005 after teaming up with
Caring to win a hard-fought contest. This year, Caring drew on
his new restaurant interests to create a new club restaurant run
by the staff of London favourites the Ivy and Le Caprice. Arora,
meanwhile, is keen to build a luxury hotel on the grounds.
Nine hotels from the Airport Hotels Unit Trust:
At the start of the current year, Arora pulled off his biggest
deal to date to buy nine hotels from the Airport Hotels Unit Trust
for £300m through the Arora Family Trust.
The properties, which continue to be run by BAA Lynton, included
Hilton and Renaissance hotels at Heathrow and Gatwick along with
the Radisson SAS, Express by Holiday Inn and Hilton hotels at
He is the founder and chairman of the family-run Arora International,
which develops and operates luxury four- and five-star hotels
designed to accommodate aircraft crew, leisure and corporate customers
with special rates.
He is one of the UK’s major independent hoteliers, owning
properties with more than 5,500 hotel bedrooms. He own 5 hotels
- Arora International Hotel Heathrow
- Arora Park Heathrow
- Arora International Hotel Gatwick
- Arora International Hotel Manchester
- Sofitel London Gatwick
The Arora Family Trust additionally owns nine more airport hotels
which are operated by BAA Lynton under a range of international
"I never had the luxury of private education or university,
but I worked hard and had some luck. Luck is when preparation
meets opportunity. Anything is possible," says Arora.
It all started with his brainwave of providing quality accommodation
for airline staff. Initially, it provided 100% of business, but
since the opening of the Sofitel at Gatwick in 2004, more than
90% of clientele is now commercial and leisure and less than 10%
is airport business.
"I have flipped the model and proved to bankers that I can
run any type of hotel," says Arora.