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Surinder Arora- Punjabi NRI developed largest and most luxurious hotel on Heathrow Airport



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 2008.

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 Stansted.

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 include:

  • 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 brand names.

"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.


Surinder Arora, 47, was born in the Punjab where he was brought up by his aunt before joining his mother in Britain at the age of 14.

  • Owns 5 hotels with more than 5,500 hotel bedrooms
  • He is building new hotel- sofitel london heathrow , 5 STARS with link to Heathrow terminal. It is
    One of the largest and most luxurious MICE hotels in Europe