Everyday, we hear stories of people who have fought against all odds and created their place in the world. Today’s story is of one such man who left everything behind for his dream, and worked to make it a reality. He is now a billionaire and has hotels in all major cities in the world.
In 1946, in Faridkot, Punjab, Sant Singh Chatwal was born to a small tea-stall owner. Even though his family background was not financially stable, Sant’s dreams in life were high. For him, success was earning money, may be because he saw his family constantly struggling for it.
When Sant was in STD 5, he dreamt of owning a car and wanted to fly high. However, his father could not even afford a bicycle. Despite this Sant was very determined. Through his hard work, he got a private pilot license at the age of 14 and became a pilot at 17.
After working for a few years in the Indian Air Force, Sant left his job as a pilot. He wanted to be successful in his life. He admired Maharaja Faridkot since he was a child and wanted to be like him. Sant migrated to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with his wife, Daman.
He started working there in a local restaurant where the owner left him in-charge for a few months. Sant turned the restaurant into a sprawling business. After recognizing his flair for business, the owner of the restaurant made him understand his talent. After that, Sant worked hard and ran two restaurants serving Indian cuisine. It was a political change in Ethiopia that changed his life forever.
Sant saved his hard-earned money, fled to Canada, and opened a restaurant. His wife supported him throughout his journey. After a few months, he sold his restaurant and moved to New York. He opened his first Bombay restaurant in the States, and went on to expand his empire, which is now called Hampshire Hotels and Resorts. During the course of time, his sons Vikram and Vivek also joined him in the business.
It was the 90s, and Bill Clinton was in White House. The Clinton couple had extensive food habits and an Indian take-out was never too far away. By the late 90s, the Chatwals and Clintons became good friends. Sant supported the Democrats and started making donations for their election campaigns. He became the trustee of William J Clinton Foundation, a charitable foundation organized by President Clinton focusing on global issues of health security, economic development etc. At that time, his Hotel Pasha was going through bankruptcy because of the real estate crisis.
That phase was very challenging for Sant as one his friends turned an informer and leaked information about his political contributions, including funding Democratic candidates through straw donors, which violates the election campaign laws. Sant was in a lot of controversies but pleaded guilty. His hard work made his place again in the market and he rose again.
Today, the king of Indian curry, Sant has hotels in major metros around the world including Toronto, New York, Washington DC, Houston, Budapest to count a few. He also plans to open two in India, in Mumbai and Jaipur. He is the only Indian from the United States to be honored with the “Order of Khalsa” for his outstanding service to the community.
As president and CEO of Hampshire Hotels and Resort, LLC and The Chatwal New York, Sant owns hotels in the US, UK and Thailand with over 2500 rooms in Manhataan. Today, he is the owner of property worth billion dollars. He tries to bring something new, a lifestyle hotel of the kind of desert kingdom. He calls himself a true Punjabi with his heart in India and can never go without Indian food. Sant is a person with supreme confidence and boundless optimism. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2010.
Sant’s story inspires millions of people to dream and work towards fulfilling them. His determination and hard work has not just made his family proud but the entire nation.