In the early seventies, Sadruddin Hashwani, the chairman of the Hashoo Group – one of the largest trading enterprises in Pakistan with investments in cotton trade, information technology, minerals, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, real estate and oil and gas exploration – expanded his business interests as a pioneer in Pakistan’s hotel industry. The move led to the establishment of The Holiday Inn hotel in Islamabad (1979) and then in Karachi two years later. Today Sadurddin Hashwani can proudly claim that he runs two of the largest, international five-star hotels in the country – the Pearl Continental and Marriott Hotels (brought in after The Holiday Inn’s ten years contract expired).
Mr. Hashwani spoke about the establishment of The Holiday Inn in the seventies, saying that there were only five hotels in the country at the time and it was his vision to bring an international hotel chain to Pakistan. “I wanted to contribute towards developing this important sector of our economy on par with world standards,” he explained, adding that he has been successful in realising that vision.
Deliberating on the success of the Pearl Continental network in the country, Mr Hashwani said that the key was to find a local name for the hotel. “After doing some preliminary research, we decided to go with the name Pearl Continental. Today, in Lahore, everyone refers to it as PC and it remains the meeting spot for people in the city. It is easily pronounced and widely recognised.” That along with the hotel’s exceptional facilities and quality service has lead to the widespread success of the chain.
It was based on this success story that the Marriott Hotel decided to lend its name to Pakistan. A team from the international chain first came to Pakistan to inspect the PC hotels after which a contract was signed, Hashwani reminisced. This was the first time that the Marriott chain had given its franchise to a hotel which was not directly managed by them. “As a matter of fact, the franchise agreement of the Marriott was made based on our hotel contract and drafted here in Pakistan. Today the format of franchise agreements has been initiated by the Hashoo Group and we were very pleased that Marriott decided to recognize the product and lend us their name.” Both hotels have state-of-the-art facilities, he added. “We have new furniture in all rooms and our IT department has some of the top professionals from the industry,” said Mr Hashwani, explaining how his hotels have managed to stay on top.
Another essential component of the Hashoo Group’s tourism assets is Pearl Tours and Travels which, as I’m sure you gathered from the name, is a travel agency for both domestic as well as international tourists. Within this facility, he said, there is integrated travel, itinerary booking, tours and rent-a-car services. “We have the "Destinations of the World" franchise for Pakistan for bookings so that people don’t have to go through the hassle of physically going somewhere and making a booking. We are not in this business to make money but rather to provide added value and comfort to our customers,” he explained.
Mr Hashwani has been recognized for his contributions with various awards and medals over the years. He is both a distinguished businessman and a well known philanthropist, who has promoted the cause of the underprivileged in Pakistan.