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The Karma Group: An inspiring journey of success

The Karma Group is today one of the most prominent luxury brands in the world, having firmly established itself as a pioneer in timeshare holidays. Beloved by travellers for its range of multifaceted, comprehensive luxury offerings, this award winning, internationally renowned hotel and resort brand is helmed by its Founder and Chairman John Spence. The British-born entrepreneur is one of the most respected innovators and free-thinkers in the domains of travel, architecture, and entertainment. Having revolutionised the very benchmark of services and offerings in the hospitality industry, The Karma Group today is synonymous with experiences that surpass expectations.

The birth of this disruptive giant can be traced back to London, 26 years ago, when Mr. Spence was working as the manager of several popular bands like Kulture Club and Eurythmics. Owing to the vast exposure that he received, touring with the bands, he developed a vibrant, burning love for the world of travel. Soon enough, he decided to change his career and pursue this passion, eager to make his mark in the travel and hospitality industry. The opportunity presented itself in 1993, when he was invited to speak at a conference in Hyderabad, India. Since it was his first visit, Mr. Spence almost immediately found himself in spellbound awe of the magnificent beauty of the country. He took this chance to travel across the rest of the country, experiencing the wide variety of delicious food, magnificent landscape, rich culture, and hospitable people.

However, it was Goa that completely won him over, rife with pristine beaches, delightful delicacies, pleasant tropical climate, and an immensely liberal culture. In fact, the unfettered celebration of partying and indulgence reminded him of destinations like Mauritius and the Caribbean. This made him realise the massive, untapped potential of the beach state as an international holiday destination, since most travellers loved vacationing at tropical paradises, at the time. As a result, it was the perfect destination for British and German travellers looking for a luxurious, yet leisurely, beach holiday, which was also affordable, to boot.

Once he realised this, he made up his mind within the next 24 hours, and sold off his home in London, along with his car, and all of his belongings, to set up his first hotel in Goa, called Royal Resorts. Over time, however, he launched a range of more high-end products; rebranding it to Karma as he was a firm believer in the power of the universe, and receiving exactly what one gives. The name also had its roots in both Asian and Indian culture, religions, and more, besides being a perfect fit for a wide range of products – such as Karma spa, Karma beach, Karma wine, and more.

Over the last decade, since the launch of The Karma Group, the Indian hospitality market has experienced a powerful and transformative evolution. Earlier, Indian travellers predominantly showcased a demand for religious tourism, along with trips to conventional popular destinations in the country, since vacations were still considered a rare luxury. Today, however, holidays are a necessity, serving as a way to refresh and rejuvenate from the stress and exhaustion of daily routine.

The passion for exploring new destinations and unique experiences has driven the vacation preferences of Indian travellers towards the exceptional and unparalleled. No longer do they decide their travel plans based only on the destination and the accommodation. Rather, it is the experience that is being offered, that makes all the difference. This has led to the reinvention of the Indian hospitality industry as a whole, in order to offer a range of unforgettable and invigorating experiences in distant lands, resulting in a rapid growth of luxury boutique travel.

‘Glocalisation’ is also a concept that is sincerely followed by the Karma Group, where the resort is customised and adapted according to the location, instead of the other way around. This has helped offer a completely personalised experience, through a line of resorts that are diverse and authentic, yet being highly experiential, in keeping with the nuances and aesthetics of the locale.

As a result, properties of The Karma Group are more akin to a private member’s club than a hotel. Most of its clientele are members, and as such, stay at the brand’s properties regularly, year after year. Therefore, to ensure they are always entertained and delighted, The Karma Group communicates with them frequently, to better understand their desires and aspirations. The primary target for the brand is the Indian vacationer with a longing for a comprehensive holiday experience that merges luxury, comfort, and style. Hence, we curate and customise our offerings to match the local culture and community, with a commitment to constant innovation and evolution.

Looking back on the journey of The Karma Group, Mr. Spence says, “I strongly believe in the saying, “All good decisions are made in the blink of an eye.” While it is definitely important to plan ahead and strategise for the purpose of growth and progress, opportunities appear spontaneously, and it is equally important to know when to seize them. My unforeseen Dharmashala deal is the perfect example of this, one which became a brilliant success. The very birth of the brand took place because of a decision I made in just 24 hours. The testament to our success, is thus, the fact that even in this age of debt, The Karma Group continues to function independently, unhindered by the control of external investors, and their oversight.

Through Karma Resorts, Karma Retreats, Karma Royal, Karma Estates, Karma Beach and Karma Spa, we currently possess innumerable properties in 27 locations across 4 continents. This has helped cement our position as one of the most trusted and celebrated experiential luxury resort chains in the world. Having properties in Mykonos, Crete, the Bavarian Alps, France, and several other incredible locations, we also plan to expand our reach and presence in Sri Lanka and Coorg. Furthermore, we have also designed a unique expansion plan for ourselves, of establishing at least two new properties each year, for the upcoming five years. Additionally, we also aim to further reinforce our offerings in Goa, along with exploring North and South India, Pondicherry, Chennai, and Coorg, and in the near future, the Caribbean as well.”