London/New Delhi, Oct 10 (IANS) Well known hotelier and MP Lalit Suri died of a massive heart attack in London early Tuesday, a day ahead of his 23rd wedding anniversary. He was 59.
His wife Jyotsna was by his side when he breathed his last at the University College London Hospital, a spokesperson of the Grand Group confirmed.
The couple had gone abroad for a weeklong break and were preparing to go to Paris Wednesday to celebrate their anniversary, business sources in London said.
The industrialist had attended a reception hosted Monday night for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and was a member of the delegation of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here when he was taken ill and rushed to hospital.
Suri, who was to celebrate his 60th birthday next month, is survived by three daughters - Divya, Shrata, Diksha - and son Keshav, who has just completed his graduation in London.
His body will be flown to New Delhi on Wednesday for the last rites, family sources said.
Suri was chairman and managing director of Bharat Hotels, of which The Grand group of hotels that is a major player in India's tourism and hotel sector is a subsidiary.
Expressing shock at Suri's sudden death, the spokesperson described him as a health conscious person who used to go for regular walks and was diet conscious -- not only for himself but also his employees.
Born in Rawalpindi in undivided India, Suri was elected to the Rajya Sabha as an independent MP from Uttar Pradesh in Nov 2002 with the backing of the then ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA). He enjoyed a long relationship with the Gandhi family and was member of a number of parliamentary committees.
Known for his entrepreneur skills, he established a network of eight luxury hotels across the country -- in Delhi, Bangalore, Khajuraho, Kolkata, Goa, Mumbai, Udaipur and even in Srinagar when few dared to risk investment in Kashmir.
He also owned Delhi Midday, an afternoon newspaper published from the capital.
Known as the 'uncrowned hotel king of India', Suri is acknowledged to have represented the concerns of not just the hoteliers but of the tourism industry in seeking concessions on entertainment and service taxes.
'We admired him as a hotel and hospitality entrepreneur who went on to become a great business leader. Suri had many a times raised concerns of the tourism industry in parliament. He was very vocal about issues impacting growth of Indian tourism,' said Subhash Goyal, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators.
'For me, his death is a personal loss as he has been a great supporter and friend right from our college days in Shri Ram College of Commerce,' said Goyal.