The Leela story begins with its founder Late Capt. CP Krishnan Nair, and a deep hunger that fuelled his ambitions. Born into a poor agricultural family in Kannur District of Kerala, India, Capt. Nair joined the Free India Army in his mid-20s. He met Leela, the daughter of a successful handloom owner, who went on to become his soulmate, a life-partner and the leading lady in all his business ventures. After marriage, he resigned from the Army in 1945 and joined the handloom business, working his charm into the handloom industry, the world over.
Capt. CP Krishnan Nair took over as the CEO of the Producers-cum-Consumers Cooperative Society in Malabar, where the handloom industry was going through troubled times. Convinced that India had lost much of its arts and crafts in weaving during the colonization period, Capt. Nair prioritized the revitalizing of the dying handloom textile industry in the country. In 1951, he started the Leela Lace, a company that pioneered the fabric called 'Bleeding Madras', which went on to become one of the most sought after material in USA. He engaged with the best in the business and the long list of coveted clients included designers such as Liz Claiborne, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren. Soon, his business grew. And as Capt. Nair's travels increased, so did his exposure to some of the most hospitable and luxurious hotels of the world. He was greatly impressed by the high standards of hospitality at some of the iconic hotels of that time. During several interactions with General Managers of these hotels who would host him over lavish meals, he understood the finer nuances of what it took to make a luxury hotel.