Hotels and Restaurants are not just buildings. They blend in to the lifeline of a city. They go along with the culture and attitude of the people. People build memories around them and make it part of their lives. How can I not remember The Raffles of Singapore or the Fairmont of San Francisco that made history during the World War II. How can I forget MTR of Bangalore that gave us the Rava Idli or Buhari of Chennai that gave Chicken 65 to this world. When Woodlands Drive-in of Chennai was closed down 2 years back, people were protesting to save it. When Taj Mahal of Mumbai was attacked, the whole of India was crying for it, as everyone knew how iconic that hotel is.
Chennai is seeing the influx of international hotel brands in the last few years. Hyatt, Hilton and Westin have made their way to our city. Although ITC is already here through their Sheraton partnerships, they were due to make a statement. And boy, haven’t they made it loud and clear with their ITC Grand Chola. Although open for public, ITC Grand Chola hasn’t gone in to full blown marketing like other new hotels. They had a special preview for few chosen bloggers through Indiblogger last Saturday and I was lucky to be one of them. Here are some of the photos and of course experiences of fellow bloggers
But I am going to write those 6 reasons why ITC Grand Chola can become an icon of this city?
1. The brilliantly conceived Chola Theme
Cholas are the most prolific kings of South India. In fact, the only Indian dynasty to invade foreign lands and at one point of time their rule extended from Ganges to as far as Thailand. ITC has the habit of choosing dynasty names for their hotels and Chola is the one they chose for Hotels in Tamil Nadu. But this time around, it’s not only the name that they have used. Every part of the hotel speaks about the wonderful Chola theme. For instance, the Lotus lounge is designed based on the Karpakriha (Sanctum Sanctorum) of The Brihadeeswara Temple (Big Temple). It echoes your voice when you talk near that lounge. Don’t forget to try it out. The Grand Presidential Suite is named after Raja Raja Chola and the Grand Ball Room is named after Rajendra Chola. It is the biggest hall that you can get in Chennai at present… From door handles to lights, a lot of thought has gone in to the hotel to make it sync with the theme. You can see the work of 4000 artisans from Mamallapuram in every part of the hotel.
2. The Overwhelming Grandeur
ITC Grand Chola baffles you with its sheer grandeur. 600 rooms in 1,60,000 sq ft is said to be the largest standalone hotel in India. An article in Hindu states that, an employee of ITC Grand Chola will walk 26000 steps a day in comparison to 2000 steps by an average human being. That will give you an idea of how massive the hotel is. Don’t worry, they are planning to have touchpad kiosks to find your way
3. Applefication of Experience
If they chose to go traditional with their designs, they have gone to heights of technology when it comes to their room. An iPad will do everything you want to do in your room. The app will play TV, switch channels, open doors, order food, control AC, shop at the boutique stores inside the hotel and control every damn electrical and electronic appliance in your room. As an Apple fan, I am so happy they are using an iPad or to be fair to them, they couldn’t have done it with another OS. You just need to experience it and I am waiting for Varun Krish to post that demo video
4. Carefully chosen ideas for restaurants and bars
The hotel does have the usual restuarants that you see in other hotels (Madras Pavillion for South Indian, Peshawari for North Indian, Cafe Mercara – 24 Hr coffee shop, Pan Asia and Ottimo – Italian restaurant) but I was surprised with two interesting entities that’s going to be the most visited places of Chennai in coming years. One will be Cheroot – the Malt and Cigar lounge – wonderfully conceptualized place for connoisseurs of the best cigars and malt drinks. They have one of the finest collections in India. And the next one will be, Royal Vega that’s going to celebrate the Vegeterian dishes of every cuisine. Yes my friends, I am talking about a Vegeterian restaurant, believe me for once
5. For the wonderful sunset view
The designers have planned this wonderfully well. The middle level terrace with the pool has the best sunset view after Marina Beach in Chennai. I could already see a few cameras with Tripods trying to get the best sunset picture from Chennai
6. The People
Will you like a hotel staff who can quote famous dialogues from different TV series? Gaurang, who accompanied us for the tour was an encyclopaedia of TV series quotes. He was candid and honest with his comments. At the end of our tours, teams were asked who was the best guide. We rooted for Gaurang to the hilt and I was surprised to see every team cheering for their own guides. Almost all of them are here for the past 1.5 years and they have seen the how this hotel has shaped up into what it is now. After seeing them in person, I understood why hotel staff stay in their jobs for long time.
I think the culture of a hotel is defined by the people who work there. The hotels that I have mentioned at the start of my article became iconic not because of how they are but because of the people who kept hospitality above everything else. And ITC Grand Chola has taken its first step in the right direction. We have to see how it fares in the years to come. This will be the most important factor in determining whether ITC Grand Chola can become one of the icons of city. I sincerely hope it happens. All the best to ITC Grand Chola and thank you for giving us a wonderful Saturday evening. I will be back soon
You can have a look at the hotel and book in the following link
PS: A special thanks to Indiblogger team for organising a wonderful event. Great show guys