In the last year, two other luxury hotels have opened in the city and more are in the pipeline

For Chennai’s who’s who, it was only an event marking the opening of a hotel — the biggest in the city so far; but for the city itself, the occasion marked a game-changer.

With the inauguration of the 1.5 million sq. ft., 600-room ITC Grand Chola in Guindy on Saturday, Tamil Nadu’s hospitality industry received a shot in the arm — even as two more luxury hotels wait to be unveiled in the heart of the city.

“We need to market Chennai,” said ITC chairman, Y C Deveshwar. “Now with the capacity we have with ITC Grand Chola, we can begin to get people to think about coming to the city, and in the not-so-distant-future, get Chennai on the map,” he said, speaking shortly after Chief Minister Jayalalithaa inaugurated the hotel.

In the last year, two other luxury hotels have opened in the city — the Hilton Chennai in Ekkaduthangal, and Hyatt Regency in Teynampet — and more are in the pipeline, including JW Marriot and Westin, all targeting the coveted MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) traffic.

Existing luxury hotels including the Taj properties will have to compete — and aggressively — for a clientele that has many more options than ever before. “Now, every hotel will have to compete,” said Mr.  Deveshwar. “The objective of this hotel is to take from competition. Out other properties in the city, too, will have to compete with this one,” he said.

The seven-star property boasts many firsts — most prominently, it is, according to Mr. Deveshwar, the largest, highest LEED platinum green hotel in the world.

Its façade is imposing, somewhat regal, while the interiors are warm, decadent and luxurious. Tall pillars of flowers greet you at the lobby. The hotel’s signature asset — a 30,000-sq.ft. ballroom — takes five minutes to walk across from end-to-end.

 “We began the hotel business in the city in 1975 with the Chola on Cathedral Road,” said Mr. Deveshwar. “Now, after many years, we have re-begun that beginning with ITC Grand Chola, paying tribute to the rich legacy of the Chola dynasty,” he said.

Ten food and beverage outlets, a 23,000-sq.ft. Kaya Kalp spa, and ‘iPad-controlled technology’ are other features of the hotel that has had Rs. 1,200 crore invested in it, and employs over 1,000 people for its day-to-day operations. 

With the city’s automobile, IT, ITES and pharmaceutical sectors booming, destination Chennai is only set to grow — a fact several hoteliers in the city, are counting on.

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