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A hospitality hotspot

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The changing skyline A growing number of luxury hotels are entering Chennai
The changing skyline A growing number of luxury hotels are entering Chennai

The best names in the hospitality industry are setting up shop in the city. PRIYADARSHINI PAITANDY reports

Well-travelled and loaded, the urban Indian has gone beyond pining for the stars, and as in everything else, wants a little more snoot than what is available. That extra star or the word ‘deluxe' appended to an already elitist spec sheet now forms the basis of what a number of hospitality groups promises to bring into Chennai.

The roads that were deserted by 8 p.m. till the early 1990s, are being pepped up with glitzy multi-storey buildings, including a list of high-end hotels. Pink champagne, fine wine, lavish spreads and extravagant rooms will paint the face of the new Chennai.

According to Virender Razdan, general manager, Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers, around 3,000 rooms will get pumped into the city between 2010 and 2014. “There is sustenance of money in Tamil Nadu. We are quite bullish about the Chennai market,” he says.

Great views

That explains the new 600-room ITC Grand Dakshin that's coming up in Guindy. Overlooking the Guindy golf and race course and sprawled over eight acres, this is one of the largest hotels the country will see. Funded by a budget of approximately a thousand crore, what sets it apart from its competitors is its 50,000-sq. ft. banqueting, a helipad and a Presidential floor. “The Grand Dakshin will reflect the culture of Dakshin, and primarily Tamil Nadu,” adds Razdan.

Guess who else is coming to town? The Hilton. Not Paris, the heiress, but the hotel. For those desperately seeking a new place to unwind, The Hilton Chennai is your best bet. Empee Hotels Ltd. has tied up with Hilton International, and the result is a five-star deluxe hotel.

This nine-storey hotel in Guindy will be launched by June-end. Stephen Magor, general manager, The Hilton Chennai, says: “We definitely want to make an impact here. We have new concepts in food and beverage that will be new and interesting.” He is tight-lipped about his nouveau ideas, but divulges info about the ‘Chill Lounge' on the roof top. DJ, music, cabana, water body and cocktails to lift the spirit… seems like the perfect setting for a romantic evening.

The big players

Other big players such as J.W. Marriot, Hyatt and Leela, too, will be here to cradle you in the lap of luxury. Yet another five-star deluxe is The Hyatt Regency Chennai. “It is a landmark property as it symbolises our foray into South India, and aims to be an important link in the Hyatt Hotels and Resorts' global network,” says Sunjae Sharma, general manager.

The only way to enjoy Chennai's lovely coastline may have been a walk on the warm sands, a catamaran ride into the bumpy sea or from within the vehicle at the car park.

Now, you can view the golden sands and the azure sea from the comforts of your room. Leela and J.W. Marriott are both coming up with beach-front hotels. While the Leela Palace Kempinski is gracefully hoisting herself up at Santhome, the latter will be ready by March 2011 at MRC Nagar.

The once conservative capital of Tamil Nadu seems to have shed its crisp starched veshti for a cooler investor-friendly get-up. “Our market is expanding in manufacturing and other sunrise segments. That's why there is modernisation taking place, and the airport and infrastructure are being worked on. And, hotels are a part of the city's infrastructure,” explains Vikram Cotah, vice president, Radisson GRT, City Centre. The Radisson GRT City Centre is yet another upcoming property in Egmore. A five star, it will be ready by the year-end.

With the hospitality sector booming, city-based Ceebros didn't want to be left behind, and is rapidly constructing yet another Raintree that should be ready by the third quarter of this year.

Not just high-end hotels, Cotah says that the city will also have a few other three- and four- star hotels. Apart from that, Chennai like a caring parent has something for everyone who comes here, right from backpackers and wide-eyed tourists to business people. The occupancy rate in Chennai is 65 to 70 per cent.

A confident Razdan says this is expected to grow further with the flourishing economics of the State.

With Chennai luring top business houses, it's certainly the beginning of good times!

* * *

What, where, when?

Hyatt Regency Chennai, near Anna Arivalayam — Ready by the fourth quarter this year

Leela Palace Kempinski, Santhome — By the end of this year

The Raintree Hotel, Mount Road (next to Nandanam signal) —September 2010

ITC Grand Dakshin, Guindy — First quarter of next year

JW Marriott, MRC Nagar — March 2011

The Hilton Chennai, Guindy — End of June 2010

Radisson GRT City Centre, Egmore — Third quarter of this year

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