I’m happy and privileged to count some of India’s most discerning business travellers among my readers. Zipping in and out of cities and keeping up with the frenetic pace of the corporate world are job requirements, but doing it in style, effortlessly and seamlessly is an art. Or at least I’d like to think of it as so.
Every other month, one hotel makes it to my coveted list of “Business Traveller Pick”, along with a list of reasons that make me think so. Needless to say, my choice is based on experience and seen through the prism of a business traveller.
This month, my pick is the uber-chic Sheraton Grand Bangalore. I travelled to Bangalore recently, to experience the hotel and here are a few reasons why business travellers to Bangalore need to sit up and take notice, if they haven’t already.
1.The Location – The Sheraton Grand Bangalore is located at the upscale Brigade Gateway, a relatively new neighbourhood in the city. Brigade Gateway is a township of sorts which combines residential and commercial real estate. The World Trade Centre is across the street (a 15-second walk) from the main entrance of the hotel and the massive Orion Mall is a minute’s walk from the hotel. Its proximity to the World Trade Centre truly works in its favour as this cuts down the commute time to a few seconds (in a city notorious for its traffic snarls). In fact, it is in this very neighbourhood that the Phoenix group have set up some of Bangalore’s most luxurious real estate projects.
2. A “Grand” Entry – I was fortunate enough to be at the Sheraton Grand Bangalore for the one year celebrations of its “Grand” status. This means that a few international Sheraton properties that stand out for their service and offerings are upgraded to the Sheraton Grand Status and this one in Bangalore happens to be one of them. The result is a decidedly more luxurious approach to business travel than your average business hotel.
3. Small Service Touches – On a business trip, I always love a hotel that believes in discreet luxury. I don’t need (read – have the time) for someone waiting on me hand and foot. The guys at this hotel seem to understand that and service comes in the form of small, personalised, discreet touches, which are never intrusive. Small things like a cup of coffee (in a Sheraton-branded paper cup) waiting for me on arrival, a bottle of my favourite sparkling water placed in the room for me before I asked for it are just a few examples.
4. Consistency – I always judge a business hotel by how consistently they are able to use the customer’s first or last name during different service touchpoints. The Sheraton Grand staff (reception, housekeeping, room service and operators) passed this test with flying colours.
5. The Pool – It’s never really all work and no play with me. I only need an excuse to jump into the pool. I had a late check out on a Saturday morning and decided to spend the morning by the pool. I absolutely loved this pool, in the shadow of the hotel’s tower, a few levels above the street, which means perfect for a relaxing swim (and a cocktail, if you like). In case you’re up for it, there are complementary morning Yoga sessions by the pool, so it might be a good idea to sign up for one before you begin your workday.
6. The Sheraton Club Lounge – Another important element in any business hotel is its club floor. Especially for those frequent visitors (SPG members, this one’s for you) who are looking for a bit more exclusivity. The Sheraton Grand Club Lounge floor is as discreet and quiet as it can get. A gorgeous space, with breathtaking views, perfect for a quiet breakfast, a mid-morning coffee or even sundown cocktails. There are lots of separate seating areas so you can even host a small meeting in the lounge, if you need to. For club members, complementary tea, coffee, and snacks are on offer all day long.
7. La Dolce Vita – A special mention needs to go out to the hotel’s AMAZING Italian fine dining restaurant, Bene, helmed by the very jovial Giuseppe Lioce. One dines (or lunches) in style, to the strains of some gorgeous Italian music as Chef Giuseppe brings out the best of Italian food. From a menu printed on a wine bottle, to rare, expensive, limited-production Italian condiments, the chef has a no holds barred approach to Italian food. If you’re around on a weekend, ask for the Grandmother’s Table brunch (a new concept, which he has introduced, where you sit at a large communal table, paired with perfect strangers, who become your dining partners).
8. The Rooms – The rooms, of course, are at the core of any hotel experience. I found them to be plush, elegant and highly functional, without being too stuffy or in-your-face. Enough plug points across the rooms to plug in devices, great linen, bathroom amenities, a stocked minibar, and wonderful eye-pleasing decor. The rooms are designed to put one at ease, which is much required after a long day at work or a long flight.
9. SPG and Marriott Rewards – With the consolidation of Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Marriott International, their respective loyalty programmes, SPG and Marriott Rewards continue to exist simultaneously. According to Stephanie Linnards, Marriott’s Executive VP and Global CCO (in an interview to Travel + Leisure), “Guests can now link their accounts and enjoy the benefits.” So for business travellers, this comes as a BIG plus point. With a stay at Sheraton Grand Bangalore, you can now add points to any one of your loyalty programmes, thereby increasing the scope of your perks.
10. The Staff – If the hotels’ swashbuckling leaders, GM Saurabh Bakshi and Hotel Manager Devesh Rawat are anything to go by, you can be assured of a fantastic experience. During my interactions with them, as well as with other members of the staff (Chef Giuseppe, are you listening?) it is very clear that they put the customer’s before all else, and ensure that anticipating his needs is what will truly characterise an experience.
The Sheraton Grand Bangalore gets a big thumbs-up from us and makes it to UrbanEye’s Business Traveller Pick of the Season. www.sheratongrandbangalore.com