The newly opened hotel, ITC Grand Bharat, is impressive as much for its architecture as its innovative features
By: Suman Tarafdar
Posted on: August 4, 2015
LF Says: ★★★★ .5
Landmarks in Indian hospitality have been rather scarce. Even as the sector is now opening up, truly grand hotels and resorts are just beginning to come up. After years of anticipation, one of India’s most ambitious hospitality projects has opened its gates. ITC Grand Bharat, located a little beyond Gurgaon, is India’s first all suite hotel, and ITC’s first foray into the resort space. Conceived as a kind of Camp David, an exclusive retreat when the powers need to confabulate away from the hubris, Grand Bharat is one of a kind – a new retreat that overwhelms the senses at first encounter.
In a good way, one discovers on closer contact.
Grand Bharat is located about 50 kilometres from the heart of Delhi, to the south west. Nothing quite prepares you as the drive past farms and fields and rural houses is uninspiring, when suddenly a massive sandstone structure comes into view. The all suite hotel has been designed to make the guest feel like a royal. On arrival, a guest is greeted not just by a welcome drink but also a showering of petals, the blowing of the trumpet and yes, a red carpet!
Exploring what is purported to be India’s first all suite resort is a voyage of discovery. As the name implies, the resort draws inspiration from myriad sources for its aesthetics. The main building has most of the public spaces, and the sense of awe starts right from the lobby, named Sangam after the meeting of the three rivers - two real, one mythical.
The central dome is inspired from Odishan Nagara style temple of Mukteshwara in Bhubaneswar. The capitals and the detailing on columns pay homage to Gujarat’s Adalaj step well. Parapet details come from Vadodara’s Laxmi Vilas Palace while the ghats of Varanasi are present in a scaled down version, next to a water channel named Yamuna! Mughals contribute design inspirations for the interiors, from domes and arches to pietra dura and floral patterns.
The yet to open Presidential villas, of which there will be four, are inspired from different dynasties which have ruled in India – Mughals, Cholas, Mauryas and Marathas. There is a dizzying array of details to be noted for those interested and this makes the story of the hotel even more singular. Note the fountains or the Tree of Life high above in the Sangam ceiling, or the myriad artwork as you go for your signature Kaya Kalp spa treatment.
As an all suite hotel, it is no surprise that the living quarters are spacious. The 100 Deluxe Suites measure 70 sq m or 750 sq feet. You arrive, and generally commute in the retreat via golf cart, available on call. The suite itself is full of everything a house would have if it were a particularly opulent one with no extra stuff. The living area has plush white upholstery sofas, an oval teakwood centre table, a work desk, lots of wall art, stunning lamps. Gadgets include a flat panel TV and multiple ports for anything you may want to hook up. A wooden sideboard has a small cupboard with cutlery including balloon wine glasses, coffee maker, mini bar and complimentary fruit and chocolate trays!
The interior wall design is that of a luxury tent, and that feeling is accentuated in the bedroom. The bed headboard is straight out of the royalty designs again, though the bed itself is very comfortable. If that were not enough, a pillow menu, 300 thread count linen sheets and a Signature WelcomSlumber kit should ensure good rest. If separate TVs in the living and bedrooms and various ports to connect all your gadgets are not enough, wifi is free and has good connectivity despite being a remote location.
The walk in wardrobe, in the space between the bedroom and the washroom, is spacious. Again, from robes to slippers to laundry bags, all are provided. The washroom is expansive, with separate large sink bath and shower areas. Lots of amenities are stocked, from dental care to shaving kits to body lotions, sewing kits to vanity sets to a variety of in-house toiletries (ITC’s Essenza di Wills). Sliding doors connect and separate the different units of the suite, ensuring privacy whenever required.
What might be the focus of your stay, however, is the veranda outside the living room, which opens to a water channel. While it is shared with the next suite, you can just pray for it to be empty when you visit! To sit with you feet dipped in, sipping a drink of your choice and reading / listening / chatting – life could rarely be more pleasurable!
All that it holds
Exploring the hotel is an adventure too, even on a golf cart. The hotel is vast, at over 300 acres, and has multiple pools, a well-appointed gym, and, of course, the signature Kaya Kalp spa.
The adjacent golf course and a new clubhouse mean the dedicated golf clientele is also present. A visit to the links is warranted for all guests however, if only to see an abundance of peacocks in the wild.
The retreat has a number of ambitious dining options. Dining at the resort is unlike any other hotel in India. The showcase India Room, with its striking interiors, offers an “array of cuisines of the colonisers of India – from the Greeks, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, to the British”. There is no all day dining restaurant, instead the nearest option is the 3-meal bistro, Aravali Pavilion. Pastel hued and soft in contrast to the glitzy India Room, it too offers its menu in prefixed sets. The Peacock Bar is just as multi hued as its inspiration and so are its unique cocktails. The semi outdoors Apas Promenade offers local Mewati food by the poolside and is a great evening venue.
What also makes the service unique is the service standards – it is staffed by ITC’s future leaders – read young staffers in training, and they are an eager to please. It is on them to bring the stories alive for the guest, and they seem to be doing an impressive job. ITC’s ambition has finally been realised, and just as every other hotel in the group, it is expected to be a landmark in Indian hospitality.
Coordinates: P.O Hasanpur, Tauru,Mewat, Gurgaon, Haryana, India
Ph: +91 1267 285 500
LF Says: ★★★★ .5
Suman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on TV. Yes, current politics bothers him.