By Team Ocider
First a disclaimer: This is not about promoting one hotel at the cost of another. Sure there were hotels and resorts at Tamilnadu Travel Mart that are equally or even better than those listed below, but there was something about them that made us notice them: It could be a stall that had an eye catching design, or it could be because the people manning these stalls were very friendly and forthcoming. In fact, some stalls had representatives of properties who were least interested in visitors! It could also be because certain stalls were located very strategically or some that had interesting features as USPs. So here goes Ocider’s select few:
The Raintree, Chennai
To begin with, we fell in love with the name. Rains and trees – how refreshing can that get in the humid Tamil capital! To reinforce the positive impression, its website and even their stall at Tamilnadu Travel Mart had a soothing lime green design element. When I spotted the name first, we thought it was a resort in some exotic location, but surprise, surprise, The Raintree hotels – and there are two of them – are actually in the heart of Chennai. One is in St Mary’s road and the other in Anna Salai.
The first one is on a quiet residential neighbourhood, on a peaceful tree-lined street. The other one is in the heart of the Chennai City Centre, surrounded by the technology, auto and manufacturing business zones. So why is it called Raintree? The hotel’s Director (sales) Rajesh Philip, answers: “There are a lots of trees surrounding our St. Mary’s property. We took the name from it.” And yes, it does have a spa like feel. “The rooms are quiet and gives an impression of a resort in the middle of the city,” he adds.
Chariot Beach Resort, Mahabalipuram
You just can’t ignore this one if you are visiting Mahabalipuram. After all, it is one of the largest beach resorts in South India. Situated in a secluded 42 acres, the rooms and cottages here are large and many of them are sea facing. An Olympic size swimming pool is there too. “The resort complex itself is a destination by itself,” says P.G. Thulasiram, VP, Sales. No wonder, it attracts guests from all over the world, mostly from Germany followed by tourists from France, UK, US and Singapore. Often it turns into a venue for NRI weddings and even for those from Chennai because of its proximity to Chennai that’s just an hour away. “We have had large weddings here with as many as 6,000 guests,” says Thulasiram. Wedding on the cards? Don’t look any further.
Bergamont group of hotels, Across Tamilnadu
Ok, we like the hotels from this hospitality group because of the concept of budgeted luxury. Which means without paying a fortune you can access several luxurious features. Less than five star, but better than bed and breakfast: Clean toilets which are also cool, a breakfast spread that won’t have you asking for more, linens that are not just spotlessly white but feather-soft too, and mattress that are 8-inch thick – a standard in the global hotel industry. “It provides luxury accommodation at budget price even as you enjoy fast broadband and other amenities,” says M. Nadarajan, MD of the hotel. With four properties – Hotel Star City and Star City Serviced Apartment in Chennai, Alps Residency in Krishnagiri, Hotel Himalyaa in Thiruvannamalai and Khanna Fiesta in Vellore, it has its presence in all four regions of Tamilnadu – Chola, Pandya, Pallava and Chera. Explore Tamilnadu simply by hopping from one of their properties to another.
Poppys Hotel, Madurai
If you are on a temple tour in temple town Madurai, you know where to go. Poppys, it is! Frequented by pilgrims, this hotel has built up a loyal following who wouldn’t stay anywhere else but Poppys. “Religious tourists are a demanding lot,” says K. Sundaramoorthy, the hotel’s GM. “Since they are visiting a temple and in a spiritual state of mind, they also expect similar reception, ambience and room settings.” That means they are welcomed with traditional aartis, tikkas and local drinks, the food provided is pure vegetarian and tastes like Prasad, and the room ambience has sights and sounds and smell that inspires pious state of mind. “The guests who come here have a very focused agenda: Go to Madurai, stay at Poppys, visit temple, return home,” Murthy adds. And nothing more.
Le Pondy, Pondicherry
Low fruit bearing trees where even a kid can pluck a fruit or two from its branches, sprawling grassy lawns and gardens that have flowers running riot with colours, Le Pondy, situated at Pondicherry (we still love to call this place by its old name) is a leisure resort beautifully lounged at an estuary between Chunnambar River and the Bay of Bengal.
This one celebrates Pondicherry – the French Riviera of the East – in all its true sense – the spirit, the architecture and the revelry. Part of the Joys Resorts and Hotels, this is a place to laze about, which is what foreign tourists – mostly from Germany and Russia – do. Well, when they are not at the Ayurveda centre getting a therapeutic massage. “But we want more domestic people to come in,” says the hotel’s AGM, Krishna Kumar Menon. And that’s what explains their presence at Tamilnadu Travel Mart.