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ITC Hotels: Travel trendsetters for women and the environment
The Washington Times - 21 Sep 2013


When it comes to setting trends for  the hospitality industry, the India based ITC Hotels are at the cutting edge of innovation. ITC, which once stood for India  Tobacco Company, has established a program catering to a frequently overlooked  segment tourism: Women.

Launched in 1975 the  company ventured into the hotel business to support new avenues of foreign  exchange earnings and to boost tourism. Beginning with the Sheraton Chola in  Chennai, ITC has redefined Indian hospitality. Today it operates four distinct  brands ranging from ultra-deluxe to legacy hotels. ITC is the country’s second  largest hotel chain with more than 100 properties in over 90 destinations that  are setting new standards in the areas of accommodations, cuisine, environment  and guest safety.

ITC Maurya, a landmark  luxury property in the capital of New Delhi, has been the preferred residence  for visiting heads of state and business leaders for a quarter of a century.

Other brands include  WelcomHeritage, WelcomHeritage/Sheraton and Fortune Hotels. WelcomHotel properties  are a joint venture between ITC and Jodhana Heritage representing the best of  India’s ancient traditions and cultural heritage as exemplified by WelcomHotel  Dwarka in New Delhi.

Fortune Hotels cater to  mid-market travelers with more than 40 business or leisure properties.

Anyone who has ever  traveled to India knows the country is a land of extremes beyond imagination.  India is a lively colorful destination that is rich in history and covered with  magnificent temples, vast fortresses and exotic palaces. But it is also a  seemingly infinite sea of humanity where thick walls frequently offer only a  thin line of separation between reality and luxury.

Realizing there was a  rising number of global business women as well as single female travelers with  different requirements than other guests, such as a need for added security,  ITC developed the EVA Program which is now having far-reaching implications for  other areas of tourism.

Historically India has  often offered separate tourist quarters for women. For example, since its  inception, the rail system, which is the largest in the world, has always  provided women’s only compartments on trains.

ITC’s top of the line  “Luxury Collection” has ten super deluxe premium hotels throughout India that  are architectural masterpieces located in strategic business and leisure  locations.

Grand Chola Hotel,  ITC’s newest property, replacing the original 1975 hotel, opened in Chennai  last year. Once known as Madras, Chennai is now India’s fourth largest city  and, at 4,380 square feet, the Raja Raja Presidential Suite is the largest room  in the city.

The suite was inspired  by Emperor Raja Raja the Great, one of the greatest rulers of the Chola  Dynasty. Among the amenities, the suite includes a private VIP lounge plus a  dedicated business center and swimming pool.

To accommodate female  clients, each ITC EVA property designates at least one entire floor with access  by special keys for women only. The floor is staffed entirely by female  “Welcome Divas,” 24-hour security and room attendants.

EVA floors are  generally located on the bottom to middle floors of a hotel so they are closer  to the lobby. Each property features between 12 and 14 EVA rooms on one floor  including a few smoking rooms.

In addition, EVA floors  provide exclusive feminine luxuries such as an array of high-end personal care  products ranging from a selection of bath soaps, combs and brushes, perfumes,  lotions and make-up. Personal valets are on call to assist with dressing,  wrapping a sari and preparation of clothing for any occasion, business or  leisure.

Conveniences such as  multiple full-view mirrors, ambient lighting and high-end entertainment systems  are standard in every room. There are also signature services on each EVA floor  offering everything from special dietary options, spa services and business  facilities.

In addition, EVA floors  have elaborate tea-trays with a variety of herbal teas and a chef’s tray of  light snacks in the evening.

ITC is so dedicated to  the program, that sometimes men may be turned away because a property is full,  but rooms remain available for female EVA guests.

Another ITC innovation  is something called Concierge Tours, which are not only popular with women  travelers, but with first time visitors to India as well. Hotels in each city  can organize escorted shopping trips with one of the concierge staff leading  the trip. Normally a minimum of two to three people is necessary for a  reservation.

A chauffeured limo,  usually an air conditioned Mercedes, travels with a knowledgeable guide to  markets and other sites. The guide will also assist with negotiating prices and  warding off hawkers. Lunch is usually included. Prices vary by location and the  amount of time of the tour.

ITC’s also pays  attention to “green” issues and has been awarded a Platinum certification by  the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

About the Author

Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled  throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television  producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events,  people and cultures around the globe. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club  (www.MagellanTravelClub.com).

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