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Luxury with a green touch
The Hindu - 08 May 2011

ITC's Royal Gardenia, Bengaluru, combines sustainability and luxury without compromising on either

The luxuriantly green vertical gardens provide a freshness and beauty otherwise unheard of within a hotel.

Royal grandeur: The multi-pillared Lotus Pavilion. (down) Soothing environs

There is luxury, and there is ITC Royal Gardenia, Bengaluru. Set in the heart of the city, this hotel has brought to life the very meaning of luxury. What is more, it's also brought to life another very important word in our world today: green. Royal Gardenia is the first Indian hotel and the largest to be conferred the highest rating for green buildings in the world: the LEED India Platinum Rating.

From the moment you enter, the tall and luxuriantly green vertical gardens provide a freshness and beauty otherwise unheard of within the four walls of a hotel. The lobby leads up to what's become one of the prime places to relax during the busy hours of the day, as well as a symbol of the hotel's grandeur: the Lotus Pavilion. Fashioned after Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace in Srirangapatnam, this multi-pillared pavilion has comfortable sofas as seating and boasts of an excellent beer bar.

Theme based

The hotel has 292 rooms, and the larger suites on the higher floors have massive balconies and breathtaking views. Designed by Francesca Basu, each floor has been decorated with a theme in mind. The themes are based on moods and representations of nature. “Our guests love this idea. It's been a huge success and our regulars now request rooms on their favourite floor,” says Anand Rao, General Manager.

One room that makes even the otherwise luxuriant and perfect suites look almost small by comparison is the Presidential Suite or the Peacock Suite. With its own heliport, this duplex room is spread over 5040 sq ft across the 20th and 21st floors. It boasts of every luxury including a personal valet, a swimming pool, a personal dining area and its own fitness centre. No wonder it is a favourite with world leaders and corporate honchos. Apart from the rooms — which are complete with a personal home theatre, a massaging chair to help you relax and every other facility you could ask for at arm's length — the first floor has the banquet hall along with a pre-function area covering around 8000 sq ft and a separate 2500 sq ft party room. There are also three meeting rooms and a board room.

The right wing of the same floor boasts of ITC's Kaya Kalp Spa with seven treatment rooms, Jacuzzis, saunas and steam baths. Just stepping into the spa with its dimmed lights, fragrant air and an ambience that instantly puts you at ease is an experience to remember. The Spa has won the Best Eco Friendly Spa award at the Asia Spa Awards.

Ultimately, it is the food that makes you come back again and again. A range of cuisines and hand-picked chefs look to make your dining experience worthwhile. There is the hotel's signature brand Kebabs and Kurries that offers melt-in-the-mouth kebabs and other delicacies straight out of the clay ovens, charcoal grills and rustic tawas.

Another authentic experience is at Edo, ITC's Japanese Flagship Award-winning restaurant. The restaurant showcases the izakaya style of dining that offers authentic and finger-licking Japanese food along with an exquisite range of sake, straight from Japan. There are many more such exclusive dining options for guests to choose from.

There is another perk, though; one that remains hidden and yet makes its presence felt. “We wanted the perfect blend of responsibility and luxury. This wasn't supposed to be a hotel where, because you followed green practices, the shower pressure would be pitiful or the sheets wouldn't be turned every day. We wanted responsible luxury, and we've achieved it,” says Nakul Anand, Executive Director, ITC. Putting together two different worlds wasn't easy but the hotel has managed to bring together sustainability and luxury while compromising on neither.

Green practices

If you really look, green practices are everywhere. You wouldn't feel it in your room, but it's there in the temperature control beside your bed that lets you set the temperature according to your needs, hence saving electricity. It's there in the bathroom where only gray water is used in the flushes. The roof of the Lotus Pavilion is a garden with lush green grass growing on it. Ninety per cent of the wood used is approved by FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). The sheets and linen are all organic having the added benefit of being completely allergen-free. There is storm water and rainwater harvesting, along with Evergreen Screw Chillers instead of air conditioners. Each guest is also given a green induction kit.

Along with green practices, the hotel also prides itself on its social contribution. Differently-abled people are employed as staff. Special guests are greeted with a taste of ancient and traditional India. “We want the guests to carry a little of the hotel back with them. So we make sure that they get the best staff management team, the best comfort and luxury and the little personal touch we add to everyone's stay. We actually have a farewell team: one member from every department to say good bye as you check out. Little things like that make a difference.”

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