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New high for hospitality sector
The Hindu - 15 Sep 2012

In the last year, two other luxury  hotels have opened in the city and more are in the pipeline

For Chennai’s who’s who, it was only an event marking the  opening of a hotel — the biggest in the city so far; but for the city itself,  the occasion marked a game-changer.

With the inauguration of the 1.5 million sq. ft., 600-room  ITC Grand Chola in Guindy on Saturday, Tamil Nadu’s hospitality industry  received a shot in the arm — even as two more luxury hotels wait to be unveiled  in the heart of the city.

“We need to market Chennai,” said ITC chairman, Y C  Deveshwar. “Now with the capacity we have with ITC Grand Chola, we can begin to  get people to think about coming to the city, and in the not-so-distant-future,  get Chennai on the map,” he said, speaking shortly after Chief Minister  Jayalalithaa inaugurated the hotel.

In the last year, two other luxury hotels have opened in the  city — the Hilton Chennai in Ekkaduthangal, and Hyatt Regency in Teynampet —  and more are in the pipeline, including JW Marriot and Westin, all targeting  the coveted MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) traffic.

Existing luxury hotels including the Taj properties will  have to compete — and aggressively — for a clientele that has many more options  than ever before. “Now, every hotel will have to compete,” said Mr.  Deveshwar. “The objective of this hotel is  to take from competition. Out other properties in the city, too, will have to  compete with this one,” he said.

The seven-star property boasts many firsts — most prominently,  it is, according to Mr. Deveshwar, the largest, highest LEED platinum green  hotel in the world.

Its facade is imposing, somewhat regal, while the interiors  are warm, decadent and luxurious. Tall pillars of flowers greet you at the  lobby. The hotel’s signature asset — a 30,000-sq.ft. ballroom — takes five  minutes to walk across from end-to-end.

“We began the hotel  business in the city in 1975 with the Chola on Cathedral Road,” said Mr.  Deveshwar. “Now, after many years, we have re-begun that beginning with ITC  Grand Chola, paying tribute to the rich legacy of the Chola dynasty,” he said.

Ten food and beverage outlets, a 23,000-sq.ft. Kaya Kalp  spa, and ‘iPad-controlled technology’ are other features  of the hotel that has had Rs. 1,200 crore invested in it, and employs over  1,000 people for its day-to-day operations.  

With the city’s automobile, IT, ITES and pharmaceutical  sectors booming, destination Chennai is only set to grow — a fact several  hoteliers in the city, are counting on.

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