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This Hotel Company Takes Luxury to A Whole New Level
Forbes - 10 Sep 2018


ITC Kohenur, which overlooks the picturesque Durgam Cheruvu Lake, is one of the most luxurious hotels in all of India.Courtesy of ITC Hotels

A world leader in the hospitality business, India-based ITC Hotels is one of the country's largest hotel chains with more than 100 properties in over 70 destinations in the country. As India is currently experiencing economic growth of 7.6%,one of the fastest growing economies in the world, ITC is expanding, particularly its luxury division.

"A lot of businesses are looking at making foreign investments in India now," explains Bindu Panicker, general manager of ITC's corporate communications. And as foreign investment comes to India, international companies are looking to set up a base there. "As a result, the largest growth will be in the upscale, luxury sector, so that's where we are expanding," she adds.

Business travel is driving tourism into India at the moment, according to Panicker. "And as an Indian hotel chain, we believe business travel will translate into tourism travel because the business traveler will come back as a leisure traveler," she explains.


There's a lot to learn from ITC Hotels' bespoke chain of luxury hotels located in such destinations as New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Gurgaon, Bengaluru, Agra, and Hyderabad. Each property offers opulent accommodations, renowned signature cuisine, award-winning wellness experiences and state-of-the-art business facilities (ITC Maurya in New Delhi is seen here).Courtesy of ITC Hotels

One of India's Most Admired Companies

ITC Hotel's parent company, ITC, is an enormous diversified conglomerate of multi-businesses that range from paper products and packaging, to immense agri-business and information technology divisions. ITC's consumer goods division manufactures a plethora of products from lifestyle apparel, cigarettes and cigars to personal care products. Its food division manufactures candy, coffee, pasta and juices, as well as prepared gourmet Indian cuisine, cookies, crackers and spices, just to name a few.

Founded in 1910, ITC is a publicly traded company and a member of the Forbes 2000 Largest Public Companies list with a market cap of $51.5 billion (as of June 2018) and $8.75 billion in annual revenues. The company also ranks on Forbes' World's Best Employers list and is considered to be one of India's most admired companies.

ITC's hotel division operates under four distinct brands including ITC Hotels Luxury Collection at the luxury end, 'WelcomHotel' in the Five Star segment, 'Fortune' in the mid-market to upscale segment and 'WelcomHeritage' in the heritage leisure segment. The company integrates India's fine tradition of hospitality in each of its brands and each hotel is an archetype of the culture and ethos of the destination in which it is located.


The palatial 4,000 square foot Grand Presidential Suite at the ITC Kohenur comes with butler services and its own kitchen staffed by a personal chef. Its living room is seen here.Courtesy of ITC Hotels

Each of the hotels within ITC's luxury hotel collection, of which there are currently twelve were built, owned and managed by ITC. They are known throughout the industry for the company's mantra of "Responsible Luxury." The guest experience these properties provide, from stunning decor and architecture to award-winning cuisine and world-class spa experiences---are all accomplished with the highest principles of environmental stewardship.

There's a lot to learn from ITC Hotels' bespoke chain of luxury hotels located in such destinations as New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Gurgaon, Bengaluru, Agra, and Hyderabad. Each property offers opulent accommodations, renowned signature cuisine, award-winning wellness experiences and state-of-the-art business facilities.


As part of ITC's sustainability efforts and "Responsible Luxury" mantra, ITC Kohenur utilizes 100 percent LED lighting and a solar strategy has been integrated into its design, complete with vertical gardens and a living roof.Courtesy of ITC Hotels

A Leader In Environmental Stewardship

A leader in environmental stewardship, ITC's motto of "'Responsible Luxury" is a guiding principle, and as such each ITC luxury hotel is certified with a LEED® Platinum rating (the Hyderabad property is awaiting its certification) for endeavors towards green building, which is environmental design that uses processes that are both responsible and resource-efficient.

ITC Kohenur, which overlooks the picturesque Durgam Cheruvu Lake in Hyderabad, opened to great fanfare in June (see related article "This Is The Hotel Of The Future"). The hotel was designed with a unique angular structure with each facet aimed at capturing maximum sunlight to conserve energy. As part of ITC's sustainability efforts and "Responsible Luxury" mantra, ITC Kohenur utilizes 100 percent LED lighting and a solar strategy was integrated into the design, complete with vertical gardens and a living green roof.

Responsible Luxury is also seen at ITC Maurya in New Delhi, which employs sustainable business practices that consume 33% less water against LEED® benchmarks—only treated recycled water is used for landscaping. The hotel also uses 23% less energy than USGBC's national average for large-size luxury hotels, accomplished, in part by the use of a solar thermal system for heating water. "We have always been a little ahead of our time," explains Bindu.


Performers in the lobby of the ITC Mughal hotel in Agra entertain guests.Courtesy of ITC Hotels

Reflecting The Local Culture With Experiential Luxury

Each hotel within ITC's Luxury Collection is also known for reflecting the local culture in which it is located, offering a unique luxury experience for their guests. Each day, performers are in the lobby entertaining guests with traditional music or dance that represents the locale. "Leisure travelers are looking for experiential travel and want to experience a destination through a hotel," says  ITC's Panicker, who says the cookie cutter model isn't what luxury travelers want anymore. "Sense of place is really important to ITC through the food that we offer and the décor that our guests see in their room. It builds a sense of where you are."


Near the world-renowned Taj Mahal, ITC Mughal offers 233 opulent rooms and suites. Courtesy of ITC Hotels

Take for example, the sprawling ITC Mughal hotel in Agra---once the capital of the Mughal Empire (also known as the Mogul Empire). The hotel capably reflects the once powerful empire which was Indo-Persian in culture and at its peak and the second largest dynasty in the Indian subcontinent. The hotel, which won the prestigious Aga Khan Award for its excellent representation of Mughal architecture, marvels with stunning architecture and design which includes beautiful inlaid marble floors and soaring ceilings. Near the world-renowned Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, ITC Mughal offers 233 opulent rooms and suites. The hotel's 35 acres of luxurious gardens are dotted with palm, pomegranate and frangipani trees, beautiful fountains and verdant green lawns.


The elegant Peacock Bar at the ITC Kohenur in Hyderabad features expansive glass frontage overlooking the gardens and the pool.Courtesy of ITC Hotels

The new ITC Kohenur, in Hyderabad, is also strikingly decorated with bold gemstone colors that compliment white marble accents. The hotel's smooth golden textures were inspired by the striking natural rock formations of Hyderabad, originally formed by volcanic stones. Creative art installations adorn the public spaces, such as one in which hundreds of Hyderabadi bangles cascade down from the ceiling. There are also famous Bidri metal handicrafts and Zardozi embroidery, all showcasing local arts and crafts, adding to the rich cultural legacy of the region.


The 99,000 square foot Kaya Kalp Spa at the ITC Mughal, is the largest spa in all of India. Its opulent treatment rooms, which include couple suites (seen here), are among the most luxurious to be found anywhere in the world.Courtesy of ITC Hotels

ITC'S Award-Winning Spas

ITC Hotels are also well-known for their award-winning spas. The 99,000 square foot Kaya Kalp Spa at the ITC Mughal, is the flagship spa for the entire hotel group. The largest spa in all of India, Kaya Kalp offers eight treatment rooms where highly trained therapists offer a full menu of relaxation and therapeutic treatments (including Ayurvedic options). The opulent treatment rooms, which include couple suites, are among the most luxurious to be found anywhere in the world. Their Indian foot massages, which include a foot bathing ritual, are not to be missed.


The spa pool at the Kaya Kalp-The Royal Spa at the ITC Mughal hotel.Courtesy of ITC Hotels

The spa, which is decorated with stone latticework, inlaid marble floors with stunning geometric patterns, handcrafted woodwork with mother-of-pearl inlays, also features a beautiful swimming pool, stunning relaxation rooms, Persian-inspired hammans, fountains and outdoor rain showers.

ITC Grand Bharat in Guragaon offers a spa that is nearly 35,000 square feet in size with 64 treatment rooms, some of which are lavishly decorated. The Kaya Kalp Spa at ITC Kohenur may only be 10,000 square feet spread across three floors, but like the flagship spa, it offers a full menu of traditional Ayurvedic and signature treatments in addition to innovative wellness offerings and a beautifully appointed couple's suite.


The hamam at the Kaya Kalp-The Royal Spa at the ITC Grand Bharat in Gurgaon.Courtesy of ITC Hotels

A Commitment To Wellness

Wellness is becoming a major aspect of business travel, explains ITC's Panicker. "And any hotel that can meet an unspoken need to cater to the wellness demands of the  business traveler is something that he or she will endorse in the future," she adds. "So all the things we are doing in terms of wellness are all built around the business traveler."

ITC's commitment to wellness extends beyond its spas. At the new ITC Kohenur, there are 13 wellness guest rooms, each of which are outfitted with Vitamin C showers and in-room plants that improve air quality. Daily "mindful turndown" service by "Wellbeing Associates" cater to each individual guest's needs, while gym kits and health-focused mini-bars that subscribe to ITC's ethos of being "Caringly Selected, Mindfully Prepared," mantra are also featured. The wellness-themed guest rooms are a first for the ITC Hotel collection.

The company takes its guests' ability to have a good night's sleep very seriously. Each ITC Hotel guest room is equipped with a pillow menu, aromatherapy oils and a sleep mask to help its guests fall asleep. If a fatigued guest needs a snack before bed, they can order food and beverages from a sleep menu that offers items that will "help you sleep like a baby." Foods such as oatmeal with bananas and peanut butter can be paired with gulkand milk, which is a concoction of rose petals and unrefined sugar mixed with hot milk.


Located at the ITC Maurya in New Delhi, Bukhara is arguably the most famous and well-regarded Indian restaurant in the world and has been a dining destination for foodies, presidents and heads of state since it opened its doors thirty years ago.Courtesy of ITC Hotels

ITC'S Signature Restaurants

Each of the hotels in the portfolio are also home to signature restaurants, the most famous of which is the award-winning landmark dining destination, Bukhara. Located at the ITC Maurya in New Delhi, Bukhara is arguably the most famous and well-regarded Indian restaurant in the world and has been a dining destination for foodies, presidents and heads of state since it opened its doors thirty years ago. Guests lucky enough to get a reservation dine on North Indian cuisine, such as tandoor-cooked kababs, vegetables and breads. The restaurant features stone-clad walls and rough-hewn furniture which evoke the rustic origins of New Delhi cuisine.


ITC Kohenur offers six food and beverage options including Yi Jing (seen here), which serves classical dishes and modern interpretations Chinese cuisine).Courtesy of ITC Hotels

ITC Kohenur offers six food and beverage options including Golconda Pavilion (a 24-hour restaurant  with inventive international cuisine along with a large "Local Love" repertoire featuring local and regional favorites from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh), Ottimo (ITC's signature pan-Italian brand) with adjacent rooftop Skypoint Bar, Yi Jing (a new brand serving classical dishes and modern interpretations Chinese cuisine), and Dum Pukht Begum's (showcasing cuisine influenced by the royal kitchens of Hyderabad). The Peacock Bar features expansive glass frontage and overlooks the gardens and pool.


The ITC Grand Bharat in Gurgaon, is an all-suite property with 104 suites and villas on 300 beautifully landscaped acres.Courtesy of ITC Hotels

Luxurious Guest Accommodations

But what guests are writing home about are ITC Hotels' well-appointed guest rooms. At ITC  Grand Bharat in Gurgaon, an all-suite property with 104 suites and villas on 300 beautifully landscaped acres, guests stay in sumptuously decorated accommodations, which are appointed with either a semi-private lap pool or an expansive terrace. The Presidential suite is nearly 5,726 square feet in size and is equipped with a personal butler. The hotel, which resembles a palace, offers two swimming pools and a 27-hole golf course that is the first Jack Nicklaus-designed course in all of India.


The palatial 4,000 square foot Grand Presidential Suite at the ITC Kohenur comes with butler services and its own kitchen staffed by a personal chef.Courtesy of ITC Hotels

The palatial and beautifully decorated 4,000 square foot Grand Presidential Suite at the ITC Kohenur comes with butler services and its own kitchen staffed by a personal chef. The hotel, which has 271-guest rooms, including nine luxurious suites, is the first in ITC's portfolio to offer women's only EVA suites on their own floor. The hotel also has 27 serviced residences (starting at 2,500 square feet in size) for longer-term guests, such as visiting executives working at such nearby companies such as Google, Amazon or Microsoft. Inspired by the famed Jewels of the Nizam, each guest room and suite is outfitted in a different gemstone color with dark woods and lush fabrics as well as detailed woodwork. The spacious ITC One rooms feature contemporary work spaces, balconies and a floor butler service.


The ITC Grand Bharat in Gurgaon is an all-suite property with 104 suites and villas on 300 beautifully landscaped acres. The hotel, which resembles a palace, offers a 27-hole golf course that is the first Jack Nicklaus-designed course in all of India.Courtesy of ITC Hotels

Redefining Luxury

ITC is fulfilling their ambition to redefine the face of Indian hospitality, which was its goal when the company opened the first hotel during the mid-1970s. Since then, the company has achieved a string of firsts, from pioneering the concepts of branded accommodation and cuisine. The company builds and operates their hotels with the highest of environmental standards, sustainable hospitality and with guest safety and comfort in mind. Each ITC Hotel reflects the culture and ethos of its destination with warmth and takes the company's distinctive "Namaste" logo to an even higher level.

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