Last week, when my car drove up the sweeping driveway of ITC Grand Chola, a thought flashed through my mind. It was of the circuit I had embarked on with ITC more than three decades ago in Chennai. A circuit which came full circle in the autumn of 2012 with the launch of ITC Grand Chola in the capital of Tamil Nadu. Many of us know that circumambulation is considered an act of devotion in many spiritual contexts. In a sense, ITC Grand Chola is ITC’s devotion to this remarkable city where our journey began and which we return to once again.
Many readers and regular visitors to our hotels across the country are aware of ITC’s commitment to delivering world-class luxury with refreshing attention to environmental and social responsibility through its hotels. But what also brings them back is our commitment to deliver a truly distinct experience that is enriched as much by larger architectural elements as by the finer details of design, decor and service. All these elements great and small – products of tireless research – go towards creating an ambience that brings alive a connection with the region and its history, in a manner that is both historic and contemporary.
With ITC Grand Chola, ITC has pulled out all stops to deliver an experience that is superlative in every way. The ten-storey ITC Grand Chola features a sprawling retail arcade and banquet, exhibition and conference spaces that are among the largest in the country. The vast exhibition space is ideal for hosting logistically demanding arrangements such as auto expos, for which it is well served by special freight elevators. The hotel also has luxury serviced apartments, apart from elegantly appointed guest rooms and spectacular suites.
Yet the imprint of history is unmistakable. Several hereditary craftsmen from Mahabalipuram have evoked within ITC Grand Chola the spirit of the temples, art and architecture of the era of the Imperial Cholas – reckoned as the greatest maritime power of the time to have risen in South Asia. They have recreated heritage motifs and carvings inspired by Tanjore’s Brihadeswara temple on the ceilings and the columns of the hotel. Chola country both in Ancient times and under the Imperial Cholas played host to diplomats, merchants and itinerant traders from around the world. In recent decades the state has played host to the world’s leading automotive names and has established itself as the country’s definitive automotive hub. International luxury brands too are making their presence felt. The likes of Louis Vuitton are leading the way and many more international luxury brands are charting plans to establish themselves in this important market.
With ITC Grand Chola, ITC will give back to Chennai in the same measure that we have been inspired by this shimmering metropolis over the decades. The tribute becomes clear as soon as you walk in to the hotel – in our selection of distinct artefacts, ceremonial fabrics, layered motifs and intricate detailing that meld seamlessly into the grand rhythmic patterns sweeping across the spaces. It evokes not only the grand vision of the Imperial Cholas and their conquests but also the effusive and vibrant schemes of modern Tamil popular culture.
I must also mention that ITC Grand Chola continues the tradition of culinary excellence that many of you enjoy regularly in ITC’s hotels across the country. Our new hotel hosts these cherished, award winning food and beverage brands in addition to new experiences that reflect the widening preferences of the Indian connoisseur. Royal Vega – the pioneering vegetarian restaurant will showcase the luxury vegetarian cuisine from the Indian subcontinent.
Innovations; one of the corner stone of the ITC Hotels value proposition has led to many a pioneering initiatives. The most recent being the ‘Welcom@Butler’ service, enabled by the exclusive features we have developed on the iPad – a first in the global hospitality industry.
As with every luxury hotel in our chain, you can be assured that every experience you indulge in, is intelligently offset to make the least possible demands on the environment. We have paid careful attention to factoring in systems and technologies that ensure highly efficient resource consumption; this is in keeping with our commitment to Responsible Luxury. ITC Grand Chola, the world’s largest LEED Platinum green hotel, proudly carries forward ITC’s ‘carbon positive, water positive and solid waste recycling’ credentials and has the distinction of being powered entirely on renewable energy.
It is a delight to share the ITC Hotels journey with you through this space. I look forward to reading your comments.