HY­DER­ABAD

Dis­cov­er­ing op­u­lent ar­chi­tec­ture, gourmet biryani and a lush oa­sis in the In­dian city

Business Traveler (USA) - - MEETING MATTERS -

GOLCONDA FORT

Golconda sits atop a 400foot gran­ite hill and was once the cap­i­tal of the Qutb Shahi king­dom. The 16th cen­tury ci­tadel con­sists of four dif­fer­ent forts en­com­passed by a six mile long outer wall with 87 semi­cir­cu­lar bas­tions – some with their can­non still in place – four draw­bridges, pro­tect­ing royal apart­ments, tem­ples, mosques and sta­bles. The Fateh Dar­waza (Vic­tory Gate) of­fers a glimpse into the so­phis­ti­cated engineering of the place; a hand clap at the en­trance can be heard clearly at the Bala Hisar pavil­ion, the high­est point in the fort al­most a half mile away. This dou­bled as an alarm in case of at­tack and as a way for the sultan to eaves­drop on en­e­mies within. The gi­ant iron spikes in the gates are in­tended to keep ele­phants from bat­ter­ing them down.

If you have a lit­tle ex­tra time, the fort of­fers a light and sound show af­ter sun­set. It takes about an hour, and the price for for­eign­ers is Rs100 ($1.65). Af­ter­wards, take a stroll through the nar­row streets sur­round­ing the fort. In the old shops and houses you can buy ev­ery­thing from naan bread to ban­gles. Hours from 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM

HUS­SAIN SU­GAR LAKE

Hus­sain Sa­gar Lake is an ar­ti­fi­cial reser­voir dat­ing from the reign of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah. This his­tor­i­cal land­mark, cre­ated in 1562 when a dam was built across the Musi, to­day forms the bound­ary be­tween Hy­der­abad and Se­cun­der­abad. The sur­round­ing shore­line is one of the most walk­a­ble places in the city, dot­ted with var­i­ous parks, tem­ples, stat­ues and his­tor­i­cal build­ings. The 60-foot gran­ite statue of Lord Bud­dha at the center of the lake is a rel­a­tive new­comer; it was added in 1992. Boat rides to the statue are avail­able from Eat Street and Lumbini Park. Neck­lace Road. Open 24 hrs.

CHARMI­NAR

Lit­er­ally mean­ing‘four minarets,’the Charmi­nar has long been the icon of Hy­der­abad. It was built on the spot where Quli Qutb Shah prayed for an end to the plague that had struck the city. The tow­ers rise to a height of 160 feet, and from atop the minarets, you can get a spec­tac­u­lar panoramic view of Hy­der­abad. The Charmi­nar stands in the mid­dle of a busy cross­roads with traf­fic on all sides, but work is un­der­way to pedes­tri­an­ize the site. Plan an early morn­ing trip around 9 am if shop­ping is not on the to do list. Mon through Sat 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, closed on Fri. 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM for prayers. Ad­mis­sion for non-In­di­ans is Rs100 ($1.65),Video cam­eras are Rs25 (40 cents) ex­tra.

LAAD BAZAAR

Just a short walk west from Charmi­nar will bring you to Laad Bazaar, one of the old­est mar­kets in Hy­der­abad. This is a fas­ci­nat­ing place to stroll around, browse the shops clut­tered with col­or­ful ban­gles, take pic­tures and gen­er­ally get a fla­vor for the city, pre-high tech boom which gives Hy­der­abad its nick­name, Cy­ber­bad. Even if you don’t in­tend to buy any­thing, Laad Bazaar is a feast for the senses. The many tiny shops are lined from floor to ceil­ing with stacks of thou­sands of shim­mer­ing glass and tin bracelets.

Be­fore it was know as a high-tech hub, Hy­der­abad was fa­mous for its pearls, and Laad Bazaar is also the center of the city’s still-thriv­ing pearl trade. If you like to bar­gain, you can get some in­cred­i­ble deals. In ad­di­tion, a de­cent se­lec­tion of tex­tiles is on of­fer as well, rang­ing from sim­ple cot­ton sheaths to em­broi­dered wed­ding saris. If you dare, try some of the fiery ke­babs avail­able in many of the lit­tle lanes that weave be­hind the main drag. Most shops are open 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM daily.

FALAKNUMA PALACE

For a taste of royal Hy­der­abad, not to men­tion a taste of Hy­der­abadi cui­sine, try the Taj Falaknuma Palace. Built by Nawab Viqar al-Umra in 1872, Falaknuma is the most op­u­lent of the Nizam’s palaces. Af­ter a painstak­ing 10-year restora­tion, the palace has been turned into a 60-room lux­ury ho­tel fea­tur­ing hand­painted ceil­ings and chan­de­liers, and the works of Floren­tine sculp­tors. The whole jewel is set amidst 32 acres of im­mac­u­late gar­dens over­look­ing the city.

No visit to Hy­der­abad would be com­plete with­out sam­pling the cui­sine of south In­dia, and with an evening at the Taj Falak­nama’s fine din­ing restau­rant Adaa, you can take in both the palace and the unique culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ence of biryani. This is the sig­na­ture dish of the city, a blend of Mughal fla­vors and Nazim cook­ing tech­niques.Vari­a­tions on biryani fea­ture goat, mut­ton, chicken or beef, cooked with rice and gar­nished with pu­d­ina, fried onion and boiled eggs. While you may be able to find less ex­pen­sive biryani in the city, you surely will not find a more ex­quis­ite set­ting in which to en­joy it. Best to make reser­va­tions well in ad­vance. Open daily 12:30 PM – 3:00 PM, 7:30 PM - mid­night; plan to spend about Rs2,000 ($32); tel +91 406 629 3306; tajho­tels.com

SALAR JUNG MU­SEUM

North to­ward the river a few blocks, you’ll find an enor­mous cres­cent-shaped build­ing known as the Salar Jung Mu­seum, which is among In­dia’s finest. The mu­seum fea­tures the world’s largest sin­gle-owner col­lec­tion of art, relics and manuscripts from around the world, some of which date back to the sec­ond cen­tury BC. The build­ing it­self dates back to 1951 and houses 38 gal­leries spread over two floors.

Most of the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion was the work of MirYousuf Ali Khan, also known as Salar Jung III, an aris­to­cratic bach­e­lor who de­voted 35 years of his life – and much of his for­tune – to trav­el­ing the world, col­lect­ing ar­ti­facts. It in­cludes ev­ery­thing from Mughal jade sculp­tures to Chi­nese, Ja­panese and Euro­pean paint­ings. There’s also a huge col­lec­tion of clocks, the most fa­mous of which is a 19th-cen­tury mu­si­cal time­piece that Khan pur­chased on a trip to Eng­land. Ev­ery hour, a tiny wooden man emerges from the clock’s face and rings a minia­ture bell, while a black­smith ham­mers away at an anvil. Open Sat-Thurs 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM; en­try is Rs150 ($2.45); Ju­bilee Post, Afzal Gunj; salarjung­mu­seum.in BT

RE­PORT

BACK­GROUND Park Hy­att Chicago is a mem­ber of the Park Hy­att lux­ury brand of Hy­att Ho­tels Cor­po­ra­tion with the mis­sion of pro­vid­ing dis­cern­ing, af­flu­ent in­di­vid­ual busi­ness and leisure guests with el­e­gant and lux­u­ri­ous ac­com­mo­da­tions. Guests of Park Hy­att re­ceive highly at­ten­tive per­sonal ser­vice in an in­ti­mate en­vi­ron­ment. Lo­cated in many of the world’s pre­mier des­ti­na­tions, each Park Hy­att is cus­tom de­signed to com­bine so­phis­ti­ca­tion with dis­tinc­tive re­gional char­ac­ter. Park Hy­att fea­tures well-ap­pointed gue­strooms, meet­ing and spe­cial event spa­ces for smaller groups, crit­i­cally ac­claimed art pro­grams and sig­na­ture restau­rants fea­tur­ing award­win­ning chefs.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? A most im­pres­sive ho­tel at a great lo­ca­tion with ex­cep­tion­ally pro­fes­sional staff. The ho­tel oc­cu­pies the first 18 floors of

a 64-story lux­ury res­i­den­tial build­ing, with large pic­ture win­dows and bustling city views.You’ll find your­self sur­rounded by con­tem­po­rary lux­ury as soon as you walk through the door. Walls are adorned with orig­i­nal works of art. Award-win­ning chefs also cre­ate fine culi­nary master­pieces.

WHERE IS IT? The Park Hy­att Chicago is cen­trally lo­cated on Chicago’s North Michi­gan Av­enue pre­mier shop­ping and din­ing dis­trict. Its also lo­cated within easy walk­ing dis­tance to many world-class mu­se­ums. The sub­way sys­tem can be ac­cessed within two blocks of the ho­tel con­nect­ing to most other Chicago neigh­bor­hoods. O’Hare Air­port is about 18 miles away, or a 35 minute drive (de­pend­ing on time of day) and Mid­way Air­port is about 13 miles away, or a 25 minute drive.

ROOM FA­CIL­I­TIES Each room and suite is de­signed to pro­vide a lux­ury ex­pe­ri­ence in a com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment. Of­fer­ing a gen­er­ous min­i­mum of 550 square feet, each room is equipped with DVD player, plush robes, Geneva sound sys­tem, 42”flat screen TV and WiFi. Sleek mod­ern dé­cor in­cludes lux­u­ri­ous bed­ding, glass desk, and el­e­gant bath with walk-in shower, two sink van­ity, over­sized soak­ing tub and slid­ing pri­vacy door that opens to the room and mag­nif­i­cent ci­tyscapes.

In most of the rooms, win­dow seats of­fer spec­tac­u­lar sky­line views, and some have lake views. I found the Mies van der Rohe Eames chair with match­ing leather ot­toman to be a won­der­fully com­fort­able ad­di­tion. The in-room safe also con­tains a built in lap­top charger – another nice touch.

RESTAU­RANTS AND BARS NoMI Kitchen is open from 6:30 AM un­til mid­night of­fer­ing im­pec­ca­ble ser­vice from sin­cere and ap­proach­able staff with a com­mit­ment to the cul­ture of great food. Fla­vors on the menu are in­spired by Chicago’s four dis­tinct sea­sons and re­gion­ally-sourced in­gre­di­ents. NoMI Lounge is open from 5:00 PM to 1:00 AM with a swanky bar and stylish sur­round­ings for hav­ing small

plates and spe­cialty cock­tails in a re­laxed lounge at­mos­phere. NoMI Gar­den is also avail­able for lunch and din­ner on week­ends only. MEET­ING AND LEISURE

FA­CIL­I­TIES Park Hy­att Chicago has over 5,000 square feet of flex­i­ble meet­ing and event space. The 2,800-square­foot Grand Salon Ball­room fea­tures four 14-foot-long chan­de­liers of crys­tal am­ber and can ac­com­mo­date 300 guests for a re­cep­tion or the­ater-style, or up to 180 for din­ner. The meet­ing and event spa­ces of­fer in­di­vid­ual con­trols for heat / air con­di­tion­ing, sound, mu­sic, tele­phones, mul­ti­ple elec­tri­cal / spe­cial light­ing ef­fects / mi­cro­phone out­lets, and all of the lat­est au­dio­vi­sual equip­ment. The ho­tel fit­ness center in­cludes a three-lane ex­er­cise pool, along with state-ofthe-art car­dio and strength equip­ment com­plete with flat-screen tele­vi­sions and mon­i­tors. NoMI SPA of­fers a sen­sory jour­ney that re­ju­ve­nates the body and soul. With soothing spa treat­ments based on what’s hap­pen­ing in their gar­den and what’s hap­pen­ing in your world, NoMI SPA in­spires the essence of re­lax­ation, re­sults and ex­pe­ri­ence. BT

— Cur­tis Forsythe

CHECK-IN Joy. That is not only the ex­pe­ri­ence prior to board­ing but it is also the first name of the air­ber­lin sta­tion man­ager at JFK who de­liv­ers a great check-in and board­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, even at the end of a full day that had started al­most 14 hours ear­lier.

Af­ter a very short queue at check-in and se­cu­rity, I gath­ered my ticket and made my way to the lounge. Air­ber­lin’s part­ner­ship in oneworld gave me the ben­e­fit of es­cap­ing the bus­tle of the in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal and en­joy­ing com­pli­men­tary ac­cess to a lit­tle peace and quiet in Amer­i­can Air­lines’ Flag­ship Lounge. Found only in Lon­don, NewYork, Chicago and LA, the Flag­ship Lounge’s sig­na­ture ser­vices and ameni­ties en­hance the al­ready“joy­ful”and first class ex­pe­ri­ence of fly­ing air­ber­lin.

BOARD­ING Com­pared to the re­laxed at­mos­phere of the Flag­ship Lounge, the board­ing area was a bit chaotic. Clear­ing past the econ­omy queues, up­per class, air­ber­lin, eq­uity and al­liance part­ners boarded prior to gen­eral board­ing. Other than be­ing quite crowded, it was what one would ex­pect when board­ing an air­craft with 287 econ­omy and 20 busi­ness class seats.

THE SEAT On this flight, air­ber­lin of­fered a two class ser­vice - busi­ness and econ­omy. The busi­ness cabin aboard the A330-200 has two con­fig­u­ra­tions; this one was ar­ranged 2-2-2 in busi­ness class. The seat had a 54inch (137cm) pitch and is 19 inches (49cm) wide, re­clin­ing to 150 de­grees. The leather seats have per­sonal in-flight en­ter­tain­ment with 15-inch touch screens that ac­cess a va­ri­ety of tele­vi­sion pro­grams, movies, video games and mu­sic. Each seat is equipped with a 110V out­let as well as a USB port.

As a side note, since Eti­had be­came air­ber­lin’s ma­jor stake­holder own­ing just over a 29 per­cent share, the car­rier has be­gun to adopt Eti­had’s busi­ness class seat­ing. We an­tic­i­pate see­ing new prod­ucts and ser­vices as new air­craft are de­liv­ered and the ex­ist­ing fleet retro­fit­ted. The eq­uity al­liance is ex­pected to de­liver many new things to air­ber­lin.

Ac­cord­ing to air­ber­lin, the mod­i­fi­ca­tions to its new busi­ness class are on track with al­most half of the car­rier’s long-haul fleet now equipped with the new 180-de­gree ful­lyflat beds. Each seat ex­tends to a full 6-foot length and in­cludes a built-in mas­sage func­tion and a 15-inch IFE mon­i­tor ac­cess­ing over 200 hours of en­ter­tain­ment. The cabin is con­fig­ured 1-2-1, al­low­ing all busi­ness class pas­sen­gers aisle ac­cess.

THE FLIGHT My in-flight ex­pe­ri­ence re­ally ran the cy­cle – food, movies and mu­sic, then sleep; re­peat. Chief Purser Eric made it a com­fort­able and mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence for me and other pas­sen­gers in busi­ness class. As I watched him op­er­ate, I got the im­pres­sion that ev­ery pas­sen­ger – bet­ter char­ac­ter­ized as guest – was made to feel at home.

Once air­borne, the crew of­fered menu choices from Herbert Seckler’s San­si­bar kitchen, an offthe-beaten-path restau­rant ap­prox­i­mately150 miles (240 km) north of Ham­burg, on the North Sea. Its founder and owner now com­mands world­wide gas­tro­nomic re­spect. The menu pre­sented a wide va­ri­ety, of­fer­ing three­course meals with my choice from among four en­trees. The pair­ing of wines in­cluded selec­tions from Ger­many, France, Italy and Spain.

Fol­low­ing the meal, the thought of work quickly dropped to the bot­tom of the pri­or­ity list. I grabbed the Tumi amenity kit and fresh­ened up be­fore pop­ping on the head­phones to doze into never-never land. I awoke shortly be­fore break­fast and once again I was greeted by Chief Purser Eric, thank­fully this time with a quick cup of caf­feine to get the day started.

AR­RIVAL I ex­pected queues in pass­port and cus­toms con­trol, but Düs­sel­dorf In­ter­na­tional Air­port of­fers a pleas­ant sur­prise com­pared to its in­ter­na­tional ri­vals. The swift process of­fered time for a short and re­lax­ing walk to Ter­mi­nal B. Al­though con­nect­ing on­ward, I still had time to spare to visit the air­ber­lin lounge in Ter­mi­nal C, but chose in­stead the Hugo Junkers lounge closer to my gate. There, the ameni­ties of a light snack, com­pli­men­tary In­ter­net, and a quick fresh­enup gave me a healthy kick-start for my day. BT

— Ross Atkin­son

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