AS CHENNAI OPENS UP ITS PURSE STRINGS AND INVITES THE BIGGEST AND BEST BRANDS INTO ITS FOLD, THE BIRTH OF SEVERAL FINE HOTELS AND THE LAUNCH OF TOP BRANDS PAY A FITTING TRIBUTE TO AN EVOLVING CITY, FINDS PRACHI BHUCHAR
Chennai’s traditional song beats to a new luxury tune
The road is shaded by tall, leafy trees and the Bergamo Mall, housed in this side street in central Chennai has become the go- to shrine for all that qualifies as luxury. Chennai has always been a conservative city where the wealthy prefer to keep it simple, steering clear of ostentatious displays of brands. Louis Vuitton has a 30,000 square foot store housing its latest collections and Bottega Veneta and other big luxury houses have also chosen to make Chennai their home over the last year; many more are playing the wait and watch game in the wings as the demand for luxury explodes. Keeping pace with this change, we have seen the birth of three glorious hotels in the city over the last eight- ten months; the ITC Grand Chola, The Leela Palace, and the more youthful Park Hyatt. Each hotel offers an experience so unique that their back to back launches have not made a dent on room or F& B sales at any one property. If you are part of young Chennai, the Park Hyatt will be your first choice; craving a sea view? The Leela Palace is unbeatable; but if it is a hotel that straddles the past and present effortlessly that you are seeking, the ITC Grand Chola beckons.
It is not uncommon to find Kanjeevaram- clad women slide of their Audis, Bottega Veneta in hand as
they saunter into these hotels or make a beeline for the Bergamo Mall to browse through the latest collection of LV bags. They are discreet, well- travelled, yet devoid of much of the ostentation that accompanies such brat packs in other cities. While this mall is one of Chennai’s only luxury retail spaces at present, the new hotels are hoping to draw top fashion and beauty brands into their attractive retail arcades to offer its residents ( and those across the city) a finer shopping experience.
All the new launches reflect the city’s craving for spaces that extend beyond the ordinary. According to a lady who has been part of Chennai’s changing social scene for the last two decades, “People here have always loved all that’s aesthetically pleasing and are willing to pay a lot for objects and experiences that tap into the finest in the market. It is only over the last few years though that the younger set has started lavishing its mon- THE CHANGING PERCEPTION OF LUXURY IS APTLY REFLECTED IN THE NEW FIVE- STAR HOTELS ( RIGHT) THAT FORM THE CITY’S CHANGING LANDSCAPE AND LUXURY STORES LIKE BOTTEGA VENETA AT BERGAMO MALL ( BELOW)
ey on luxury brands and hotel experiences within the city rather than focusing solely on travelling overseas.”
Along with the biggest names in designer labels there has been an influx of swanky car dealerships homing in on the new Chennai. For one, a recent report pegs that between 1,600- 1,900 luxury cars were sold in Chennai alone over the last year. Super luxury cars are often found dotting city scape, a distinguished gentleman with namam on his forehead exiting it in his new, bespoke suit. In keeping with this trend the city also got its first super car club: the Madras Exotic Car Club ( MECC) last year.
And the new hotels, each grander and bigger than the last bear testimony to the city’s love for partying, fine dining and living. The ITC Grand Chola for one pays tribute to this very culture of living life kingsize that has captured the city’s feverish imagination. One any given day of the week ( or weekend) its many restaurants are running double shifts as they try and accommodate the changing tastes of new Chennai. And this is just the tip of the iceberg as the other new hotels join in, each in an attempt to outdo its nearest competitor. For the first time the city has options in the luxury segment and its residents are not balking. In addition to these top fivestars that are taking the shape of things to come, The JW Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton are also setting up shop in Chennai over the next few months. Clearly there’s no stopping this southern belle that’s keen to make a mark as a hotspot on the luxury map in India!
THE MADRAS EXOTIC CAR CLUB BRINGS THE JAGUAR F TYPE TO THE STREETS OF CHENNAI
THE ROOMS OF THE ITC GRAND CHOLA HOTEL ARE TASTEFUL AND REFLECT OPULENCE. ALL FUNCTIONS WITHIN ARE CONTROLLED VIA AN IPAD.