SOUTH­ERN SPICE

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

India Today - - CONTENTS -

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.

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