Some hotels are good for leisure – say a three-bungalow retreat on a small island in the South Pacific. Some are good for both leisure and business – say Four Seasons Sydney, so near both to the harbour and Opera House and also the CBD (Central Business District).
Others are, frankly, probably ideal for Serious Business. The gal puts Four Seasons Mumbai high up the list when it comes to luxury hotels that help CEOs and high achievers achieve even more. Pair Four Seasons’ service with location and you have it.
The hotel is not right on top of anything but since Mumbai (Bombay) is separating into two distinct cities, North and South, with other satellite areas, Four Seasons seems to be equidistant to everything you might want. 45 minutes to the airport, if the traffic allows, 20 minutes to Nariman Point, if you are lucky – plus 15 minutes to golf at Willingdon Sports Club, and the zoo (with an excellent Indian history museum).
It is the same distance to the Royal Western India Turf Club at Mahalakshmi Race Course, built in 1883 along the lines of Melbourne’s Caulfield. The marvellously-named Poonawalla Multimillion is among the annual events here, as are polo days. In addition, it should also only be a few minutes to your meeting, unless your contacts sensibly decide to come to you.
The 34-floor building stands out – it is surrounded by single-floor old shops and flat-roofed local living. It does now have some shells of other high-rises quite close, but not too close, at hand.
The BMW glided into a small welcome turning area, with lots of greenery, and buildings that are formed of Rajasthan Thai stone, and you are quickly into a lobby that combines tan-coloured anegre wood and orange back-lit stone, and lots of flowers.
The tall elevator cabins are more of the back-lit stone, and some fretwork. Corner suite 3001, like all 202 bedrooms, is, well, beige, and blonde wood, and cream, and a wow of brightest (Jim Thompson shade) of purple-pink silk cushions. You prefer to look over the immediate surroundings to the ocean, half a mile away.
But you are here for top level meetings. To prepare, your desk is big, you have masses of sockets and adaptors, and excellent Wifi, and a box of office supplies, and business magazines.
If you want to write a note, you have the best envelopes in the country (Indian envelope manufacturers often do not stick the various side bits together and the self-stick flaps may be covered by several bits of paper, all of which have to be pulled off).
The pearl-shiny Four Seasons envelopes, by contrast, look and are professionally made. To prepare your personal look, there are plenty of mirrors, and wood trees for your John Lobb shoes, and about six different soap flavours. The gal loves this Forest Essentials stuff, wish it were available worldwide (other hoteliers, please note).
To keep you fit, the gym – Technogym, of course – is 24 hours. The spa offers a choice of massage oils – of course I went for Energy, a blend of cypress, geranium and juniper, and afterwards it is only a few steps to the outside pool, which offers 45-foot lengths.
Top business people need to nourish the brain with great food. You can order breakfast day-long, and I was tempted to go for a Dabbawalla special. Based on those Mumbai-specialists, the 5,000 guys who deliver some 200,000 pre-ordered office meals exactly on time, every day, in a city where traffic equals chaos, here you can order, say, a tandoori chicken croissant with raita and potato crisps and a dark chocolate brownie and it will come in 15 minutes. Sorry, no report on that, dear reader.
The girl does not do croissants. She does not do potato crisps (what Americans call chips). She does not do brownies, regardless of whether or not they are chocolate, dark chocolate, Valrhona or Maison du Chocolate or even the ultra-fabulous Pierre Marcolini, the best-marketed chocolate brand in the world.
Even as a chocophobe, she states that categorically (go check out Conrad Brussels and see the working chocolate factory right in the hotel, worth a trip to the Belgian capital just for that – forget anything to do with the ghastly EU).
At the end of the day, our international CEO needs a proper meal. I would venture 20 yards outside to the hotel’s own two-floor glass cube, San-Qi, which means three energies. You can sit wherever but order from a four-part menu.
We were upstairs, at clean-cut wood tables looking at the Japanese and Thai open kitchens, and between us we had, for instance, female chef Seefah Ketchaiyo’s Thai salad and spinach noodles, and Toshikazu Kato’s Tsukiji sashimi (botan ebi, scallops, squid, tuna and yellowfin) and a whole tandoori murgh, baby chicken, from Delhi-born chef Vikram Arora.
So what else does our top executive want? Chill out, man – or gal. Head up to the hotel’s rooftop bar, AER – highest rooftop bar in India, at 130 metres above the ground, with a 360-degree view of the race course, Haji Ali Dargah, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, the Arabian Sea – and cocktails served in sizes up to 1.5 litres.
GQ India says this is one of the thee top bars in the world, and Hello! India goes further – this is one of the three haute spots that rank highest on the society register. Yes, it is sensational.
It is members only, and many of the 300 of these local achievers (average age under 30 I guess) are likely to be up here. But as a hotel guest, the gal got in too, and loved it, especially since the bubbly is Veuve-Clicquot, just like the Sunday brunch pour.
Yes, this is definitely a base for the working person, and after a night of activity, it was up-at-dawn, work-the-wave (a gym piece, in case you did not know) and get ready for the flight.
Now here is a great tip, just right for any CEO. Avoid nocturnal international departures. The British Airways-hired minder who walks all First and Business class passengers right from check-in along a seems-mile-long trek to emigration, security and the lounge, told me that for the daily 0200 departure, lines at passport and security control can take at least 45 minutes. For the 1345 flight, it is straight on through. No waiting at all.