There is something about the luxury Oberoi hotel group. The gal is going to try to describe it in buzzwords, in alphabetical order. Detailed, exact, exquisite, faultless, luxury, minutiae, perfect, stylish… one could go on and on, right through the alphabet. Take airport pickup on arrival in Delhi. Female travellers are probably going to find themselves escorted into a limo which not only has water and WiFi and lot to read but the driver is a woman – see above. The hotel’s savvy and thoughtful GM, Jay Rathore, says that the 220-room hotel’s growing number of female guests feel happier with one-of-their-kind driving. Rathore certainly makes ‘ladies’, as they call them in India, seem special. See how elegant the women’s public washroom is.
Actually the whole hotel was elegant, right from its start in 1964. It has been tweaked and updated, lastly by Adam Tihany, who has installed a stunning art-work of a fretted screen dividing the lobby into arrivals area and, behind, more-private reception area. Now, in some of the suites, you might find lifesize bronze nudes by sculptor Dimpy Menon (I love the seated female in Kohinoor Suite 750). On this quick visit, however, there was no time to admire sculpture, only for a quick bite, and nowhere is better for this than Three60°, the all-day restaurant that is more than the usual buffet. This is where big name politicians and other VIP locals regularly meet, to chat over made-to-order sushi, or perhaps ask a chef to prepare them something tasty cooked to their own wishes.
Let me tell you how thoughtful Oberoi is. I sit down, with Jay Rathore, and my knife and fork are discreetly reversed, to have fork on the right – how do they know this right-handed person eats wrong way round? Rathore has recently returned from a six-week Advanced Management Program AMP at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The only hotelier in a class of 42, he crewed in a regatta with a team not chosen by him, but by the professor: he worked on an actual project to simplify supply of rural small-time farmers’ tomatoes to Lagos markets. And the result? He is liberated, he says, and he now knows that even top luxury hotels have to go even further to keep ahead – that obviously includes thoughtful little details. SEE THE SCRUMPTIOUS LUNCH BUFFET, BELOW