Luxury hotels, and all that is in them, should be works of art. See if you can work this one out. The gal is taking a photo of the reflection of her six month-old bedroom as seen in a silver ice bucket, the kind of utensil that you saw in Stately Homes and Castles in Europe a couple of centuries ago. You might also have found them in Indian palaces of yore. You certainly would not expect one in the Delhi area’s newest signature hotel, Vivanta by Taj Gurgaon NCR. I love Taj’s palaces (and its fledgling Gateway simplicity). Similarly, every Vivanta by Taj I go to produces wow experiences. Think of those views, and the lark I heard in the morning silence, and the cycling, in Coorg.
This 11-floor building is full of reflections: it actually soars up the height of 14 storeys as the lobby is a three-floors glass house. From outside the whole thing, designed by architects conveniently called WOW, is one big glass sculpture (the last WOW company I came across was World Of Whiskies, as on Singapore’s Sentosa island and at that supplier’s base, St Moritz). Look at the structure of this 208-room hotel from outside and there are many fascinating, and sometimes tantalizing, views.
Even the welcome is a bit tantalizing. The car bringing me in from the airport arrives at the hotel and to the right is the glass building. To my left is a welcome party, stone sculptures which seem to have escaped from Easter Island (and if you must know, that is one place still on my to-do list, even though it has what apparently is a pretty amazing Explora hotel and as the world knows, it has those unique standing figures).
There is another memorable sculpture at the entrance to the Thai Pavilion, a gorgeous all-wood space that serves dishes like Steamed Pomfret with lemon garlic sauce and Stir-fried morning glory with yellow bean paste. The hands are appropriate in that this Vivanta is owned by a medical supplies group (the all-purpose Fortis hospital is a few yards away, with another pair of hands, green, as its logo). Yes, Vivanta is Taj’s brand for today, a complement to its palaces, says Ajit Pavitran, the science grad from Kerala who opted for hotels and was later enticed away from Oberoi to Taj, to help set up the new brand. It is fun. Toothbrushes are in boxes marked ‘Smile please! Your dental kit is here’.
More sculptures appear around the outside pool, oh so refreshing in this heat. Five of the cabanas appear cantilevered out from a side wall, as though stuck on with glue. Come out of the pool and a young man in loose white pyjamas brings a welcome drink, or whatever a welcome-out-of-the-pool drink is called. Some guests then laze in cabanas sitting normally on another side of the pool, taking advantage of the stack of magazines and newspapers provided.
I do better, honestly, by watching BBC World news, 30 minutes past rather than on the hour because of India’s time zone. Get on an elliptical in the 24-hour Technogym, and catch up with John Kerry. I am watched by that guy in white pyjamas, now doing gym duty – at 5.45 am. They sure are passionate here in this new-style luxury hotel. Look what the chefs did at the highly-popular brunch buffet. Who else would think of making a platter of roast baby lamb look like a sculpture, complete with standing bones?