Sunday, August 10, 2008

Multiple Energies in Mumbai

Mumbai means business, and so does the new Four Seasons Hotel, opened barely a month ago in the up and coming Worli district, in the city they used to call Bombay. When the property goes fully on-line in September, the 33-story structure dominating the skyline will feature 202 top-grade luxury suites of uncompromising comfort and quality, catering to the international business traveler, and celebrating the awakening of India’s global aspirations. What an impressive property this newcomer is.

The lodging aspect tracks with the established Four Seasons style of over-the-top comfort. Much thought has been put into these quarters, with memorable and unexpected details like loaner books and top-grade Darjeeling teas hand-selected by GM Armando Kraenzlin, placed in each room. Tea and silk, accented by warm woods, café au lait marble baths, L’Occitane amenities, glass-walled rain showers, soothing light and rich tapestries enhance the sensual package. Both business and leisure travelers stopping over will find extreme comfort in these, the largest guest accommodations in Mumbai.

Because of the hotel’s excellent situation in the geographical center of Mumbai, any room boasts astonishing views of the city. Outside the hotel windows hawks ride the thermals in the stifling mid-day heat, sometimes to the background sounds of the call to prayer from a nearby mosque. West-facing rooms overlook the Arabian Sea, where whitecaps roll in and break dramatically along the curvaceous waterfront. South-facing rooms have panoramic angles on the Mahalaxmi Race Course and the teeming business district. The most spectacular vistas will be found from the Presidential Suite, a 3,336 square foot aerie with private elevator, configured to expand up to a 3-bedroom apartment if needed.

Dazzling public spaces have just the right variety. There’s a comfortable vaulted lobby lounge with a full bar, illuminated by backlit marble, ideal for casual business conversation. Off to the left is the entrance to the molto moderna Prato Italian restaurant, which doubles as a bustling breakfast room. Its very authentic menu transports you to the Mediterranean, through a creative array of innovative and flavorful interpretations executed by Chef Matteo Arvonio. He’s backed up by the endlessly intriguing work of Chef Patissier Thierry Methee, whose gateaux and cakes never cease to delight- hot tip: available for take-out, an added bonus. Behind the bar you will find Prato’s spacious terrace: the hotel has a removable window system which installs during the oppressively humid monsoon season, thus maintaining a constant and comfortable climate-controlled temperature year-round.

The real centerpiece of pubic spaces is the adjacent San-Qi (“Three Energies”) restaurant, an outstanding fusion concept with its own separate entrance, which brings together under one roof the best of Indian, Asian and Japanese cuisines, housed in a spectacular bi-level restaurant, ringed by a variety of opulent private dining spaces. These windowed rooms and the very desirable eight-seat Chef’s Table are prime locations for theatrical culinary entertainments, especially those involving live cooking. The partnering of three top-notch chefs (think: The Three Tenors, except with food) is a brilliant stroke, allowing a confluence of wisdom and tradition which delivers a striking array of tastes. Try the signature dumplings called “momos”, or the Indian thali-style platter, or anything sushi. This restaurant steps into the marketplace as a premier dining and entertaining destination in the city, featuring power lunches built for speed and simplicity, opulent dinner options, and even a Sunday brunch ideal for families.

A business hotel needs to provide more than bedrooms and dining, and this Four Seasons has a state-of-the-art business center equipped with wood-paneled conference rooms and comfortable workstations augmented by an accessories box next to each monitor, staples, tape, pens, paperclips, the stuff you always need that you always forget to bring along. Details like these make the difference between just-plain-great and extraordinary properties. After you sleep, eat, meet and send your emails, some healthy endeavor sounds like a worthwhile alternative. Here the Four Seasons does not disappoint, with a stylish outdoor pool terrace; owing to its newness it’s a favored location for fashion shoots, so wear your shades and coolest swim togs. You can avail yourself of morning awakening and evening enlightenment yoga sessions in the Chi Studio, under the direction of Dr. Kannan, in-house ayurvedic guru. There’s also a Rossano Ferretti hair salon, and a complete day spa occupying two stories of light-filled space, where guests can savor a bevy of treatments aimed at wellness, rejuvenation and wellbeing. Check out the VIP suite at the spa- and get ready for 500 square feet of major pampering. For the truly adventurous the hotel offers a guided mountain bike tour of Worli, a total immersion into the sights, sounds and occasional smells of the neighborhood.

How do you build a property offering such a complete package? You begin with experienced management who possess career dedication to the craft of hospitality. Four Seasons has posted a team of their most talented executives to Mumbai for the launch of this, their first property to open on the subcontinent. Next, you hire and develop young staff from the local area, and impart to them a corporate style which emphasizes the highest standards. In the process you generate a real family feel, which every employee interaction successfully communicates. Finally, you pay attention to local sensitivities, backed up by meaningful community involvement.

Mumbai is primarily a business hub, not a tourist destination. Though it is known as the gateway to Goa most visitors arrive to do business. Abundant shopping, nightlife, eating, the excitement of the racetrack or perhaps a Bollywood studio tour can round out the activity package. Ask the concierge. You might even score a ride in GM Kraenzlin’s spiffy red Ambassador Avigo, and really attract some attention.

Four Seasons has spent years perfecting skills in meeting the unique demands of top-tier business travelers, and here one finds the first class standards one expects from the brand. Repeat guests understand the benefits: easier business travel, more rewarding leisure travel. Which explains what inspires such incredible cross-property loyalty whatever the location.

Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai

114 Dr. E. Moses Road, Worli

Mumbai 400 018, India

Tel +91 22 2481 8050

Fax +91 22 2481 8177