I’d love to be a business traveller. Or that’s what I think to myself, as I settle in at the Vivanta by Taj - Whitefield, Bangalore, which has added a touch of style to Bengaluru’s International Technology Park. Vivanta, the largest of the four Taj hotels in town and the most wired, is actually the only hotel within the ITPB’s 69-acre hi-tech campus that houses more than a hundred companies employing some 25,000 people.
The experience begins at the car that picks me up. Great soundtrack compiled for the Vivanta by Blue Frog, a phone line to pre-order food (menu provided in the car, with complimentary energy drink), and the driver points out that if you wish to operate the Massage Seat, there’s a manual (which instructs you to make yourself comfortable and press the power button — easy even for the technologically challenged). And then you don’t even notice the traffic jams.
Feeling refreshed, you get to the hotel, which is pure abstract art. The Singaporean architect Warner Wong has used muted-earthy and light-airy colours in combination with lots of glass to capture natural light. No chandeliers, very little marble, no snootiness: the staff is easy-going and friendly, although — of course — impeccably attentive. Vivanta is a youthful and up-to-date hotel; even the lobby music sounds like acid jazz and triphop beats with samplings of Pavarotti. The lack of garish décor is great if you must spend a long time here (there’s one guest, an executive with Dreamworks, who has taken a suite on two-year rent).
Need to work? The entire building is one big wifi hotspot and if you don’t have a laptop, use the flat-screen TV in your room to surf and email — it has a wireless keyboard. It also has a multimedia panel if you’re doing a small presentation; for bigger meetings, there are conference spaces that seat up to 300.
Rooms come in many configurations. Some have bathtubs, the Nirvana suite has a jacuzzi, but most make do with shower cubicles. Select rooms have kitchens. Many have mini-office corners. Some have separate sitting areas; others have doors connecting to the next room in case you want to double the size of your room. Generally, space is used effectively, reflecting the architect’s vision of compact yet demanding lifestyles.
Need to relax? The interactive surround-sound home theatres in the rooms feature films and music on demand, and there are also DVD players with karaoke if you decide to throw a party. Apart from the gym and swimming pool, and a mall with a multiplex that is coming up right opposite, there is the Taj group’s branded spa, Jiva. I’ve been a bit of a spa sceptic ever since I reviewed a hotel in the Maldives where an overenthusiastic Thai masseur assaulted me for two hours and left me feeling like the loser in a kickboxing match. But I’m glad I tried the Jiva — their Ayurvedic treatments are heavenly, with aromatic oils applied by an expert masseuse. Afterwards my skin kept digesting the detoxifying oils for hours: I felt rebirth was imminent and I actually hoped it would be as a business traveller.
Sounds good so far? Well, I’m just getting to the best part: the food. I managed to sample 27 different dishes, not because I wanted to test the limits of human greed, but because everything was good and made from the finest ingredients — courtesy the visionary, widely travelled chef Sheroy Kermani and his crew at the ‘food theatres’. For pre-dinner chill-out, there’s an alfresco lounge where cocktails range from classic bloody mary to innovative watermelon-cum-mint martinis. There are seafood nibbles too, and the vibe is of a high-end Goan nightspot.
Vivanta also has a deli and an eclectic coffee shop with a menu that spans snapper cooked Kerala-style in banana stem, yummy Turkish pies and Mediterranean seafood risotto, comfort food like classic fillet Wellington (apparently the biggest hit), plus Southeast Asian nouvelle cuisine; and come Sunday there’s a VFM brunch with live cooking.
Even better is the main restaurant, which makes use of Lakhnavi and Lahori traditions inherited by Anwar Ali Ansari, Kermani’s second-in-command. Here they tempt you with interesting fusion grill platters — like tournedos with korma sauce — but the most magnificent item is a perfect, tender galauti kabab on a miniature sheermal, closely followed by the Lahori chicken kadhai, which beats any other gravy I’ve had. Most main courses are a steal compared to posh Delhi restaurants. All eateries take advantage of the Bengaluru climate, offering optional outdoor seating, wellness dishes are marked with a heart and guests on diets get customised food. Long-stay visitors are welcome to the kitchen to cook dishes from back home and, who knows, your recipe might find its way on to the menu, which is overhauled regularly to prevent boredom.
So do I have any complaints? Well, yes — I had to check out and go home.
Location Inside the International Technology Park Campus, Old Madras Road, Whitefield, 18km from Bengaluru city centre, 45km from the airport
Accommodation 170 rooms in three different categories and 29 suites of four types
Contact 080-66933333, www.tajhotels.com