I walked into Zone by The Park, Jodhpur, thinking cookie-cutter is a bad word and Priya Paul, the chairperson of the chain that operates the brand, had little empathy for the Park Hotels purist. While the larger, boutique five-star cousins of the newer and smaller, budget and business Zone by The Park are distinct, not one young Zone really stands out. And they really are cookie-cutter—from the all-day-dining restaurant, Bazaar, to the autorickshaw installation bridging each property.
Oh, how naïve I was. The standout was, I realised, the brand itself. There was something intelligent about Zone by The Park, Jodhpur. The décor of my room was a panorama of solid colours that befriended the millennial in me right away, but the storage spaces would have impressed anyone with how every square inch was assigned. Bazaar, their all-day dining space, was no different: I sat there till midnight, a bit confused about its closing time, till I asked a server who responded, “It is always open, sir.’ One can also use its little in-house workstation. At other times, one can enjoy its mid-century décor with patchwork chairs, shelves with aesthetically-placed paraphernalia from the streets of Jodhpur for people to browse, or maybe that iced tea the staff will serve you even at 4am.
Every Sunday, my friends from the National Law University have breakfast at the property. Locals and staycationers similarly abound. Zone by The Park has carved its niche in Jodhpur, first as a hotel but also as a social hub, and definitely a ‘hip’ millennial-friendly, well, Zone.
Even the cookie-cutism was offset by the place’s quirks: at their in-house high-volume cocktail Z-Bar, the mixologist goes by the name Agent Dushy. Dushy could manage molecular mixology and is almost eccentrically passionate about his craft. Till even two hours beyond his shift, he sprung up on me delish tipple with names like ‘Jack in Town’ (caramel, Jim Beam, martini and bitters). Then at Bazaar, I had to soak the alcohol with Rajasthani laal maas. It was great, but they did me even one better with palak khoya halwa.
At the end, I found myself once again thinking of my earlier preconceptions:
by now I was sure Zone by The Park had neither forgone The Park Hotels’ design aesthetic, nor its identity, but merely presented a trimmed down version. This helped Priya Paul to innovate elsewhere: technology, a sustainable, modern identity, for instance. I also think she’s a bit of a genius: putting the cobwebs of traditionality to rest wherever it made sense to do so. And for those who still complain, it’s not that the original Park Hotels are going anywhere. For everyone else, there’s Zone by The Park.
Location: Jawahar Tower, 29 (2-A), ITI Circle New Poer House Road, Jodhpur. 15 mins from the airport
Accommodation: 90 rooms
Tariff: ₹3,000-₹7,400 a night, across categories
Contact: +91-7340094444; zonebythepark.com