Guindy isn’t what you might call the most elegant locality in town even
Guindy isn’t what you might call the most elegant locality in town eventhough it claims the Raj Bhavan as its most famous address. This bustling heart of Chennai, almost equidistant from the airport and nearly everywhere else, is home also to the state’s premier tech university, not forgetting the IIT–M, one of the first industrial estates in the country, and a national park. The IT ribbon unfurls just yonder. Yet Guindy remained unprepossessing. Perhaps it hadn’t the luxury of time?
The turnaround, now that it has finally arrived, is sumptuous. It’s surprising no one thought of it before, but three significant hotel chains — ITC, Starwood and Hyatt — have catapulted Guindy straight into the heights, sometimes quite literally, of super luxury. The Park Hyatt, where there used to be a car showroom, exemplifies this new Guindy. It rises like a dark water sylph, grey and glossy, intent on establishing both luxury and understatement in equal measure.
So the pick-up is a limousine-d Innova with liveried personal assistance, the lobby is a sweeping ode to international homogeneity, the artistic thread-and-spindles installation by the bank of elevators appears inspired by the textile traditions of the South, the bathroom fittings are Grohe, the bidet Roca, the suites are very spacious, housekeeping prepares the temperature-controlled plunge pool for a ‘wellness bath’ while you are away fine dining, the concierge greets guests by name, they will remember what papers you like to read, and the breakfast trolley arrives equipped with a toaster to pop out crisp bread. A lily pond and a rooftop infinity pool (divine at sunset, when the sea breeze sets in) are other attractions. The Park Hyatt is mostly content inhabiting the line that divides discretion and distinction, evident even in the evocatively named Antahpura Spa, unexpectedly another study in browns and beiges, its silent corridor leading to six chambers of muted lights and soft-spoken masseurs, the absence of colour relieved only by a few strewn rose petals, a lone rectangle of brightly-coloured silk, and the dancer’s salangai (ghungroo) shaken gently to awaken guests lulled into drowsing.
Somewhere out of this well-heeled world of auditory muting leaps The Flying Elephant, a seven-level restaurant for gastronomic indulgence, brilliant both in concept and execution. It begins with a sunken, book-lined bar, ascends variously over steps, a spiral staircase and an antique elevator to six open kitchens and dining areas, the upper levels growing darker and quieter, allowing guests to choose their ambience and cuisines at will. The view from the top, the private dining space, confirmed the delightful exuberance about this already popular hangout. That, and the Chettinad-inspired fragrance that permeates the Antahpura Spa, is what sets the Park Hyatt apart. I could have sworn their exquisite blend of saffron and clove followed me about for days.
Where: 39, Velachery Road, Near Raj Bhavan, Chennai; 15 minutes from the airport, 40 minutes from the railway station
Accommodation: 181 Park and Park View rooms, 12 suites, 5 executive suites, 2 premier suites, 1 presidential suite (the last two categories not yet operational)
Tariff: Rs 9,000 (Park rooms), Rs 10,500 (Park View rooms), Rs 18,000 (suites), Rs 23,000 (executive suites)
Contact: 044-71771234, chennai.park.hyatt.com