Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hotel Review: JW Marriott, Chandigarh

I step into a pleasant lobby, wonderfully radiant with natural light streaming in through large windows. The high ceiling catches my attention instantly as does the informal seating arrangement. A quirky metal sculpture dresses up the main wall and a 3D painting in amber hues adds cheer behind the front desk. I find an aesthetic flow between spaces with the lobby seamlessly merging into the lounge and deli-patisserie. It’s chic, it’s contemporary and until JW Marriott arrived here a year back this is the international experience Chandigarh was missing.  

The open layout creates a welcoming ambience. That's besides the chilled shikanjavi I'm served in a kulad as a welcome drink! There's something invigorating about this homegrown earthenware, especially on a hot summer day, and it’s one of the many illustrations of the brand’s concept to let current and classical (Indian) run hand in hand on the property. 

JW Marriott belongs to Marriott International’s luxury portfolio. In keeping with its worldwide theme of sophisticated indulgence for the self-assured traveller, subtle grandeur greets the eye at every turn. That apart, the notion of incorporating a local element is clearly visible: Chandigarh’s Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier’s linear-layout outlook and his classic bronze plaque replicas judiciously blend into the interior design.  

There’s enough space for all reasons, with the property boasting of the city’s largest banquet-conference facilities. This includes its distinctive ‘Living Room’; casual, modish, and meant for small meetings, it’s based on the model of NY apartments with open kitchen, lounge and foyer.  

The hotel makes up for its lack of offering picturesque sights — and this is a very green city — by concentrating on its interiors and creating a soothing effect wherever possible. Towards the rear of the lobby the outdoor seating by a water body is a perfect example. One of the loveliest spots is the roof-top swimming pool and deck, which allows an aerial view of the vicinity that’s particularly appealing around the evening.

The 164-room property includes four luxury and one splendid presidential suite. I had checked-in on the executive level and my room like all others was styled in marble-wood and its large dimensions packed in state-of-the-art conveniences. Surprisingly, though, furnishing appeared tad jaded for a year-old star property. Some design issues, as the oddly-placed en suite bathroom door lock, also needed correction. I was assured these niggles were being rectified.   The nice part about staying on the sixth floor was the access to the tasteful executive lounge. Elsewhere, among other indulgences, I thought the telly above the bath-tub in the luxury suite spelt utter relaxation.    
For other ways of rejuvenation, there was the signature Quan Spa. Refreshingly minimal in decor, it was an oasis of tranquillity. Therapies here were a mix of massages, scrubs, and facials, using aroma oils, fruit and marine extracts. Merely reading the menu was a stress-buster and once I'd been through the unusual Aquarelle Face Treatment that uses live cells of algae, I felt wholly revitalised. Interestingly, Quan means ‘spring water’, and therapies are designed to extract its restorative qualities.

If way to a guest's heart is through the stomach, the Mezzanine is where unlimited flavours converge to do precisely that. There's a trio of restaurants here: The Cafe @JW, an all-day dining popular for its sumptuous buffets and Asian cuisine; Saffron, the classy Indian fine-dining; and Oregano, the trattoria-style Italian restaurant and bar. There’s also Whisky 111, an exclusive bar offering a selection of the finest single malts and vintages. Culinary operations are lead by executive chef Pallav Singhal, whose enthusiasm ensures menus are always sparkling with something new.

A ravioli promotion was on and I chose to dine at the friendly Oregano. Over a watermelon refresher, basket of appetising Italian breads and robust antipasti, Chef Singhal steered conversation. As we spoke ceaselessly on, well, gastronomy, expat chef Antonello Cancedda presented an attractive gourmet spread. The delicately-balanced Pumpkin Ravioli with amaretti-butter-sage whet the taste-buds to be followed by equally-flavoursome Asparagus-potato ravioli with white truffle oil and Openface ravioli with smoked chicken- thyme- Mascarpone cheese. With breads and pasta being prepared fresh this truly was a slice of authentic Italian away from Italy. So fulfilling was it that the main course was skipped but certainly not the dolci or dessert options of Panna-cotta alla grappa and Tiramisu tradizionale. An outstanding affogato rounded-off a scrumptiously-Marriott experience. 
At a glance
WHAT: Five star property 
WHERE: Sector 35B, Chandigarh 160035 Tele: 0172-3955555
COST: Begins at Rs 15,000 (rack rate) 
VERDICT: Business-luxury hotel very centrally located

Published: ITTP, 2012
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