notice that the Chennai Trade Centre is hosting yet another exhibition (it’s busy 280 days in a year) as we drive by on our way to Feathers – A Radha Hotel. Then I realise the new five-star property in Manapakkam—whimsically named after the plumage once found on its grounds—is next door to the DLF IT Park and a hop and a skip away from the corporates in Sriperumbudur. It isn’t happenstance because the plush 186-room hotel, just 8 km from the airport (the only luxe property on this stretch of the road) has been conceptualised as a retreat for the well-heeled. “With Chennai growing as a MICE destination (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), we are not looking at millennials, but those from the upper echelons of business for whom a feeling of warmth, space and luxury are key,” explains Rupam Dutta, the GM. I believe it: Carnation—with 9,250 sq ft of banquet space and an additional 5,600 sq ft of pre-function area—is the third largest banquet hall in the city.
Cheery greetings of ‘happy evening’ follow me as I explore the property designed by New York-based Meagan Jacobi of Cobico Designs. The spacious lobby, with its soaring ceilings and light sculptures by world-renowned Lasvit from Czechoslovakia, sets the tone—of the local merging seamlessly with the international. Kolams, picked out on the carpets, lead the way, while motifs of temple jewellery and jasmine flowers are found on pierced copper-leaf wall screens. Copper, the metal popular in the region, is even used to accentuate the Italian marble walls. Though the hotel is yet to be completed—with more rooms, two restaurants, a bar, spa and pool yet to be opened—Dutta assures me another two months will find them ready for the peak season.
The proof of a hotel is in its rooms, and the food, of course. As I swipe in, I find the 422 sq ft space has been designed with comfort and the long-haul visitor in mind. Thick, soft mattresses with 500 thread count linen promise a good night’s sleep, while a spacious workstation with an L-shaped lounge sofa beside it ensure you can plug in whenever the need arises. There’s even a small sink and a microwave, for those who would like to heat up some food come midnight. Dutta assures me the view is great; I just have to ignore the workmen milling around, finishing the pool and Barefeet, the cosy poolside lounge and bar. What does have my attention, however, is the bathroom, bounded by glass walls to give a feeling of more space, and the free-standing tub. Just the thing for a pre-dinner soak, in bubbles created by Hong Kong-based Ming Fai’s signature range of toiletries.
The expertise of Jugesh Arora, chef and culinary management consultant, is behind the design of the kitchens—from Truffles, the lobby-level pâtisserie, and Waterside, the all-day diner, to Umami, the yet-to-be-launched Indian fine dining restaurant. But the man behind the menu is executive chef Lawrence Amalraj, with 13 years of experience in hotels like The Taj Group. “At Waterside, we serve food from the Far East, Europe, India and more. While the buffet is popular, our a la carte menu is comprehensive, too, with over 100 dishes,” says the 35-year-old, adding that if guests want something off-menu, he can whip it up. Declining an offer of wood-fired pizza that I fear I might not be able to finish, I dine on shrimp nigiri, juicy chicken kebabs, beef carpaccio, soba noodles and the most intensely rich chocolate mousse I’ve had in recent times. It’s time to turn in, but not before sipping on a nightcap, comfortable curled up in bed.
Rs 1,200++. 25 per cent off on food till September 30. Rooms from Rs 8,500++ onwards. Details: 66776969
Umami: With rich wood panelling and an exhibition kitchen, this fine dining pan-Indian restaurant promises concept dining, with a nine-course set menu. “Beginning with an amuse bouche, we will take you on a tasting tour featuring the flavours from all four corners of the country. A set menu helps us introduce flavours that the guests may not otherwise try,” says Amalraj, adding that the chef will soon be leaving on a tour of the country to source unique recipes. `1,500++ per person.
Vapor: The plush bar is done up in warm marble, leather and copper, and will offer a variety of ‘smokey’ cocktails. “We will serve both polyscience smoked and oak barrel-aged cocktails, which will be a first in the city,” says Anupam Dutta, assistant beverage manager. “We will also have a nice selection of spirits, like the Laphroaig single malt, Talisker 30 and Lagavulin 16. Our wine list will include the exclusive Chateau Pauillac from France and the Gaja Barbaresco from Italy,” he adds.
Skyloft: Sitting under the blue sky, watching planes take off at the airport, munching on Mediterranean starters like kibbeh and sambousek sounds like the perfect way to spend a Sunday. Dutta also promises signature blends from the bar, where the bartender will design his own syrups and ingredients. At the roof top restaurant, you can dine on grills and pastas. There are also plans to add steaks and a barbecue soon.
As you like it
Customisation is key. At Feathers that means guests can plan a quick city tour, a food trail or even a getaway to Pondicherry, which is four hours away. “I also want to introduce concepts like be your own bartender or chef. How often do you get the chance to work with a chef in a five-star kitchen? I remember how happy my wife was when I convinced the pastry chef at one of Bengaluru’s top hotels to let her bake with him. I want to help our guests create memories here,” says Dutta.
—Surya Praphulla Kumar