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    French hotel giant, Accor, marks its entry into Chennai with a spanking new property on the OMR

    he Accor group needs no introduction. Present in over 90 countries with 3,500 (and counting) operational hotels, the French group entered India in 2006 (with Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre). So what if it’s taken them eight years to open their doors in Chennai? Accor has launched its brands Novotel and Ibis (in the same premises) at the IT corridor, SIPCOT, and we hear, has two more properties coming up soon. On our maiden visit to Novotel, we’re greeted by general manager Mohammed Shoeb—a happy man who boasts that in just one month of opening, his restaurant has been “driving people in.” Housed on the upper ground floor (or UGF, as they call it) their restaurant, bar, fitness centre and swimming pool provide guests “fun, food and fitness,” but more on that later, as our first stop is their Superior room.

    NOVOTEL16Bed and beyond
    With a total of 180 rooms, the hotel offers three categories—Superior, Premier and Suites—of which only the first is available now. We find the rooms stylish, with see-through bathrooms and space conserving doors and partitions. While mini bars, electronic lockers and LCD TVs are standard amenities we have come to expect, Novotel throws in an interesting Bluetooth speaker near your bed that can be connected to your smartphone to play music or help with a conference call. You will also be happy to hear that if you book an additional room for your children or parents, you enjoy a 50 per cent discount on it. Guests of the Premier rooms and Suites—expected to launch later this year—will have access to an exclusive lounge on the eighth floor (the Premier lounge). We take a sneak peek and find it equipped with facilities for hosting small buffets and meetings, with a quiet corner offering a great view of the IT skyline in SIPCOT. The Premier rooms and Suites will have their own Lavazza coffee machines.

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    The grand buffet
    While the 42-cover Le Bar at the UGF awaits its liquor license, their signature multi-cuisine restaurant, The Square, is packed for lunches, with a rather long show kitchen and buffet counter being highlights. The man behind the lavish spread, that features everything from rogan gosh to stroganoff and plenty of cold cuts and cheeses, is executive chef Jaideep Kanungoe (from The Raintree St Mary’s). The layout of the restaurant allows a lot of scope for interaction with the chefs, so you can ensure your pizza has just the right toppings and your meats are done precisely as you choose. We’ll have to wait for our next trip to sample the short eats menu at Le Bar that has a section overlooking their semi-indoor swimming pool. In addition to housing a fully-equipped fitness centre (with a trainer available from 6 am to 10 pm), the UGF also has a poolside al fresco dining section that we’re confident will make a great spot for barbecue evenings.

    Other highlights
    We like that Novotel has kept its banquet hall (that can be divided into three, accommodating 200 in a classroom set-up and 100 in a cluster) at the lobby level, allowing easy access for guests. The lobby also houses their bakery, La Baguette. Other perks for guests include their global loyalty programme, Le Club Accor, that is valid across all their brands (except Formule 1) and Advantage Plus, a card that gives holders up to 50 per cent off at their food and beverage outlets. Top all this with the residential packages that GM Shoeb plans to launch soon, and we’re convinced that Novotel has packed in all it can, to ensure that not only the catchment around SIPCOT, but even guests from the city are lured in.

    Rooms from Rs.7,000 plus tax onwards, with an inaugural 25 per cent off. The lunch buffet at The Square costs Rs.950 plus tax. Details: 66545454

    — Ryan Peppin

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