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Why the Park Chennai does not cut it when it comes to 5 Star hotels in Chennai

Sunday, August 30, 2015

/ by Srikanth Eswaran



I had an opportunity to stay in the Park hotel, Chennai for business reasons. Most people needing to travel to Chennai to the US embassy prefer this hotel due to location. Also its a 5 star hotel. I did the booking on on Booking.com a fairly well known travel website. It was painless to book and the hotel clarified whatever information was needed when they were called.

First the traffic around the place is horrendous. Gemini Flyover sure has seen generations in chennai and the traffic around this place makes it impossible to cross the road unless one uses the subway. If you think people will behave the same way as other cities when it comes to driving skills, be warned - this city wont wait for you to cross. If you value your life, be safe.

Now to the hotel itself. Given my very brief stay, I did not get to experience the restaurants, pool and other areas towards the terrace. The building is rather old and it is beginning to show at many places. The rooms were comfortable, and had mostly everything you would need. Two bottles of mineral water, a well stocked mini bar, tea/coffee making machines with creamer, sugar and coffee/tea supplies. The mini bar was as expected chargeable if you were to take anything from there.

For a change the bed was NOT spongy and springy like other hotels. I had a stiff but comfortable bed something that I usually long for in hotels, and soft pillows to provide even more comfort. Each room gets an individually controllable central airconditioning with the temperature setting panel on the wall. Now this is where I would like 5 star hotels to think a bit. When smaller hotels offer a remote control how come such a hotel decided not to provide this?

There was a sofa, stool and a high stool to place luggage which is wishful thinking. There was no fan in the room. Now you might argue that in a 5-star hotel a fan worsens the ambience. But thats not the point. A fan provides some instant air circulation while the aircon takes it own time. With all the windows closed, and curtains around, any hotel room begins to become stuffy. And this is exactly where you need a fan. If you cannot provide a ceiling fan, give a table fan or a tower fan. In a country like india, there are thousands of options available, you need to just think.

The lights were dim and not sufficient to work, I personally prefer some white light in the room, but this one had only yellows. To each his own opinion so I will leave this there!

One of the most important parts of the room which is lesser spoken about is the toilet. While the toilet itself was good and it was well appointed with whatever you would expect I found one glaring issue. A missing health faucet. Even the train I came by to chennai had one and I simply cannot understand why a 5-star hotel like the Park decided to do away with it. For me cleanliness is very important and people like me who are very personal hygiene conscious will surely be pissed off with this omission.

The bathtub was great, and so was the showers (plural). I did find another thing quite annoying. the flush in the toilet would go off only after 30 seconds each time. Now do we really need to waste water like this because we are a 5-star? In India everyone is expected to be conservative even if we flaunt money. Someone somewhere in the hotel chain needs to make this distinction and take the baton. A few hotels have begun not washing the bedding if we say so, and water conservation is just another similar matter.

Also the hot water was not really hot, at best warm. Which turned cold every few minutes once. What is the point? In spite of keeping my AC completely turned off in the room and without a fan, the whole room was so cold simply because the aircon in the corridors was too cold. After all this, if you find that you do not have hot water, hot enough to your wish it becomes very difficult to stay put in the room. I complained, someone did something, and nothing changed much.

The room service menu was a horror to see. You know its not the money part really that pinches me. Before you begin to assume things about me, I have the money that it takes to order whatever is there on that list. But when the rates of items are in dollars you seriously begin to wonder what is the value they bring compared to any really decent hotel nearby. We have heard of indians being charged less and foreigners more in tourist places. Why can the hotels not adopt similar policy? For indians charge in rupees and for others charge in their currency at a certain reasonable amount.

A cup of authentic Madras filter coffee is priced at Rs.250/- Even cafe coffee day will have to hang their head in shame at this rate. The best one can give for a cup of filter coffee in chennai no matter where it is served is 50 bucks. Not five times that. Well you may now begin to say I don't deserve to stay there if I cannot consume something at that price. Not exactly. Any item you see in the list is either 550, 750 or 1000 bucks. So for example a dosa maybe 1000 bucks. Can I see you frown now? I'm glad you get the point.

This is perhaps the only hotel where alcoholic drinks are cheaper than tiffin.

Thankfully there was free WiFi - the basic needs of engineers according to the revised Maslow's laws of hierarchal needs. And it was quite fast. I hate any hotel not offering complementary wifi these days. And the Park did not disappoint. I never even bothered to ask anyone for travel arrangements within the hotel. I had Ola, Uber and the million autos just outside the gate. So that's one brownie point less to the Park.

The next morning was the complimentary breakfast. Now I must say the restaurant 601 in the hotel, did an exemplary job with the kind of breakfast spread they offered. Simply amazing. Tasty. And full of variety. English breakfast, South indian everything you needed was there. Good job Park.


Check in was quite late but check out was not. They can have more than three reception staff as the flow of visitors is high. Further, I was offered during checkout that I could come and refresh and go even later in the day, which is a nice touch. I did read the book kept in the room on the hotel rules and I must say I did not feel so welcoming with the way the language was presented. Perhaps someone needs to be more youthful in whats shown to visitors. You can't do this, you can't do that, we dont appreciate this, we dont appreciate that. You know the whole book sounds negative. Dont be rude to our staff, we dont like pets - blah blah blah.

I dont mind you saying we must not be rude to your staff, but it also applies the other way round. Please understand that visitors to the hotel are generally tired, and not always in the best moods due to whatever other problems they are in. I do get the point that some visitors act like they are the Kings and Queens of some faraway kingdom, but not all are like that. That is why hospitality is a difficult business. Its all about how to put up a nice face even when the customer has issues with the hotel. Anyway this is something for you to handle, and not me. But putting up the rulebook like what you have - I would have changed certain things in it the way it was said.

In Summary, I did have a nice time at your hotel with some awesome breakfast, and a comfortable room, but with some important things being omitted in the room and toilet, and the horrendous pricing of your food items, I guess this is only a place to stay not to eat. For eating there is always a Saravana Bhavan at a stones throw away (<1km, Gopalapuram) which you can walk to. With room rates around 6000 to 7000 a night, I think a lot more can be done to better the experience for visitors.

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