June 30th, 2005
Taj Chandigarh is the latest to open from the Taj chain of hotels in India. It is also the first 5-Star hotel in Chandigarh. Since I’d been to the Taj in Mumbai (the oldest and most prestigious one which dates back to 1903) a few times, I had been very excited about the whole deal when Taj bought the IDTC property to build their hotel.
They had a soft launch of their Lava Bar and round-the-clock open Cafe-17 on Monday, June 20. Gagan told me this on the morning of 24th. I called them up to verify that afternoon and fixed up the program to visit there that evening.
3 of us went by car while me and another friend went on our bikes. The car went in. Both of us on bikes were stopped at the gate!
Cutting the story short, I had to park my bike about a 50 metres away under a tree in the middle of the ground with no attendant and walk into the hotel. The team members were smiling. Yes, I was pissed off at the whole thing. So I didn’t tip the bartender or the cafe waiter. 😛
Won’t talk about the experience otherwise because it was the classic Taj experience.
On the way out, I decided to write down my complaint but the Guest Relation Manager (actually I’m not sure if this was his title but it was Guest something-something) told me they didn’t have any such thing where I could air my grouse.
Next morning, I called them up and they promptly gave me the GM‘s mobile number on my requesting it. Mr. Anil Malhotra (the GM) seemed surprised at the incident. He apologised to me on the behalf of the hotel and said he’ll look into it and take corrective action. I let him know that I was curious about what he would do so would wait to hear from him.
A couple of hours later Payal Grewal (Dy. Manager) called me up (Aside: A peculiar thing was how she introduced herself: “I’m the Dee-Vai Manager”; pronouncing “Dy” as letters.). She was curious about the incident to. She too apologised and I was slightly more verbose about how I was disappointed, felt insulted, was promoting Taj as the place where bikers shouldn’t think about going, and had decided not to visit there again unless something was done. She apologised profusely and said she’d definitely do something about it.
The apology from these two was enough for me. I thought something on the lines of, “Hey, the GM and Dy. Manager apologised. What else can I expect? I thought right about Taj. They’re cool. I should go there with my parents.”
Anyway, she continued talking about how it would be nice if I met her next time I visited the hotel, and how she was very keen I visited again, and that she would look into the matter personally and get things sorted, etcetra.
I was in a meeting later that afternoon when a nice bouquet of roses and a mint cake was delivered to me from Taj (Payal sent it) with a 5-minute apology from the executive who delivered it. I was damn impressed.
So I called up Payal to thank her. I think she’d done her homework by then. After the niceties, she went into the tailspin about how Taj Chandigarh was the first 5-star hotel in Chandigarh, etc. Basically the tone and content that builds up the platform from where to shoot. The shot was (paraphrased), “We have a severe parking problem and have space for a very limited number of cars. So we’ve had to take the active decision of not allowing 2-wheelers.”
I started laughing. I still smile when I think about it.
I don’t think they realise Chandigarh youth. I don’t think they did their maths either. Many bikes can park in the space occupied by 4 cars. At least then they’d be able to tell people that the parking is full for 2-wheelers instead of turning them away. Stupid people. 😀