Friday, April 5, 2013

One night in Mumbai, at the ITC Maratha Mumbai Hotel


The bedroom of my suite at the ITC Maratha Hotel in Mumbai

Before flying out of India, after nine days of living a Travelife, we decided to spend one night in Mumbai.

Actually it was really two nights, as our Cathay Pacific flight from Mumbai to Hong Kong was taking off really early in the morning -- so we had an entire 2nd evening to do as we pleased.

My jaded friend left all the choice of hotels to me.

Scroll down to read more...



Actually, all the friends I travel with leave the choice of hotels to me because they know I'm pretty OC about getting a perfect fit for the destination.

It doesn't have to be the most luxurious hotel in the city -- although I have to confess that it almost always is -- but it needs to perfectly suit our needs at that particular time.

ALL KINDS OF FRIENDS
ON ALL KINDS OF BUDGETS

Sometimes I travel with people with budget considerations, while other times I'm with friends who don't even look at the amounts they're signing when they're charging their credit cards.

But paying bills is a reality of life, and so I always tailor my choices to the person or the people I'm with, since we're doing the trip together.


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Read more about our trip to India
in an upcoming issue of Travelife Magazine

*     *     *


As my friend S, who's traveled with me to Germany, Sri Lanka and most recently Vietnam, said once: "I don't need to worry if you're choosing the hotels. I know they'll be good."

For our trip to Germany, for example, I chose highly-rated upscale properties that were on the reasonable side in terms of cost. We were all very happy with the hotels.

ONE NIGHT IN MUMBAI

On our first night in Mumbai, we ate at the Peshwari restaurant
and had this really delicious lobster

Meanwhile, for our one night in Mumbai, I chose the ITC Maratha, which is probably the best luxury hotel near Mumbai airport. Frankly, it's an old hotel vis-a-vis other hotels around; and it's quite large and busy.

But it's extremely comfortable and decorated so beautifully in the local style that even my jaded friend was charmed. The other hotels look like they could be anywhere in the world. But when you stay at the ITC Maratha, you definitely know you're in India. Everything is tastefully done and full of design flair.

Mr. Jaded immediately took out his two bazooka cameras and started clicking away.

THE LIGHTER SIDE OF THINGS

Mr. Jaded taking a photo of Mumbai's sunset

Those two bazooka cameras of his probably weigh a ton, by the way.

The other day, I offered to hold one of them so he could properly take photos of the Dobi Gat in Mumbai. He had one camera slung over his shoulder, he was taking photos with another, and a vendor was bothering him at the same time, you see.

As soon as he handed one of the bazookas to me, I said to him: "OMG. This is so heavy."

He stopped clicking his other bazooka camera long enough to look at me, standing next to him, and to say in his usual dry way: "That's the lighter one."


If you've been reading this blog, by the way, you'll know that Mr. Jaded isn't really a professional photographer although he certainly looked like one in India, with all his impressive gear.

He's a big businessman, quite well-known in the high society tux-and-long gown circuit, who just happens to be passionate about photography.

He takes beautiful photos. Yesterday, he sent me some of the photos he took of places we visited at the beginning of the trip -- and they're lovely.

Mr. Jaded took this photo of me on Day 1 of our India trip,
and, for some reason, it's one of my favorite photos of myself so far.


OPTIONS IN A TRAVELIFE

Anyway, back to the story. We could've gone into Mumbai city itself, as there are many good hotel properties there as well.

But for the equivalent of two nights or just a little more than 24 hours, I decided on the best airport hotel instead. Then we could just head into Mumbai during off-peak hours to avoid the rush hour.

At the ITC Marantha Hotel, we were offered tea or hot chocolate before going to sleep


ARRIVING IN MUMBAI LATE.
LEAVING MUMBAI EVEN LATER.

We'd taken the late night flight from Gujarat to Mumbai, so I didn't fancy spending a long time in a car driving from the airport to a city hotel.

I also didn't want to be hostage to Mumbai's famous traffic the next day, on our way out of India, on another late night flight.

My wonderful personal check-out team at the ITC Maratha Hotel.
They took care of everything.
Thanks to them, I could have a relaxing dinner and a bath before checking out and flying.


I also wanted to stay at a hotel that was close enough so that we could stay over in case the flight was delayed. It was a 1 AM flight, and if it was leaving at 3 or 4 AM instead for some reason, I wanted to keep my room instead of waiting for a delayed flight in a busy airport terminal.

You can only do that if you're staying at an airport hotel.

So, as usual in a Travelife, we organized a pretty seamless stay in Mumbai.

WHAT A NICE WELCOME

Our welcome team from the ITC Maratha Hotel
were waiting to greet us at Mumbai airport


We booked the hotel's luxury airport transfers.

I thought we needed a very big car for all our luggage, and I definitely wanted assistance for us at the airport as Mumbai airport can be big and unwieldy.

The ITC Maratha airport team was waiting to greet us at the airport, and they'd even taken the initiative of organizing two cars: a pretty nice Benz for us to ride in, and another car for our luggage as our bags couldn't fit into the Benz.



Someone at the ITC Maratha probably reads this blog and he or she realized that a Travelife isn't at all a Travel Light. (joke)

The welcome at the hotel was equally warm and inviting.



We'd had a long day in Gujarat.

At the ITC Maratha, we were met with big smiles, Indian scarves and a traditional flame welcome -- perhaps because we'd booked suites on their club floor and the fancy airport transfers.



WHAT A DIFFERENCE A SMILE MAKES

The big smiles of the staff definitely made a big difference in my impression of this hotel.

I already had a very good impression to begin with, which is why I booked this hotel; but the actual warmth of everyone was wonderful -- especially as this is quite a big hotel that's also used as a transit stop by airline personnel of top airlines.



In such large hotels, I always book the club rooms.

The club floor was very nice and private.

And it had lovely decor everywhere -- the kind that pleased Mr. Jaded enough so that he actually suggested just hanging out at the hotel the next day, instead of venturing into Mumbai city.

He'd suddenly said to me, almost minutes after checking in: "Let's just stay here instead of going into Mumbai."

But we'd already booked a car, driver and guide to take us into Mumbai the following day, and also a very nice place for lunch in the city. So I wasn't hearing of it.



WHAT A LOVELY SUITE

Each club floor suite at the ITC Maratha comes with a private butler. My private butler was super efficient and nice.

She helped me unpack my things, and also she checked the room for forgotten items at the end of my stay. In between she organized our life in Mumbai, from reconfirmations of flights to meals and laundry.

When it was time to say goodbye, she even gave me a handwritten note, wishing me a safe journey.



THE BEAUTY OF THE SMALL DETAILS

What I also liked best about my suite were the small details. I stay in pretty good hotels every week, so I can tell at a glance what a hotel is doing right or wrong. The ITC Maratha got so many things right.

For one thing, each suite had a massage chair. How great is that? And this is exactly what travelers need before or after a long flight.



I also had a choice of six newspapers.

And, no, I wasn't given a card with a choice of six options. The six newspapers were actually laid out on my coffee table.



I had a very nice dining room space as well, which was perfect for late-night meals or early breakfasts, when you're busy but hungry.

This was one morning I didn't show up for breakfast. Instead I worked on my computer while I drank my usual tray of juices, delivered to my suite. Along with a bowl of nourishing Indian soup.



THE JOYS OF A GOOD SLEEP

Finally, the hotel had a phalanx of products to ensure a good night's sleep. The bed linen was wonderful, to start, so that helped immensely.

I also had six different types of pillows to choose from, and I was able to find the exact one I wanted.

They also thoughtfully placed two organic aromatherapy spray products by my bed: one was for the relief of stress and the other was for a deep sleep.



I didn't have any stress at all in India. It was a hectic trip, but it was also a really happy one for me. I loved discovering so many new things and getting to tick some more things off my bucket list.

Mr. Jaded was also pretty good company. It was really enjoyable to go around together, taking photographs of beautiful or interesting places.

But I did want to sleep after countless late nights. So I sprayed some of that Deep Sleep aromatherapy spray all over, including on my pillow, and I really fell asleep almost immediately.

And just like that, 24 hours in Mumbai, and another day, ended in my never-endingly eventful Travelife.



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