STAYCATION IN CELEB SPACE

WITH ‘MYCITYBREAK’, YOU CAN BE RELAXING AT A STAR HOTEL IN YOUR CITY... AND LIVING A CELEBRITY LIFE! t2 checks in 

By Karo Christine Kumar
  • Published 11.03.15
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Are you sleeping enough? No.

Does the idea of a quick afternoon nap appeal to you? Yes. Do you roll over and steal five more minutes of sleep in the mornings? Yes. Is a long lie-in your idea of a perfect vacation? Oh, yes!

This ‘how to sleep well’ pamphlet was definitely talking to me. I looked around the spacious Eva room at ITC Sonar I had just checked into and my eyes paused at the very inviting hotel bed and its warm red eiderdown and perky pillowcases.
I quickly read on. Eight types of pillows (I made a mental note to go for ‘super soft’), a slumber kit with stress relief oils and eye mask, soundproofing of windows (that explained the quiet!), a glass of hot milk or hot chocolate… and the magic words “blackout curtains”.

I couldn’t wait for it to be night already! But first, a day of eating, spa-ing and finding out where the celebrities hang at ITC Sonar.

MyCityBreak includes:

  • Room and breakfast in a spacious Towers room for 2 adults and up to 2 children (under-12) 
  • Choice of one major meal for all or a 60-minute Kaya Kalp Signature Massage for 2 
  • Early check-in and late check-out till 4pm, subject to availability
  • 20 per cent discount on F&B, spa & salon services
  • Rs 12,499 for one night up to March 31, applicable for check-ins on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Taxes extra.

WHERE JUHI GOES FOR YOGA

“Repeat after me as you breathe out: I am a happy and peaceful soul,” said Jyoti, the yoga instructor. It was 7am. I was awake in white pyjamas for the first yoga class of my life and far from happy. But she patiently egged me on, her voice calming my anxieties and at the end of the 30-minute class, I was standing on all fours, with my back arched towards the ceiling and feet crossed. I had never thought I could bend into this position without breaking. But I heard Juhi Chawla does it every time she stays at ITC Sonar. “She never misses her yoga classes,” said the instructor. So instead of ‘ohhmmmnn’, I decided to go with ‘korbo lorbo jeetbo re’ for my last exhale. 

The Crepe Suzette (top) is prepared live at your table (middle). SRK’s comment (above) at Peshawri: “... My father was from Peshawar and used to cook us food from there. After many years, I got reminded of that... really tasty food! You are officially responsible for making me lose my six pack”

WHERE SHAH RUKH KHAN EATS CREPE SUZETTE

West View Bar & Grill is for the discerning diner. It’s posh and pretty and even after those heavy-duty charcoal grills, if there’s one thing you have to order here it’s the Crepe Suzette. At Rs 725-plus taxes, it’s worth every grain of demerara sugar and dash of mandarin orange. It’s what Shah Rukh Khan likes to order when he stays in the hotel. The crepes are cooked right at your table in a trolley and the attendant will flambé the bright orange peels dripping with sugar and serve it to you hot with a cold scoop of ice cream. So the next time you’re at West View, say in a mock important voice, “I’ll have what Shah Rukh Khan has”, and don’t forget to email us the reaction. 

P.S: Jacques Kallis likes the Chateaubriand and Brett Lee goes for the Black Angus Sirloin Steak.

WHERE DEEPIKA GOES WAXING

My ears attuned to the therapeutic sound of water trickling down the wall fountain as powerful strokes relieved me of muscular tension. Flat on my stomach, my face resting on a rolled towel, all I could see was a bowl of water with floating roses placed on the floor beneath the massage bed. The aroma of healing lime and ginger filled my senses and for those 60 minutes, the pressures of daily life were on hold. 

The next stop was the salon attached to the spa and as the well-groomed lady twisted my hair into a knot, I casually asked her, “Who are some of your important clients?” hoping she’d break the unofficial client confidentiality code (every girl knows that some of the best gossip exchanges take place in a parlour). “Preity Zinta and Deepika Padukone,” she rattled off proudly. “What did they come here for?” I asked out of curiosity, staring at my spa slippers as they peeped out from beneath the white robe. “Full body waxing for Deepika and full body massage for Preity Zinta. I did both,” she said in a rather pleased voice. I stopped myself from asking if their bodies were stretch mark- and cellulite-free (lest she thought me creepy), when it occurred to me that the same person who’d done Deepika’s waxing was giving me a hair spa. I tossed my hair over my shoulder (like in those shampoo ads) and suddenly felt no less than Bipasha Basu. 

WHERE VIVEK OBEROI EATS SIKANDARI RAAN

I walked down the flight of stairs that go towards Dublin and took a left at the end, where a short walk down the corridor takes you to Peshawri. I saw a tall muscular man walking down, a small army of people in his shadow. He smiled and said, ‘Hi’ very softly but loud enough for me to hear. My head moved from left to right as he walked past. That was Vivek Oberoi.
My hunt for celebrity hangouts had ended down this perfect Road. I couldn’t help but hum Saathiya as I took a table at the far end of the restaurant famed for its food from Peshawar.
I asked the waiter, “What did Vivek order?” (Like he was my best friend.)
“Sikandari Raan, ma’am, would you like some?”
“Yes, and what else?”
“He also had the Kasturi Kebab.”
“Great, get that too.”
Feeling rather accomplished, I took out my iPhone 6 with much swag and readied for Mission Istanbul, er, Mission Instagram. 

EVA — LADIES FLOOR

Housed in the Towers block of ITC Sonar is Eva — the exclusive ladies-only floor. What sets it apart from a regular room?

  • The floor is attended to by a team of lady associates.
  • Each time I ordered room service, a lady arrived at the door. Except for the hot chocolate order after midnight. However, the male attendant was accompanied by the floor’s lady associate. 
  • The telephone has a small screen attached for those who ring the doorbell.
  • There  must be a reason why the ladies floor is in the Towers building. Which girl wouldn’t want to wake up to a misty window overlooking a tranquil lily pond?
The Fashion Show crowned the ‘Grooming Champions 
Mr & Ms Sonar’ 

During my Staycation (stay + vacation) at ITC, the Learn Festival was on, a month-long festival for the hotel staff to engage in fun skill-based activities behind the formal walls of the star hotel. So I popped in for a fashion show at the chosen venue Dublin. Amidst giggles and guffaws, the young boys and girls from sales, security, housekeeping and more walked down the nightclub’s dance floor, which served as an improvised ramp. The judges marked them for the way they folded hands and said ‘namaste’ which is ITC’s signature greeting, on their communication and how presentable they were (it is imperative that every staff member wear his/ her name badge, failing which, he/she has to buy one for the day). 

I noticed that some were familiar faces from the hotel lobby or restaurants. One particular boy who got a lot of cheers from his comrades was Rahul, who walked with a broad smile that ran from one arm muscle to the other. He was the gym assistant. After the rounds, Mr & Ms Sonar were crowned amidst much fanfare … it was hard to believe that this was happening behind the scenes of a busy hotel!

Next up was lunch at WelcomCafeteria, the staff cafeteria in the basement of the Bypass hotel. Not every guest gets a chance to eat here. On my right was a group of bubbly front office girls; to my left, what looked like housekeeping. The cosy cafeteria was streaming with people from different departments, as per their time slots. “We housekeeping guys are usually the last ones at lunch. Hazards of the job!” they laughed. Everyone was in good spirits — just the week before, ITC Sonar had celebrated its annual day. The theme was Bollywood and the general manager Atul Bhalla, who often joins the staff for meals in the cafeteria, had dressed up as Gabbar with a string of bullets strung across his shoulder. He showed the video to some of the boys and they all reminisced the good times! “Is that Chef Mayank Kulshreshtha dancing in a shiny yellow satin shirt?” Yes, it was!