“Welcome to Shangri-La Bengaluru, how may I be of any assistance”, is the spirit echoed by the entire team during the highly charged launch of the newest luxury hotel in the city. Upon arrival, one can sense an excitement as the team is eager to share with their guests their latest venture which has been nurtured and thought through with great care. On the day of the launch, the management’s efforts to promote and market the property and build brand awareness within the community were evident, as Shangri-La Bengaluru welcomed guests amidst much fanfare.
You enter to experience a hotel lobby that is grand and yet with a sense of warmth. It features a 4m tall sandstone wall installation from Rajasthan, the columns are highlighted with intricate Indian motifs. A laced floral abstract pattern is seen as a continuing theme. The setting is cosmopolitan with an Indian touch. This 19 storey building also stands amongst the tallest in the area advantageous to envious views of Bengaluru from both the guestrooms and restaurants.
The location of the property deserves a special mention. In a city infamous for its traffic, and long hours commuting to the airport or to your hotel, you might want to opt for a hotel that is in the central business district and residential suburb off Palace Road. A reasonable 30 minute drive, the hotel is within easy access from the airport and to the city elite and the desired clientele of the well-heeled traveler. It is about a 15 minute drive to UB City, a prominent and popular corporate address and a 35 minute drive to Indranagar, one of the city’s most expensive localities , which is densely populated with the best of breweries, bars and restaurants that Bengaluru has to offer.
Coming to the brand itself, one cannot help but wonder, why we do not have more Shangri-La properties in India. Since its entry into the market, 10 years ago with Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi, this is now only the second property to open doors to guests. The growth of the brand has not been commensurate to the brand’s impeccable quality. It seems however that they have, at least, in Bengaluru found a suitable partner with Adarsh Developers with another property with them in the pipeline slated for opening in 2016. Also, traditionally an owner management brand, in India they have opted for the management route primarily due to very high capital cost and are thus relying more on finding the right opportunity with the right partner.
Jens Corder, General Manager, Shangri-La hotel, Bengaluru’s opening remarks at the launch highlight the foundation of the brand philosophy. He elaborates that the “hallmark of Shangri-La hospitality is hospitality from the heart”. The brand started out as a family opened company in Hong Kong and the founding father was a gentleman by the name of Robert Kuok. He has based the values of the company on his own family values. Our service culture is routed in traditional Asian family values. It is all about greeting people, treating them with respect and offering assistance. We want our people to connect with our guests in a down to earth manner keeping in mind not to overstep boundaries”.
Imbibing the local culture, preferences and sensitivities has been identified as a way of operating at a Shangri-La as well. Not only is it seen in the selection given to F&B, such as b Café, the all-day dining restaurant has a distinct emphasis on vegetarian options, but also in the design space with use of Indian motifs or for instance, the ‘durban’ (doorman), who greets you, dressed in a traditional Indian sherwani.
On inquiring, the GM, an Australian with 25 years of experience in hospitality, shared what will differentiate this property. “What will set this property apart is the food and beverage. It is our endeavour to position the hotel as an unmatched culinary destination in the city. The F&B is going to be a big part of its revenue contribution simply due to the sheer size of our food and beverage operation. We are also bringing what I hope will become iconic food and beverage destinations in Bengaluru. We have put in a lot of research into the market and have tried to come up with a product that will be liked, more so with the local market. We want to give Bangaloreans something that they can be proud of”.
Currently the property has opened with b Café and their signature Chinese restaurant, Shang Palace. Before Diwali, that is the first week of November, hotel guests and Bangaloreans can expect the roll out of three more restaurants serving specialized cuisine. This includes Caprese, a Mediterranean restaurant, Saffron for Indian and Yataii serving Japanese. With a total of eight F&B outlets, including five main restaurants, Hype -– a rooftop bar, lobby lounge and b Café pastry, it seems to be competitively and attractively positioned for Bangaloreans.
The combination of the banquet space, which offers 6 flexible rooms covering a total space of 1,256sqm along with the largest room inventory in the city, “is something that Bengaluru was really crying out for”. Corder add ed that their 397 rooms uniquely positions them as one stop solution for banqueting needs in the city. The guest rooms and suites range in size from a very comfortable 41sqm to a more luxurious 274sqm. To enhance your staying experience, highly recommended would be the Horizon floor, the 16th level of the hotel, for its panoramic views. This comes with access to the Horizon Club with the standard fare of meeting club room, breakfast, afternoon tea and cocktails in the evening.
Prioritizing the local community has been a clear mandate. The hotel is banking upon its F&B which it hopes will help market the hotel and also position the hotel as the place to be for Bangaloreans. Keeping in mind local preferences, the catering facilities include the option of a pure vegetarian kitchen for banquets and events. With this they hope to capture a sizeable amount of revenues through both social and corporate banquets as well as group business such as MICE.