LLM – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine writer Bindu Gopal Rao discovers that the newly opened Grand Mercure Gandhinagar GIFT City in Gandhinagar makes for a stay that merges new age comfort with ancient traditions.
A short 25-minute ride from Ahmedabad’s international airport brings me into India’s first smart city GIFT city that is an oasis of green and the spurt of bougainvillea in bright hues makes for a wonderful first impression and a precursor that exceeds my expectations.
The hotel has been designed keeping the culture of the state and country in mind. A Mandala meaning ‘circle’ in Sanskrit said to be a symbol of deeper connection with inner self and outer world can be seen at the lobby. I am given a traditional welcome and a lovely mango drink that is surprisingly salty and not sweet just the way I like it and shown my way to my elegant suite.
The hotel has 151 rooms including 19 suites and each room has been designed keeping local culture in mind. There are 74 Queen Bed Superior rooms, 55 Twin Bed Superior rooms, 1 Accessible Room, 2 Deluxe rooms with Balcony, 16 Junior Suites, 1 Classic Suite with Balcony and 2 Executive Suites.
All rooms are furnished with modern amenities including a tea and coffee maker, have individual climate control, a large work desk, electronic safe, 43-inch Smart LED TV, high-speed Wi-Fi, wardrobe, minibar anddDirect IDD telephone line.
The best part of my suite is that it is very high on design aesthetics with the mandala design on the cushion cover, mirror, lamp and runner on the bed. The suite I stayed in had a small kitchenette attached and a separate living and bedroom space. A window nook seating was the highlight as it also overlooked the hotel’s swimming pool.
Gujarat is well known for being a state where vegetarian food is a staple. I had my first meal here at the in-house speciality restaurant Samaroh that has an excellent traditional Gujarati thaali that serves a motley selection of the finest local fare on a plate.
The meal began with buttermilk, chaat and a sampler of the local dishes like kandhvi, kamman dokla (both preparations from gram flour) and methi gota (a fried snack made with gram flour and fresh fenugreek leaves).
This was followed with the main thaali that had local dishes inspired by Surat (that has more sweeter dishes) and Kathiyawad (that has more spicier dishes) regions. Executive chef Amar Dwivedi has researched extensively and experienced the thalis at some of the popular restaurants in Ahmedabad before designing the thaali here.
I sampled some traditional dishes like Sev Tamatar (a tomato dish), Kadi (a local gram flour dish), Katiyawadi Paneer, Ghee Rice, Mag Nu Shaak (a dish from sprouted green gram dal), Gujarati sweet and sour dal and breads. For dessert we had Shahi Rasmalai as well as a Paan Kulfi both traditional milk-based desserts. Mint chutney, garlic chutney and green coconut chutney were also part of the accompaniments.
Likewise, the all-day diner Sangam is the place where you can have the buffets as well as a la carte meals with the best of global and local cuisine which is on 24×7. This restaurant not just serves great food but has a design to match. The colour yellow inspired from the local snack Dhokla is seen both on the buffet counter and dining chairs.
Taking inspiration from Kutch the cultural district of Gujarat, there is the LippanKaam work made with mud and mirror an art of Kutch as well as the Kutch embroidery cushion covers and designs on the back of some of the dining chairs here. Indian water vessels have inspired the pendant lamps here. For a quick catch up coffee, healthy drinks or small bites head to Manthan, a comfortable lounge.
Apart from a gym Sukaya that has state-of-the-art cardio and weight training machines, there is also a Yoga Pavilion, Praana and an infinity swimming pool that are great to watch your health when on a holiday, there are several meeting and banqueting spaces as well. The banquet hall Patola is well-equipped to handle business meetings and celebratory functions while Bandhej is the meeting room for business meetings.
Again, do not miss the stunning wall art at the pre-function hall that has stunning kite motifs again inspired by the Kite festival of Gujarat. When I was here, the hotel organized a tie and dye workshop where an artist demonstrated the typical weaves in a fun interactive session. And I also got to keep my work as a wonderful souvenir from the trip.
The hotel is also accessible to the sights of India’s first UNESCO World Heritage City Ahmedabad. This is the city where you can see Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram, visit the stunning Adalaj step well as well as shop to your heart’s content at the evening Law Market. And all of this is enticing when you are at the plush Grand Mercure GIFT City so go ahead and make the right choice for a holiday that mixes business and pleasure seamlessly.
Address: Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, Gandhinagar, Gujarat 382355
Phone: 079 6180 1300
Photos courtesy of Grand Mercure Gandhinagar GIFT City