Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: New Year in India (2016/17)

Hotels

Hotel 1: Radisson Blu Resort, Cavelossim Beach, Goa
Tuesday 27 Dec to Saturday 31 Dec (4 nights)
Room 524 (Premium King-->Twin with Balcony)
 
This hotel is located close to, but not directly on, the beach at Cavelossim. Access to the beach is via a related (non-Carlson-Rezidor) property. The location is 33km south of Goa International Airport. The hotel website states that this is a 45-minute drive, Google Maps reckons it's 55mins and our own journey was 1hr 10mins - take your pick! The accommodation consists of two conventional blocks of rooms placed either side of a semi-open central atrium, and these are supplemented by an extensive array of brightly painted villas set in beautifully maintained gardens. Our room occupied slightly less than one half of the upper floor of one of these garden villas.

As will become clear in the diary narrative, our experiences and observations here led to a belief that there was a certain malaise in the management ethos at the property. This could best be summed up by saying that delivery of excellent customer service was not always at the core of how the business operated.

Overall, we enjoyed our stay here, but at the same time could not escape the feeling that (a) all was not well with the running of the place, and (b) any advantages of the location were probably outweighed by the distance from the airport and from the main attractions of Goa. 

Hotel 2: ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru  
Saturday 31 Dec to Tuesday 03 Jan (3 nights)
Room 1916 (Tower Twin)
 
This is one of eleven exceptional properties owned by ITC Hotels, but marketed by Starwood as part of its prestigious Luxury Collection. The tone was set by this hotel from the moment when we realised that a porter had been sent airside at Bengaluru Airport, to assist us with our bags as soon as they appeared on the carousel. The excellent impressions continued on arrival at the hotel, where public areas and our allocated room all oozed an air of quality. All guests at the Gardenia are entitled to a form of executive lounge-style benefit, and as ever, this was very well done. Dining and drinking venues included Edo (Japanese), Ottimo (Italian), K&K (Indian), the Cubbon Pavilion (24-hour), the Lotus Pavilion (relaxing bar) and Highland Nectar (lively bar). Edo and K&K both deserve special mention for being outstanding.

Hotel 3: Crowne Plaza, Kochi
Tuesday 03 Jan to Saturday 07 Jan (4 nights)
Room 1408 (King Junior Suite)
 
This was a particularly nice Crowne Plaza and we were well treated there, thanks to Bruce's platinum status with IHG. The high-floor junior suite proved to be a most agreeable upgrade. The hotel is situated near the centre of Kochi, just off a busy main road. This made it a convenient base for getting around by taxi, but it wasn't the sort of location where you would want to try wandering out the of front door for a stroll around the local streets. (In fairness, we didn't do that in Bengaluru either. Cavelossim, being a village, was an entirely different matter.)

In terms of facilities, we weren't keen on either the lobby-level bar or the Skybar. On the other hand, the 2nd-floor Mosaic restaurant made a good job of breakfast and indeed all-day dining, while Trilogi, with its focus on local Keralan cuisine, was an excellent choice for dinner. Other amenities included a choice of two swimming pools and the wonderful Sohum spa.

Hotel 4: Taj Bangalore, Bengaluru Airport  
Saturday 07 Jan to Sunday 08 Jan (1 night)
Room 207 (King/Hollywood Twin Deluxe)
 
This hotel is located just a short distance from the terminal building at Bengaluru Airport. Thanks to construction work, however, the walk proved to be less than straightforward. On stepping through the front door, this instantly became the most remarkable airport hotel that either of us had ever encountered, whether separately or travelling together. Sheer, five-star luxury was the order of the day. Our room was beautifully presented, and high standards continued to be evident when we had cocktails and snacks in the lobby lounge, followed by an excellent Chinese dinner. The friendliness and professionalism of the staff was also a notable feature throughout our short stay.