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The Park Hotels

THE Park Hotels unveils THE Park Mumbai

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
THE Park Hotels unveils THE Park Mumbai

India’s contemporary hotel group, THE Park, has opened the 60-key THE Park Mumbai, which is strategically located opposite Asia’s first Soho House…

THE Park Hotels, pioneers of luxury boutique hotels in India, brings its renowned design vocabulary to the city of dreams, Mumbai, with the launch of its latest hotel. Situated on Juhu Tara Road, framing unmatched sea views, THE Park Mumbai is set to bring contemporary design, rejuvenating spaces, innovative dining and sensuous entertainment into this vibrant part of the city.

Located opposite Asia’s first Soho House, close to sprawling Juhu Beach, the hotel is an uber-cool retreat in this urban hub. A striking charcoal facade by top architect Sanjay Puri is punctuated by burnt orange and fuschia windows that perfectly reflect the spectacular sunsets. The hotel’s eclectic exteriors are completed by stunning interiors designed by Singapore-based firm Ong & Ong.

The 60-key design hotel has six categories of rooms; with spectacular views of either the Arabian Sea or city while some overlook the historic Juhu airfield. The rooms and studio suites have been designed with a monochromatic colour palette with world-class amenities.

Image credit: THE Park Hotels

 Meishi, an elegant space off the lobby is an Asian inspired all day dining fusion restaurant – Japanese, Thai, Chinese, and a hint of Indian; using fresh and organic ingredients and currently open to resident guests.

The Saffron Room, a 2500 sq. ft. banqueting space on the first floor is a perfect place for social events and corporate meetings. The hall has two different types of lighting to enhance and make events even more spectacular.

Contemporary hotel room, framing the sea and palm trees

Image credit: THE Park Hotels

“We are excited to add the new striking address to our collection of hotels, said Speaking about the launch, Priya Paul, Chairperson of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels. “Mumbai is a city of interesting contrasts and THE Park Hotels will add to it by bringing immersive and Anything But Ordinary experiences. Our vision is to have a slice of THE Park in every city people travel to.”

Mr. Vijay Dewan, Managing Director, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, added:, “We are happy to launch THE Park Mumbai today. It is our first managed hotel under THE Park Hotels portfolio. Mumbai is India’s key metropolitan cities and a business hub, and we are delighted to expand our footprint here. The hotel is not only targeted at the business travellers looking for a perfectly calm and rejuvenating experience, but this area is also for media, entertainment and other industries.”

Opening soon is a dramatic whisky bar with a cosy alfresco patio. as well as the addition of more rooms, a Presidential Suite, a spectacular poolside bar on the rooftop, a gym and a spa.

Main image credit: THE Park Hotels

Redefining luxury hotels in India with clever injection of design and art

Hamish Kilburn

Following THE Park Hotels celebrating 50 years of being unlike any other Indian hotel group, Priya Paul sat down with editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn to discuss the role of art in the hotel brand… 

Just months ago, I was catching up with who I consider the businesswoman of the year (certainly in the hotel design sphere that is). Priya Paul is a delightful woman who exudes warmth and charm. Her kindness, however, should not be confused for weakness, as her team hit a major milestone, having just recently celebrated THE Park Hotels’ 50th anniversary. Paul defiantly pushed her brands to visually be worlds apart from any other luxury hotel in India. As well as providing personalised experiences for all guests checking in, each hotel in her portfolio is designed to be trendy, forward-thinking with art defining the hotel’s sense-of-place.

THE Park is present in Bangalore*, Chennai*, Hyderabad*, Kochi, Kolkata*, Navi Mumbai, New Delhi* and Visakhapatnam. THE Park Collection is intimate, personalised, and tailored to transmit an inimitable guest experience. It includes The Park Calangute* (Goa), The Park Baga River (Goa), The Denmark Tavern (Kolkata) and a heritage hotel in Chettinad (2019). Its sister brand, Zone By THE Park, is also across India, currently with seven hotels with the focus on tier two cities.

All of the hotels within the portfolio layer a strong emphasis of contemporary design in its private and public spaces. Style and luxury enhances everything – be it paintings, furniture, accessories or contemporary art.

The brand is heightened by each property’s boutique concept through an art route. The art objects spread all over these star deluxe hotels, gives them a specific identity.

Art in all its manifestations and forms are found in the various hotels. From traditional tribal art to edgy digital art and inspired installations enthrall our guests. Known artists share space with fresher inspiration. The result is a combination of dynamic interpretation of life.

Five minutes with Priya Paul:

Hamish Kilburn: How much of the overall budget would you allocate to art in one of your hotels?
Priya Paul: It depends from project to project . But it is about 5 per cent of the total budget of the project.

HK: How significant is good art in hotel design?
PP: It is extremely significant for me. I have always believed in using art and local handicrafts for each of my hotels. I am extremely lucky that I work in India, where each region has wonderful traditional crafts people. I enjoy working with them and enable traditional art and crafts into contemporary work for my hotels.

HK: You’re an experienced traveller. Without naming and shaming, what’s the worst art you have seen in hotels and how can hotels get it so wrong?
PP: For me personally the worst is when the hotel has put no thought into it and buys completely non-descript copies, while there are so many young artists that can be encouraged.

HK: How is art now being depicted beyond the frame in hotel design?
PP: Art is no longer something that hangs on the wall. We have used sculptures, ceramics and three-dimensional work in our hotels. We have used artworks as wallpapers and have even were the first ones to use video and digital art in hotels. Art is becoming more immersive. I know for my next project, I will work more with video and sound.

Examples of art and photography at THE Park Hotel:

THE Park, Chennai

The Park Chennai is an evocative luxury space located on the premises of erstwhile Gemini Film Studios. Elegant, Sensuous, Rich, it houses the theatre of life in its private and public spaces.  The Hotel aims at creating a visual drama at every step. Well known artists have aptly brought out at The Park Hotels the chic and yet antique culture of Chennai.

The Lotus is the national flower of India and a sculpture by Hemi Bawa was chosen to be placed at the entrance of the hotel as a welcoming gesture. The Steel at the base depicts the water while the granite pebbles provide a shimmering effect. It exemplifies the fusion at various levels – of light and shadow, natural and manmade.

Manish Nai, an abstract artist has worked with mixed mediums like jute, paper etc. Born in 1980, he has completed his course from the L.S.Raheja School of Art, Mumbai. His works are also exhibited in Art Access Weel at Birla Academy, Nehru Centre and Cymroza Art Gallery. He exhibits his work at the lobby of THE Park Chennai.

Meanwhile, artist Sonja Weder’s work exhibits at 601 restaurant. She has used natural vegetation that is processed and laminated like her current exhibits the banana leaf and the flame of the forest.

Eminent sculptor Ray Mecker currently settled in Pondicherry uses ceramic as his medium for his abstract art which is displayed at the Atrium on the fourth floor.

THE Park Chennai proudly associates itself with talented art photographers who have lended their work at the public and private spaces of the hotel. To name a few they are Amit Pasricha, Sheena Sippy, Bharat Sikka, Bharat Ramaruthnam.

In the Pasha, there is a sculpture called HIGH at the entrance, a unique light sculpture by Krishnaraj Chonat is in the shape of a giant eagle suspended from the ceiling. Its bright red glow warms the white pearl encrusted silver leather wings.

Lobby comes alive every evening with the digitized projection of films on large screens. Digital art in the lift is by Sonia Khurana. Also in the lift are computer games and cartoons reflecting the changing times and tastes.

 

THE Park, Bangalore

The first contemporary Indian boutique hotel is small, luxurious and intimate. The first boutique hotel is all about style – a specially designed environment that creates a wealth of experience. Tatler Magazine in its definitive Travel Guide 2003 has rated this as one of the 101 best hotels in the world. It is a unique 109 -room experience, designed by Conran & Partners, UK.

The design philosophy is a fusion of the vibrant colours and landscapes of India with International style. Each area is specially designed to provide a richer and more sensual interaction. The hotel draws on Indian sensations and environment to provide travelers an ‘urban retreat’. The pristine white four-storied structure belies the luxury and flamboyance of the interiors. Flashes of brilliant colour from the balcony windows break the façade.

Some of the art that you will see here

Lobby: The main attraction in the lobby is an intricately carved black wooden pillar specially crafted by local craftsmen. The artistic pillar is a fusion of local hoysala art form and the much talked about Khajuraho art form. The pillar provides an exciting relief by its Indian feel amidst the contemporary feel of the lobby.

i-bar: The art installation at the I-bar is a backlit graphic, which is inspired by the focus on technology in the city also famous for silk. There are colourful strands, which depict silk threads and wires. Words like click, touch, feel that feature in the installation enhance the human angle to the piece. Paintings by Jiteh Kalet are strategically placed at the entrance to the bar.

Rooms and corridors: The photographers were specially commissioned for this area of the hotel. The first floor corridor showcases:

Coloured Photographs by Sanjay Acharya, Gurinder Osan, Manish Swaroop. The second and third floor has images by French photographer Laurent de Gaulle. Fourth floor sees the work of Nitin Upadhaya. Each room at The Park, Bangalore has black and white photographs showcasing the essence of the Garden City’s sights, sounds and scents. Saibal Das and Fawzan Hussain were specially commissioned to capture on film the city’s various moods across 24-hours – from daybreak at Cubbon Park to the bright night lights of MG road. These are an extension of The Park Hotels’ ideology – to incorporate the essence of the city in which it is located, into the design of its hotels.

THE Park, New Delhi:

MIST at THE Park New Delhi

MIST at THE Park New Delhi

Flagging off the heart of the Capital’s business and entertainment center, stands The Park New Delhi. It overlooks the historic 18th century Jantar Mantar Observatory and is in the city’s hub – Connaught Place.

The artists that you are likely to see here are AK Raina, Shobha Broota, Jagdish Dey, Altaf Hussain, Yusuf Arrakal, Ojha, Priya Ravish Mehra, Manish Kansara, Sukhvinder Singh, Morden Madhvani, Paramjit Singh, Pooja Broota, Hema Joshi.

THE Park, Vizag:

The Park, Vizag, spread over 7 acres of spectacular landscaped lawns, overlooking the Bay of Bengal, has a perfect, picturesque ambience as an urban beach resort. The Park’s location offers sandy beaches complete with a lighthouse to underline the romance of the sea with breathtaking sunrises and lovely tropical gardens. The art and décor of the hotel has traces of tribal art of Andhra Pradesh and the tropical themed landscaped lawns are co-related with the influence of Buddhist ruins found in and around the area.

Sculptures of Apsaras in stone greet you as you enter the hotel. The lobby also boats of Tribal Art from the neighboring Arakku Valley (Sculpture of Dristi Dolls) and traditional kalamkari paintings. Paintings by Kiran Rathore and Manish Gupta adorn the walls of the lift lobbies. The outdoor crafts court depicting the story of Ramayana is the creation of local artist Sairam. These pillars are perfect examples of Savara Art.

(Savara is ancient tribal clan who belong to the hills of coastal Andhra Pradesh. Traditionally these tribes believe in their Gods and Ghosts of their dead ancestors live with them on the paintings and pictures drawn in their homes. They consider each home to be a temple and most sacrifices are done within their home. Paintings are done with clay and chalk mostly in dark wheat, yellow, white and black colours. The pictures depict daily happenings and lifestyles of their community. The pictures are simple & follow a geometrical pattern of straight lines, triangles, squares and simple life forms.)

Top 5 stories of the week: Turning 50, Scottish jewels and one important countdown

678 574 Hamish Kilburn

As the sun sets on June, editor Hamish Kilburn wraps up on what has been a tech-driven month full of interviews and looking into the future…

It’s important in our industry to know when to celebrate. This month has been all about recognising significant milestones in both hotel groups and technology.

In this month alone, we welcomed a new hotel brand, voco, while we also celebrated THE Park Hotels’ 50th anniversary. From a tech point of view, we explored why there’s a growing demand for wireless power in hotel design, while also exploring whether or not Alexa was welcome in the guestroom (the jury is still out, it seems).

Wrapping up the month, here are our top five stories of the week.

1) 50 years young, THE Park Hotels and the woman behind the brand

Portrait of Priya Paul

Our most-read article of this week’s context is all about celebrating success. Priya Paul, the businesswoman with much to celebrate, joined me for a afternoon tea to discuss 50 years of THE Park Hotels and how the Indian hotel landscape has changed…

2) Checking in to Gleneagles, Scotland

Pastel palette in Legacy Suite

Intrigued to find out to what extent the power of interior design can lift a building, we checked in to review the one and only jewel of Scotland, Gleneagles… My first impressions to what I thought would be an overly stuffy and ‘far too posh’ hotel were immediately erased the moment I stepped foot in the building.

3) Competition watchdog puts hotel bookings sites under the spotlight

It’s all over the mainstream news, and the names of the bookings sites are yet to be released. Hotel booking sites are being advised by the UK’s competition watchdog to review the way in which they rank and display rooms online…

4) Leading design firms, hotels and suppliers to attend Meet Up North

Terrace of King's Street Townhouse

The countdown has started. With less than a month to go until the inaugural Meet Up North kicks off in Manchester’s King Street Townhouse on July 18, Hotel Designs has announced the stellar line-up of designers, architects, hotels and suppliers who will be attending.

5) Marriot International leads global hotel construction pipeline

Image credit: Marriott International - Cape Town

Image credit: Marriott International – Cape Town

The Lodging Econometrics (LE) global construction pipeline trend report suggests that Marriot is leading the franchises in the global construction pipeline.

The construction pipeline that compiles statistics for every country and market in the world, states that the total pipeline stands at 12,714 projects/2,139,002 rooms, up seven per cent by projects year-over-year (YOY).

50 years young, The Park Hotels and the woman behind the brand

1024 506 Hamish Kilburn

Priya Paul, the businesswoman with much to celebrate, joins editor Hamish Kilburn to discuss 50 years of THE Park Hotels and how the Indian hotel landscape has changed…

There are few, if any, hotel owners in the world that can claim to totally grasp the real and raw concept of a design hotel. The ‘design hotel’, not to be confused with a hotel that shelters good design, captures everything – from culture to location, to guestrooms through to pools – in all aspects of its foundations. Priya Paul, Chairperson of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, to me, understands that concept down to a T. Priya has a unique vision, one that I have not necessarily seen before. But it’s infectious. Her charm is obvious, and yet it comes to my surprise when I realise that being a businesswoman is not necessarily a cue to be cold, hard-nosed or cruel to those around. In fact, I experience the exact opposite.

I joined Priya at The Arts Club on a hot and sticky summer’s day in London. I learned more from my first impression of meeting her than I did in the whole of my entire day. Her warm smile met mine as I went over to the table, while her soft but assured hand shake reminded me that this was still a ‘business meeting’, of sorts.

But the multi-hotel owner is not a conventional businesswoman. “You will eat something, won’t you? I hope you don’t mind, but I have not yet had lunch,” she said with a light glow about her. I had already had mine, which was obviously written all over my face before I could conjure up an excuse to refuse the offer. “Here’s a desert menu, you can’t say no to desert.” She was right. “Good choice,” she said kindly as I ordered the Cheesecake, “That’s been on the menu for years, it’s delicious.” The Arts Club is clearly a favourite London venue.

“This year we are celebrating being 50 years old,” Priya beamed with pride. “THE Park Kolkata was the first to open, although its interior has changed since then. The way I approached the hotels that we had at that stage – which was three in total – and the way I worked to create a new language for those hotels –  is really what has set the company apart. What you now see in our hotels is a much more contemporary look and feel. For example, we worked with Conran + Partners to create a more dynamic, contemporary atmosphere in the THE Park Kolkata.”

Priya mentors me through the various hotels on her tablet, flicking through each property to show me how different each one is to the other. Personality, location, quirkiness and an individual identity really shines through with popping colours and very, very warm welcomes created all through clever interior design.

East certainly meets west in all of these hotels, especially in the outside pool areas. The best example of this can be found in each hotel’s Aqua Lounge bars. The daytime lounging area by the poolside becomes a perfect chill out zone in the evening, with music by the resident DJ. “The idea [of Aqua Lounge] was to give designers the brief of what happens when Miami meets India,” Priya explains. The result is a cool, beachy vibe that opens the hotel up to become more relaxed and carefree.

Aqua, The Park Hotels

Image Caption: THE Park Hotels

“The nightclub is a very important part of our experience,” Priya says as she goes on to show me images of some of the public areas of The Park Hotels. Priya’s vision leads her to work with different designers to achieve different looks. “Here we worked with Project Orange to design these open areas,” she explains.

Quick-fire round:

Hamish Kilburn: What’s your favourite colour?
Priya Paul: Red
HK: What’s your biggest bugbear?
PP: Bathroom scales in hotel rooms
HK: Where’s next on your travel bucket list?
PP: Myanmar
HK: What’s your number one tool for success?
PP: Hard work
HK: What’s your favourite hobby?
PP: Cooking
HK: What’s your number one travel essential?
PP: An eyemask
HK: Who is your favourite fashion designer?
PP: In India it’s Manish Arora. Internationally, it’s Prada
HK: What’s your number one travel tip?
PP: Relax and enjoy it

I get the very strong sense that Priya doesn’t just know what she wants when designing a new hotel. I think it’s more accurate to say that she knows what the building needs in order for it to become a hotel for its location. THE Park Hyderabad, for example, is covered in jewels. “The rulers of that state used to have legendary fabulous collection of jewels,” says Priya. “So the whole design concept was to have jewels as a theme throughout all those spaces, including the exterior of the building.”

The Park Hyderabad

Image caption: The exterior of THE Park Hyderabad

Zone by Park Hotels 

What seems to be a popular move internationally, to focus on enlarging the brand identity in tier two and tier three cities, is also the tactic for THE Park Hotels brand in India. “We wanted to create something that had the quality and essence of THE Park Hotels. It had to be fun and zippy, very much for the modern traveller in smaller cities in India, which have become in their own right design hubs,” says Priya. “That really was our cue to launch Zone by THE Park.” Each hotel under the Zone by THE Park Hotels brand has a quirky palette to reflect the art and craft of the area and location. “We currently have eight of these hotels open with a further four to come this year, and 16 others in the pipeline,” says Priya.

Interior of The Park Zone

Image caption: Zone by THE Park Bengaluru.

“If you had the luxury to go back in time, what would you do differently?” I ask. “Honestly, not much,” Priya says. “I would do it all the same, but I would do it quicker. The hardest challenge I have faced has been the difficulty in getting quality products – I’m talking about fabrics, furniture and finishes – available in India. that has definitely changed over the years.”

Hamish Kilburn and Priya Paul

Image Caption: Editor Hamish Kilburn and Priya Paul

As we sit drinking green tea in The Arts Club, with it being such a British establishment, I can’t help but wonder whether or not launching the brand in the UK was on Priya’s radar. “There is definitely possibility to further expand the brand and open a hotel in the UK.” As exciting as this is, I also hint that Priya’s attention will be, for the time being at least, focused on expanding THE Park Hotels’ brand in India. As our time together draws to a close, I realise that with people like Priya Paul leading our industry forward, the future of hotel design is looking exciting, dynamic and very bright.