Is a luxury hotel worth smashing your low budget over?

#1 Mar 5th, 2013, 05:34
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Is a luxury hotel worth smashing your low budget over?

Is a luxury hotel worth smashing your low budget over? India Miker steven_ber asks and answers his own question in this great article on what staying at a luxury hotel in India is like, and whether the overall experience is worth the money spent. As he puts it, you may be surprised by some of his conclusions in this article.

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Last edited by vaibhav_arora; Sep 23rd, 2013 at 17:03..
#2 Mar 5th, 2013, 05:47
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Thank you for this. I am only 1/4 way through but will save for later when I can enjoy it.
#3 Mar 5th, 2013, 09:52
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Excellent, love the attention to detail .
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#4 Mar 5th, 2013, 10:03
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Thank you, Steven. I've wondered what it would be like to stay at the Taj hotel. I appreciate this write up.
#5 Mar 5th, 2013, 11:54
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It doesn't cost anything more to travel "first-class".

(You just can't stay as long!)

Enjoy!
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#6 Mar 5th, 2013, 12:32
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What a review - Steven
#7 Mar 5th, 2013, 15:02
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Very interesting article, I was considering a night at the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai until i realised that 1 night there would cost more than 16 nights in the other hotels/trains/guest houses on my upcoming trip combined!
1 year maybe!
#8 Mar 5th, 2013, 15:05
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Amazing write-up Steve. This should be an Article.
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#9 Mar 17th, 2013, 18:04
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Steven

A great read and a super unbiased review ( a lot of people, particularly Europeans would have bombed the hotel for the food poisoning alone even if there was the slightest chance that it was from another source.) I first went to India in 2008 and was (like I am sure others on this forum were, just dumb struck by the place). And that was just Bombay and Hampi.

Anyway I banged on that much that I convinced my Mrs that she had to go (she was not keen to put it mildly).


As a thank you I booked a couple of nights at the Taj Kumarakom (as it was known then) in I think one of the rooms around the lagoon (Superior Charm Room). As we had been on a houseboat the day before we got them to drop us at the Taj boat jetty (which upset the security guard no end).

We walked from the boat jetty to reception and received a garland and a coconut (I didnít know there was more than one type of coconut. When I was a kid there was only the coconut you couldnít get into too without smashing it to bits). I did have wonderful coconut water at breakfast

We were told that our room was not ready but at no expense to us we were to be upgraded to a deluxe Allure Villa. I think I paid about 8000 for the Charm room so when we saw the Allure Villa we were really pleased. (It was late April 2010 so I donít think it was that busy).

We thought the place was really good, I agreed the evening meals on reflection were a bit middle of the road at the price point. But we had the breakfast every morning and I had never seen such a spread before anywhere (and I have stayed in some posh gaffs in London and around Europe, on business a few years back).

Anyway we had a great stay and moved on to a homestay in Champakalam on the Pampa River which we enjoyed just as much.

My wife has been 3 times (to Kerala):
2009: (Wifeís first time) we had to come back after 36 hrs due to her mum being ill
2010: Remember the Volcano (we were 12 days late back) I was elated, she was NOT HAPPY
2012: Cochin, Gulf flight 6 hours late, missed connection in Bahrain and had to stop overnight, came back over a day late.

But I think she might like India in some sort of way as we are both 60 next year and she says that we will go back and maybe have a month travelling round BUT only if its India by day and Taj by night.

I would just like to add that I have read many of your posts since 08 and I think that you may be Simon Calder in disguise (to all outside the UK he a travel correspondent for The Independent) as I know of only you and him who can articulate about travel so well.
Cheers
Paul
PS. I stayed in the Residency in 08 and will be back there next month. Was a bit worried when I read that it had been renovated so good to hear that all is well in Fort
#10 Mar 18th, 2013, 16:57
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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Texan View Post It doesn't cost anything more to travel "first-class".

(You just can't stay as long!)
Oh so true! betweem 1997 and 2005, I spent roughly (GBP) £2,000 on each of my trips to India: the first was ten days, the last was six months.

Steven, brilliant write up. You probably should have reported the mirror: I have a second cousin who runs a wonderful luxury hotel in England's Lake District, and he was seriously upset with me for not mentioning a lumpy mattress until the end of my stay ... but when one is getting such luxury as non-paying guest, it is embarrassing to be negative about anything. But I learned the form, and everything mentioned thereafter went down in his little book. A little book that I have no doubt was dreaded by the staff!

You really should forward your post to the hotel management. If they are even half professional, they will be pleased to get it. The CGH(Casino Hotels) group is much smaller, and probably more personal, but I know that their management would have taken on board all of your comments.

As to the cost, It really is shocking, and I my days of staying at places like Coconut Lagoon simply have to be a fond memory now. You could have stayed in a decent Singapore hotel for that money. Although, not in a room with a private pool, of course.

Stuff like sharp-corner pool steps, and a pool depth which encourages the drowning of average height guests, is unforgivable lack of attention to detail at the management and design phase. Whilst HealthAndSafety might have become a laboured joke in countries like UK, it is sad that it barely exists at all here. Mind you, I've seen dangerous-by-design in UK department stores and supermarkets.
#11 Mar 20th, 2013, 16:25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradwellboy View Post a lot of people, particularly Europeans would have bombed the hotel for the food poisoning alone even if there was the slightest chance that it was from another source
I agree, but at the same time, I was more concerned about an opinion I have regarding the overall service, than I was about the possible food poisoning, and I wrongly left those comments out, mainly because I know how many foreign tourists value what they consider to be perfect service.

I loved the fact that some of the Taj Bekal staff hadn't fully adjusted to the luxury service mode demanded by large hotel groups, and still retained some of the playfulness associated with their culture and upbringing, if I noticed them before they noticed me they would often be having a joke and a mess around (I'm referring mostly to the cleaning, maintenance and gardening staff, the front desk and restaurant staff were fully adjusted), and that was great to see, though as soon as they noticed me, they went into work mode.

The point I'm really trying to make is, at the Taj in Kumarakom any member of staff would automatically get out of your way if you were walking down a path, and flash the biggest smile the world's ever seen in your direction, and because I've been visiting India for so long, I just know that this isn't normal to their culture, and in particular, to the Keralan culture, and it saddened me to see this, but the Taj Bekal is slowly moving in that direction, and in my opinion, this isn't the way a hotel should be, there needs to be cultural differences between hotels in London, Kerala and Timbuktu, otherwise I may just as well stay in a posh hotel in London.

Quote:
We were told that our room was not ready but at no expense to us we were to be upgraded to a deluxe Allure Villa. I think I paid about 8000 for the Charm room so when we saw the Allure Villa we were really pleased.
I had a member of staff show me all the rooms in Kumarakom (I said I was thinking of having a wedding there) and really liked all the rooms, I was going to do the same at Taj Bekal, on the last day when my Mrs. was having her hair done, I was going to ask to see all the rooms, but in the end she wasn't feeling good and reduced the time spent in the spa, so I didn't look.

Quote:
we had the breakfast every morning and I had never seen such a spread before anywhere (and I have stayed in some posh gaffs in London and around Europe, on business a few years back).
We had a look at the breakfast buffet in Kumarakom, but I was already frustrated by my breakfast experiences and loved the food at the shack, so stuck with that, if you went out the main entrance and turned left, walked past where the taxi/autos wait, and to where the road goes off to the left, that's where the shack was, one taste of their egg curry with paratha had my mouth tingling and a smile on my face that could rival the Taj's most experienced staff members.


Quote:
My wife has been 3 times (to Kerala):
2009: (Wife’s first time) we had to come back after 36 hrs due to her mum being ill
2010: Remember the Volcano (we were 12 days late back) I was elated, she was NOT HAPPY
2012: Cochin, Gulf flight 6 hours late, missed connection in Bahrain and had to stop overnight, came back over a day late.

But I think she might like India in some sort of way as we are both 60 next year and she says that we will go back and maybe have a month travelling round BUT only if its India by day and Taj by night.
I get the feeling that my Mrs. isn't ready for north India, it's a different kind of place to the south, just as awesome, but different, and not as laid back as the south.

We're looking for somewhere different for our next trip, still don't know where, maybe Tanzania, maybe the Mekong Delta, but at the moment, Burma is looking great, and I'm really excited when researching the western half of Sumatra, it seems to have everything and more that Borneo offers, just without the high flight and hotel prices.

Quote:
I would just like to add that I have read many of your posts since 08 and I think that you may be Simon Calder in disguise (to all outside the UK he a travel correspondent for The Independent) as I know of only you and him who can articulate about travel so well.
Wow, what a complement, he's one of the only people that gets me to stop what I'm doing when he appears on TV, even if it's a subject I'm not interested in, he always seems to offer some advice that nobody else thought of.


Quote:
I stayed in the Residency in 08 and will be back there next month. Was a bit worried when I read that it had been renovated so good to hear that all is well in Fort
It's still a great place.

Look out for the cheap plastic dildos on sale not far from the hotel, they're really naff, but it's great fun asking the seller what they're used for.
#12 Mar 21st, 2013, 04:24
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#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post You probably should have reported the mirror:
I suppose I should have, but it was a really expensive mirror, maybe 8 feet by 10 feet, but if these luxury hotels want perfection, then they need to know about these things.

Quote:
You really should forward your post to the hotel management. If they are even half professional, they will be pleased to get it.
Good idea, raises a question though....

Would the hotel have a right to reply on indiamike?

(not sure the rules these days, but it could set a risky precedent.)

Quote:
Stuff like sharp-corner pool steps, and a pool depth which encourages the drowning of average height guests, is unforgivable lack of attention to detail at the management and design phase.
True, I never thought of it that way.
#13 Mar 21st, 2013, 05:10
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Originally Posted by steven_ber View Post Would the hotel have a right to reply on indiamike?

(not sure the rules these days, but it could set a risky precedent.)

I think TripAdvisor allows the hotel to respond. Post it there, and put a link here
#14 Mar 21st, 2013, 14:36
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#14
Actually, I don't think the hotel needs to be able to respond. it is not as if you have accused them of anything major: you are just making comments and suggestions which will enable to them to improve their hotel and service.
#15 Mar 28th, 2013, 10:04
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#15
Whoa that's one hell of a post. Really helpful to hear the full story when people are really considering a place so thanks for sharing all. I too like going for the hotels that are a step down from the top rungs. So you got a small pool, that's perfect enough!

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