By Chere Di Boscio
What defines excellence in a hotel? Some would say it’s the service. Others would say it’s the interiors. We say it’s a combination of these, with an extra element–sustainability. The ITC Maurya in New Delhi is one of the few hotels in the world that brings all of these factors together.
From the moment you walk into the lobby, you’ll be greeted by the most welcoming, professional staff you’ve ever met. In fact, most people from Europe or the Americas would be probably be wonderfully overwhelmed by the friendly attention–bags are whisked away from hands immediately, doors are opened happily, service is provided quickly.
Then, you’ll notice the ceiling–a spectacular vision adorned with an amazing mural titled “The procession of life,” by Indian artist Krishen Khanna. Art is important to the ITC chain, and here, the windows here boast a stained glass series of panels on the life of Buddha by legendary painter M.F. Hussain. The colourful artworks, as well as the oasis of trees and fountains surrounding the hotel, provide a visually enchanting respite from the hustle and bustle of noisy New Delhi.
The lush, natural setting transports guests back to a gentler era–and in fact, the name for the hotel comes from the Mauryan Dynasty, which ruled over India in what many believe was the ancient country’s Golden Age. One of the early emperors of the dynasty, Chandragupta, was a Jain–he didn’t believe in killing any animals whatsoever, and felt connected to the earth and all it provides for mankind. It seems fitting, then, that the hotel follows Chandragupta’s love for the planet in its policies.
Rich in vegetarian options, the restaurants at the hotel are destinations in their own right, attracting locals as well as guests. The cuisine centres around Chinese and Indian flavours, and produce is mainly from farms and nearby dairies. But local sourcing of food is not the only gesture the hotel makes towards sustainability–they go much further.
For example, 50% of all energy used by the entire chain is from renewable sources, and 5 ITC hotels use wind energy from their own wind farms for all of their energy needs. The chain has reduced water use overall by 50% and has the highest LEEDS certification for sustainability–they are platinum certified.
Despite the fact that pollution is high all over India but especially in New Delhi, the hotel also promises an air filtering system allows guests to breathe air as pure as it was when the Mauryan dynasty flourished. The HEPA air conditioning system filters out small particles, allowing for easier breathing, and the hotel’s dense gardens not only beautify the grounds, but soak up carbon monoxide from the surrounding city, too.
As well as its eco-friendliness, the hotel prides itself on aiming to offer its guests the best sleep they’ve ever had. In fact, ITC has invested in a full-fledged research centre on sleep, resulting in a ‘sleep menu’ that includes a choice of pillows, a range of calming aromatherapy oils and sprays, an in-room foot massage, and even a ‘Dream-kerchief’ — a handkerchief doused in aromatherapy oils that relaxes you instantly once you wipe your face with it. “We are now working on a sleep-inducing chocolate; it will be carefully paired with natural ingredients that are known to have a soothing effect on the system,” says a spokesman for the hotel.
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