Not another Review!!

Not another review! What makes this different? Well, for starters, the person(s) reviewing stuff here are people who grew up in a world thats far removed from "the Reviews on Gruyere cheese and Asparagus..." In other words,
1. We love Amul butter - the salted yummy thing better than all the 'sophisticated' imported butter in the world!
2. We love the gooey, drippy sweetness of Indian sweets
3. We have, at some point in our lives, ate spoonfulls of Milkmaid conensed milk - right out of the can
4. We understand food and wine pairing (Courtesy the persistent lecturers in Hotel mgmt college), but would rather have chilled beer or the exotic looking potent cocktail with our spicy chicken tikkas or fish fries
5. Prefer to use words like 'delicate' for silks and 'sharp' for tools... NOT food!
6 Are dying find product which make lives easier for working mothers, wives, girlfriends or considerate (also read that as hen pecked) husbands and boyfriends!

So go on... pour your heart out about stuff you liked or hated!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Fern Hotel Ahmedabad - Review

Ahmadabad and I go back a long way. 36 years back, infact. Gujarati, it seems were the first words I spoke, when I would scamper off to the neighbours, who had a fridge, to ask for ice cubes. And every time my mother would talk about Ahmadabad, her face would light up - an indication of her love of the city that she walked into as a brand new bride. Unfortunately, we relocated from Ahmadabad much before the city could shape any bit of my personality.

However, I visited Ahmadabad recently, and the minute I stepped out of the flight (a harrowing experience that demands a COMPLETE post in itself!) I walked into the airport with a sense of belonging.

I stayed at a property called The Fern Ahmadabad and it was a surprise - the kind of surprise that makes you feel warm all over and smile peacefully even months after the experience. Now, I am a trainer by profession, and most of the time we find organizations in big metro cities and established brand names spending through their noses to get the behaviors of customer service personnel right.

I was intrigued by this hotel. I shall explain why, a little later.

First the tangibles:
The Fern is a chain of ecotels (10 and counting) - Ecotels being the term almost synonymous with responsible and eco friendly luxury hotels. So if you are the type who likes to reduce carbon footprints - this your chance!

1. Location : The good thing is that it is near the city, and any business venue you might have is merely 10 minutes away. However, be prepared for a 30 minute drive from the airport (on a clear road. However, in traffic it might take more), as it is around 18 km away. And after that harrowing flight experience we were talking about, the long drive was a true dampener.

2. Airport pickup and drop facility : As a part of the package, the airport pickup was a complimentary service. Here comes the signs of what lies ahead (what we like to call moments of truth) : the cab driver who came to pick us up was extremely pleasant, sans the 5 star arrogance (in spite of a 2 hour wait due to flight delay). Quiet but observant - and this was a regular feature across the service staff of the hotel. (Gosh! I have started gushing, haven't I?)

3. Check in : As I so like to remind people, I am a product of the hotel industry - one that unabashedly proclaims using extreme friction to polish its novices. This kind of polishing creates service personnel who breathe and dream courtesy. I was reminded again, how these young boys, had they been in any other industry, would be partying with friends on a Friday night.  But here they were, at 11 pm, smiling and patient, ready to understand our foul mood while checking in. Eyebrow raising efficiency, and a warm demeanour, an I was floored. They quickly checked me in - which requires tremendous skill, as you have to do away with many a formality. The bell staff were no less, firmly standing his ground to explain the gizmos in the room, even though it was quite apparent we wanted him out so that we could crash. Oh - and before I forget, the ride in the capsule lift just adds to the already heightened expectations from the room!

4. Room : Sigh!!! Had I known it would be this way, I most certainly would have taken an earlier flight into the city - if only to push buttons into the master-switch to see the curtains being drawn and the lighting being dimmed to suit the 'mood'. No matter how much you may argue that all premium hotels are now creating new levels of luxury, nothing quite prepares you for the washroom. I usually pick up the economy rooms in all hotels, and I did not, by any means, expect the size and the facilities in the washroom. A shower cubicle and a large, round, Jacuzzi-like bath tub. The softest towels, and well arranged toiletries. And not to forget the wonderful lounge chair with an ottoman - I have just added that chair to my wish list of a dream home! The bed and pillows comfortable as expected, but the plus here is the 'pillow menu' - where you can get a specific kind of pillow. Shall talk about this in length at a later post.

the sigh-worthy room!

5. View: Once you have had enough of the push-button-curtain-controls, you can take a look outside of the huge window - and see a wonderful view of the city. Bonus is the railway track far away, where watching a train pass by was an experience I had long forgotten.

6. Breakfast : Usually, business hotels like to spruce up breakfast experiences, as this is a very important deciding factor when booking rooms. No disappointment here - every type of breakfast dish usually found in 5 star hotels. The difference? Bingo - the service. Not a single grouchy service staff. Not even at 7 in the morning! From the elderly-looking maitre'd to the young hostess, they all seemed genuinely glad to see me. As my companion murmured "Wonder who trains THEM?" - As much as that was a blow to my ego, they certainly did seem to have some motivating factor amidst them.

VERDICT : Ahmadabad was a pleasure - from the Law Garden shopping to the Induben Khakhrawala namkeens. But the spot that bags the first place in the list of 'loved-its' in Ahmedabad was The Fern.

Pricing : Published tariff for room is Rs. 8000 for the basic category on a Bed and Breakfast for a double room. But corporate rates vary from company to company, and my company being a regular user, we got it at a lower price. This was during December, which is supposed to be peak season, so it might get lower during lean period. 

Go right ahead and see the pictures here - I haven't added any of my own pictures, because for a change, the rooms look EXACTLY as good (if not better) than in the website!!