Places Walked In
The Oberoi Grand
The Oberoi Grand where I worked from 1996 to 1999, is the premiere deluxe business hotel of Calcutta offering all the comforts of a luxury hotel with state of the art business facilities. It is affectionately known as the ‘Grande Dame of Calcutta’ and with 213 rooms it is distinguished with green marble floors, Corinthian columns, balustrades, classical pediments and palms that all adds to an air of turn-of-the-century colonial grandeur. The hotel was completely refurbished during the late 1990’s and early 2000, with all the restaurants coming under renovation while I was present, although Gharana opened its doors soon after my arrival. It has the ultramodern La Terrasse restaurant, which is a French Brasserie style restaurant offering a range of international cuisine from a buffet and a la carte plus two specialty restaurants, Gharana for fine dining from Royal India and Baan Thai for authentic Thai cuisine in a traditional ambiance. The banqueting and meeting rooms cater for up to 1,000 people. Even though I came through here for the interview and had a look at the place, there is no way that anyone can be prepared for the realization of Calcutta. I had heard about the position through a friend of mine and decided that working in India was certainly an exciting prospect and a challenge. A challenge it certainly was, and a lot harder than I ever expected it to be. I have handled tough properties before, as in Kunming, where I had stress fractured my leg the day before opening and still managed 36 hours on my feet, and in Beijing where I worked right through the Tiananmen Square episode, but this one has caught me out! Luckily though we survived three years here, bought in a lot of changes, made a lot of friends both from the guests and the staff and moved on to another property in India after it all! Calcutta is a city that has totally fallen apart!
Goa was once upon a time under Portuguese rule who generally are a carefree, happy people who believe hospitality is an art and not an industry. Because of this, and their long history with Goa, they left behind a legacy of love and goodwill amongst the Goan folk for which Goa is now justifiably famous along with its free flowing Feni (native cashew wine). The Kenilworth Beach Resort is situated on the shores of Utorda Beach, just up from the older Majorda Beach Resort and we were there as Management while it under went a period of complete renovation and refurbishment. While we had barren walls, mud paths and trenches, waste and barrenness, the Kenilworth has now been transformed into fresh water pools next to the vast expanse of the sea, lush green lawns and a swath of fronds of palm and coconut trees. The 14,000 square foot swimming pool is one of the finest and largest blue water pools in India, within the Resorts premises, which provides multiple depths for swimming as well as deep diving. It has an attached Jacuzzi and water slides as well as a sunken bar. The hotel itself is not far, at twenty minutes from Goa Airport and has 107 rooms with banqueting and restaurants with Palms being the Coffee Shop, while Galaxee – Sizzler Restaurant and Sea Hawk – Beach Front Shack are opened only during the seaon. The last two of these were not opened while we were there, with renovations just coming to a close.
The Leela Kempinski Bombay (Mumbai) has 423 elegant rooms set amidst eleven acres of fully landscaped gardens along with waterfalls, lotus pools and fountains. As it is only 1.5 kms from the international airport it is very convenient to the international traveler, and after the trips in Calcutta and Goa to get to the airports, this trip was a real blessing! The Leela has a grand tradition, being the first hotel to locate out to the airport side and for many years achieved critical acclaim for its elegance and service. Now it has just undergone a period of renovations in the early 2000’s with the waterfall Café being renovated into Citrus, Indian Harvest was the Indian specialty restaurant, Ming Court is the Chinese restaurant and Fiorella is the specialty Italian restaurant. Along with that, there is Lobby and Pool service, a cake shop, and banqueting to 1,000 persons. I worked here for a time in 2000 and 2001 until just after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.
The Park Hotel is located in the center of Chennai at Gemini corner in Nungambakkam and opened its doors on 15th May 2002. The Park is a boutique Hotel, inspired by Priya Paul, the owner, with a very personal touch for each piece of artwork and theme that is carefully placed into the building. It has a unique story of textures, surfaces, shadow and light inspired by film and performance in its various forms in keeping with its film past and a spot as a haven in Chennai. Featuring 215 rooms, the hotel was built on the premises of the Gemini Film Studios, which for many years was a dominant feature of life in Chennai. Now the stars and films of old have been incorporated in this Urban Haven, a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Chennai, where glass walled bathrooms, film runner carpeting and big silk screens in the lobby, all resound with contemporary styling and differentiation! The cuisine is also built on this theme, with stylish innovative presentations and choices to satisfy the most demanding palate. As you can see from the photographs below, the Hotel has certainly achieved its aims and has now taken its place as one of the leading Hotels in the city. While I am directly responsible for the food items served throughout the property, I have also been given a free hand to create and produce a range of dishes that reflects the desired luxury and quality that is being striven for by our property. All this is in keeping with making the hotel truly unique and a sophisticated landmark in the heart of Chennai!
Jonah’s meets Chef Willi:
Located at the exclusive Poes Garden, “Jonah’s meets Chef Willi” is going to be a one of its kind restaurant in Chennai. The menu has been tailor made by our world travelling Chef Willi. The inspiration comes from the Chef’s travels and is inclined towards continental with an essence of fusion food from across the world. Being the perfectionist he is Chef’s put together an excellent team making the experience at the restaurant the one to come back for more.
Address: No 29, 2nd Floor, Kasturi Rangan Road, Poes Garden Alwarpet, Chennai 600018.
Phone No: 044 4204 3030/ 42053030
Jonah’s now at Poes Garden will be serving European and Fusion food under the tag line “Jonah’s meets Chef Willi”.
Our commitment at Jonah’sis to serve sensational and delicious food. Our recipes have soul and we make sure we always dig deeper and ensure that our actions are making this better. Our belief is to connect people over food.
Chef Willi’s Restaurants and Consultancy Pvt Ltd,
Chef Willi’s Managing Director:
Roger C Willi Willson, Known as Chef Willi.
No- 123/124 Nungambakkam High Road,
Nungambakkam, Chennai- 600007,
Tamil Nadu, India