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St. Regis Mumbai offers touch of spice

By Fu Chao | China Daily | Updated: 2015-12-12 08:14

Elegant interiors, discreet butler service and central location make hotel suitable for business or leisure, Fu Chao reports.

As a tourist visiting Mumbai of India for the first time, I found the St. Regis Mumbai as exciting as the city itself.

I experienced the incredible culture of India, enjoyed the legacy of the luxury hotel brand and saw the upper class of India, families and businesspeople, visiting the city to socialize or vacation. Inside the hotel in India's most populous metropolis, the first of Starwood's St. Regis properties in the country, I felt I knew the city well while still wanting to learn more.

The hotel is located in the Lower Parel area, which used to be the center of Mumbai's cotton textile industry. The industry's leading player, Phoenix Mills, a family-owned cotton textile company, built the building in which the St. Regis is located in 1904. Coincidentally, John Jacob Astor IV, who was a member of wealthy family in the United States, built the first St. Regis hotel - the St. Regis New York in the same year.

Phoenix Mills was later redeveloped into a compound of luxury hotels, shopping malls and office buildings. The Lower Parel area was also transformed from an manufacturing base to Mumbai's commercial, residential and entertainment hub.

In New York, the St. Regis hotel ushered in a new era of "lavish soirees and notable names, which have come to personify luxury and style", according to the official website of the St. Regis brand.

More than 100 years later, the first St. Regis presence in India is located in the tower built in the same time.

The St. Regis Mumbai is the first St. Regis I have visited. With fascinating stories behind the brand in my mind, I arrived at the hotel, which is surrounded by luxury brand stores and a two-floor Zara, as well as small and exquisite shops selling Indian handcrafts and furniture.

The lobby is on the 9th floor, which is also the location of the bar. Antique furniture from the colonial era and paintings by contemporary Indian artists lend an elegant and mysterious vibe to the interior design.

The hotel keeps all the traditions from the first St. Regis hotel, including fresh flowers as decorations that can be found almost everywhere, afternoon tea, Bloody Mary cocktails and the hotel chain's signature butler service.

It is said that the first Bloody Mary was concocted at The St. Regis New York's King Cole Bar some 80 years ago.

Following that, each of the 34 St. Regis hotels around the world offers a concoction that can represent the specific destination. The "Mumbai Mary", made with spices and herbs including cinnamon and curry leaves, is a bold and unique interpretation of the classic Bloody Mary with an Indian flavor.

Jim Petrus, Global Brand Leader, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, said the St. Regis brand is a very neutral one, "never a heavy influence on a certain culture".

The hotel gives guests a touch of Indian culture while the brand's legacy blends well with the destination in the high-end commercial center, said Petrus.

Having opened in September, the St. Regis Mumbai is a popular choice for locals. Its four dining places are always busy, attracting hungry guests from around the city.

Mumbai has a vibrant nightclub scene. The hotel, with three nightlife facilities, one of which is the highest nightclub in the country, is a popular destination for the young generation. One of the three choices, the Li Bai Bar is named after the poet from the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) and offers live jazz performances. Hotel staff said that they know Li Bai was famed for his free spirit and love for good food and alcohol.

Good food and good alcohol, as well as the discreet and personalized butler service are what make the St. Regis Mumbai a popular destination among the booming wealthy group in India.

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St. Regis Mumbai offers touch of spice

St. Regis Mumbai is located in the city's commercial, residential and entertainment hub. photos provided to China Daily

St. Regis Mumbai offers touch of spice

The Drawing Room, decorated with antique furniture from the colonial era, is a popular meeting place where guests can enjoy the signature St. Regis afternoon tea ritual.

St. Regis Mumbai offers touch of spice

A watercolor illustration of the "Mumbai Mary" cocktail, the St. Regis Mumbai's "Bloody Mary".

(China Daily 12/12/2015 page10)

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