Weekly Review: Taj Coromandel, Chennai

I love the Taj Group of Hotels – especially the Vivanta properties for their exceptional service & convenient locations. However once in a while, couple of the ‘non-Vivanta’ properties seem to mess up the hard-earned, well deserved reputation by getting some of the basic ‘hygiene factors’ wrong. Now, while these do not necessarily affect the your quality of your stay, but as they say, hygiene factors being hygiene factors, are there may not make you happy, but their absence surely can spoil your overview, your ‘experience’. And ah!! don’t the highly rated hotels sell their ‘experiences’ as their biggest USP?

It was one such case at the famous Taj Coromandel, Chennai – part of the Elite Luxury Hotels of the World!! The hotel is just fantastic — iconic property, excellent location. Rooms are lovely, large with every regular amenity. The Clinton and Who’s-Who of the world have stayed here – photos on the walls are testament to the fact. Beds are one of the most comfortable I have experienced amongst all Taj properties I have been to. The cleanliness and room service is fantastic– they even cleaned the room and refreshed the empty amenities during a late checkout. The Gym leaves something to be desired with only a few basic machines, though the pool is really nice & large.

Now for the poor experience during breakfast that spoilt it all. Like most business travelers – I too only need a place for a good night’s sleep, nice breakfast options and at max a good bar / health club (depending on the time available). Poor service on these basic fronts simply spoil the whole experience. Exactly this happened at the Taj Coromandel:

• The table was not properly set up despite 2-3 staff standing right next to it. Even the basic napkins were missing
• Nobody bothered to check if I wanted coffee / tea or even juice till the very end – that’s the first thing you would be asked in any other place the minute you sit down
• Nobody provided the drinking water – had to ask for the same twice
• The butter tray was an used one and all messed up, obviously nobody bothered to change it after the last guest left
• Table clearance was very poor in spite of very few guests there & the staff out numbering us
• 3 of the neighboring tables had the guests complaining loudly about wrong orders being served to them and delays

There seems to be something systemically wrong about the quality of staff at Anise (coffee shop) which is very surprising for a hotel of this repute. Taj Group seriously needs to train the staff better – as expectation tends to be very high in their hotels, especially if the property belongs to the Elite Group.

Would I recommend this hotel? Absolutely! The property is just excellent and I am quite sure the smaller operational lacunae can be sorted with better floor management.

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