The bustling city of Chennai has received a new staycation destination in the tranquil Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa. It called for a check-in to find out what all the buzz is about. By Shikha Pushpan
If there’s one destination that I’ve dreaded visiting or staying in, even for a couple of nights, it’s Chennai. The beautiful port city that has given our country exquisite music and dance forms, besides the lip-smacking idlis and dosas, has been at the deep end of my list ever since I remember developing a wanderlust for places unknown— all thanks to the city’s sultry weather. The sweltering Chennai sun irks me to such an extent that I’ve tossed out a tempting job offer, overlooked the lure of the Bay of Bengal, and long spurned the temptations of the original ‘chicken 65’ of Hotel Buhari. However, there’s one thing I’ve always envied my Chennai-based friends for—the ocean that gently caresses the city’s long shoreline, giving it a unique character among its metropolitan peers. Therefore, when I received an invite from the beachfront property, Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa, I knew it was time to end my impasse with the City of Temples.
The hour-long drive from the airport to the resort, through tiny villages and vast farmlands, is a carnival for the senses—from bulls donning colourful horns to the sweet aroma of filter kaapi rising from roadside tea shops. Just past the bustling main city stretches out the East Coast Road (ECR), the convenient getaway avenue of city slickers for long drives. It connects the main town with Mahabalipuram and further down south with Puducherry. Sitting pretty on the ECR, along the Coromandel Coast, is the Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa. My base for two nights, the resort is the only property in the country to offer rooms with ‘crocodile view’—courtesy, the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology next door. But I choose to stick to a beachfront room, which opens up to impressive views of the Bay of Bengal and a manicured lawn from its spacious balcony. While the air is muggy elsewhere in the city on an average October afternoon, the living spaces in the resort are refreshingly awash with fresh sea breeze, making a walk in the courtyard or a jog in the lawns an experience to look forward to.
The resort sits at a convenient distance of 40 kilometres from the main town, making it a good contender for staycations for the city’s residents. From bespoke wellness sessions at the spa to indulgent and convenient in-room dining facilities, the hotel spoils its guests silly on a weekend away from work. The property also organises special archery sessions, and baking and mixology classes for interested guests on its verdant lawns. It can also be used as a getaway by working parents, who have the option to leave their kids in the watchful supervision of the staff at the Kids Club, to spend time together. I choose to relish Chennai’s sunset with my bubbly by the luxurious infinity pool, which overlooks the expanse of the Bay of Bengal.
The dining destinations here—The Reef and Pelican Deck—are extensions of the resort’s tagline, ‘Sun, Sand, Sea, and South India.’ While the former gives me an insight into flavourful Tamil cuisine, with rich preparations such as Chettinad chicken and meen kozhambu alongside uninterrupted views of the sea, the latter is a more relaxed evening bar and grill destination to enjoy handcrafted cocktails by the bay.
During my two nights in the city, I spend most of my time outdoors, soaking in the untamed sea breeze. And while so much more remains to be explored, I believe some things, like great wine, are best enjoyed one sip at a time.
Most domestic airlines fly to Chennai from major Indian cities. The Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa is an hour-long drive from the airport. The hotel arranges pick-up and drop for its guests on advance booking.
Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa is a new property with 125 rooms and suites spread over seven categories. The Presidential Suite is the most coveted option and comes with a private pool. Rooms start from INR 13,000.
The hotel is located just 15 minutes away from the temple town of Mahabalipuram. Guests can also visit the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology, Asia’s largest reptile park. The concierge arranges guided tours to both the sites.