ITC Hotel’s WeAssure Initiative ensures the old-world charm of the brand’s hospitality remains the same, but with unobtrusive safety and hygiene measures in place. Here’s a first-hand experience at Bengaluru’s ITC Gardenia.
When ITC Gardenia opened its doors in Bengaluru just about a decade ago, little did I know that this hotel was going to be a big part of my life. Work took me there for meetings, and for some exquisite meals. We celebrated a milestone birthday with the staff conspiring for a month with me to curate a surprise, off-the-menu meal. The breakfast buffets, anniversaries at Highland Nectar, the Christmas décor in December, and the service, are all part of happy memories.
Now, with hotels resuming operations in Unlock 1.0, it was a pleasure to experience the ‘WeAssure’ initiative by ITC Hotels. This is a first for the hospitality industry, where guests are assured on matters of sanitation, hygiene, safety, and infection control practices with the hotel’s accreditation by National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH).
My hotel cab ride began with the driver, kitted in a mask and gloves, sanitising door handles outside and inside, as well as my seat with surface disinfectants. I was offered sanitiser for my hands too. The driver’s seat is enclosed in clear acrylic sheet separator, and he explained that if I choose, the AC would be turned on with the windows lowered by two inches, and the fresh air circulatory mode on to reduce risk. Once at the hotel, I was encouraged not to open the door myself – it was sanitised on the outside and done for me.
At the gate, my temperature was taken, with my permission, and once past the entrance, my handbag sanitised and scanned, while I used the foot-pedal operated sanitiser dispenser. Though I didn’t check-in, the process is contact-free. The reception desk has acrylic partitions separating staff from guests who are requested to supply their government authorised IDs online, prior to arriving. These are pre-filled, requiring just two signatures (using sanitised and UV treated pens). Guests are offered a complimentary bag containing a sanitiser and mask. If one isn’t able to send in details, the process can be done at the desk as before — the papers are treated with UV light and then filed away.
I have stayed at ITC Gardenia before and braced myself to see a clinical version of it, but was wrong. At the elevators (sanitisers placed here as well), I used a touch stick to press the buttons. Only two guests, unless they belong to a single group or family, can use the elevator at a time.
The rooms, as beautiful as I remember them, had small changes. Once cleaned and sanitised, each room is sealed, and this seal is broken only on entry. Mini-bars are filled only on prior request as these are a direct multi-contact based offering, and this was a safety measure now in place.
I used the QR scanner on my phone (you can use the in-room tablet as well) to explore hotel services like laundry, housekeeping, in-room dining. With the new Knock and Drop menu for in-room dining, all your food is boxed, brought up to the room on a trolley and left at your door. You roll it in, enjoy a great meal and roll it back out. The regular in-room dining feature does exist, though. A server in personal protective gear will wheel in the trolley with sanitised crockery, cutlery, and pre-packaged single-use condiments, ensuring one-metre distancing. On check-out, every room is sanitised and an ozone generator placed in it for 24 hours before the next guest can check-in.
Dining at restaurants is now tech-enabled as well. I scanned the QR codes on the table tents and chose to go the Asian way at Cubbon Pavilion. All meals are plated for one and arrive under cloches. Sanitised, packed crockery and cutlery feature here as well. I opted to serve myself, though one can be served by the staff should one choose. Payment is contact-less, with links being sent on the phone.
Heading out of the hotel, I was glad that the warmth of hospitality was the same. There are several well-thought-of additions to ensure zero to minimal contact, but none of them makes the experience a mechanical one. Every effort has been made to ensure a touch-free experience, but if you do choose to be served personally, the safety levels remain unparalleled.
All images: Courtesy ITC Gardenia