Perfect launch for the first Sofitel in India

Having had mixed experiences at several Sofitel hotels, such as New York, Budapest or even Paris (the home town of Accor Group which owns the Sofitel brand), especially from the point of view of product, quite average for a five star, I was truly impressed to discover SOFITEL BKC in Mumbai, the very first Sofitel in India.

Not only is this a brand new property with stunning facilities and a lavish luxurious interior in terms of design and comfort, with state of the art technology, but also a luxury hotel with an exceptional location in Mumbai. Those who have previously travelled to Mumbai, can now comfortably stay at the Sofitel, with no slums within sight. BKC stands for Bandra Kurla Complex, a brand new development, which I would compare with a city in city or a satellite city within the huge metropolis of Mumbai – great new road infrastructure, clean streets, modern A Class office buildinds and premium residential complexes.

The American Consulate, the Diamond Bourse (the largest diamond Stock Exhange in the World) and the Mumbai Cricket Society are within less than 200 meters from the hotel, practically walking distance. The new Phoenix Mall is within 10 minutes drive from the hotel, while showrooms of furniture and car companies are springing throughout the entire complex. To understand the positioning of the BKC complex and the location of the strategic location of the hotel, one would only need to consider the Pearl Residential Complex, currently under construction, adjacent to the Sofitel, with penthouses which already sold for up to US$ 4 million. Rumours say, the world’s richest Indians, even those living abroad, own a penthouse within this complex, which is accross the street from the Sofitel.

The Sofitel BKC in Mumbai is the signature of Franco-Spanish designer Isabelle Miaja and it seemed to me like the owners have given her complete freedom, with no restrictions or reserves on costs. And indeed, no expense has been spared on this hotel, with the best quality of materials (most of them imported) and the best quality of finishings. When designing the hotel, Miaja drew upon references from Indian art, including temples, sculptures, and emblematic monuments, while adding a contemporary eclectic flair. I was most impressed by the giant elephant sculpture in bronze which adorns the water surface open air, outside the Indian restaurant of the hotel, the floor to ceiling crystal chandelier in the hallway leading up to the SPA and the suspended lighting installation above a water fountain in the SPA lobby.

From the stunning marble bathrooms with stand alone bathtub (mirror TV in marble wall) and a large separate marble walk in shower, rooms breath freshness, comfort and cosyness. Some of the exceptional details in the rooms: the dark wooden floors, the intricate lighting, automatically controlled blinds and curtains, flawless soundproofing,

The property boasts impressive culinary offerings with six restaurants and bars. Guests can dine on traditional North Indian cuisine at Jyran or enjoy Parisian chocolates or artisanal meats and cheeses at L’Artisan – Epicerie, Patisserie, Chocolaterie. For those desiring a more contemporary atmosphere, the ultramodern Bar Diamantaire features a spacious lounge and India’s first wine tower, which I am sure it will become a prime networking place for the diamond brokers from the nearby bourse.

The management of the hotel has successfully instilled a French twist throughout the entire hotel – it was a pleasure being greeted in French by most of the staff and some of the wording in presenting the services of the hotel. Hermes bathroom amenities and French macaroons are part of the ”standard” amenities of the hotel.

Make sure you book a room with club access. The executive club on the 14th floor will indefinitely change your perception of such ”club floors”. The lounge covers an entire floor, subtly divided – only by decor, into a dining area, TV area, library area with private alcoves, a communal table and a fully equipped business centre. Business travellers will find a generous offering in terms of F&B throughout the day, especially dinner, with some hot dishes prepared in the dedicated kitchen of the lounge, the rest being part of a large buffet.

I had the priviledge to be one of the first guests of the SPA. The 8 treatments rooms are actually SPA suites, with private shower, dressing and bathroom. I had an exceptional treatment, with an experienced therapist, which blended ancient Ayurveda techniques with Westen ones, using natural products Made in France by reputed CINQ MONDE, a SPA products specialist company, which has created for Sofitel SPA a range of dedicated products (i.e. a beautiful blend of Ayurvedic oils, with the most powerful aromatherapy).

Room for improvement: name recognition, internet access (some areas in the hotel – such as the swimming pool area, have very low signal and speed) and service in some outlets such as the swimming pool area where the hotel would charge for water. I am sure that through more specific training, the team can also improve on coherence in terms of service and engaging with guests.

Oliver Petcu in Mumbai