Window of Opportunity
Seizing the chance to create unique spaces, The Sheraton Grand Chennai showcases sun, sand, sea and South India
By Maria Louis
Away from the chaos of metropolitan living, the Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort and Spa is an uber-luxe design haven on East Coast Road that overlooks the magnificent Bay of Bengal. And the very moment you approach it is the moment you comprehend why the word âgrandâ makes up its name. You are greeted at the entrance by an arresting installation of copper water buffaloes â symbolic of the city of Chennai. This is set against a backdrop of multiple rectangular frames that lead your eye straight to the horizon, presenting breathtaking vistas of the sea from the portico to the other end of the property. Inside, the constant feeling of abundant space, thanks to the layout and high ceilings, is enough to lift anyoneâs spirits. The recessed reception door echoes a karaikudi influence with a contemporary twist, while the reception area in the lobby resembles the shape of a local kattumaram or catamaran.
The architecture pays homage to and perfectly utilises the abundance of natural elements both within and outside the 10-acre property, including the beautifully manicured gardens that encircle it. âThe site is a very unique linear rectangular shape, connecting the East Coast Road and the sea,â informs FHD Consultantsâ architecture director, Damotharan. He explains that, besides main road frontage, easy access to and 270-degree uninterrupted views of the sea, the major advantage of the site is the neighbouring crocodile park on the south side that is covered with large old trees, thick shrubs, water bodies where you can spot live crocodile feedings, and more than 60 varieties of birds. âHence, we intended to capture the existing nature as much as possible. We kept the form very simple, with minimalist design drawing maximum attention to the lush tropical landscape. Initially, we proposed one central courtyard with a huge water body â but it wouldnât allow us to achieve as many sea-facing rooms as we had hoped. So, within the allowable limitations, we came up with the idea of a compact design program with multiple courtyards and sliced the buildings into two blocks with an interconnecting courtyard.â
This plan enabled the team to create multiple unique views for the rooms and offer guests different experiences at different times. The resort now boasts direct sea-facing rooms, direct sea-facing rooms with private gardens, central courtyard-facing rooms, courtyard-facing rooms with private gardens, and Crocodile Park (Asiaâs largest reptile park) facing rooms. Other areas that look out on to the water are the entrance lobby, all-day dining area, the barbecue deck, gym and swimming pool. Another hurdle came with the fact that 5.6 acres of the propertyâs 10 acres fall under CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) limitation. This means that developing a 125-room resort with banquet facilities within the height limitation of nine metres was just another challenge that the architects succeeded in overcoming â as was achieving the FSI as well as client and brand requirements alongside Vastu principles.
Whatâs more, they also managed to make the most of light and air while crafting interesting spaces, using certain strategies. âWe set the building inside by 18 metres to reduce the noise, and planted dense plantation at the front. We also proposed a gushing water body inside the portico to reduce noise,â Damotharan explains. The big central courtyard features a mirror pond and sunken planters which visually connects to the back garden, beach and sea. The mirror pond is divided into three sections with a small mirror pond in the foreground â complemented by the iconic water buffalo installation â and a large central mirror pond at the end, with eight sunken tree planters and floating decks for a unique dining experience.
Expectedly, therefore, the structure itself is awe-inspiringâŠbut the dĂ©cor that adorns every interior space elevates and refines the experience. The Pencil & Monk team drew inspiration from the calming effect of the sea. âThe architects did an amazing job at capitalising on the view. We wanted to stay true to the structure and accentuate it with elements of similar vocabulary,â Principal Designer Siddharth Chandrasekhar expounds. While the site itself was a major inspiration, the design of the 125-room property is inspired by four Sâs: namely âsunâ, âsandâ, âseaâ and âSouth Indiaâ. Organic designs accentuated by natural materials and
finishes detail every feature of the hotel. Textured walls evoke the sea, regional fundamentals like copper and cane are infused into the furniture design aspects, and aptly chosen artefacts add intricate final touches and exemplify the freshness of beach living. âSimple, contemporary and luxurious were the guiding principles
around which we planned the interiors,â shares Chandrasekhar.
The designers have chosen a sophisticated palette that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye while also perfectly amalgamating with the ambience. The rooms, and especially the Presidential Suite, evoke nostalgia while keeping in tune with contemporary ideals. âWe remained true to the context, as we drew influence from local elements through the use of silk thread, copper, rattan, and more.â Plus, the Sheraton Signature Sleep Experience assures guests a good nightâs rest, in the comfort and indulgence of a rich, feather duvet bedspread.
So, not only does the hotel offer a holistic landscape and state-of-the-art banqueting that makes it a premium destination for weddings, it also has rooms that are fitted with the best of modern conveniences, draped in the finest adornments and fringed by private balconies.
The aforementioned banqueting offerings have been well planned, the architects having thoroughly studied the site potentials. All BOH (back of house) areas are situated away from the guest areas while still being well connected with all public facilities and capture ample natural light to reduce energy consumption. The entire west faĂ§ade is protected by the banquet wall, and wooden louvers along the south-facing side are protected by balconies and huge trees along the crocodile park â which reduces heat radiation.
Over and above the expansive 25,080sq-ft of lush lawns that overlook the Bay of Bengal, one has the options of a 10,000sq-ft ballroom called Amara, 3,000sq-ft of pre-function space and two meeting rooms with sophisticated audiovisual technology. The ballroom is designed to accommodate the best acoustics and can entertain up to 840 guests at a given time, in theatre style. The conference rooms are 900sq-ft and 720sq-ft in size and can host corporate events, conferences, exhibitions and professional meetings.
The resort offers wired and wireless high-speed internet access for the comfort of guests, while the professional banqueting teams are available to assist in planning personalised corporate gatherings and weddings. âShaadi by Marriottâ is a unique one-stop solution across Marriott International resorts for couples planning their dream destination wedding.
It doesnât stop there. Guests at the Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort and Spa are treated to a plethora of dining, recreational and accommodation options. The Reef, the resortâs coffee shop, serves exquisite signature dishes that include local and international delicacies. Here, the interior design team have employed indirect lighting to supplement the calming ambience. Rafters on the ceiling imitate the textures of a catamaran, while design elements similar to fish scales and a mural depicting a cyclone continue the natural theme.
The Pelican Deck is inspired by the white migratory Pelican bird, which is commonly spotted in the vicinity, adding to the locationâs charm. An al fresco grill and barbecue restaurant, Pelican Deck is best known for its European and Mediterranean flair. The menu includes a range of classic cocktails, signature and delectable grilled treats made live and to-order by expert chefs. The outdoorsy vibe is further enhanced by the informal and soothing bamboo lighting.
The Pintail Lounge, once again inspired by the spotting of the Pintail bird in the area, offers guests a rustic setting with a quaint old-world charm. Avant-garde cocktails and hors dâoeuvres tease the palate, and nautical ropes and stone dĂ©cor adorn the dark and minimalistic design of the lounge.
The 125 guest rooms are divided across seven categories, namely 59 deluxe rooms, 19 Crocodile Park view rooms, 24 sea view rooms, 14 sea view with private garden rooms, six executive suite rooms, 2 bay suite rooms and one Presidential suite called the Amara Suite. Each room comes with high-speed internet access, a 49-inch LED flat screen television, a mini bar, tea and coffee maker and a four-fixture bathroom comprising both shower cubicle and a bathtub. The suites offer charming sit-outs, an exclusive living room, and a luxurious bedroom. For any assistance, guests can call the 24-hour service to contact resort staff.
For those with discerning taste, the Amara Suite situated on the first floor of the resort is designed with plush dĂ©cor and includes a private pool that overlooks the sparkling bay and presents sweeping views of the entire property. Rattan has been incorporated in various forms throughout the interior, to remind guests of carefree childhood days. The contemporary master bedroom boasts a king-size bed, complete with the Sheraton Signature Sleep Experience. An interconnecting spacious sea view room is adjacent to the suite, for family or friends to stay close by while maintaining privacy. The expansive marble en suite bathroom features an oversized bathtub, along with a separate shower cubicle, separate WC stall, and a walk-in wardrobe. The services of a private butler and other staff are also available on request.
From look and feel to form and function, the team that put together the uber-luxe resort has thought of everything. âWe are constantly improving without diluting the design intent and questioning every aspect before taking decisions,â explains Damotharan. âWhile we are satisfied with the outcome, we always believe design is a constant evolution.â
Chandrasekhar, too, is pleased with not only the outcome but also the response from the clients and guests. While his team had their work cut out for them when it came to sourcing natural materials and creating perfect organic designs, they found the idea of interpreting a theme to be challenging and exciting. âWhat has been wonderful for us is our relationship with the client,â he elaborates. âWe have been thoroughly in tune with our thoughts about the aesthetics.â This sense of harmony can be seen throughout the resort, with every element relating to each other in a distinct yet subtle way. Even the wire art installation in the rooms echoes the art seen in other parts of the property.
The attention to detail that illustrates the architecture and interior design also extends to relaxation, recreation and pampering options. Guests can unwind at Shine Spa for Sheraton with luxurious spa treatments and personalised packages, and an all-access pass to salon space for beauty services. The infinity pool, with its enthralling view of the turquoise bay, is the perfect place to enjoy the natural bounty of the location while sipping on drinks at the pool bar. The fitness centre houses some of the most cutting-edge equipment, while the Kids Club engages children with activities that meet international safety standards and the Recreation Lounge offers indoor games like pool, wall-mounted chess, a collection of books and table tennis in addition to dance sessions, archery on the lawns, baking and cooking sessions, and even mixology sessions. Plus, the resort also assists in booking activities like scuba diving, sunset cruises, jet skiing, beach cycling, para motoring, surfing and paddle boarding, at exclusive prices.
Thoughtful, creative, lavish and personal, the Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort and Spa is a classic example of Marriott International hospitality. The beachfront resort is the ideal place to soak up the vibrant energy of Tamil Nadu amidst world-class services and unique luxury experiences.