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DESTINATION INSIGHT

Thursday, 11 July, 2019, 16 : 07 PM [IST]

Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty - A fulfilling Journey for Kochi’s only Destination Hotel

While completing the first year of its operations, Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty and its promoters can take pride in the fact that the iconic convention hotel has turned the fortunes of the Queen of Arabian Sea, Kochi in no uncertain way. The kind of conference and convention business that came calling the hotel and the destination in the first year itself is a testament that Kochi is geared to give a run for their money for conventional MICE destinations in India in coming years. The 264-room hotel with its mammoth Lulu International Convention Centre (LICC) is poised to redefine the image of God’s Own Country from a leisure only destination to a veritable MICE destination of the country. P Krishna Kumar reports after visiting the hotel just before turning one.



When an out and out leisure destination, gets a worldclass MICE infrastructure that becomes an icing on the cake. That is what a world-class Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty and LuLu Bolgatty International Convention Centre (LBICC) has delivered to Kochi, the Queen of Arabian Sea, and God’s Own Country, Kerala. There are not many instances where a hotel has become a destination in itself. Undoubtedly, Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty together with LBICC has in a way taken such a ubiquitous place in Kochi’s hospitality landscape in a short time.

It was my second visit to this luxury waterfront property on Bolgatty Island (not sure whether an island nomenclature for this man-made island still holds good or not) since it opened a year ago. Compared to my first visit which was more a whirlwind tour of the property, this visit as a hosted guest enabled me to get a true feel of hospitality and deeper insight on the facilities.

While the resort-ish setting of the hotel right on the Vembanad Lake adds to the hotel’s leisure appeal with stunning views of the Kochi port and Fort Kochi even from the lobby and the waterfront rooms, what gives this urban resort the edge is its expansive meetings and convention space which are a separate product in itself. However, it is inappropriate if I do not mention about the guest rooms, which again, might be because of the LuLu Group’s GCC connections, are pretty lavishly appointed with all hi-end luxury fittings and fixtures and use of modern technology. Offering Lake and city views, the hotel offers 264 luxurious guestrooms including 38 suites and 4 villas with plunge pools and private access.

LBICC: The Game-changer:
LBICC is one of its kind international MICE facility in Kochi and whole of Kerala and therefore have been a game-changer for God’s own Country. Shrikant Wakharkar, the General Manager of the Hotel and Zafar Karmali, Director of Sales mentioned how Kochi has been able to host events up to the capacity of 9,000 delegates because of the facility in the last one year. LBICC has hosted about 250 big and small conferences, 200 weddings, social events, etc. since the facility opened a year ago. The property offers one lakh sq.ft of indoor and outdoor space, excluding the 2.5 lakh sqft of the open parking area, which also can be used for expositions, etc. if required. The facility has also got three helipads and three boat jetties around the resort, etc., which add colour to the settings for niche events like destination weddings, hi-end Incentives, etc.

“Kochi has slowly started becoming a convention destination because of this hotel,” said Wakharkar, when asked about the challenge of filling up the huge convention space. “The challenge of filling up space is the same as promoting the city as a convention destination. But, we had fairly good success considering the number of big events, we hosted in the first year. Global mega-events are planned for two to three years in advance. So, we are now looking at bidding for global events of 2021 and ahead,” he said.

Among major conferences LBICC played host to in the first year include Association of Physicians of India Conference (APICON), International Advertising Association (IAA) World Congress, Conference of Naval officers, International Customs Conference, among others. The APICON had an attendance of 9,000 delegates. Hotels, homestays up to Alleppey were booked for the conference, says Wakharkar. “Live surgery from the US was streamed live in all the conference halls simultaneously during APICON. That was the level of technology our conference halls are equipped with,” he said.

The Residences on the ground floor offers 8 residence style meeting spaces with a common dining area. All the meeting rooms are equipped with drop-down screens and projectors for presentations, boardroom meetings, or small social events, etc.

For big events, the hotel has three dedicated ballrooms with different sizes. The Grand Ball Room has 7,700 sq.ft carpeted area which can be further partitioned into three small halls. The hall with 7 mtr floor to roof height is fitted with theme-based lighting, projectors and drop down screens. Vembanad is another big hall with 19,500 sqft area with a capacity to hold 2,000 pax in theatre style. With 24ft roof height, Vembanad can also be divided into three smaller halls as well. The largest of halls, Liwa, is 26,000 sqft carpet area with a permanent stage to host big events. The hall is also equipped with well-appointed green rooms on both flanks of the stage and an automated retractable seating at the rear.

“We can host 20 different meetings, conferences at the same time,” said Karmali.

Getting on the Destination Wedding bandwagon:
Ever since it opened its doors, the property has also become a rage with the destination wedding market because of the thrilling backwater backdrop and ability to curate memorable wedding settings. The hotel has hosted innumerable weddings both residential and non-residential in the last one year. Karmali who sold Rajasthan and Goa hotels in the past sees a marked movement of Destination Weddings to Kerala ever since Grand Hyatt opened at Kochi. Shana Susan Ninan, Manager- Marketing & Communications remembers how the whole hotel was booked for a residential destination wedding for which preparations and planning started 8 months in advance with designers, architects, photographers all doing multiple recces to the property. The hotel had flown in speciality chefs from Tokyo to cater to special menu demands for a Sindhi wedding, she recalls.

krishna.kumar@saffronsynergies.in
 
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