I
t was 9:30 p.m. of Feb. 11 when our plane, Malaysia Airways, touched ground at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India.  It was a long flight, much longer than I expected it would be.

I wish it was still daylight outside when we landed in New Delhi because I wanted to see how India looked from above, the way it was when our plane descended on Kuala Lumpur earlier.

We were met by staff from the Ministry of External Affair’s External Publicity Division at the airport. They were holding placards written with “ASEAN Journalists.” There were already a few other journalists waiting at the lobby. I smiled and nodded at a couple of them.

After claiming our baggage, we quickly headed for the exit doors. My first impression of India was that it was freaking cold. I was met by a strong blast of frigid air when we stepped outside the airport. It was like a gigantic aircon was turned on outside!

Before I left the Philippines, I was given different versions of weather in India. I was told to pack for sunny weather, while a staff from the Department of Tourism, who we met at the Indian embassy when we were getting our visas, said we should expect the weather to be cold. So I instead packed for both hot and cold weather, making for quite a heavy baggage.



We all boarded a bus that took us to ITC Maurya in New Delhi. Everyone was silent inside the bus. It was already 12 midnight. We were all sleepy and exhausted from our respectively long flights.

Despite it being midnight, New Delhi’s streets were cramped with bumper-to-bumper traffic and blaring horns. I remember wondering where all these people were going and why they were still on the road at that time of the night. Then I remembered it was Saturday night. That should explain it. 





When we got to the hotel, I asked an XP staff if it’s also going to be this cold in the morning. He said, “Well, it is a bit cold. Tomorrow it will be the same.”

“A bit cold? It is very freaking cold!” I thought.

I was amazed by the sheer size of our hotel, ITC Maurya. Even at night, the 440-room, 5-star hotel looked imposing. The entrance was ablaze with lights and bustling with guests checking in and out. The valets were tall, stocky, mustached men wearing traditional Indian garb with turbans on their head. We later learned that former US President Bill Clinton stayed in this very hotel when he visited India.

One thing I will also later find out with India’s hotels: almost all of them are equipped with security scanners at front, like the ones you find in airports. After the bags go through the scanner, the women are ushered into a small, curtained area at the side of the entrance for a brief body frisk by a female Indian. The Indians are a bit obsessed with security. Just a bit. 

When we stepped into the foyer, my jaw further dropped. The lobby was lavish and reeking with luxury. Marbled floors, gilded mirrors, décor, colorfully painted ceilings, lush cushions at the waiting area, floating flowers in bowls. There is nothing subtle nor minimal in its design.  The decor is princely. It finds no shame in showing off how luxurious it is. It tells guests that they will be pampered in this hotel, as they should expect to be with the hotel's extravagant costs!








The lobby was also not lacking in mirrors (as was with their rooms, I would find out later). Behind me in the photo above is Hab of the Malaysian Reserve. 

Each of us were given a small check-in envelope that contains our room key card, baggage tags and info cards on valet service, flight recommendation, safety and security, and the hotel’s dining and conference facilities.

The room key card is used not only to open your hotel room but also for the elevators. You have to swipe the card first before punching in the floor number. It was snazzy but we had a little difficulty swiping them in the elevator because sometimes the card doesn’t work.

Upon request, we were also handed leaflets containing our Internet/Wi-fi password. Each room gets a unique password, the reason for which I will explain later.

Each of the journalists were booked in individual rooms. When I went inside mine, I was in awe of the room décor. It was the most sumptuously decorated (and well-appointed) hotel room I have ever been into! There were large mirrors around. Wall-to-wall carpeting. There was a fat cushioned chair with reading table, and a separate working table at one corner. The lighting was soft and responded to movement - the bathroom lights would go on when you walk inside and turn off when you get out. Same thing for the closet and mini-bar. Isn’t that neat and convenient? Not to mention environmentally friendly!






On top of the queen-sized bed was a welcome tray that contained an eye mask and ear plugs each inside a pillow box, a scented kerchief to help the guest sleep, two small bars of chocolate with the words “sleep” and “dream” written on each of them, laundry bag, flat TV remote control and several cards with suggestions on how guests can help get a good shut-eye (like ordering a glass of warm milk into your room).





The dream kerchief smelled heavenly. I used it as instructed and worked like a dream, pun intended. I went out like a light. I was so exhausted that I forgot I didn't eat dinner at all that day.


On the bar, there's also tray containing packets of different variety of Twining's tea bags, coffee and milk packets. I love the Darjeeling tea mixed with the milk. Perfect to cap the hectic days we had in India. 



Now for the bathroom.

I remember one episode on the TV show "Friends" when Joey moved out of the apartment he shared with Chandler into a newer, more swanky place. He was giving his friends a tour in his new place and he showed off, with much pleasure, the phone in his bathroom mounted on the wall right beside the toilet bowl.

Eyeing the phone with displeasure, Monica warned Joey: "Don't you dare give me a call on that phone while you're using the bathroom."

Monica would surely freak out if she saw the bathrooms at ITC because they all are equipped with phones right beside the toilet bowl.


I was wondering who should I call from that phone. If only overseas calls were not so dang expensive in that hotel!


ITC carries Fiama bath products which they offer complimentary for guests. From shampoo, conditioners to shower gels, soaps and lotions, I had quite a horde of these that I brought back home with me. 


Boxes of complimentary shower cap, comb, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, loofa, and comb. 

Right after taking hese shots, I dropped like a log on the bed and slept. 

ITC Maurya offered me a very opulent first glimpse of India. The story continues in my next blog post as we travel to Taj Mahal and Agra Fort on Day 2.

Stay tuned :-)

3 comments:

  1. I so love how you narrate your story and state informative tips and advices on writing this post. It is such a big help for someone who wants to visit India and Taj Mahal in future! Well done. xxxx

    http://misexperienciaspersonales.wordpress.com/

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  2. National Capital of India, New Delhi is the hub of real estate projects. A number of construction works take place non-stop to change the architecture of India for betterment. The thought to buy flat in Delhi NCR is quite strong among the citizens of India as well as in the NRI Diaspora.

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