This is a hotel with a sustainable heart. In the midst of Hyderabad’s hustle and bustle, ITC Kakatiya is a tranquil, elegant, 188 room hotel providing excellent Indian hospitality whilst minimising its impact on the environment. Unlike any other hotel chain in India, the ITC brand is recognised world wide for its contribution to sustainable hospitality, and boasts a swag of International awards thereby defining a new era of “responsible luxury”.
Set in the picturesque commercial district of Begumpet, with sweeping views of Hussain Sagar Lake, the hotel is enveloped in sweet smelling manicured gardens and built with the Kakatiya legacy in mind.
Who were the Kakatiyas?
The Kakatiyas were an inspiring dynasty of feudal kings and even one queen who asserted independence for India’s south. They were irrepressible entrepreneurs who amassed huge fortunes, built strong armies and gave rise to advanced scientific irrigation and land use opportunities still revered today. As a mighty Telegu kingdom they instilled a progressive chapter in India’s rich history. Adoring architecture and the arts, they were patrons to many artisans in the local area.
The Kakatiya legacy has been embodied by the hotel and is the source of its inspiration, including its name. Stepping into the lobby is like stepping into a frozen fragment of time, with cultural exuberance and rich décor, a cream finish, detailed artworks, opulent antique furniture, exquisite carvings and even a tribute to the great queen Rani Rudramba. A renowned architectural symbol of the Kakatiya dynasty is the Kakatiya ‘victory gate’. The queen thwarted many invasions from the Mughals and as homage to the empire and the queen, a mini stone replica stands proudly in the lobby. Alongside is a translucent marble checker board featuring the mythical bird Garuda (the Kakatiya adopted insignia). This motif also recurs in Kakatiya sculptures throughout the property.
Kakatiya control was diluted mostly because of the Delhi Sultanate who demanded yearly gifts including thousands of elephants and horses and, according to some historians, the world renowned diamond Koh-i-Noor (currently on display in the Crown Jewels). Dynastic power reached its zenith around the 13th century CE after the cornerstones for Hyderbad’s future commercial prowess has been laid. The arrival of the British East India Company in the 17th Century and 20th Century corporate tech giants have since propelled Hyderabad to its unique wealthy and progressive position.
The beautifully appointed rooms are exquisitely furnished with dark timber floorboards mixed with plush fine wool carpets. The interiors stylishly combine modern comforts like flat screen TVs, a massage chair and speedy wi-fi with traditional elements of mosaic mother of pearl inlay lamps, tailored burgundy and gold bed throws and historical paintings and prints. The bed sheets and all other , such as the female staff’s gorgeous saris, are weaved with the famous ‘kalamri ‘or the ‘ikat’ weaving by local craftspeople.
The large windows perfectly frame expansive views and stunning vistas. The rooms range in size from 32 square metres to the luxurious Presidential Suite, which is 148 square metres. The Tower rooms, executive club rooms are spacious and elegant, while the OTC rooms offer extra space at 63 square metres and extras such as airport transfers, breakfast, pillow menu and fresh fruit bowl, and if you are really lucky, fresh bananas which are a signature greeting of the property (bananas are an auspicious fruit according to ancient sages).
The hotel exudes a natural luxurious feeling embodying fine craftsmanship which pays tribute to the celebrated era of Kakatiya reign. There are beautifully carved screens and figures, art and sculpture adorning every corner. Steeped in historic royal grandeur yet catering to the modern traveller (with ultra-plush conference and business facilities) the hotel offers the best of Indian hospitality.
If your schedule allows, opt to dine in house at one of the many restaurants. Try “Dakshin” for a sumptuous range of curries from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana accompanied by live carnatic music most nights. The hotel offers a special culinary package which has an extensive tasting menu so you can try the full range of South Indian cuisine (be sure to mention how hot or mild your preferences are, otherwise in true South Indian style the curries will be hot, hot, hot). For a more casual experience try Kebabs and Curries next door or Marco Polo which overlooks the tranquil pool and offers a range of International cuisines such as pasta. The breakfast buffet at Deccan is an unmissable experience. Try fresh idly (in three varieties), dosa made to order, continental delights like honeyed fig and orange syrup with pancakes, gourmet omelettes to your exact tastes, fresh fruit, sambals and more – there are over a hundred dishes to choose from – this is the best breakfast buffet in India!
If you more interested in drinking than eating, try in house bar “Dublin” which has every ale, bitter and beer you can think of, plus delicious cocktails, mocktails and more.
“Kaya Kalp” is a Sanskrit word meaning rejuvenation of body, mind and soul and is ITC’s highly acclaimed spa brand. The spa embraces the spiritual and medicinal legacies of ancient India and offers, exotic body treatments, relaxing massages, ancient Ayurvedic rituals designed to be spiritually moving and meaningful. Treat yourself to the Exotic Pomegranate Spa Journey or the Passage to India Spa Journey or try a de-stressing therapeutic Hot Stone Massage which uses traditional gemstones with aromatic spices and oils to heal and rejuvenate. Ayurveda means “Science of life” which teaches the old Indian holistic tradition that unites mind, body and spirit. Treatments such as the Shirodhara Therapy (60 mins) work through the deepest levels of one’s being to improve blood supply and relieve tension. There are also a range of beauty elixirs on offer where skin is pampered to perfection. Try the signature Kaya Kelp facial for 90 mins of bliss or reduce the signs of ageing (yes please) with a Sublime Action facial.
The global hotel industry has been be perceived as wasteful. Often the allure of staying in a five star hotel is that you can use as many towels as you want or leave the air conditioning and lights on forever without having to worry about the bill. However, hotels and travellers have since shifted towards a more sustainable outlook. According to Deloitte’s, 95% of business travellers surveyed believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives. As a response, 23 global hotel organisations including Marriott and Hilton measure their carbon footprint.
ITC proudly claims to “annually off-set carbon emissions equivalent to the carbon footprint created by travelling across the globe almost 1200 times.” By adopting contemporary green business practices with the lowest environmental footprint and striking a fine balance between the man-made and natural environment the brand has created a new era of “responsible luxury”. This is the greenest hotel chain in the world because every hotel is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum rated. The brand has positioned itself as the “First on Earth” where it is the only chain to have all hotels have been certified by the US Green Building Council and Indian Green Building Council.
The brand has gone to extraordinary lengths to make innovative and real environmental change across the group. For example;
- Water is offered in refillable glass containers and lovingly infused with Tulsi (holy basil) or Fennel & Cinnamon. World class filtered table water reduces plastic bottle use and gives guest a refreshing planet positive experience.
- ITC Hotels is India’s first participant in WWF’s ‘Choose Wisely’ Programme a collaboration with the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, aimed at promoting informed choices on fish consumption a giving guest the ‘luxury of choice’.
- All rooms have The Big-Hearted bag where guests can place any reusable items (in good shape) inside. These clothes and items will get a second life by being donated to a local charity.
- All of Kakatiya’s restaurants source produce locally where possible, making sure that farm to plate is a reality.
- Approximately 25% of electrical energy demand is met through renewable source i.e. Wind and Solar.
- 99% solid waste either reused or recycled.
There are also high social and ethical standards in practice. The hotel has completed its Woman Aware accreditation. This is a program that aims to increase the understanding of the needs of female guests and create positive change within the hotel industry.
If you can drag yourself away from the hotel and surrounds, check out local sites such as Charminar, Golaconda Fort and Birla Mandir. Hyderabad is best travelled by Auto or taxi and is easy to navigate (beware of lengthy traffic jams). It is a truly majestic experience and a stay at the Kakatiya is the jewel in the crown (without the footprint!).
For more information go to https://www.itchotels.in
Written by Sonia Komaravalli
* The writer stayed at her own expense.