When I arrived at the hotel after 27 hours of travel I was pretty anxious. First time in India and first time traveling internationally for work I need a place to center myself. From the moment I entered the doors of the hotel it was an oasis of calm…truly. Part of that was there wasn’t a lot of activity at 6am and part of that was the young woman who greeted me at the front desk. Her name was Wynona and she went on to be one of the best parts of my stay at the Ritz. Not only was she extremely competent, but she was also a very nice young woman and went out of her way to make me feel truly welcomed. I was so grateful for her help during my stay that at the end of the trip I gave her a shawl I purchased for her. I’ve never done anything like that before but I wanted to really say thank you for everything.
To provide some context I will say that although I am experienced US domestic traveler, my hotels stays have been largely in Middle Tier Marriott’s and Hiltons. Traveling on a corporate account necessitates some economy, but I have been very happy over the years with those hotel stays. Nothing , and I mean nothing, I have ever experienced relates to the Ritz Carlton experience. For me what stood out wasn’t the aesthetics (although the hotel was beautiful) it was the extraordinary levels of service. It may be possible that all Ritz properties are similar to this one, but I truly believe the hotel in Pune is special. Best of all it was right across the street from my work and they had a reasonable negotiated rate (including breakfast) for my company so I was able to stay there.
There is a concept in India called Atithi Devo Bhava (The guest is God) and this hotel embodies that principle. As a woman traveling alone I could easily have faded into the background, but most of the staff knew who I was and took an active interest in making sure I have a wonderful stay. I can’t tell you how many times people asked if I have enough food, I was drinking enough, I was going to do something fun, or had I tried a certain Indian food. It made me feel like I had a family looking out for me. This was mostly evident when I ate my meals (especially morning breakfast) and numerous people came up to check in on me. I’ll be honest I struggled with the food because of the spiciness level, but I loved breakfast as it had so many mildly flavored options.
Along with the buffet (which had a different breakfast, lunch, and dinner) there were three specialty restaurants and my favorite was definitely Ukiyo. Again the service was outstanding and when they were out of my favorite wine, the server brought me a free mango cocktail which I really enjoyed. The meal was very special and was an explosion of flavor.
Along with the restaurants they also had a really nice spa and work out room. I am sorry to say I didn’t workout, but I did take advantage of the spa services on my day off. I received an excellent massage one day and it really helped after all that travel.
One of the coolest things about the hotel was the view of the city. I got to see it from multiple locations as they have outdoor areas on many floors and I really enjoyed watching the sunset and the patterns of the city from those vantage points.
Oh and I haven’t even mentioned the room. Has a Marriott Gold member I received an upgrade and found the room to be incredibly comfortable. Housekeeping was amazing and accommodated my need to have the room cleaned after 11am everyday because I was working a later shift for work. Room service was great when I needed a quick meal after a long day and quite reasonably priced. I even paid myself for laundry services and they did an excellent job turning my clothing around very quickly.
Because I am a process analyst for a living, I spent a lot of time just watching the flow of work and it was super impressive. That being said all processes can be improved so I spent some time writing an email to the manager thanking specific people for their kindness and making some recommendations. I was thrilled to learn the next morning that the entire staff had read the email and they were all very thankful for my feedback. On my last day several people actually pulled me aside and gave me a few little gifts and wrote me a beautiful note to thank me for my stay. That note truly mattered to me and I was so grateful to receive it.
Again this hotel was the nicest I have ever stayed in and a big part of the reason I would love to return to India. Next up I will talk about my work and exploring the city.
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