Award nights are a great way to figure out how valued are you as a customer. I have redeemed points at several Carlson hotels and they have generally been very good, except Radisson Paris. That’s for another article. On the other hand my experience with Crowne Plaza, Bangalore was something I would like to forget as a bad dream. This time I decided to try out Vivanta by Taj at Cuffe Parade, Mumbai. Here is my experience as a non-paying guest at the hotel.
After the recent downgrade, redemption at Taj Hotels has become very expensive. Last time I stayed at the same hotel, I paid 1250 points. This time a they asked for dynamic rate of 1800+ points. That’s a whopping 50% increase. Right now it’s showing 1954 points for the next weekend. I didn’t have enough points so booked a room for one person for 1598 points and paid Rs.999 in cash for the second guest.
Even though the increase in redemption rates is very disappointing, there were some nice things added during the revamp. For example, the ability to redeem points online. Even though it is pretty standard for any hotel, better late than never. I emailed Innercircle for some clarification and booked the room while on the call I got from them. It was really nice talking to the person who called me from Taj. She not only answered all my queries, but also called the hotel to figure out certain details that I wanted to know. She also booked the hotel for me. .
The check-in was pretty smooth and quick. As I have already stayed at the hotel previously, they didn’t even need a copy of my id. Welcome drinks were served to us while we were completing check-in formalities.
Room was pretty basic, yet tastefully done. I am not a gold, silver or platinum member of Taj so wasn’t expecting any upgrade anyway. However, we still got a sea-facing room. That was a nice thing. Have a look at the pictures below.
Another disappointing feature of the new Taj loyalty program. Unlike the previous time I stayed here on points, the breakfast wasn’t included this time. After paying 50% extra points.
We ordered dinner from Trattoria, their in-house speciality restaurant. It took us three calls before someone finally answered the call from the restaurant. However, once connected the ordering process was smooth and the food was pretty yummy. Even though we just ordered a salad and roasted garlic baby potatoes, it was enough for both of us.
Taj is known for its service and they maintain that all the time. That’s probably the only reason people keep going back to Taj. Same was the case with us. Service overall was good except one instance. We called 2 or 3 times after dinner and requested to clear our room since we didn’t want to sleep with plates in the room. No one turned up at all. Even with my own experience, this is pretty unusual.
The amenities in the bathroom here are probably the best I have got in any hotel ever. Forest Essentials shower gel, shampoo, lotion etc are pretty awesome. I wish every hotel had such good bath products.
The check-out process was also smooth and quick. No unnecessary delays or waiting. Probably because we checked out at 9 am when there wasn’t much rush.
Overall the stay was good and pleasant. Food was good, room was nice and service was great, except for a few minor quirks. However, I am not sure if the Taj Innercircle loyalty program is worth it anymore after the points revision. Low earning and even higher redemption rate make it very unattractive. Having said that, if you are a Gold or Platinum member it might be a little better.