Today's Traveller Interviews

Ila Prabhu: Hotels are embracing new-age digital innovations to enhance better experiences

In an exclusive interview with Today’s Traveller, Ila Prabhu, General Manager, Welcomhotel By ITC Hotels Cathedral Road, Chennai, speaks on the developing hospitality landscape in Chennai and successfully positioning Welcomhotel By ITC Hotels Cathedral Road as a preferred choice among discerning travellers.

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Ila Prabhu, General Manager, Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels Cathedral Road, Chennai

TT Bureau: What factors have contributed to the success of Welcomhotel by ITC Cathedral Road?

Ila Prabhu: Welcomhotel by ITC Cathedral Road continues to thrive as a beacon of luxury and hospitality in Chennai.

Being a rich amalgamation of heritage, contemporary veneers modern-day comforts, along with ITC Hotels’ renowned culinary offerings, its remarkable success can be attributed to several key factors.

Centrally located 15 km from the International and Domestic airports and in the vicinity of the highest level of security, Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels, Cathedral Road, Chennai is iconic, being the 1st hotel of the ITC Group, which heralded a new era in hospitality.

Nestled in one of the prime locations of Chennai, the seamless access to business districts, tourist attractions and transportation hubs, make it a convenient landmark for business and leisure travellers.

As part of the Welcomhotel brand by ITC Hotels, the Chennai Cathedral Road property inherits a strong brand reputation, attracting discerning guests seeking quality accommodations.

Among ITC’s signature restaurants resident in the hotel, are the all-day dining venue WelcomCafe Marina; the signature WelcomSthalika; Durrant’s Bar; Sunbean Cafe; Mahjong Room and a Fabelle Chocolate Takeaway Counter which rounds off our repertoire.

The dedicated team of professionals epitomises warmth, efficiency, and personalised attention, ensuring that every guest feels valued and cherished throughout their stay. Moreover, through strategic partnerships, captivating state-of-the-art campaigns and a stellar digital presence, we have successfully positioned the hotel as a preferred choice among discerning travellers.

Our commitment to delivering exceptional experiences has garnered positive reviews from guests, further solidifying our reputation as a premier hospitality destination. The unwavering support and appreciation from our patrons serve as a testament to our relentless pursuit of excellence. As we continue our journey, we remain steadfast in our pursuit of excellence, striving to redefine the benchmarks of luxury hospitality.

Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels Cathedral Road, Chennai
Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels Cathedral Road, Chennai

TT Bureau: Could you describe the journey and milestones of excellence achieved by your hotel?

Ila Prabhu: Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels, Cathedral Road draws inspiration from its rich legacy – politicians, corporate titans, cultural icons, families, and individuals have graced this iconic hotel. It has been a preferred choice for Consul Generals, members of the Indian Armed Forces, ITC Hotels’ leadership, and luminaries from various domains, cultivating a rich tapestry of experiences and relationships. Notably, it was the city’s inaugural ice-skating destination and introduced the pioneering panoramic rooftop restaurant, Sagari, offering mesmerizing views.

Situated at No. 2, Cathedral Road, the hotel is a site of profound historical significance as well. The entrance houses a monument commemorating the first meeting between Shri Mahatma Gandhi and Shri C. Rajagopalachari, where Gandhiji stayed as Rajaji’s guest, conceiving the idea that birthed the iconic Non-Violent, Non-Cooperation Movement.

In line with ITC Hotel’s credo of ‘Responsible Luxury,’ Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels, Cathedral Road, Chennai is committed to the highest levels of environmental stewardship. 

The hotel is LEED® Platinum & LEED Zero Carbon certified, attesting to its commitment to sustainability with energy-efficient green buildings, utilization of renewable energy, conservation and recycling of water, and concrete measures to preserve the ecosystem.

It has its own self-owned and offsite wind farms using maximum renewable electrical energy to mitigate the carbon footprint.

TT Bureau: What are your views on the current growth and prospects of the market?

Ila Prabhu: There is a pent-up demand for travel and hospitality experiences. Leisure travellers in particular are eager to embark on long-awaited vacations, leading to a surge in bookings for the various luxurious accommodation options. This resurgence in the quick travel options is expected to drive growth and revitalisation within the hospitality sector. The shift towards remote/hybrid working has led to newer opportunities in the hospitality sector. Hotels are leveraging their amenities and infrastructure to cater to remote workers seeking alternative workspaces.

The exponential rise of “workation” packages, which combine leisure travel with remote work facilities, presents a unique avenue for revenue generation and market differentiation.

Technology continues to play a pivotal role in reshaping the hospitality landscape. From seamless check-in processes to efficient guest services, hotels are embracing new-age digital innovations to enhance better experiences and streamline operations.

Technology-driven solutions are expected to drive efficiency, personalisation and cost savings across the hospitality value chain. With guests increasingly seeking eco-friendly accommodations, sustainable dining offerings and immersive experiences that enhance environmental stewardship and cultural preservation, hotels that prioritise sustainability and social responsibility are poised to attract environmentally conscious travellers.

TT Bureau: What is the one activity that you consider essential to include in your daily routine?

Ila Prabhu: After a fully packed day I like to unwind with journaling. I think journaling helps you rewind the day and notice the little things you might have missed paying attention to. It also helps me to feel great gratitude, to count my blessings and be thankful to the almighty for the beautiful life one is living. Journaling is my place to express my unsaid and unexpressed emotions. Lastly, I think it’s also a brilliant way to have a routine.

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