There are two kinds of hotels in India - 5 star and 'others'.
Five star ensures a certain level of service and quality, plus refinement and class. The sky rocketing rates of 5 stars are a favourite topic of cocktail party conversation. Your familiarity with the subject implies you are a regular on the 5 star circuit. The beauty of it, of course, is that you... are not actually paying for it. Your company is.
Scenario 2 is you work for yourself - or a relatively small company which 'does not believe in 5 star'. Alternatively, you are on a social visit, pilgrimage or holiday and just want a good, clean, functional hotel. Then you are in need of the 'others' category and hey, it all depends.
There are hotels and there are hotels but you can't ever be sure. A friend of mine lugs around her own bedsheets in times of we'll-find-a-hotel-somewhere travel. I thought that was a bit crazy until we spent a night in a MTDC property in Matheran and gratefully spread out our ghar ka chaddars.
The point is, the market for a 'motel' style hotel was wide open and the Taj group has stepped into that space in style. I spent a night at 'Ginger' in Mysore earlier this week and am extremely impressed!
Ginger is a budget hotel but unlike certain budget airlines, it does not make you feel cheap. You get exactly what you pay for - and then some.
What you get:
Crisp white sheets, towels
Running hot water
Tea and coffee maker, sachets provided
2 mineral water bottles
An LG LCD TV affixed to the wall
What's missing (but who cares...)
No room service
No one to take your luggage up (but they have airport style trolleys)
No bouncy bed with layers and layers of quilts, pillows and comforters.
No bathrobe, toothbrush, moisturiser, powder etc to slip into your bag on the way home (liquid soap is provided)
No chips or drinks in the mini fridge.
A vending machine is provided in the lobby of the hotel instead. It sells chips, chocolates and even talcum powder at MRP. The impressive thing about this machine is that it works on 5 and 10 rupee notes - the way such machines are meant to. Unlike the machines we see at stations and airports where you hand over money to an attendant :)
And yeah, no fancy world-cuisine restaurants. There is a single eatery called the 'Square Meal' which serves buffet for all 3 meals. The breakfast for 80 bucks had a decent spread. It's not what you can call a '24 hour coffee shop' but if you need a snack after midnight you can order a sandwich.
There is also net access and a basic gym for use by guests. What really blew me away was the idea of a 'pantry' on every floor. It's equipped with an Aquaguard in case you run out of water and need a refill. And there's an ironing board and Philips iron in case you are struck by 'crushed clothes syndrome'. Ain't that really cool?
There is also a same day laundry service at reasonable rates.
It's small things like this which make Ginger a really satisfying experience. I think the Taj group has done a fantastic job of delivering 'smart basics'. And they're scaling up faster than other 'budget hotel chains' like Lemon tree. Which is great.
But Ginger needs to start expanding into major metros as well. (Given real estate prices though, I wonder if the same pricing model would work...)
Also I suspect it would be boring to stay in 'Ginger' in say, Goa. I for one like staying in different hotels - just for the experience. But for any overnight kind of stay - and especially when on work - I would definitely go for reliability and value pricing over risk and romance.
A couple of suggestions to the Ginger management:
1) Make wi fi access cheaper. Current charges of Rs 125 an hour or Rs 300 a day are not too friendly.
2) The predominantly orange colour scheme gives a bright and friendly feel to the hotel. But the cream portion of my room already had some ugly stains. One of the fancier paints/ emulsions might help in tackling the problem.
I do hope Ginger is a smashing success. And that patrons don't give budget travel a bad name by behaving like cheapos and walking off with the electric kettle!