Opened the doors at Gurgaon and unveiled the signature New Delhi Eclair in Delhi
words: Ambica Gulati
A signature mix of art, music, scent, sparklings and éclairs, Le Meriden Gurgaon is the latest ‘destination unlocked’ by the US-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts. As the sun shone bright, greeted by Paresh Maity’s bright orange welcoming lady sculpture, we walked into the Le Meridien Hub where sensor lights hang, changing in intensity as the day progresses to night. To experience this, you could go in the evening when the fountain rises and falls rhythmically, the artworks and sculptures shine and the lighting beckons.
Pulled by the lyrical beats of songs and music by French Bossa Nova band, Nouvelle Vague, I downed the bubbly champagne toast at the iconic Longitude bar. You will find a Longitude in every Le Meridien across the globe. What tells you where you are located—the degrees. Gurgaon is 77º3!
There was the signature éclair, but we decided to leave that for the next evening at the Delhi property in Connaught Place. And walked right into Latest Recipe–the global cuisine restaurant. It has live counters with fresh food—got a taste of Lebanese, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Continental and Chinese. Treated to a pizza dough juggling session by the Chef, we hogged on sushi, veg and non-veg, some fish tikkas and lots of fresh fruit salsa and nachos. The meal ended with ice cream teppayanki—vanilla mixed with nuts, chocos, jellies and laden with honey. And some sugar free strawberry mousse. All this and the view of the gardens through the glass—it was a relaxed afternoon. There is a private dining area too. And a bar for chilled out times.
And then walked down to enjoy some sunshine at the open swimming pool, peeped into the ikandy lounge which was getting ready for the evening party, looked through the glass into the gym. It is open 24X7 and you will always find a trainer there, as people travel odd hours, we were informed. The spa offers reasonably priced therapies and Cutting Edge salon is there for all the beauty and grooming needs. Phoenix I, the banquet hall, had a lovely chandelier and designer chairs. The walk over, there were still the éclairs to experience the next evening at Le Meridien Delhi.
Gone were the traditional éclairs with chocolate coating, it was time to relish some ginger, jaggery, aniseed, and Darjeeling tea, all turned into the New Delhi Eclair by award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Johnny Iuzzini. Watching a video of the Chef walking on the streets of Delhi, exploring the spices, and then finally coming up with this low on sugar and amazing on the crust éclair, was an experience. There was a good use of rock sugar, coconut, gulkand. When you are biting into the amazing éclairs, don’t focus on the calories. And what went with this—a designer cappuccino. Le Meridien has worked on making art the signature even when it comes to coffee—Le Meridien Barista is where latte art flourishes as your coffee might come with a Shiva, Ganesha, heart, Buddha, anything and everything on the froth.
Chef Iuzzini has launched “The Éclair Diaries,” a video tour of his adventures as he went searching across destinations where Le Méridien hotels are located to come up with eight signature éclairs. For instance, in Germany, Le Méridien Munich offers a savory éclair with goat cheese, cranberry and pumpernickel crumbs, while Le Méridien Bangkok features a citrus-inspired treat with mango, lime and ginger. Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/user/LeMeridien
But there was another treat— Arnaud Champenois, Asia-Pacific Senior Brand Director, opened the doors of Nero for a taste of Le Meridien Sparkling. Nero is a gothic-inspired bar which serves some classic cocktails such as the Negroni. Welcomed with Sparkling Masala—a test tube sparkling champagne sprayed with a special masala which had the distinct flavour of rock salt was an unusual experience. And then the Negroni was a mix of Campari and Vermouth and dash of orange. A little bitter for my taste but an experience nevertheless. Evening turned to night and it was time to bid goodbye to two days of experiencing Le Meridien.
About Le Meridien
Le Méridien was founded in 1972 by Air France, with the intent to provide a ‘home away from home’ for the airline’s passengers. The 1,000 room Le Méridien Etoile in Paris was the first of what would later lead to a global presence for Le Méridien. Having its footprint strongly focused in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific, Le Méridien’s distribution as well as international consumer base was a perfect complement to Starwood’s strong North American presence in 2005. With nearly 100 hotels and resorts in dynamic destinations from Paris to Barcelona, Abu Dhabi to Dubai, Seychelles to Bora Bora, and Shanghai to Bangkok, Le Méridien has provided Starwood new presence in markets where it had been under represented or absent. Le Méridien has a dynamic expansion plan for the next five years, concentrating on markets in Asia-Pacific and the Americas.