Four Points By Sheraton – Exceeded Expectations By Far
Jaipur is a city that I visit often for work and otherwise, and have stayed at various hotels in the city earlier, including some big names. This, however, was my first stay at Four Points by Sheraton. Having booked the hotel online through an online travel company, I was not sure what to expect. What I was sure about, however, was that being a part of the Sheraton chain, the hotel could not be bad. I must say that it turned out to be far better than I expected.
The hotel is located in the city, but in an area that is not too crowded. It is in the City Square Mall. The exterior of the building is not very impressive. The entry is through the mall complex but the hotel entry is behind the mall. The inside lane leading to the hotel is access-controlled. Vehicles are permitted inside only after the mandatory security check. The security staff at the front porch was polite and efficient. They quickly unloaded our bags from the car and the valet took the vehicle away for parking.
We were greeted very warmly at the reception. The front office staff who took care of our check-in, Mr Aakil, was polite, professional and efficient. He was pleasant in his dealings and while he took care of the check in, we were served welcome drinks – a small glass of juice each. I requested for a smoking room, which he arranged for us and thereafter, personally escorted us to our room and explained the room facilities to us. I must say that in most of the hotels in Jaipur that I have stayed in so far, the usual practice is for a bell-boy to escort you to the room and explain the facilities once there. In some cases, you are left to discover the room amenities on your own. However, this is one of the few hotels that I have encountered where the check-in staff personally escorts guests to the room. Our luggage was brought up by a bell boy shortly.
The room itself was quite nice. Done in a contemporary yet subtle style, it was pleasant, spacious and clean. When I say spacious, I mean it was a pretty decent size. We had booked the room on triple occupancy and even with the extra bed (a roll-away bed placed later in the evening), the room did not feel cramped.
The king-sized bed was large and comfortable, with spotless sheets, quilt and cushions. Opposite the bed was a flat-screen TV. Below the TV is a long rack for placing luggage running along the length of the room. On one side of the TV is a work-station with a comfortable working chair. On the left of the table, in the corner is a mini-bar with a mini-fridge inside. A wide window on the side overlooks the street and one gets a view of the city rooftops and the hills beyond. Next to the bed was a very comfortable sofa-chair with a foot-stool, should you wish to relax and watch TV sitting there.
Room amenities included two 500 bottles of water (complimentary), and a tea / coffee maker with adequate supplies to brew your own beverage. The room entrance foyer has a wardrobe positioned right after the entrance door. The lighted wardrobe is also equipped with an electronic safe. After the wardrobe is a tall mirror with a dressing stool. One very thoughtful touch is a compact folding ironing board that pulls out of a drawer on the side of the wardrobe. The wardrobe has a clamp that is supposed to hold an iron, but the iron itself wasn’t there. However, on calling housekeeping, an iron as well as a hair dryer were delivered promptly, and were not available in the room by default.
The bathroom is spacious, clean and well maintained. Our room had a shower cubicle. As is the case with many contemporary hotels these days, the bathroom had frosted glass partitions instead of a wall. Pull-down roller blinds are available for privacy though.
Having arrived well after lunch time, we decided to go down to their coffee shop to grab a bite. Called The Eatery, it is located on the first floor. The lobby outside the restaurant is spacious and tastefully done, with several sofa seats available. The restaurant itself, though not very big, is decent sized. Since lunch hour was already over, it was practically deserted and there were just a couple of other guests still dining.
The service was polite and attentive. The staff on duty was courteous and pleasant. He helped us select the dishes we wished to order, which was just soup, salad and a grilled sandwich. I would also like to mention here that the grilled sandwich that I ordered was customized as per fillings requested by me, which was not actually part of their standard menu. The food service did not take very long. Each of the items we ordered was delicious and fresh.
In the evening, a small complimentary platter with fruits and some cookies was delivered to the room. The cookies seemed to have been baked in-house and were excellent. Later in the evening, Mr Jitendra from housekeeping knocked on the door to inquire if everything was in order and if we were comfortable, or if there was anything else that he could help with. I presume that this is part of the standard routine at the hotel for someone senior from housekeeping to make the room rounds and ensure that everything was fine – something that I have seen only in the finest of the hotels.
Breakfast next day was again at The Eatery. Judging by the number of people present in the restaurant, the hotel seemed to be quite full, despite it being low tourist season currently. Despite the number of guests, one could not find any faults with the service or the buffet breakfast. The buffet was generous, to say the least. Three different types of cereals were available with the choice of hot or cold milk. In cold beverages, there was a choice between Banana-Shake, Cold Coffee or fresh Watermelon juice. In breads again there was a good variety of breakfast rolls as well as toast.
The buffet spread included a wide selection of Continental, Oriental, Indian and South Indian options along with live counters serving hot and fresh eggs to order as well as Masala Dosas. If there was any problem with the buffet, it was trying to decide what to eat. We had a leisurely breakfast and were pampered by the ever-attentive staff, who were doing their best to make sure that all guests in the restaurant were well looked after. Another thing that was worth appreciating is that Chef Karambir was personally interacting with all guests, asking if the food was to their liking and if there was anything else that could be done for them – a gesture that goes a long way in enhancing the customer experience. After the breakfast we had Masala Tea, which was again one of the best I have had till date, being freshly made by one of their team members on a table right outside the entrance of The Eatery.
We checked out shortly after breakfast. The check-out was just as smooth as the check-in. Mr Vishal at the front office made sure that it was quick and efficient and it barely took me 7 to 8 minutes to settle my bill.
Hospitality Done Right
One thing that I would specifically like to mention is that if there is one thing about this hotel that stands out is the fact that they have got their hospitality concepts right. Each and every team member that we interacted with was outstanding when it came to politeness and humility. The ever-smiling staff with their traditional greeting of “Namaste” go out of their way to make the guests comfortable and feel at home. Right from the security staff at the front porch, to the bell-boy, the front office team, room service or the restaurant team – each seems to be very well trained. One example of their helpfulness is that in the evening, when we were trying to open our room door, we faced a bit of a problem with the lock. One of their room service staff happened to observe this from the other end of the corridor and came running to assist us with the same.
Another aspect worth mentioning is that in some hotels I have encountered a discrimination against guests who book online through hotel booking sites as compared to guests booking directly, in terms of allotting a good room or services etc. I am happy to say that despite the fact that mine was an online booking at a highly discounted price, there was no discrimination whatsoever, and the warmth and friendliness was the same for all guests.
At the end of the day, what matters is how you were made to feel during the stay, and we were made to feel very welcome indeed. Kudos to the management of Four Points – good training ensures each team member becomes an ambassador for the brand and they certainly have done a great job of it.
I am sure that next time I plan to visit the city, I will not be looking further than Four Points.
Rajiv Bajaj asserts his right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author. All copyright and pictures are the property of the author.