JW Marriott Juhu, Mumbai – A Review By Punam Mohandas
As the general manager, Pavithran Nambiar, readily agrees, the Marriott Juhu has long held sway over the city of Mumbai by virtue of its location and its A-list crowd. Bollywood’s crème de la crème move silently and purposefully through its environs, be it the gym or the restaurants. Although in terms of corporate business there are other contenders from the BKC area, the only real competition has always been posed by The Oberoi and the Taj Mahal Palace, both on Nariman Point, owing to their unmatched luxury and exclusivity factors.
One of the main USP’s of the Marriott Juhu with its aesthetically sculpted façade is the lobby that gives on to a breathtaking sea vista, more suited to a resort property than a city hotel. The lobby is a vast, pillared space that usually plays host to exhibitions by various artists. This January, it is showcasing truly splendid installations by Satish Gupta along the Zen Buddhist theme, including a spectacular Garuda that is currently the centerpiece in the lobby.
With 355 keys to its inventory, the rooms are categorised as follows: Deluxe Ocean View (28sqm); Premier Club (38sqm); Executive Ocean View Room; Executive Juhu Beach Suite (57sqm); Juhu Beach Suite (57sqm); Grand Ocean View Suite (71sqm) Royal Lotus Suite (80sqm) and the Presidential Suite (206sqm.) The difference between the two lowest categories is only in terms of room size; all other amenities remain the same. Also, from the Premier category onwards, all rooms are kitted out with bath tubs. The well-named Royal Lotus Suites overlooking the lotus pond are slightly larger than the Grand Ocean View Suites, which offer a 360-degree view of the ocean, while the Presidential Suite is a one-bedded unit with separate living, dining and office spaces, with even the bathroom here offering a spectacular sea view.
I stayed in the Executive Juhu Beach Suite, which is quite generous for just me to wander around in. The sitting space has the requisite settee, dining table and large screen TV. The workspace is in the bedroom, which also has an armchair and footstool and a really comfortable bed. There is a large screen TV in this room as well and the French windows give on to views of the pool, beach and sea. There is a narrow dressing space with the wardrobes and then a large bathroom, with separate shower and toilet cubicles. The bathtub faces the bedroom with a sheet of see-through glass, however, one can lower the blinds for privacy. Thankfully, this hotel provides bath salts! There are ample clothes hooks, both in the bathroom as well as dressing space – a tiny but essential requirement that hotels largely tend to overlook. It is a pity though that the Marriott has not gone in for jet sprays; no longer a luxury but a necessity.
All rooms come equipped with tea/coffee maker, electronic safe, large screen TV, iron and ironing board and four complimentary bottles of drinking water. All amenities are replaced on a regular basis by Housekeeping. The upper category rooms also have this really fancy espresso maker.
I confess I was most pleasantly taken aback to view the rooms. I had done a site inspection of this hotel when it was relatively new and when the management had scored a trick with mirrors – the lower category rooms, which were dismally small in size compared to the city competition, had mirrored walls which gave off an illusion of space. The hotel undertook a room renovation in about 2013 where the interiors were completely stripped and the result now is immensely pleasing, where even the base category room looks compact and snug without being stifling; indeed, it so successfully manages to accommodate all the essential amenities that one wonders how the previous interior designer got it so wrong.
A suggestion here is to have more exacting pest control measures in place for flies and mosquitoes, especially in the lobby and foyer areas. Further, while the rooms are well kitted out, the hardware does need to be looked into, in particular, door locks.
This property is fortunate to offer a range of high-quality F&B options, from the 80-cover Italian fine-dining Mezzo Mezzo, to the traditionally Indian Saffron with 50-covers. Dashanzi, the newest F&B addition, is at a 100-covers and serves pan-Asian cuisine, with a Chinese as well as Japanese chef on board. This outlet also provides DJ entertainment, moreover, it has an al fresco dining area as well as a separate smoking zone. Reflections is the lobby lounge and offers 35-covers. All these outlets open for evening service only. The Lotus Café is the all-day dining outlet; even at a 150-covers, it runs short of seats and there is a waiting queue almost daily! This outlet serves not just an extensive but exhaustive breakfast spread, with live parantha and dosa stations, apart from the usual western spread of cold cuts, eggs, cereals etc. There is even the hearty keema-mattar on the counter and an exclusive, live station dedicated to that ubiquitous Bombay (although Gujarati in origin) offering – dabeli. It is hardly any wonder that 65% of the diners are non-resident guests, according to the general manager. A suggestion here is for the music volume to be toned down to a gentler level as it drowns out conversation otherwise; the hotel has musicians playing Indian music every morning during breakfast hours, while Sunday brunch sees a live band in attendance.
The other most frequented outlet is hands-down the Bombay Baking Company, just off the lobby. It is a delicatessen with ample and cozy seating space, ideal for private business discussions over fancy tea or coffee options. The BBC also sells up-market items such as olives, preserves and wines and the Japanese chocolate brand, Royce. Adjacent to this is a bookstore and premium brand outlets such as Raymonds and Khazir.
Recreation facilities are a-plenty, making the Juhu Marriott seem even more of a resort property. There are two main swimming pools, including one salt-water, and a separate children’s pool with water slide. There is also a Kiddy Club for the little people.
The Marriott Group has the in-house Quan Spa brand and the spa at the Juhu Marriott offers eight treatment rooms, including one for couples that has double rain showers and a bath tub. The atmosphere at the spa is tranquil, with an eye-catching sculpture of a diver in a water tank grabbing one’s attention as one walks in. There are separate relaxation as well as steam/sauna facilities for men and women. The spa promotes the Indian ‘Breathe’ brand of products that are Ayurveda as well as aromatherapy related. The signature treatment here is the Quan Fusion, which is a 90-minute therapy designed to balance the seven chakras and is a combination of the Balinese and Hawaiian massage techniques.
This level has a hair salon as well, and the Fitness Centre which is open 24-hours. A relatively small space with all the basic machines, it also offers the latest equipment in keeping with current trends, kitted out with individual, in-built entertainment screens. It is no wonder therefore, that Bollywood celebrities like to frequent this gym; moreover, guests holding the JW Wellness Membership are allowed to be accompanied by their personal trainers during their workout sessions,
Convention facilities include the erstwhile Enigma nightclub which has been converted to a banquet space (150pax.) Apart from this, the former Spices restaurant has been re-launched as Mahi – a wedding/social functions space for 500pax. Besides this, the smaller halls of Tajo, Ebro and Sur with a contemporary design can accommodate 15-20 pax each. Kaveri is the bigger hall that can take 200-pax and that can be partitioned into Teesta and Indus. The Grand Sangam Ballroom can accommodate between 1,200-1,500 pax and can be further sectioned into Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati; the ballroom has a spacious pre-function area and a separate entrance from the main part of the hotel. Furthermore, the Business Centre offers seven smaller meeting rooms to accommodate from 3-15 pax each, with three computers for guest use as also complimentary printing/scanning facilities up to ten copies (in-house guests only.) One wishes now that Indian hotels will quickly wise up to the fact that wifi is considered a necessity and not a luxury and hence, should be free.
There are also two al fresco banquet options; the space around the salt water swimming pool can accommodate 300-pax, while the Terrace, overlooking the main road, can take 1,800-pax.
The security at the JW Marriott Juhu Mumbai is extremely professionally handled. This was the first hotel in Mumbai – or possibly in India – to get the bollards in place, a move that called for a lot of flak from irate guests earlier, but which went on to win kudos for the hotel from more sensible and aware patrons. Since the hotel is sea-facing, it has a gate leading to the beach with stringent protocol in place; guests must sign their names on a register, including the time that they stepped out and returned to the hotel. This gate is always kept shut and one must needs ring a bell to get back in. In-house too, one can only access the elevators to the rooms by key cards.
The challenge for this hotel is to keep those A-listers’ coming, by virtue of food and service. The food is quite good; I usually eschew the fancy stuff as my yardstick is that if they can get the simple things right, the rest will fall into place. The paranthas are well made and with adequate stuffing, while the pizza is one of the best I’ve had at a five star hotel.
In terms of hositality, it is such a warm touch to find an international chain hotel reverting to the traditional Indian form of greeting guests with a “Namaste” and folded hands, while unfortunately, Indian brands insist on aping the west! In terms of service, the F&B team should deservedly and collectively take a bow. In spite of the huge rush at breakfast time, they handle the hungry hordes with minimal stress. The in-room dining staff are well trained and polite too. Housekeeping service is courteous and prompt while the security team is very respectful towards guests. Perhaps the only shortcoming would be with the Front Office staff, some of whom show a slight air of superiority; it seems dealing with celebrities results in ennui when it comes to lesser-profile guests. Service as well as speed could be improved on here as they tend to get overwhelmed during multiple check-in’s.
The hotel is located in the prime area of Juhu, within walking distance of Prithvi theatre and Chowpatty on the beach. It is about half an hour away from Santa Cruz, Bandra and the shopping on Linking road. Another half an hour in the opposite direction will get you to Versova/Andheri west.
Mumbai is of course easily accessed by all major international airlines. The JW Marriot Mumbai Juhu is between 25-40 minutes away from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, depending on traffic.
JW MARRIOTT MUMBAI JUHU
TEL: +91 22 66933043
FAX: +91 22 66933023
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.