Indiblogger meets have always been fun!
Looking back the times this and this , when I had walked into the banquet hall sheepishly uncertain, unknown of the blogger meet protocols and likes, it gives an immense feeling of tranquility to be cognizant of the fact that I am now acquainted with this indiblogger-ness and can walk-in to any meets with a sense of collegiality and connectedness and definitely find atleast ten to fifteen of your twitter mates or blog mates for sure.
This time on October 27th 2012 (Saturday), it was hosted in association with ITC Grand Chola 5 Star luxury hotels @ Guindy. When the seats were limited, I quickly logged in to indiblogger site from my mobile as I was out of home and clicked the blessed ‘Register’ button! *peace*. From that time onwards, I’ve been waiting for the Saturday to hit me soon, so that I can meet all my friends scattered around the social media. When I got a confirmation called from Nandita, I was more thrilled for the meet.
It was little different this time, since it is purely hosted by ITC Grand Chola which is newly opened in the city, we had a small tour inside the grandeur itself, immediately after the famous ’60 seconds of fame’. As soon as I entered the hall, the same procedure of registering happened with a nice welcome drink. I chose orange. Later we were asked to enter our Gmail ID and the update came in the big screen ‘@itzkallyhere’ walked in a few seconds ago. There was a separate desk for Wi-Fi registration.
It was then when I turned to a side where I was being welcomed by my own insane gang of friends. It was a ‘feel good’ factor to be welcomed by all or rather finding your kind of species among a scattered crowd of elite bloggers. Ganga, a fellow blogger friend was busy yanking out something from her cylindrical purse like thing and handing over me and a few others a visiting card with her blog header strip on the top and I thought it’s a sweet box! Duh. After getting comfortable around with a new set of people with Hi’s and Hello’s, we settled in our tables for the event to start.
Seated in the Rajendra hall, named after Rajendra Chola is the massive largest pillar free hall of ITC Grand Chola, we were being welcomed by the hotel Head and Marketing Managers. GM of ITC Grand Chola Hotel Mr. Philippe welcomed us with a brief history of ITC. Philippe in his parting shot, signed off with ‘Nandri’. It felt lke ‘Watte Man’ dialogue from the Rajnikanth starring Padayappa movie. When we cheered him with a chorus ‘Whoooooo’ he smiled and said, ‘Romba Nandri’. We were informed that this is the first time, a hotel is banking on bloggers group to showcase their grandeur and excellence and also a bit of social media marketing with tweet contest and gift vouchers. Good! That was neat and classy.
There was a new ‘Hurr Hurr’ event. It was all about making a fist and then holding it up near ur face and making a gesture as if you are pulling something down. It’s basically like holding the top handle bar hanging down in the city deluxe buses and then imagine as if u r pulling it down. Okay, you have to make this sound ‘Hurr’ every time your fist comes down. And the trick is to make it as loud as possible. Now there was a small contest in this. The table with the loudest ‘Hurr’ will get a first gift of the day. We started making ‘Hurr-s’ and know what? We were the blessed group of people to win the first gift of the day which is ‘Rs 500 Experience Certificates by ITC Hotels’
Wow! That was a great welcome for us. We also did a Gangnam style dance and played ‘Musical Chair’ amid this excitement chaos. I tell you, everyone should play this game and see the curiosity and excitement build up when you keep hunting for a chair to park your bums!
Now that we had already formed a ‘Vetti Gang’ in the previous meet, it was so exciting when Anoop from Indiblogger team mentioned us. Though it was a casual gang which was formed a year ago, it was a sweet surprise to hear us being mentioned from the previous meet. That was just a perfect start for us to rock the meet again this time and we didn’t get a single table for all of us together, so we were scattered around in two or three tables this time.
Since we were so comfortable with each other and locked into a table with known set of people, we were asked to form a team of 10 bloggers from different tables and form a story when we will be taken for the tour inside the palace – yeah it was a palace indeed. Even Raja Raja Cholan wouldn’t have built such a palace if he had been alive today. We need to name our team with 1 captain and 4 tweeters who will be tweeting the story as they move around the hotel. We named our Team #PoonamPandya. Yes Pandyas it is. Why a Pandya in a Chola dynasty? Yesss!! We are rebels!!! We are warriors!! Lol okay! So we started a Boy-Girl love story and it went to greater realms of the palace. The tweets were being posted with the hashtag #TweetForTreats as it was a contest called Tweets for Treats by ITC Hotels
The ‘60 seconds of fame’ started with seconds ticking away on the screen and as each bloggers tried their own innovative way of introducing themselves. Many were first timers in the meet – college students in their second and final years were so eager and excited to be a part of such awesomeness. I did a decent extempore when my turn came. I was little conscious of the photographers as I could sense three or four flashes around me – Aaah!! Felt like a celebrity! I want to save those pictures though – should have a check on the indiblogger page.
Post the intro sessions, we were assigned a guide for each of the table to take us around various locations inside the hotel and to give a brief history about each and every brick with which the hotel was built – that much of history rich stories and technology the ITC Grand Chola is equipped with. We were asked not to lose track of the guide as there were a lot of chances of getting lost inside the hotel. We did get lost in the hotel but not physically but we were lost in thoughts seeing the magnanimity of the interiors. We dispersed for a high tea which invited us with the most tempting snacks and juices also sweets, cup cakes, chocolates and cookies. I forgot my gym membership for some time and put my fat/calorie conscious mind to sleep mode and started feeding my taste buds a sample of all the cuisine delicacies.
Our guide Vivek Singh who was a source of guiding light for us throughout the journey, was a ‘Walking Wiki of ITC Grand Chola’. He detailed out every location from the Sangam, Spa, Guest Rooms, Gym and what not. He ad-libbed the history of every significant location in the hotel with a niche. The ITC Grand Chola is a LEED certified Green hotel which generates its own power from a wind park and the extra goes to the power grid.
The hotel stood to its name – It was GRAND – a magnificent edifice!
The lobby was majestic with its stunning marble flooring and walls with aesthetic lightings with chandeliers. The swimming pools, gym and the Spa which were located at a ‘walkable’ distance inside the hotel, invited us for a quick walk. We literally needed a Google Maps of the interiors, exclusively for this Hotel.
The iPad controlled Executive Club rooms were a stylish concoction of comfort living & an executive work setting, sprawled over a spacious 405 sqft. The ipad controls the lights, TV, and even food orders right from your bed, also you can access the CCTV Camera outside your room just to see who is waiting for you outside. Just not that, you can even open the door with a single tap on ur iPad app. The façade of the hotel itself was so breathtaking that, anyone would give a second thought if we say, ‘Dude it’s a hotel’. He would retort back with, ‘Hey it’s something much more grandiose than the Mysore Palace’ – that kind of impression that this would leave into you.
Apart from that, the hotel is equipped with RFID sensors to track guest movement with all due privacy to you. This tracking is just to provide personalized services like the type of food you eat or order, the places you like to check in and more importantly to provide services without any delay inside the hotel. A large touch screen kiosks at strategic locations to help you out with the details of A to Z of ITC Grand Chola with respect to your visit and stay. The paintings and architecture was 200% inspired out of Chola period. The craftsmanship was intricate and precision to its quality and opulent.
The hotel has quite a number of food and beverage destinations – The Royal Vega, Northwest Frontier, Madras Pavilion, Cheroot Lounge, Pan Asian, Cafe Mercara, Modo Mio, Nutmeg, The Pub and Tranquebar. Since we had very less time to walk around with the guide and also we need to build a story for the contest and tweet along, we didn’t go to all the places inside. But the few destinations which we visited appeared to be quite a large number. It seems we needed a whole week to take a stroll inside the hotel and know the places inside it.
So with the developments of the story felt to be so interesting (!), we walked along with Vivek and finally reached the hall again to settle down for the contest results. We stared at the large display for the results. When the first category of ‘Most innovative tweets’ were displayed and announced, we were so damn happy to see one of our team member’s twitter handle @vadapoche happily smiling at us in the screen. When the next category of ‘Best 10/Team Prize’ was announced, we ourselves couldn’t believe our team name #PoonamPandya on the screen. We went completely insane and at cloud 900. We were called on to the stage and I was asked to narrate the story which I as a captain generously involved the whole team again to show the team effort and spirit even during such stage performance, but the captain himself was unsure of the cohesive plot is altogether a different story! 😉
In this meet, Indiblogger/ITC promised us that everyone will get a special take away from this meet. So we were asked to pick a chit from a bowl and each of us got a voucher for dinner/lunch/coffee at the food/beverage desitnation at any ITC Hotels. I got a ‘Lunch for 2’ voucher at Peshawari, a north-west frontier delights eat-out in the hotel. Later the event we had a mass photo session and a small photo session for our ‘Vetti Gang’ aka ‘Chennai Bloggers Club’ nomenclatured to sound more professional (!) and the also a snap of The Chennai Super Bloggers – winning team of Indian Bloggers League (IBL)
This time as well, we expected indiblogger T-shirts, but then it seems to be a trick to find how much one eats with the help of T-shirt size! Lol. Anyway we were not disappointed. The wonderful experience is itself enough for us to cherish the meet.
A part of Chennai Super Bloggers
Insane lot of ‘The Chennai Bloggers Club’
Last but not least, it was a wonderful experience. A hearty ‘Thank you’ to indiblogger.in and ITC Hotels for hosting such an event and making us a part of such awesomeness!
Thank you & Ciao!! 🙂