An escape to paradise | Urban Melange | November Issue

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From its scenic beauty to rich culture, Sri Lanka is everything spectacular and vibrant. Its splendour and abundance of natural beauty add to the reasons to make it a must-visit place. Visit some well-known places of this beautiful country with Mandeep Puri through his 90-hour trip.

It was 10:30 at night when I landed at the Bandaranaike International Airport for a four-day vacation in Sri Lanka. It’s a relatively small, less crowded but a well-maintained airport approximately 32kms away from Colombo city.

123After collecting my luggage, the next thing was to exchange currency. Since Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi doesn’t have Sri Lankan currency (LKR) available, it is advisable you carry US dollar, which is generally the handiest foreign currency. It can be easily converted to LKR at the Bandaranaike International Airport without paying any commission.

The moment I walked out of the airport, there was a car waiting outside to take me to OZO Colombo, the hotel where I stayed. The newly-built highway gives you a wonderful view of the sea on one side and countryside on the other. This drive is a beautiful opportunity to get the feel of Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, the driver kept educating me about various places as we drove towards the hotel. It took me about 45 minutes to reach the hotel from the airport.

On reaching the hotel, I was welcomed by a refreshing drink. It was a pleasure to know about the advance technology that OZO Colombo has adopted with its check-ins and check-outs. The paperless check-in was not just quick but also hassle-free. Located on the marine drive, OZO Colombo has 158 rooms. My room was on the seventh floor and gave a perfect view of the beach.

Day 1 started off with a healthy breakfast at EAT (all-day dining restaurant), located on the first floor. It was time to begin the city tour. The first spot I covered was Colombo Dutch Museum that gave me an insight into the history of the Dutch colonial rule in Sri Lanka. The museum was built in the latter part of the 17th century and was initially the residence of Count August Carl Van Ranzow along with five other houses of the elite. Today, the museum is opened to general public and showcases the Dutch legacy with its furniture, ceramics, coins, arms etc. If history is your subject of interest, you would not mind paying LRK 500 as the entry fee for the museum. The weather was pleasant, but spending three hours at the museum was quite exhausting. I was hungry, and decided to go to Upali’s for lunch. An all-day dining restaurant, it is known for traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. I was advised to try Yapane Kakuluwo Kariya (Jaffna Crab Curry). It is marinated crab cooked in Jaffna origin spices sourced from the region. Although spicy, but it was worth eating.

upalisMy first day tiring and I decided to have a relaxed evening. Choosing ON14 was a good decision as I got to experience the sunset molecular cocktail tasting. In my opinion, ON14 is one of the most happening rooftop bars and lounges in Colombo. The mixologists taught me some tremendous cocktails under their supervision.

It was now time for dinner at EAT.  I wrapped up the day at a good time to get enough rest but fascinated by the scenery and pleasant weather, I decided to spend some time at the beach. This late night walk made me realise how safe and convenient it was to travel around in the city.

Day 2: Breakfast with a Sri Lankan twist at EAT gave a perfect start to the second day. The trip continued with a visit to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, where I was shown the local festivities and activities on ground. Open from 10 am to 10pm, the market displays a variety of flowers, vegetables, local food and delicacies. It’s one of the places listed on every visitor’s list. Known as the biggest local market, it gives you an insight into the lifestyle of local people. From there I headed towards La Trattoria for lunch. It’s an Italian rflower market at jayaestaurant in Battaramulla that serves awesome Italian food. I liked the fact that there were a couple of different spaces where you can dine. There’s an option to sit out in front (if the weather permits), or inside in the air conditioner, or at the back courtyard. The restaurant also has an ice cream palour offering different mouthwatering flavours of ice cream, the best in town.

It was then time for an authentic village experience at Ape Gama, a craft village and Folklore centre. It’s a replica of Sri Lankan villages in the yesteryears and showcases mud huts with thatched roofs, tree houses, paddy fields, a paddy storing house and much more. I spent around two hours admiring the place. It was time to go back. In the evening I visited Gangarama Temple, and from there I drove for dinner at Urban Kitchen. It’s a place famous among food lovers and offers 233 dishes inspired by Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, European and Middle Eastern cuisines. After this long and interesting day, I got back to the hotel. Its rooftop swimming pool gives a magnificent view of the Indian Ocean tempting one and all for a swim, and I did just that before going off to sleep.

Day 3: I left the hotel at 7:30am with packed breakfast. I set the journey for this day on a TUK-TUK to visit the Old Parliament Building at Galle Face Green. There I walked along the beach towards 1950’s Lighthouse overlooking Colombo Port. Thereafter, I headed towards the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct to explore some shopping options and colonial architecture. Reaching there, I decided to enjoy my breakfast at the sittidutch1ng area of Dutch Hospital.

Then it was time for some more shopping at the famous ODEL. ODEL gives you the best shopping experience in Sri Lanka hosting a variety of national and international brands to choose from. On the other hand, Dutch Hospital has one of the best dining restaurants of Colombo – Ministry of Crab, which is owned by cricketers Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Also, Spa Ceylon Ayurveda is a must visit; it offers specialised therapies like full-body distress, sleep therapy for LKR 7,500.

After so much shopping and checking out new places, I was hungry again. Lunch at Barefoot Café at 706 Galle Road seemed the best option. Open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm, and Sunday from 11am to 5pm, Barefoot Cafe in a frangipani garden, serves the best fresh lime juice and calamari pasta on the island and the chocolate mousse is positively wicked. The café also has a free wifi facility.

There was a lot more to before the day was over. A tour of old Colombo in Pettah, a visit to Grand Oriental Hotel, St Peter’s Church and Chatham Street (famous for its classic British-colonial architecture) were things I covered on this day. I finished my shopping at Pettah’s main market with some stuff for myself and souvenirs for my friends, and finally went back to OZO Colombo. Dinner at ON14 with rooftop view of the city and a drink to relax completed my day.OZO Colombo Ocean Night

Day 4: And it was time to pack my bags. OZO Colombo was a good host and my last breakfast of this trip at EAT was as tasty as the first one. Check-out formalities, final goodbyes from the hotel staff, a drop till the airport. This was the last bit of my journey to an island, which is no less than a paradise. It was time to go home after spending joyous four days here.

OZO Colombo

With OZO Colombo, Onyx hospitality has entered Sri Lanka with a 158-luxurious- room property. The 14 storied seaside building bordering the railway lines has some outstanding features like the Snooze Zone that gives each gOZO Colombo Exterior Shotuest a perfect comfortable night sleep. The hotel offers paperless check-in, a Vocal Local’s, and information lecterns that comes with recommendations for each guest about where to go and what to do during your holiday, which could be 24 hours, 48 hours or even 72 hours. The hotel also gives guests an option to take their staff along- be it visiting club, or for a sightseeing or even to a salon.

OZO Colombo offers 158 guest rooms and suites categorised into Sleep, Dream, Dream Ocean and OZO Suites. An all-day dining restaurant, EAT offers all three meals, whereas EAT2Go is a place for you to grab midnight snacks available round the clock. ON14 is a rooftop bar offering amazing view, some great cocktails and great menu options. The outdoor swimming pool Splash overlooks tOZO Colombo EAT Dayhe Indian Ocean, while Tone is a well-equipped fitness centre located beside the pool offering great city view. The boardroom talk and meeting room Aqua offers sea views and can accommodate up to 220 guests for any event.

Urban Melange November Issue

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URban Melange November Issue

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There has been a spark in the season. Not just in this part of the world where firecrackers and crude blasts have left behind smoke and dust, but across the continents from North America to Down Under where women’s voice has stoked literary fire.

Closer home, the recently concluded three-day Kasauli Literature Festival, was packed with women, both writers and readers even as the region is warming up to two more lit fests Chandigarh Literature Festival and Literati 2013 this month. Urban Mélange takes pride in dedicating this issue to women who have asserted their ‘right’ to write amidst the humdrum of a household. The cover story weaves words and voices that pierce preconceived notions about a woman.

We have, in this edition, many more women and men who have defied stereotypes. Zulfiqar Khan fits our ‘Extraordinary’ frame with his theatre of ‘change’. Canvas plays up the space that theatre can and should make use of. Likewise, filmmaker Anup Singh talks about his unconventional Qissa in the Interview section.

With this issue, UM takes another leap. Look out for a copy of the lifestyle magazine on stands in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore if you happen to travel out of Punjab. The extremely encouraging response by our readers has made us stride into metros.

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Bharat and Riddhima Kapoor Sahni

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A designer by profession Riddhima Kapoor Sahni, tied the knot with Bharat Sahni, a Delhi business man in 2006, and the couple were blessed with a baby girl last year. Riddhima belongs to one of the oldest families in the Indian film industry and is the daughter of Bollywood sweethearts Rishi and Neetu Kapoor.Image

Having turned down offers to join the film industry, Riddhima chose to pursue a career in fashion. Bestowed with beauty and elegance, Riddhima is considered to be a fashionista for her contemporary style and has walked the ramp for many renowned designers like Suneet Verma and Surily Goel.

Bharat Sahni, an alumnus of Modern School, Vasant Vihar, completed his Bachelor of Business Administration from Ohio State University, USA. In 2002, Bharat joined the family business of textiles started by his late grand- father, RL Sahni, which was amongst the first dyeing and printing mills to be set up in North India. 

Bharat loves spending time with his wife and feels that playing with Samara is his greatest stress buster after an exhausting day at work. “Our lives have completely changed after I gave a birth to Samara”, says Riddhima.

Going back to her college days, Riddhima remembers the first time when she met Bharat through a common friend. “Our story started in the year 1997 when I met Bharat in London. Then, in 2001, I again met Bharat in a wedding in Mumbai and that’s when we really got to know each other and thereafter, we started seeing each other. We dated for about five years, and after coming back from London, I introduced Bharat to my parents”, adds Riddhima.

Riddhima grew up thinking of an ideal husband and today after spending six years; she proudly says that there couldn’t be anyone better than him. “He is the one I always dreamt of. He is a mixture of everything, a real sweetheart and I am very lucky to have him”, adds Riddhima.

Riddhima is a down to earth person who feels that “Love is selfless, unconditional and forever and all I can say is that I have got the love of my life”.

Describing some special moments or the sweetest thing that Bharat has done for her, the smiling beauty says, “Everything that he does is straight from the heart. Though, he is not that romantic, the little things he does are very touching”.

Riddhima who feels that marriage has brought out the best in her says, “It feels great when you are married to a person who loves you more than you do, it is the most beautiful feeling. Like every couple we had own ups and downs in our relationship and have had our biggest highs and greatest lows. We have had fights but since Samara was born, we have got closer all the more”, smiles Riddhima adding that it depends who makes up first after a fight, however, the one who starts a fight, initiates first. 

Best gift ever from Bharat: My Daughter Samara.

What are his weaknesses and strengths: Samara.

What makes him laugh: Samara again.

What makes him angry: When he is busy and can’t spend time with Samara.

The best advice you got from him: Not to expect anything from anyone.

What according to you is his worst habit: His open mouth (She Laughs)

One unusual talent in him that surprised you: He is smart and talented and above all he is a wonderful father.

What was your first impression of him: he came across as a very down to earth guy.

What kind of wedding did you have?

My wedding was like a fairytale wedding, for which I thank my Mom and Dad who did every little thing with their own hands. My parents didn’t leave out a single friend, including the film fraternity. 

Sachit Jain with his Takeoff

Special Person (Interviews)

Mr Sachit Jain, an Executive Director of the Vardhman Group was an Electrical Engineering at IIT, New Delhi, Management at IIM, Ahmedabad and Financial Management at Stanford, USA. After ruling the textiles industry, Jain is now out with book called “READY TO TAKEOFF”.

“READY TO TAKEOFF” gives you an insight into the team work, people management, quality circle, 5S, cross functional groups, NVAs and most important the art of Leadership.

“Most of the management issues talked about in the book is based on my personal experiences and learnings. The book is written in simple language and is devoid of any jargon.  The book is written in a style with a lot of dialogues. I hope many people will be able to relate to it. The audience for the book is urban, educated professionals and their spouses and management students”, says Sachit Jain.

Ready for Takeoff is a management book written in the form of a novel. The hero Anurag is a career investment banker, an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad in his 40s. One of his main clients, Mr. Sehgal on the successful takeover of a special alloy steel plant asks him to run the plant for him. Anurag is apprehensive about this as he has no prior experience either in steel industry or in the area of manufacturing. His wife Alpana encourages him to go ahead and take the challenge of doing something different.

The book is about his experiences of how he handles this new situation, how he involves his old friend Manu for initial lessons in leadership and how he tries out new ideas of his own. He involves his key people in major decisions to be taken in the plant. His wife Alpana acts as his confidante and advisor. The book in addition explores some basic philosophies of life. There are a couple of chapters on interaction with his teenaged kids.

The book touches on a few techniques of management like Non Value added activities, interaction with workers, involving people, TPM etc. In the end the book explores a new definition of Leadership. The key issue that the book explores is to be an effective leader you have to start with yourself so it actually is all about self transformation.

About the Author:

Sachit Jain was awarded gold medal at IIM, Ahmedabad in 1989. Before joining Vardhman Group in 1990 as Executive Director, he started his management career with Hindustan Lever in 1989.

Towards building the Group

He has helped shape up Vardhman’s investment in Baddi,Himachal Pradesh,Indiaright from the beginning. Starting with an initial investment of Rs 32 crores he has led the team which put up 9 factories with a cumulative investment of approximately Rs. 1500 crores and a direct employment of over 7000 people. After stabilization of manufacturing operations of the Group in Himachal Pradesh, he shifted to Vardhman Group Corporate Office inLudhianato help Group’s overall operations in different businesses.

Some specific areas of work

He is a transformational leader and has ensured a consistent stream of future leaders within the organisation to take larger roles over time. Improvement through people empowerment in all business activities is one prominent trait, for which he is known within and outside the organization. He has inspired a large number of personnel towards delivering extra ordinary results. He has been a change agent at Vardhman. He led the IT Group of Vardhman for implementing ERP making Vardhman to be one of the first textile organisations to have done so.

His accomplishments in implementing IT project at Vardhman have been showcased by IBM for global audience. He has also helped steer the implementation of TPM across Vardhman Group. He currently heads the finance function of the Group.

Professional contribution in the industry

He has been active in various business forums. He was the Chairman of CII, Himachal Pradesh State Council, Chairman of HRD Sub-Committee, CII, Northern Region, President of Northern India Textile Mills’ Association and the founder of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh Industries Association.

He has also been a member of the advisory board to the Himachal Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission and advisory board to the Minimum Wages Board. Valuing his contributions, he was honoured by the Govt. of Himachal Pradesh and was awarded the Prerna Stotra Puruskar.

Area of Interest

He is a keen golfer, swimmer and martial arts practitioner. He is widely travelled. He keeps sharpening the cutting edge of knowledge. He keeps exploring new dimension of business and personal excellence and has an interest in living a holistic life. He is married to Suchita Jain, also an executive director with the Group and has two daughters. He has just published his first book “READY TO TAKEOFF”

Dining at ChaoBella

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I love eating out, particularly trying hands to different cuisines. I was lucky enough to be able to have authentic Chinese and traditional Italian during my last trip to the national Capital,New Delhi.

I was aware about CrownPlaza’s ChaoBella offering Chinese and Italian food and somehow I was passing to the hotel on my way to Noida. I was hungry and tied and thus decided to give it a try at ChaoBella. Wow….I must say that I am glad I did.

The restaurant overlooks onto the lobby, includes a private dining rooms, and an extensive selection of fine vintages. I was given a warm welcome as I went in, and was offered some water straight away, which I thought was a nice touch rather than having to make a snap decision on what wine to have before we’d thought about the food.

The interiors were warm and cozy and my waiter was a lovely friendly guy who suggested me what I should have.  While, I looked at the menu, I chose to have Chicken Manchow Dumpling, which has Poached chicken dumplings with julienne greensbread.

I then ordered Crisp Iceberg and Chargrill Chicken Breast Salad which came with Bacon chips, reggianno parmesan herb crouton dressing. It was lovely and I really liked the presentation of it!

I then went for the ‘ Butter Garlic Lobster / Prawns’, which was described as “Stir fry lobster meat with curry leaf, green chilies, garlic, butter and capsicum” and moved to some thin crust Pizzas and ordered Smoked Chicken with a topping of Bell pepper, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and leafy green.

After this, I moved on to a selection of pastas and thought trying Homemade Duck Ravioli served with burnt butter, sage and reduced duck jus.

Then, I moved on to the main course and ordered Roasted Aniseed Flavoured Pan Seared Jumbo Prawns with buttered courgettes, sun dried tomatoes, pernod sauce. I really liked the sauces that went along with the main course. They were yummy lovely and you can’t afford to miss.

Then came the pudding and I chose Nougatin Parfait with Raspberry sauce and Wild berries Tiramisu with Almond Meringue.

Our Verdict:

This 80-seater restaurant, offers authentic Chinese and traditional Italian food, where only the freshest ingredients are used to prepare a cuisine that is light and refined, yet hearty in portions.

The culinary skills of the master chefs are on display in an open kitchen that makes preparation part of the gastronomic experience. Chef Sam Wong considers cooking to be art. “Passionate about food, I love experimenting with flavors and I am on a constant quest to serve my guests with the finest of culinary offerings”, says the Chef.

I was impressed with the fact that the chef was actually Italian. This was absolutely divine!  I loved it, all in all a very pleasant experience, and delicious food.

A fantastic evening! I’ll definitely be going again.

CrownPlazaprovides a spectacular view of the historic Tughlaqabad Fort, and is easily ccessible from all major commercial hubs such asNehru Place, New Friends Colony, oida, Greater Kailash andFaridabad. It is just 25km away from the international airport.

RADISSON MBD HOTEL, NOIDA

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One of the most fashionable five star deluxe business hotel, RADISSON MBD HOTEL, NOIDA is located at a close proximity fromConnaught Place.

A 20 minute drive from the central business district of Delhi, RADISSON MBD is owned and is being promoted by the MBD Group, which is the largest publishing house inIndia. For this property, the MBD group has entered into a franchise agreement with Radisson Hotels & Resorts, a group company of Carlson Hotels Worldwide.

What makes Radisson unique:

From the artwork displayed in the public areas and rooms of the hotel to the very stylised uniforms worn by the staff, specially designed by the noted fashion designer Ritu Beri.

Sprawled across an area of 8000 sq metres, the hotel has 126 rooms of which 11 are luxury rooms, which are spacious, contemporary in style and design and present a perfect blend of luxury with modernity. The Prive rooms are a set of 11 rooms where the guests can expect the finest in living in the privacy of the wing which not only offers controlled access to the area but also offers personalized services catering to the individual needs of the guests.

Apart from the regular features the hotel has special rooms for the physically challenged. The hotel offers a combination of twin and king size bedded rooms with options of smoking and non-smoking rooms. Radisson MBD has an exclusive Club Floor with an Executive lounge and complimentary breakfast for the Club Rooms.

Radisson MBD Hotel offers four dining options, which cater to the varied and individual preferences of guests. These include:

Made in India – Made in India is a culinary journey where diners now have access to a unique experience, which brings together the New Age with the Old Age. The pride in the traditional Indian cuisine, the master chefs have introduced the “Futuristic cuisine” which marks the evolution of the Indian cuisine as it would be desired by the future palate.

The traditional Indian masterpieces include the rare and forgotten recipes like the centuries old Dorra Kebab which is the signature dish at Made In India and which has been recreated and introduced by the Chefs at Made In India.

What We Saw:

Made inIndiareflects self-indulgence and luxury a beautiful culmination of the opulence of the erstwhile Indian royalties and the contemporary Indian design. The restaurant creates a theatrical experience by exaggerating objects which are predominant inIndia’s centuries old history.

The Prakash Yantra is a modern version of Jantar Mantar along with “THE MAHARAJA TABLE” a virtual chess board which adds to the royalty to the restaurant Graphics and miniature paintings are used extensively as decoration on the ceiling blended with light hues to create an ethereal space. These blended with the light hues create an ethereal space with the inscription of the DEVANAGRI script. Transparent fabric and virtual chess boards have been created to define spaces of varying character within the restaurant.

While the huge eight copper pillars are inspired from the pillars in the  palaces of The Maharajas one of the pillars  ,the traditional charcoal tandoors are given contemporary look with  circular pattern of ropes around  them. Untreated copper a rich looking metal has been used extensively. The copper changes color overtime which symbolizes the cyclic nature of the place.

Ambient music is a highlight as Indian sounds filter into the space through the coves. It is an eclectic restaurant where diners now have access to a unique experience, which brings together the New Age with the Old Age.

R.E.D [Rare Eastern Dining]- a restaurant which offers new experiences in oriental food with a show wok kitchen and interactive stations that give guests the choice of cooking a great meal for their families and friends.

What You Get:

R.E.D serves interpretations of classic far eastern cuisine fromJapan,China,ThailandMalaysia &Singapore. The menu also offers a selection of customized Signature dishes designed by the reputed Singaporean Chef Raymond Sim.

R.E.D stands for Rare Eastern Dining. The colour red is also a strong symbol of oriental culture & history, as illustrated by the flags of RedChina &Japan. Red also stands for the sheer energy & vitality of the East. The logo represents the vibrant, hi-tech & fashionable New East – crisp, contemporary & chic.

R.E.D. reflects a brand new cultural phenomenon – the New East. This is a cosmopolitan, hi-tech world, where ancient, historical boundaries are being re-drawn by business jets and broadband. As this cultural & economic revolution continues to gather momentum, its spectacular culinary spin-offs are being served up at R.E.D.

What We Saw:

R.E.D. is intensely interactive. It features the uniquely designed concept of induction tables – where diners can personally cook for their guests with skilled support from our chefs. Less adventurous guests can simply select their ingredients and catch all the action at the show kitchens. R.E.D. looks ravishing. That’s because every single element is eastern, including the impeccable interiors designed by P49, the Thailand-based design group.

R.E.D. also hosts a sea food festival every year titled as Sim’s Seafood Studio. So far five successful edition of Sims seafood studio  have been launched .This year’s Sim’s Seafood Studio starred the delectable soft shell crabs, Steamed Oysters with Black bean sauce; the Black Pepper Crab, Wok Tossed Lobster. Star Chef Sim was back with exotic creations that added to his repertoire this year.

At R.E.D, one can have much more than alternative versions of dishes one will already find in other oriental restaurants.

S-18 is a 24-hour brassiere that serves world cuisine and where each order is customised to the guest’s specific taste and preferences.

@Links is an informal and trendy bar that has on its menu an excellent range of wines and liquors, which can be had with the finest of cigars and a wide variety of coffee from across the continents. Expansive selections of teas & coffees from five continents we offer the essence of the world’s purest and most ancient delicacies

The Chocolate BoxTM – an exclusive pastry shop and Boulangiere with designer Swiss Chocolates, cakes & more, for the ultimate chocolaty experience. It prescribes to the high standards of innovation, style and excellence that is unique to the Radisson MBD Hotel Noida’s efforts and promotions in all spheres of operation.

To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay, the hotel presents a pure indulgence zone for the senses, Espace– a spa that offers it all under one roof. Well-trained attendants and therapists work out special menus for the body and soul with personalized attention.

A spa specially conceived to take the body and mind to new heights of inspiration and rejuvenation; Espace brings in the concept of the best of beauty and balance under one roof. This is a spa, not just about de-stress or de-tox. Energy zones have been created in each of the Espace areas; the studio offers dance and aerobics classes’ holistic wellness beyond the conventional and allows exploring one’s horizons.

A pure indulgence zone for the senses, Espace is a spa that offers it all under one roof. A spa specially conceived to take your body and mind to new heights of inspiration and rejuvenation; Espace brings in the concept of the best of beauty and balance under one roof.

Our Verdict:

Radisson MBD Hotel is in every sense a fashionable hotel.