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THE LALIT NEW DELHI

Responsible Tourism is not what The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group does, it is who they are. It is at the core of their culture, vision and values, visible in its ethos of equal opportunities employment for women and transindividuals, and sensitisation sessions for the other employees on how to engage with them. What's more, Executive Director Keshav Suri was conferred ‘Change-Maker-of-The-Year', given away by former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, for his notable work towards empowerment of the LGBTQ community. So when the opportunity of a staycation at The Lalit came up, I was looking forward to experiencing — as a hotel resident guest — this pioneering movement in hospitality.

 

Coming to my stay, I arrived at noon and fell in love with the interiors. Particularly Elphie, the mascot of inclusivity. The check in formalities were completed swiftly and I was escorted to my room where I unpacked, ran in for a bath in the glass-enclosed stall, and headed up to the 28TH floor for luncheon at Oriental restaurant, Oko where my table offered jaw-dropping views of the cityscape. The service was attentive, courteous and it's a rare dining experience where all dishes are fresh and flavourful. The reason I keep returning here… Moreover, it is always heartening to see the restaurant's all-women workforce behind the bar and in the service team. It brought to mind a past conversation with Keshav Suri, who said, ''The Lalit has always championed the right of equality by providing a safe and equal opportunity workplace, for all.'' His vision is reality today, clearly visible in the core team of the hotel as they go about their duties.

 

One such person is Food & Beverage associate Mohul Sharma, who recently underwent a sex-change surgery. ''I could not finish schooling because gender confusion resulted in schools turning me away. It took a long time to convince my father I am a transindividual, but gradually he promised to begin saving for a sex-change operation. Sadly, he passed away in a road accident and I had to shoulder the responsibility of my younger brother. After being turned away by corporates and call centers, The Lalit hired me though I had to prove my capabilities on the job, as I wasn't qualified. No one made me feel odd or uncomfortable. Keshav Suri met me when he heard about my story. He personally funded my operation and gave me a shift timing which allows me to take care of my brother too. To me, he is God. The person who came forward when there was no one…''

 

Satiated after the light luncheon and heartfelt conversation, I made my way up to the pool for a sundowner swim. The quiet, tranquil ambience conjured up the feel of a home away from home where you can  sunbathe with a book or have coffee at the deck… yet it's a stone's throw from pubs, restaurants and shopping at the buzzing Connaught Place! At 8 p.m., I showered, changed and met my friends for cocktails, and after much conversation and camaraderie, called it a day. Back in my room, the comfortable bed meant I would be loath to make it to breakfast. On the other hand, that view of the cityscape and the breakfast menu meant I would not want to stay in bed too long. Decisions!

 

THE VERDICT

 

In the old paradigm of luxury, a luxury hotel experience is almost identical whether you are in New Delhi, Cape Town or London. The amenities, the services, the food, the procedures, will be the same within a bubble of comfort, convenience and familiarity. However, a new paradigm of luxury is emerging and this segment seeks fulfilling experiences and responsible tourism. The Lalit, with its ecosystem of equality and inclusion, is at the forefront of luxury hospitality and its prime location off Connaught Place makes it perfect for the urban adventurer. Whether you're an overseas tourist, on a work trip to the Capital or planning a staycation, I do recommend checking in.

— JASMEEN DUGAL

 
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The Lalit, Barakhamba Avenue, Connaught Place, New Delhi

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