When asked to pick between the hills and the beach, I choose the latter unhesitatingly. So when the first thing I spot at The Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa, apart from an infinity pool and a herd of bulls, is the sea, I know I&rsquove arrived at the right place.
The bulls in question are metallic, inanimate and a stylish architectural ode to South India, I am told, as is the catamaran-shaped reception desk. Neither of them can be ignored, and nor can my increasingly rumbling stomach after the hour&rsquos drive from the airport.
I am immediately taken to The Reef, the multi-cuisine coffee shop, where there is no dearth of options to choose from. But I look past them all, instead, asking for south Indian food that I hope, will surpass my favoured podi&ndashidli duo. Two types of uttapam are offered&mdashone made of pumpkin with raw mango chutney, and the other a curry leaf rendition. Delighted, I dive head first into both, and try a delicious and mild masala dosa as well. Each of these comes from the hands of a chef who hails from a local village nearby.
F&B at the property is definitely a priority, with three restaurants to boast, and a fourth, a seafood luxury shack, in the pipeline. The Pelican Deck, the grills and barbeque restaurant, was once where water birds would flock in numbers, but today is an open-air watering hole for the guests. Here, I spot many enjoying their grilled meats. Being a vegetarian, however, I am a little disappointed. The concept of mock-meats evades me, and the rest is not to write home about.
On an evening left to my own devices, however, I notice how well Sheraton has made its segue at its first resort property in India. There are large lawns equipped with multiple hammocks (those who have grown up with siblings would know that sharing isn&rsquot always an option), a butterfly garden, a spa, a kids&rsquo playground, and a compelling proximity to the beach, which is visible from almost every vantage point. Speaking of which, did I mention&mdashthe property also neighbours with the local crocodile park While it isn&rsquot quite the coincidence I&rsquod hoped for, the Indian muggers are harmless, I am assured, and even taken to visit the sanctuary one day when I step out sightseeing.
In my two days spent here, I juggle between many activities&mdashan aromatherapy spa session, a cooking class (that results in a burnt pizza&mdashI&rsquod rather not elaborate), and a daycation to Mahabalipuram. Despite the scorching heat outside, each time I step back inside the property, I slip back in a cool, calm and collected vacation mode. It must have to do with the place. In classic Sheraton style, everything here is touched with a sense of quiet luxury&mdashno over-the-top chandeliers or plush corners demanding to be Instagrammed, but the comfortable beds, elegance and service that they are always known for&mdashbut this time, with a touch of sea.
Location 280 ECR, Vedanamelli, Chennai,Tamil Nadu 1hr drive from the Chennai International Airport
Accommodation 125 rooms
Tariff @INR9,000 (deluxe and deluxe twin), @INR10,000 (crocodile park view king and twin), @INR11,000 (sea view king and twin, @INR12,000 (sea view with garden king and twin), @INR17,000 (executive suite), @INR24,000 (bay view suite), @INR1,00,000 (presidential suite)
Contact 91-44-3342 2222, marriott.com