Christmas special: The Leela Palace Chennai is all set for the season of cheer and trust
An endless flow of mulled wine and cider, an assortment of hors d’oeuvres, merry carols and merrier guests
An endless flow of mulled wine and cider, an assortment of hors d’oeuvres, merry carols and merrier guests. It was a familiar sight for this time of the year at The Leela Palace. The hotel’s Christmas tree – huge, snow-covered (if only in paint) and adorned with the choicest of lights and ornaments; one that has been in the family for decades – was being lit by the smallest of hands (yet another tradition) and it can’t be without the beloved staples of Christmas cheer. Even amid the newly emerging fear of a new virus variant and usual end-of-year blues, this corner of the city still has some goodness to offer and there clearly seem to be plenty of takers.
That’s thanks to another Leela Palace staple, says KM Chengappa, its general manager. “If you see the crowd that has come now, they have come out very confidently. We are making sure we follow all the protocols; we cannot be careless. That way, the people know we are capable of keeping them safe,” he explains. All thanks to the Swaraksha programme that the hotel put in place after the government issued its set of guidelines for pandemic management. Besides, it was one of the first hotels to get all its staff and even many of their family members vaccinated at the earliest, adding to their assurance of safe service.
It was for this reason that the hotel continued to entertain guests during November’s storm events. “When it rained, they wanted to get into a secure place. They came here and spent a couple of days or the weekend and went back. For they get all services here, right? The people living in Tamil Nadu or Chennai are the ones patronising the hotel now; they are celebrating anniversaries and birthdays. That has not stopped,” points out Chengappa.
The return of the Christmas festivities is the hotel’s way of holding up its end of the bargain even as patrons have continuously shown their support and loyalty. This year, too, they are set to host a gingerbread house decoration session (one that’s very popular among kids), Breakfast with Santa, and the Christmas Day programme itself. A range of Christmas Hampers – plum cakes, cookies, chocolates, wine and more – await the happy customer. While patronage seems guaranteed, the hotel has other things in mind.
“We look forward to a guest connect; a guest engagement. But not from a purely business perspective. Everybody has been working from home, and so they need some kind of an outing – a safe and secure one at that. Unless we do these events, we don’t get to know if there are people willing to explore and for what reason. It lets us know how we measure up. This turnout shows that people have faith in us. Time will tell if we can go ahead with more,” he concludes.