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A home away from home

Sandhya Soman

`Niketana' caters for well heeled corporate clients



TASTEFUL: Old world charm at `Niketana'

CHENNAI: Lilies and lotuses welcome you ... along with an anxious looking Uma Maheshwari, at the entrance of her ancestral home converted to a wi-fi enabled corporate guesthouse.

No.17 on Sathyanarayana Avenue off Boat Club Road was Uma's home a year back. It became `Niketana - Welcome Home!' after she decided to do something more than run a household.

According to Uma, `Niketana' is what she would want as a guest from a hotel.

It belongs to the new crop of housing options from the hospitality industry that specifically caters to the well heeled and the widely travelled, particularly to globetrotting corporate clients.

"They need to be in an atmosphere where they can feel at home," pointing to the reflective pool with lilies and lotuses floating on the surface.

The lobby has antique furniture, black and white prints of good old Madras, brass lamps and an ornate veena. "Most of these lamps are from my own house," says Uma.

There is also a state-of-the-art gym, a business centre and power backup.

The tastefully decorated air-conditioned suites with electronic safe lockers, silk curtains and well-appointed restrooms add to the five-star experience.

However, Uma goes beyond the Indian kitsch evident in the bamboo lampshade to the zari-edged bedspreads. The food, she says, is what matters.

The 24-hour-kitchen dishes out "simple and homely" food, customised to the needs of the guests. "Not many will want to eat hotel food after a point, especially when they are constantly on the move."

She also believes in keeping her enterprise small to maintain that `personal' touch.

No wonder the visitors' book has many comments echoing what one guest had scribbled: "Thanks for making me feel at home in a business trip."

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