5 Meetings-Friendly Properties in India

These group-friendly hotels and resorts offer the best of an extraordinary destination.

ITC Royal Bengal - India
The ITC Royal Bengal has 374 guest rooms and 61,000 square feet of meeting space.

Thanks to its ancient Hindu temples, elaborate religious rituals and sacred cultural traditions, India has been a holy destination for centuries. These days, however, visitors won’t just find spiritual enlightenment; they’ll also find economic enlightenment, courtesy of India’s thriving business class.

According to the India Brand Equity Foundation, created by the  government to promote goods made here, the country is the world’s fastest growing major economy and is expected to be one of its top three economic powers over the next 10 to 15 years. India’s GDP, the foundation says, increased by an estimated 7.2 percent in 2017-18 and by another 7 percent in 2018-19. Meanwhile, India has the third-largest startup base in the world, with more than 4,750 new technology businesses.

The unique juxtaposition of a Western economy with an Eastern sense of spirituality makes India an intriguing place to host a meeting. And thanks to a robust supply of meetings-friendly hotels, that’s easier than it’s ever been before.

Consider one of India’s newest hotels, the just-opened ITC Royal Bengal in Kolkata, which debuted on June 20, according to Indian hotelier ITC Hotels. Located in the business district of Kolkata, the US$200 million property has 374 guest rooms and suites, 82 serviced apartments, five restaurants, a 24,000-square-foot spa, a gym and 61,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 16,400-square-foot ballroom and an attached exterior courtyard that adds 33,000 square feet of venue space.

According to ITC, the new property provides a “sense of destination” thanks to its unique design and architecture that reflect the history and culture of India’s Bengal region, which once was the beating heart of British colonialism in India.

“Bengal is ‘royal’ in a unique way -- it has celebrated the royalty of the intellect through the centuries, where literature, poetry, painting, sculpture, theatre, cinema and science have not only blossomed, but are inherent to the fabric of Bengal,” said ITC Executive Director Nakul Anand. “In keeping with ITC Hotels' philosophy of ‘Responsible Luxury’ and creating experiences native to its hotels’ destinations, ITC Royal Bengal is rooted to the ethos of the land and pays a tribute to these finest experiences that are celebrated globally.”

Four More India Hotels for Meetings

India is a diverse nation with myriad destinations to choose from -- and myriad hotels, too. Here are four others to consider along with ITC Royal Bengal:

• The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra: Everyone who goes to India wants to see the Taj Mahal. Planners can help attendees check that item off their bucket list by hosting a meeting at the Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra, which is located less than a half mile -- just 2,000 feet -- from the venerated landmark. Inspired by Mughal palace designs, with fountains, terraced lawns, reflection pools and pavilions, the hotel has 102 guest rooms, two restaurants, a bar and lounge, a spa, a fitness center, a temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pool and 4,000 square feet of meeting space.

• Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi: Naturally, one of the most popular destinations in India is its capital city. There, one of the most attractive hotels for meetings is Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi. Just a few minutes away from Pragati Maidan, New Delhi’s convention center, the hotel -- which was renovated in 2017 -- has 320 guest rooms, a 24-hour tea lounge, three restaurants, a bar, a spa and health club, sprawling outdoor lawns and 8,500 square feet of meeting space, including a 6,383-square-foot ballroom for groups of up to 450 people banquet-style.

• Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai: New Delhi may be India’s capital, but Mumbai is its largest and most vibrant city. India’s financial center and the capital of its Bollywood film industry, it’s teeming with promising hotel options, including the Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, which opened in 2008 as India’s first Four Seasons hotel. Located in Mumbai’s business hub, Worli, the property includes 178 guest rooms; four restaurants and bars, including a 34th-floor rooftop bar; an outdoor pool and pool deck; a fitness center; a spa; a yoga studio with daily sunrise yoga classes, and over 18,000 square feet of meeting space.

• Wildflower Hall, Shimla in the Himalayas: Clearly, India has no shortage of urban destinations and venues. For an experience that’s more “remote” and “resort,” try Oberoi Hotels & Resorts’ Wildflower Hall, a mountain getaway in the Himalayas. At some 8,000 feet above sea level, the colonial-style hotel resides on 23 wooded acres in the former summer home of Lord Kitchener, a one-time commander of the Indian Army. Along with 85 guest rooms and suites, there’s a restaurant, a bar, a spa, an indoor swimming pool, an outdoor infinity whirlpool, a fitness center and 2,000 square feet of meeting space -- not to mention tons of outdoor activities like mountain biking, nature walks and picnics.