OYO WE- A property only for women guests
When it reads ‘women’s exclusive’, it means it too. The property is run by all women staff right from the reception till the room-service. Last Thursday, I had an opportunity to attend a small get together organized in the first ‘all women’ property by OYO rooms. The invite also called for an overnight stay to give us a feel around the services and take back our suggestions. Here is my account of it.
I started at 6 from Faridabad to reach there by 7 in the evening but Gurgaon’s traffic acted unpredictable. Thank God I wasn’t driving. Making way through the maze, the driver finally helped me reach South City 1 around 7.45 p.m. Behind the tree, the board shined in purple-OYOWE!
Quickly I climbed the stairs and tried to push my way through the glass doors. No, I was not able to move it at all. The door dint budge. By this time the lady at the reception had seen me and she promptly walked towards to the door. Yes, so until she pressed a button and allowed me in, I could not just barge in. I liked this first step to safety.
Next, I was asked to submit my Identity card and fill basic information in the register. Soon, the id card was returned and the key of the room was handed over to me. I noticed that there were only women at the desk. Soon, I was met by the General Manager for OYO WE, Malbika Bhat. She was extremely warm and friendly. She informed me that 2 bloggers had checked in and 2 were still on the way, thus I could check-in in my room and be back after an hour.
I was allotted room no. 303 on the third floor. I made my way through the stairs. No, I did not look around for the lifts but I must tell you are no lifts in this property. Actually, they are not needed because the stairs are not complicated at all. For the elderly, the rooms on the ground and first floor can be opted. I walked in my room and was happy to see a familiar setup that I had experienced in Goa at the OYO property.
The room looked prim and proper. I closed the door behind me and checked for the lock and latch system. This stands very important to me because I have stayed in a posh hotel where the door was not getting locked from inside and the hotel staff were not treating it on urgent basis. The size of the room was smaller than what I had in Goa but it was spacious enough to accommodate a double bed, single sofa chair with tea table on one side. On the bed lay a pink colored bag with NYKAA written on it in strong and bold. I appreciated the OYO-NYKAA partnership almost instantly. Make-up was on my mind. I was curious to unzip the purse. And when I did I was amazed to see that that it had some interesting make up essentials from famous brands. The most thoughtful idea was keeping a sanitary pad in it. In need or not, it is quite a useful accessory for a woman.
I walked to the other corner of the room. The study table along with a chair had a lamp, food menu, vanity cube rate card and a list of some essentials which could be bought in need. It was good to see a comb, toothbrush, safety-pins, hair oil and more. They were not for free but one could buy them in need. Now Vanity Cube is also another very good idea that one can avail salon services in the hotel from 9 a.m to 9 p.m. Sometimes we just so need it- the spa, the massage, the manicures, etc. No doubt, both are very useful and selling ideas! Soon I walked to the washroom to measure its hygienic standards. It was small but well maintained. I did not see any reason to complain. With an eye to every detail, I checked for other utilities in the room like cupboard, bed-sheet, linen etc. Another thing that you just can’t ignore is that right at the entrance there were not one but two mirrors on both sides. I am sure every woman is bound to love that. Its never a bad idea to peep in the mirror from all sides.
Soon, I heard a knock on my room and I was delighted to see my friend Akanksha walk-in. She was here for the review too. We had just begun talking around our travels when there was another knock. Without being bothered, it was easy to just ask the lady to walk-in. It is not always possible to have the same comfort level when a male helper walks in. She served us some tea and pakodas. What more could we ask for? The conversations became spicier and fun. We got so engrossed in our chit chat that we almost forgot we had to meet other bloggers too and catch up with the OYO team for dinner. It felt like I was back to my hostel days. The feeling was different, quite unlike to what it feels when I travel to another city and stay in a hotel. There was a comfortable air around maybe because I was only 40 kilometers away from my house or maybe it was all homely around me.
When we walked down, it was great to see two more familiar travel bloggers (Ambika and Parnashree). We were met by the marketing team of the OYO WE and it was interesting to talk around the all-woman concept. We also learnt that more such properties were soon to go live in Delhi and Noida too. We chatted for sometime and each of us gave our feedback too. It felt like an all-women chit-chat session where we talked about safety, hygiene, business travels, family, me-time, hotels and more. I am sure these words go synonymous with women. This property does not have a proper dining room or restaurant area because most of the guests prefer to have breakfast/dinner in their rooms. However, there were enough chairs and a sofa set to sit in the lounge area next to the reception. I was happy to see a bookshelf there too.
When asked about my suggestion, I did not shy from giving my feedback to the OYO team. I told them that I was not very happy about the green wall paint that was right opposite to the entrance and thus I would want a change. When I had entered the property, it looked too gloomy and dull to me. I was not very convinced with the first impression. Somewhere, the appeal that comes with premium was missing. But when I walked in my room, I had felt much better. A little more bright colors, some flowers and more lights around the reception would do good. ( my personal view)
Each one of us had a positive thought around OYOWE. There are times when our trusted men cannot be with us and they are bothered about our safety. College students, single mothers, business women, travelers- its challenging for everyone to find a budget as well as a safe haven in an unknown city. The five-stars which do promise enough safety are not affordable at all times. I think the solo woman travelers and backpackers will love the idea. Looking at the general safety challenges and lack of good budget hotels/rooms in our country, I think an all-women hotel is a great idea. As a women, I would prefer it in comparison to any other budget hotel if I am traveling alone in an unknown city. I am absolutely cheering in for this idea to spread to many more cities in India. But yes, OYOWE has to be extra careful around the safety of its women staff and guests. More, they have to be watchful around rowdy women guests too.
The hearty discussion continued over snacks and dinner and soon we retired in our rooms. The food was prepared in the in-house kitchen. Tawa rotis, dal, rice, chicken, paneer , raiyta, ice-cream made to my plate. A normal meal would cost something around 400 per person. The thali costs for less. The breakfast comes complimentary. For each day there is something special on the menu each morning but you can always ask for breads, eggs and more if you are not fine with it.
I spent the night chit chatting with Parnashree. It was great fun. Believe me travel blogger have lots to talk and most of them make great friends. Yet again, the hostel memories were refreshed. Next morning we got up around 8, freshened up, had our breakfast (Idli Sambar+bolied eggs+bread+butter+tea), met the OYO team and headed to our respective destinations. While I was there, I also went around talking to the women employees at OYO. They were happy with the all women concept and the increased chances of employment. One of them told me she felt more comfortable in the absence of the male staff. Here I must inform that this property has 14 rooms and there are rooms for women staff too. So the females who have late night shifts have all the provision to stay in too. Sound good, Right?
Overall, I would say if the cleanliness and safety standards live up to the expectations, OYO WE has a bright future. I would really emphasize on hygiene again. The towels should be cleaned of all the make up marks and the washroom should be thoroughly cleaned everyday. Personally I am very finicky around these two things.
How does the idea of exclusivity sound to you? Do you feel ‘women-only’ hotels are just not needed or you quite like the idea and are curious around it? What is the first thing that comes in your mind around OYO WE? Do drop in your comments and queries.