What you will like:
- Easy accessibility via road.
- Great views from most rooms.
- Courteous staff.
What you won't like:
- Poorly maintained property for GRT standards.
- Average food.
- Crowded weekends, and holidays.
- Low value for money.
I have to make some opening statements before beginning to write a review; these factors definitely determine the experience one may have in Yercaud or in the GRT property.
1. Yercaud is definitely not as crowded as Ooty or Kodaikanal but could get really busy during regional holidays, weekends, and summer vacations due to excellent accessibility via road.
2. Although some folks here think the property is great, I want to point out that my views on this property is relative to other 3 star properties I have stayed in, so there is some bias, in a good way.
Yercaud has easy access via road from Salem, it is about ~30Kms from Salem via moderate ghat roads with very good quality asphalted roads throughout. And since Salem is well connected by roads to Bangalore or to Chennai, the drive is just a pleasure. We took 4.5 hours from Bangalore with sufficient breaks for meals and snacks. Once you are on the Yercaud road and have gotten a hang of maneuvering the hair-pin bends, the GRT property is very easy to locate and is right after the 20th hair-pin bend. There are two entrances to the property one leading to their 'Salem Heights' restaurant and another leading to the Hotel lobby and reception. I'd suggest you take the one leading to the main reception so its easy to check-in. If you have rooms on the fourth floor though (more on the rooms to follow), you can park at the Salem heights entrance and walk right into your room and save the detour.
First impressions on the property:
The property is situated along a cliff that covers a wide area providing excellent views of the valley overlooking the Salem town. The main reception, a library and a pool are all located at the Ground level and rooms on 2, 3, and 4th levels. The 4th level has an artificial lawn (Called Skywalk) with excellent views of the Salem town (best at night after dark when the city lights come to life), a restaurant named 'Salem Heights' and a bar named 'Salem Rocks'. We had one of the 'Panorama' rooms and ours was on the 4th floor with probably the best views from the hotel. It appeared as if the rooms on levels 2, and 3 also had balconies overlooking the valley but there was too much foliage for you to be able to see anything. We did not go to the pool during our short stay so I will leave the pool out of this review.
One thing that stood out during our first few minutes of entering the property was the fact that the property was in fact old, and seemed as if it could do with some maintenance and upkeep. I'll go into more details as I review our room.
Ours was a panorama room, fairly large sized room with a large bed and sufficient furniture - a work desk, a small wardrobe, a dining/coffee table with two chairs, and an 'ottoman' type place to put our bags. The first impressions as we entered the room was: "am I paying Rs5000 a night for this?!". The paint job on the walls were poor and peeling off, the room did not have a look and feel of 3star property at all - seemed like a glorified lodge. I've stayed in other 3 star properties and even in some other GRT properties, and there is no comparison. It was very clear that GRT bought the "Sky Rocca" property from their previous owners, and just did not invest in giving the place a facelift.
A rather weird 'special feature' in our room was that a big part of the room had a clear, transparent glass floor through which you could see the under-belly of the room basement with rocks, concrete pillars holding the structure itself and some foliage - I don't know what purpose it serves but it sure did give me and the wife the creeps every time we stood on that part of the room. You had to cross that part of the room to get to the balcony door - and once you opened the balcony doors you are really impressed with the view of the valley. Again, best at night when the lights are up and when the sun goes down. If you are like me, you'd love to sit there during the day with a book in hand, and later in the evening with a drink in hand with your favorite music. This, in my opinion was the best part of our stay at GRT Yercaud.
The bathroom had a decent sized shower enclosure but again the weird part was that the shower enclosure had a clear glass floor, that one could look through (I guess even from below the room) which freaked us out. Why would you need to look through the floor to the rocks below while you are in the shower - all the time thinking there could be someone standing underneath watching you! It wasn't like in the middle of nowhere, we knew people could get to that spot under your shower because there was a DTH dish installed right there. Now, the fittings in the bathroom were poor quality - the shower hardly worked, the toggle to switch between tap and shower didn't work so every time we turned the shower on, water will still leak through the tap below, yielding very little water outflow in the shower. Other fittings in the bathroom like the taps, tower handers etc were not of great quality either. There was a glaring white CFL light in the bathroom which, again gave it a feel of a lodge and definitely not a 3 star property.
Sheets and towels in the room were of poor quality too, and smelled as if they were stored in a moist place for years. We couldn't sleep comfortably because the quilt had a moist wet smell and had wobbles all over.
The restaurant and food:
We stayed on a Sunday and Monday so the restaurant was definitely crowded on Sunday, we chose to order food in the room on Day 1 because of the overcrowded restaurant. Now, breakfast is included in the tariff and it was decent with good south indian and western varieties - your normal egg counter, a dose counter etc, packaged juice and coffee/tea on the house. Lunch was a-la-carte we skipped and had lunch outside. Dinner was also a-la-carte. I would rate the quality of the food and taste as very average, and definitely overpriced. Some of the appetizers (seafood) were priced at Rs600 which was expensive even by 3 star standards and the taste wasn't great either so it was totally worthless. The menu did have variety though - we stuck to safe options of eating south indian food (we're both from Tamil Nadu so can stick to our staple Idly/Dosa diet and have learnt to order safe and non-risky food when in Tamil Nadu). I pity the ones that ordered the Sheek Kebab!
The service, and staff:
Service both in-room and in the restaurant was pretty quick, 15 minute turnaround for orders in-room and about 10 minutes for food at the restaurant - again, when there was not a lot of crowd on a Monday night. Some reviewers have complained about timeliness of room service and I would think that the staff are probably not trained to handle large crowds and a hotel with full occupancy. Otherwise, the staff were very courteous, polite and well trained. One other thing the management should focus on is the grooming of staff: its a 3 star property and you don't want your staff to wear dirty footwear, and have body odor!
GRT is probably the best property in Yercaud with an excellent view and a good brand (GRT) that attracts many, but the hotel management must take an urgent stand in investing in property upkeep, maintenance, staff grooming, to retain their position and then demand the price that they are demanding now for an overpriced, glorified, lodge.
1. Panorama rooms on the fourth floor and the penthouse have the best view. Ask for a room on the fo...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC