India’s first Pod hotel, Urbanpod has a modern, stylish and minimalistic design that is perfect for the new age traveller
During a business trip to Singapore, two friends, Shalabh Mittal and Hiren Gandhi chanced upon a unique accommodation concept, when they stayed at a Pod hotel. Pod or Capsule hotels were conceived in Japan as cheap and convenient accommodation for guests in need of basic overnight lodging and nothing more, just large enough to sleep in. Impressed by the Pod hotel in Singapore, Mittal and Gandhi felt that the product and service quality were exemplary while keeping the prices affordable and not compromising on the core-benefits of quality, hygiene and safety. The duo decided to bring the concept to India along with their Singapore-partner, Berlin Lee who had the experience in terms of running Pods in Singapore, the interiors and design and international best practices and standards. Soon Urbanpod, the first-of-its-kind ‘Pod Hotel’ launched in India, pioneering a new segment of ‘smart hotels’ – a GenNext, futuristic, accommodation at a convenient-cost.
Urbanpod at Andheri SEEPZ, Mumbai, the first-of-its-kind Pod hotel in India is designed for new-age travellers – be it business, leisure or the backpackers. Urbanpod’s modern, stylish and minimalistic architectural design and interiors are done up by Formwerkz, the renowned architect firm from Singapore. Urbanpod is strategically-located in the heart of Mumbai’s business-hub and close to the domestic and international airports. It offers 140 Pods in various categories – Suite Pods (10), Private Pods (6), Classic Pods (106) and exclusive Ladies-only Pods (18). The Pods are arranged side-by-side and one-upward. User-friendly and functional features have been incorporated into the Pods (see Box on page 48).
Gandhi, co-founder and director, Urbanpod says, “New-age travellers are looking at smart-stay options which are not heavy on their pocket while providing just the right-mix of hygiene , safety (a huge concern these days), plus free Wi-fi facility while not compromising on the comfort, look and feel. The changing nature of travel and the emerging and increasing sub-segments within the leisure-category viz single-travellers, group travellers of all kinds – research-groups, study-groups, spiritual-groups, cultural-exchange group, researchers, explorers etc, are looking at accommodations that are conveniently-priced and which offer a good night’s stay but they may not require 24-hour use of the hotel-facility. Pay for only what you use, pay-per-hour is an evolving concept with travellers looking to optimise their spends wisely.”
The Indian tourism and hospitality industry has emerged as one of the key drivers of growth among the services sector in India, especially in business travel. He adds, “Even in the business travel category now, there are younger-executives and mid-level managers travelling more often than before when only the senior management and top officials travelled. Hence, an accommodation like Urbanpod can help companies spend judiciously on travel-spends of their employees. Smart hotels are value-for-money establishments that helps the new-age travellers to optimise their travel-spends judiciously by offering a superior-quality product with all the amenities.”
Commenting on the single woman traveller, Gandhi says, “We acknowledge the concern of the independent female traveller, hence have designed the Ladies Pods with atmost care. The Ladies Pods is a private-area that is secure and safe – with wash facilities and vanity dressing that is exclusive to the area and restricted to only the lady guests.”
What’s in a Pod?
1) Comfortable bed and bed cover
2) Personal satellite TV (with headphone facility)
3) Small personal-locker to store wallet/ watch, etc
4) Adjustable lights/ reading light, charging points/ free Wi-fi
5) Adjustable air-conditioning facility
6) A dresser (wall mirror)
7) Sliding door (shutter) with locking-facility – for privacy.
8) Each Pod has a smoke detector and a fire-extinguisher.
(Individual guests are handed a head-phone, TV remote, towel & packaged water bottle on arrival).
Communal facilities (shared)
1) Individual cabinets with locker-facility (in the shared-room) to store luggage
2) Lobby-area: Comfortable sofa-sets (with side-table), Plug-point to charge laptops/ phones.
- Buffet : Complimentary breakfast for guests
- Availability of packaged-meals (a Thali Combo), snacks & beverages, thru the day.
- 2 compact work stations.
With the changing global dynamics, the promoters also envisaged the fact that Pod hotels are not just a global-trend and a credible business-model but also that there is a growing necessity for such spaces in India. The promoters envision taking the concept and brand pan-India and have other offshoot formats in mind too. “We are open to “business-partnerships including franchising, to expand their presence,” says Gandhi.