Sunday, February 26, 2017

Little App - An ideal place to grab those Buffet Deals

I have been trying to experiment with my blog in writing something different every week. Probably an "App" discovery that I found to be very useful and write a brief review of it. Starting with that idea, I have come across a very interesting app that I really felt compelled to blog about it.  This was an app called "Little" and was supposed to be Food/Spa/Hotel Deals app, which had some great offers esp on buffets in major star hotels. So this Little App Buffet deals can be a significant cost saver when you are looking for relatively cheaper yet good options for a nice dinner/lunch.

A brief into on Little App

As the founders call it, the Little App is a " hyper local deals discovery platform connecting customers and merchants across services like restaurants, spa, salons, activities, hotels, etc."
Across various cities, it helps you discover some fantastic deals and coupon, in many of your most frequented places. Incidentally, Google Playstore has ranked Little as #1 in the Lifestyle App  n India for Food & Drinks category. The app is now available in several major cities including Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai  and probably has 50,000+ deals across 20,000+ merchants

So all you have to do is install the app, select your city and scroll across categories such as Buffet Deals, Spa Deals, Hotels or even activity deals likes Bowling/Resorts/Theme Parks etc. Some of the discount ranges from 20% to 70%. More than the discounts, I realize the little app buffet deals helps you discover more options to dine or hang out than the same set of places you usually go.

Here's a glimpse of some of the sales that happens in the Little App which you don't want to miss


On that note, I have been lucky to get some flash deals in Little App where I could get some deals for as low as 1Res as well.. Here's a glimpse of my past order bought in flash deals as well :)

All in all , I love the concept of a "local city" deal which can bring in more targeted users under one roof and gives a win-win to both restaurants as well as consumers. The Little app buffet deals can be a major deal breaker if the awareness for such deals and apps spreads around much quicker.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Food Industry IOT with GoFrshly(A Food Startup Aggregator)

If you have been even remotely related with the tech industry, chances are that you could have never escaped the word IOT popping out in almost every meeting or even in every article you read. The Internet of Things (IOT) is slowly becoming a reality from just a "futuristic trend". It all started with the television becoming "Smart" with Wifi access and able to communicate to the world wide web. TV developed capabilities to even stream content and play it directly in your TV. One by one, every device you came across seemed to be "intelligent" and got into the "network".Finally a Food industry IOT has become a thing.

Until a year earlier or so, our desire for good quality, hot food may not be necessarily fulfilled in all places earlier. We were forced to pretty much eat what the dreaded canteens/mall shops had. Be it a railway station or a office building food court, variety or quality was never an option

To quote Mr.Ford, "you can have any colour of Ford car you want, as long as it's black".

When I received the invite to witness the launch of a new kiosk like product called "GoFrshly" from a company called OwlTech( A Food industry IOT firm), I was quite intrigued. I quickly signed up and attended the event quite diligently, along with my dear friend Deepika and fellow blogger Sulaiman. To be honest , my experience with kiosks was strictly limited to buying a Pepsi can or a water bottle from an airport vending machine. So ordering hot food from Anjappar or Delhi Highway in a vending machine and paying through Paytm was something surprising and certainly delightful to say the least. I already began to appreciate this idea of Food industry IOT.

How Does this work?

  1. The GoFrshly team ties up with several restaurants including Anjappar, Paradise Biryani, Delhi Highway and even Dominos(quite soon). 
  2. They deliver hot food and hand it over to the GoFrshly team specifying a maximum shelf life. The user now has two choices. 
    • Walk upto the machine in the food court/airport , sees the menu listed and just have to click his choice.
    • He can pay for the food either through cash(Directly to the GoFrshly guy standing nearby) or in the credit card swipe machine or just scan the bar code, pay it thru PayTM.  
  3. Immediately, the machine starts preparing your order, heats up the food to the desired amount and places it through a mini delivery count with your order no on it. 
  4. The whole thing takes place in roughly 90 seconds or less.

No need for waiting in queues, fighting for space in small food counters in malls, eliminates the need to buy those redundant mall food cards and of course not shell out a premium for those small quantities of a meal.

How does it work for the Restaurant?

  1. Fine dining restaurants, chains or practically any food brand  wants to expand or make their presence felt
  2. They can't however invest heavily in a permanent physical store place inside a railway station/mall/airport . 
  3. So they can simply collaborate with these guys at GoFrshly. 
  4. The deal involves paying for a share of the machine only. Second step is to sell the food to the same people who'll put up the menu in the app. 
  5. Within minutes, your food is being served hot and fresh (within the stipulated shelf life) in neatly packed containers and in far economical rates than the actual restaurant rates. 

From my personal understanding GoFreshly could keep their rates very competitive cos of these reasons
  • A smaller real estate (with no preparation area needed). Hence cheaper rates than actual rents.
  • Relatively faster time to setup machine wherever needed (less than 8 hours max)
  • Technically no employees required to service users, given the self servicing concept
  • Able to consistently offer superior service with constant check on quality

Delhi Highway Food Review - Directly from the GoFrshly Machine

So in my trip to their office, I was given the chance to review the food served through the machine. I opted for a Veg combo meal from Delhi Highway , costing 129. It consisted of 2 Tawa Phulkas, Jeera Rice, a Subzi and a Paneer Tikka starter with a small jaggery sweet. With the given portion, Rs.129 seemed to be an excellent deal, that too from a restaurant like Delhi Highway (In contrast, an average meal/person in Delhi Highway,Chennai usually is 300+).

Everything was cooked to perfection, in the right amount of heat, spice levels and the softness of breads. From a personal opinion, this seems to be a very ideal combo for professionals and travellers, as it offers the right amount of quantity at very economical price, made in a very hygiene environment. The container served was neatly sealed and the max time for consumption was clearly mentioned( definitely a rare sight to see this).

Overall, a positive experience, in terms of concept , food , quality and price. Certainly looking forward for them to expand much higher and with more varieties

Disclaimer: I was invited by the GoFrshly team to experience their new offering and give a honest review of the same. As always, opinions expressed in the blogpost is purely unbiased and offers my honest perspectives on the same.

Also do check out a similar aggregator in the Home Furnishings category called Home Canvas, which has curated home decor collections.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Live like a Chola King in Chennai in ITC Grand Chola

Now and then , we all feel the need to take a break , de-stress and pamper ourselves in the laps of luxury. Away from the 9-5 boring mundane life, you'd want to stay in a serene, calm place and get treated like a king. The only thing you want to do probably is sit back, soak in the grandeur of a hotel, enjoy some scrumptous food, take a dip in the pool and even go for a spa session.

If you are wondering where do I find some place , that looks like a palace/castle, within the city, treats me like a king and I get to enjoy sheer royalty, the answer is pretty simple  : Just drive down to ITC Grand Chola in Guindy, Chennai and you'd find yourself being transported to a kings era.

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Headed by the ITC Group, ITC Grand Chola is one of the biggest 5+ * Hotels in the city that boasts of 522 rooms and 78 luxurious service apartments. Built as a tribute to the Chola Dynasty that ruled South India, every dome, room, structure and the overall architecture is a glorious reflection of the buildings that was designed by the Cholans. Be it the intricately carved temples or the bronze sculptures, you can see the same level of detail in this hotel through its steps, granite carvings, wall paintings and vast spaces.

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Culinary Treats

You can't describe ITC Grand Chola and not talk about its food. Being a foodie myself, you can be spoilt with the multiple choices that ITC Grand Chola offers. The different restaurants in the hotel include :

  • Royal Vega : For the "Pure Vegetarians", this is a dream come true. One of those rare cases, where you get to see a pure vegetarian restaurant in a 5 star hotel, with a proper Indian cuisine and truly royal to its name.
  • Peshawri : Moving slightly away from India, if you always wanted to try out the delicious fares of the North Frontiers, you dont need to go far. Just a floor below Royal Vega, you'd find the beautifully decorated Peshawri. Be it the tandoori items, Indian breads or kebabs, you can truly find a superior experience in terms of quality, taste and service. My personal favourite is always their huge Paneer Tikka that can definitely give a whole new meaning to your taste buds.
  •  Pan Asian : Moving away from India or North Frontiers, Pan Asian offers a fine blend of other Asian cuisines such as Chinese, Japanese, Thai and even Vietnamese food, for those who want to try out something different. 
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  •  The other notable restaurants include Madras Pavilion,Nutmeg, Cafe Mercara Expres and their in house resto lounge, Tranquebar.
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Luxury Stay

The rooms are truly futuristic and digitally enabled rooms. Everything in the room is pretty much controlled by a Ipad. Be it a channel music, or the TV channel, Air conditioning in the room, mood lighting or even the water temperature you can set it right from the IPAD . That's something really cool and I haven't personally come across such an interesting feature elsewhere. Additionally the rooms have all the facilities, one'd associate with a luxury hotel room and you pretty much find everything at your disposal.
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Probably after a heavy meal at one of the restaurants and a good nap, you'd be wanting to stretch those muscles. You can either opt for the large fitness centre with personal trainer options, or take a dip in the beautiful swimming pool or even head to the Kaya Kalp Spa for a rejuvenating body massage (though I've been warned that due to popular demand, a prior reservation is highly mandatory).

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Even if you do not want to enjoy any of the above and just want some fresh air, go for a courtyard walk in the sprawling acres of land built around the hotel and enjoy some quality time in the mini parks/gardens in select places.

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I am blogging about my luxury stay experience for an activity at BlogAdda in association with MakeMyTrip.