A new private-member club in the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) will soon try to bridge the gap between Mumbai’s old-school sports clubs, where it’s difficult to get membership, and five-star hotel clubhouses. The Indus Club, set to open its 20,000 sq. ft space in April, will be a private business club that will allow members to meet, work, network and entertain, while also leaving space for a workout and a massage.
Inspired by other exclusive clubs, such as New York’s Core Club and Singapore’s Tower Club, Indus has managed to overtake Soho House—the private club for people from creative fields that was meant to open in Mumbai some time ago.
Membership of Indus will be by invitation only, with preference given to company heads and chief executive officers (CEOs), and club staff say over 120 people have already been signed up. The list, they say, includes Gaurav Deepak, MD of Avendus Capital, N.P. Singh, CEO of Sony Pictures Networks India, and Shashi Shetty, founder and chairman of Allcargo Logistics. So far, the invitees have been names coming out of “the black book of the internal team”.
The layout and design—in fact, the entire feel of the place—is not too different from that of a hotel, with carefully curated artwork, shiny flooring and high-design furniture. But where it differs is in the use of technology, which is integral to Indus, says Harish Thawani, director of Pinnacle Lifestyle Pvt Ltd, the parent company. For instance, one switch panel can transform the ambience of a meeting room and controls everything, including multichannel music, he adds.
The club has two distinct divisions—as you enter, the gym and spa are to the right, and the meeting rooms and restaurants to the left. Members have to be appropriately dressed for each section.
The spacious gym, still being fitted out when I visited, includes a House Of Cards-style rowing machine.
At the end of a long corridor to the left are five meeting/conference rooms of different sizes and themes and smaller workstations, all of which allow members to work alone or in groups, or even hold board meetings. A 32-seater auditorium offers the option of a movie screening or workshops.
Armed with all the necessary office hardware, and a private secretary, if required, Thawani says a member can do a “complete term sheet” (on investment) from here.
Opposite the first meeting room are two discreet, curved-back sofas for mobile phone conversations—to help people avoid pacing up and down corridors.
Further ahead is an all-day café, a dining area, a bar, a cigar room and, if you need to work out, an indoor golf simulator, Full Swing, which is also used by professionals like Tiger Woods and Jason Day.
Tucked inside the One BKC building, in a relatively quieter corner of the stark business district, The Indus Club promises to offer a sanitized, uncluttered, functional working and networking space, along with the sense of privacy that may not be available in hotels or coffee shops—there is a “secret” back entrance for those who don’t want to be noticed coming in. The BKC, in south-central Mumbai, works as a venue because it will allow people “to meet halfway”—from the older business districts of south Mumbai and the suburbs—and is relatively closer to the airport.
At Rs10 lakh for 20 years, the membership fee is reasonable and Thawani says food and beverages will be offered at 60% of the price at comparable establishments. A four-seater meeting room or a private office will cost Rs900 an hour or Rs5,250 for 8 hours, while a 12-seater conference room will cost about Rs2,500 by the hour and Rs12,500 for the day. Auditorium use for 4 hours will cost Rs15,000.
Thawani, also founder of Nimbus Communications and Neo Sports, says people’s propensity to spend more time and money in out-of-home entertainment is increasing. His belief was validated by research firm Quantum Consumer Solutions, which sought opinion across four cities on such a club.
The only thing missing are bedrooms. Thawani didn’t want them, preferring to avoid “misuse of the kind unique to India”. “A hotel has a different security protocol. In a Western model, a club like this will have some rooms attached,” he says.
Built at a self-raised investment of Rs 40 crore, he plans to open in other metropolitan cities as well, with each club adapting in some manner to its location. “In Delhi, for example, we will need more F&B (food and beverage) options. Also, we may have to do away with all private workstations—the members there will want to occupy it all the time.”