Monday, December 22, 2008

Hotel Taj Reopen After Mumbai War

The Mumbai luxury hotels whose marble interiors became killing fields for terrorists three weeks ago partially reopened on Sunday with pledges to upgrade security to levels similar to those of airports.

The Tata group opened the high-rise wing of its Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel as well as the restaurants and pool areas of the complex, where over nearly three days, four terrorists gunned down 31 people.

The Oberoi group reopened the Trident, the business hotel that suffered less damage in the violence, but it left shut the badly affected luxury Oberoi hotel that stands next door. In all, 32 people died in both hotels.

The 105-year-old “heritage wing” of the Taj, the red-domed Mumbai landmark in which the most fighting took place, might not fully reopen until 2010.

Hotel Taj Mumbai

“When the old wing, the heritage wing, is restored and rebuilt to the extent that it can be, then we will send an even stronger message not only for the Taj but for the whole city that we can be hurt but we cannot be knocked down,” said Ratan Tata, the chairman of the Tata group, whose great grandfather built the hotel. 

The reopening of the hotels is seen as an important step towards resuming normal life in India’s financial capital, which has suffered numerous attacks in the past but none as devastating as the November attacks.

Unlike train bombings in the past, from which the city bounced back immediately, the hotel attacks shut down commercial life in Mumbai’s southern business and tourist areas, for several days. 

The terrorists also attacked the city’s main train station, a Jewish centre and a renowned tourist hang-out, Leopold Cafe, leaving a total of 172 dead and hundreds injured. 

Security was tight at both hotels on Sunday as they held ceremonies attended by clerics of all faiths. “This [multi-faith] ceremony tells you a lot about India: we are a united nation,” said Syed Ather Ali, president of the All India Ulema Association and Muslim representative at the Trident. 

“Luckily none of the people involved in the terror attack were Indian Muslims. That would have been a disaster for our community.”

The hotels were bustling on Sunday with the Taj opening 268 rooms, or nearly half its 565 rooms. The Trident reopened its 550 rooms and said it had at least 80 bookings. 

R.K. Krishna Kumar, the vice-chairman of the Indian Hotels Company that owns the Taj, said new security measures would include armed guards who would blend into the environment of the hotel, luggage screening and background checks on employees.

“I believe this is a turning point for how the hotel industry looks at this threat,” Mr Kumar said. “I think a world-class hotel needs to be an invisible fortress.”

At the Trident, a foreign businessman having a cigarette outside said: “Business and life has to go back to normal. When I come to India I always stay here – a terrorist won’t change my habits.”

Suhel Seth, the managing partner of Counselage, a branding and marketing consultancy, who was checked into the Taj at the time of the attacks, checked in again on Sunday night.

“India has once again shown that the spirit is indomitable but my only worry is that political class will treat this resilience as an excuse for inaction,” he said.


Related Posts :


Fortune Park Hotels Ltd said...

Bangalore, often termed to be the Silicon Valley, holds a major chunk of the responsibility of transforming India into an economy to reckon with that it is now and a prospective superpower in the near future. The excellent weather, the warmth of the people, and the beauty of nature have always put Bangalore on the high ranks in a travelers’ book. In the past decade or so Bangalore has become the IT capital of India and immediately the city saw a phenomenal spurt in its tourism sector. Bangalore was no longer a leisure traveler’s delight, but the city became a major financial hub. Soon delegates from all over the world had to visit the city. In keeping with the taste and travel inclination of the international delegates and business travelers a number of world class luxury and business hotels in Bangalore were opened. Big names in the hospitality industry like the ITC Welcom Group, the Taj Hotels etc have multiple hotels in Bangalore. Only recently Taj opened its 5th property in this beautiful south Indian city. A few months back ITC Welcom Group also opened its 2nd property in Bangalore. The hospitality industry is also opening budget hotels in Bangalore that have a fine mix of business and luxury in a flexible budget.

Anonymous said...

Such a nice post!

Find more information on Mumbai hotels