A 66-year-old woman had set aside her life’s savings to buy a Nano. She now wants to donate it to the restoration of the Taj’s heritage wing. Hard to believe, but that is how iconic the Taj is in a Mumbaikar’s life. Needless to say then, that the reopening on the December 21 will be as etched in memory as the terror attack roughly a month ago at the same premises.
At a private media briefing (which turned out to be not to private after all), R.K. Krishnakumar, vice chairman, Indian Hotels Company Limited, Ajoy Misra, vice-president, sales and marketing, and Raymond Bickson, managing director and chief executive officer, Indian Hotels Company Limited, among others addressed select media at the Taj President late Saturday evening.
Overbooked restaurants, an overwhelming turnout at the opening will just be the tangibles that one can measure. What perhaps will be immeasurable will be the emotional response from the Taj family has been consistent and overwhelming to say the least. In fact, such is the goodwill of the Taj that even before a formal claim was launched, the chairman of the insurance company General Insurance Corporation handed over the first installment cheque to the management. The total claim would range around Rs 1,000 crore, with Rs 270 crore towards loss of profit and another Rs 750 crore for asset losses.
The actual number of casualties was 31, Kumar is keen to clarify, of which 12 were Taj staff members and the rest were security, commandos and guests. Just set up is the Taj Public Service Welfare Trust that is willing to extend help to anyone affected by the terror attack, whether or not it happened at the Taj. The trust, incorporated with donations from corporates, well-wishers, donors and almost anyone who was willing to help has raised nearly Rs 3.5 crore.
Krishnakumar expressed gratitude to the media in supporting its war against terror, and added that they were doing their best to combat the invisible war. On an optimistic note, he said: “The Taj has finally been cleansed of all evil, physical and otherwise—in the last few days, several religious rites of various faiths have been performed at the hotel.”
While the décor for the Towers will remain largely the same, the heritage wing will have to undergo alterations, based on creative solutions from five interior designers all over the world.
Ready to go first is the 27-storey Taj Towers, with 268 rooms, barring one floor which was used as a base for administrative purposes during the combat attacks. The hotel already reports 67 per cent occupancy, with enquiries still pouring in, as many patrons want to be the first to check in when the hotel opens, informs Ajoy Misra, vice-president, sales and marketing. Two restaurants, the rooftop Souk and the 24 hour coffee shop Shamiana are now ready to receive guests too.