India’s hunt for a hotel other than the Waldorf Astoria to accommodate Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the New York leg of his upcoming US trip has ended without result.
The last-minute search, involving the Prime Minister’s Office, the external affairs ministry and Indian Hotel Company Limited (IHCL), has now been called off and it has been decided that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would after all stay as planned at the Waldorf Astoria next week.
The Pierre, the US flagship of the Taj Hotels on New York’s Fifth Avenue, could not meet the requirements of Prime Minister Modi and his entourage, primarily on account of being unable to provide a banquet facility. A top government official also held discussion with Cyrus Mistry, the chairman of the Tata Group, but the most that the Pierre could offer was a set of 24 to 25 rooms and a suite at the hotel for the prime minister. While that appeared reasonable, sources said, the hotel could not provide a banquet facility, an essential requirement for the Indian delegation.
Delegations to the United Nations from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are staying at The Pierre which has 146 rooms and 49 suites. The hunt for an alternative hotel for the PM begun in earnest after US President Barack Obama checked out of the Waldorf Astoria on apparent fears of spying at the hotel that was sold to a Chinese insurance firm last year.
While the search for the new hotel was on, the management at Waldorf Astoria conveyed to Indian officials either they should pay upfront or vacate the bookings at the earliest, sources told HT.
After a series of discussions that went till evening on Wednesday, the government has decided it would be better for the prime minister to stay in the Waldorf Astoria. Since hotel bookings were done much in advance, a last-minute change proved too difficult to manage.