Leisure loses out to hotel
The builder has set the ball rolling for Club Aquaria to make way for a five-star hotel, with members alleging that they have not been taken into confidence, reports Gigil Varghese.india Updated: Dec 10, 2007 02:57 IST
Weekends are about to change for about 2,000 people in Borivli (west). The suburb, brimming with more than six lakh people, has only two prominent clubs, and one of them is set to close.
The builder has set the ball rolling for Club Aquaria to make way for a five-star hotel, with members alleging that they have not been taken into confidence. Many flats in and around the Shanti Ashram area, where the club stands, were sold showcasing the leisure possibilities it offered.
About 50 distraught members gathered at the club on Sunday to protest against the looming possibility of evenings without badminton, billiards, dance and dinner chat. Some have paid Rs 3 lakh for a life membership.
While this could be another in the city’s long list of open and leisure spaces being sacrificed for greater commercial gain, the builder claimed all was fair.
“So what if the club is going to be shut down. The hotel will be on the lines of JW Marriott. Only 20 per cent of the five-acre plot is built on and we will add facilities. What are they cribbing about?” said Sanjay Chhabria, director of Vijay Associates (popularly known as Wadhwa builders). “The plan is still on the drawing board so I cannot talk about the details.”
But members are not convinced. Ajay Bajaj (name changed), a life member, said: “In the three years that the hotel will come up, the builder promised to get us alternative club memberships by the first week of November. The date kept shifting and now it is December.
There is still no sign of that happening.” The builder said he had been negotiating with three clubs, but there was no confirmation.
The club has a swimming pool, badminton and squash courts, billiards-and-cards room, conference and banquet halls, bowling alley, restaurant and a health club. “The builder plans to shut the club by December 22. It is also the time when the courts will shut for Christmas. We can’t even get the courts to intervene,” said Bajaj.
Some of the members who could get a refund have left. Mercy Abraham, a resident of IC Colony 20 minutes away, had paid Rs 1.5 lakh five years ago for a membership. “I chose to take a refund and leave after they told me the club was going to shut down.”