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It's a couple of months now since the terrorist attacks and, two weeks later, an accidental fire, caused havoc for the poor Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai. We figured it was time to check in on this Taj and see if it's really up and running again.
And it looks like, just as they promised, the Taj Mahal Palace reopened the rooms of the Tower Wing plus the restaurants, banquet hall and chambers on December 21. That's a pretty impressive at just 24 days after the attacks.
A brass and bronze sculpture named the "Tree of Life" which was already on display in the hotel has now been turned into a memorial to the 31 people who died at the Taj during the terrorist attacks, with their names inscribed at its base.
Since the reopening there hasn't been too much gossip amongst guests; a traveler who stayed there a week after the reopening said it was "good to see things starting to buzz again albeit a bit quietly". But hey, we can understand being a bit quiet about things there.
Yesterday, both of the five-star Mumbai hotels attacked by terrorists in November the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and Tower and the Oberoi reopened to guests. The swift repair and re-opening of the hotels were meant to serve as a symbol of hope and restoration for the city of Mumbai, which has been devastated by the attacks that claimed more than 170 lives.
According to an LA Times report, the Taj re-opened only its tower wing yesterday, as the Palace wing (which houses the restaurant, where some of the worst fighting took place) could take more than a year to completely repair. From the Times:
The Taj marked the occasion with a grand party in its tower featuring Bollywood stars and other local celebrities, several of whom took to the podium to offer their own heartfelt homage to those who died in the attacks.
Meanwhile, the Oberoi held an afternoon prayer service with religious leaders from eight denominations to mark the re-opening (only one of the two hotel buildings in the complex opens to the pubic, as the other still has a few months of repairs ahead).
When we headed over to the hotel's own website to see if they'd updated their news page with details about the blaze (they hadn't), we learned a bit more about the efforts that have been underway since officials announced that they'd be working to get the iconic hotel restored as quickly as possible:
In addition to the recovery of guest possessions and luggage from those parts of the hotel where safety conditions allow, specialist teams have already begun clearance of damaged fittings, rubble and furniture.
Everyone involved in the work is motivated by a single-minded determination that the hotel will shine again in tribute to the people who fell during the terrorist attacks on the city of Mumbai. But the rebirth of the hotel does not simply involve bricks and mortar. Ministers and clerics of seven religions will also be contributing services and ceremonies of blessing and benediction.
Hopefully, this fire won't cause any major setbacks in their efforts to rebuild and recover.
[Photo: EPA/STR via Guardian]
Additional security will be put in place at the hotel, Oberoi Group, which manages the property, said in a statement e-mailed from New Delhi.
While the damage wasn't as bad as the sister Oberoi Hotel, the Trident Hotels website also says a "round-the-clock" effort is going on to get the place to re-open. The hotel evacuated over 300 hundred guests during the attacks.
Trident, the tower block of EIH Ltd's the Trident-Oberoi Hotel, is being cleaned and its broken windows and doors replaced, said Ketaki Narain, director of corporate communications for the Oberoi Group.
Employees have returned to work, and new security measures are being put in place, she said, without giving details.
The lobby of the Trident is already "sparkling clean," and the employees are ready to go. Unfortunately, the older Oberoi wing of the hotel suffered much more damage, so it may take quite a bit longer to reopen it should still be a few months now.
The Taj Mahal Palace nearby (pictured), which was nearly destroyed in the attacks, has been constantly updating a webpage devoted to news about condition of the hotel here, and the front page of the hotel's website displays a single bold red statement: "We are working to restore the symbol of Mumbai’s enduring spirit and dignity."
[Photo: Julian Herbert / Getty Images via Denver Post]
Just before we left for Thanksgiving vacation, reports were coming out of Mumbai about terrorist attacks on city including attacks on two of the most popular luxury hotels---The Oberoi Hotel and The Taj Palace Hotel.
At the Taj, the gunmen broke in room after room and shot occupants at point-blank range. Some were shot in the back. At the Oberoi Hotel, the second luxury hotel to be attacked, one gunman chased diners up a stairwell and at one point turned around and shot dead an elderly man standing behind him.
When the three-day siege on Mumbai was over, 183 people had been killed. The final gunbattle between the terrorists and Indian commandos actually went down at the Taj inside the hotel's restaurant. As this photo from the NY Times demonstrates, you can see how hard the Taj was hit. Much of the hotel's lower floors were also on fire and it has been reported that the top floor is gutted.
Update: The Guardian UK reports that hostages are being held at the Oberoi Hotel. Some guests were able to escape. Additionally, the death toll has risen to 80.
Random terrorist attacks in Mumbai today have left the city residents and tourists stunned and in fear for their lives as at least 40 people were killed and hundreds more injured. The attacks--both gunfire and explosions--have taken place all over the city in seven popular tourist locations. Two five-star hotels, The Oberoi Hotel and The Taj Palace Hotel were among them. From the Telegraph UK:
There were scenes of mayhem as staff used hotel linen and brass baggage carts as the injured were moved to hospital. Bullet holes pierced the elegant facades and blood smeared the furniture of the hotel lobbies.
Another report cited a fire at the Oberoi as well as two of the gunmen being holed up inside. Bloomberg News is reporting a blast went off on the roof of the Taj. Guests are believed to have been evacuated from both places, although we have heard reports that hostages are being held at the Oberoi. A third hotel, The Trident, was also the scene of gunshots. What's worse is that the attacks on the city are still ongoing as far as we know and none of the attackers have been caught.
This is truly a nightmarish time in India. The news reports are all over the place so we aren't sure what has happened to these hotels. But our thoughts our with everyone in Mumbai and we'll update you on the status of the hotels when we can.
[Photo: Sydney Morning Herald]
India will be getting its very first Four Seasons Hotel this March. From the hotel website:
A sleek icon to the finest hospitality in India, is set in the emerging Worli district, central to everything in the city once known as Bombay. Spacious quarters, many with views of the Arabian Sea, offer unrivalled comforts and service. Anticipate the most pressing demands of business - or pause for see-and-be-seen dining, poolside recreation or ayurveda in the spa.
Some more perks at the hotel include high-speed internet (code for "pay-for ethernet service"), the San-Qi restaurant, poolside dining and a fleet of BMW Series 7 cars to chauffer guests around. Room rates start at 20,500 INR which is about $522 USD.