The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower lit up with cheer on Sunday evening as it reopened its doors to a thousand guests for a private soiree.
Addressing journalists, Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata said that he felt considerable pride that the hotel was able to put the past behind and veer itself back on track.
“I am a person who hates to look back. I look at it [the re-opening] as the commencement of a new era. To us it was a challenge to have the hotel re-open in some form within a month of the attack. It is a tribute to everybody who has worked on to have this happen and we stand before you.”
Responding to questions, Mr. Tata said that the tragedy had done more than unite corporate India.
Will send a message
“It has united the citizens of Mumbai. We propose to dedicate this reopening of the hotel to the people who have lost their lives and we believe that the opening of this hotel will send a message that we come alive in a record period of time and play host to everyone as part of this great city,” he said.
Talking about the security upgrade at the hotel, he said the heightened measures would certainly be in place, but their knowledge would be covert.
At a press conference on Saturday addressed by R.K. Krishna Kumar, Vice Chairman, Indian Hotels Company Ltd., owners of the Taj, he said that places, which were completely gutted, were an opportunity to create new designs, redefine spaces and offer better facilities to guests.
The hotel has a Rs. 1000-crore insurance policy covering loss of profit and damages. The restoration cost will be way below this limit, Mr. Kumar said.
Looking forward, the hotel has to achieve a blend of beauty and elegance with technology (for security), he said. “We have gone to the finest intelligence organisations in the world.”
Talking about the situation in the aftermath of the attack, he said the scenes in the hotel had an extraordinary impact. In the kitchen, there was a pool of blood.
On November 26, there was 77 per cent occupancy at the hotel. In numbers, it is over 400 rooms and over 700 guests. “We have assessed 31 casualties, out of which 12 are staff.”
Mr. Kumar said that all the employees of the heritage building will continue in their positions.
Ten per cent of some exquisite artwork at the hotel has been damaged, he said but nothing was beyond repair.
The press event was also attended by Raymond Bickson, Managing Director and CEO.