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Trident, Taj open to guests
MUMBAI, DEC 21 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 21 Dec. 2008 11:39 PM IST
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Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal arrived at the Trident to attend its opening ceremony on Sunday. Amidst tight security, curious onlookers gathered outside to be a part of the ceremony of the hotel, which opens its doors three weeks after the terror attack. A multi-religious prayer meeting has been organised in the lobby of the hotel with staff members, media persons and guests participating in it. “It is a very happy moment and we are all proud of the Trident management which has managed to restart it again within three weeks,” Ratnakar Poddar, an onlooker said, adding that one need not fear going back to the hotel anymore. Taj Palace and Heritage Hotel and Hotel Trident Oberoi have been shut for the past three weeks for renovations following the damage caused during the three-day siege by terrorists that began on November 26. The two towers suffered a modest amount of damage. The Oberoi and the heritage building of the Taj, on the other hand, were badly affected. It has been estimated that the Taj will remain shut for anything between seven months and a year and The Oberoi will be shut for between six and seven months. Trident president Rattan Keswani said experts were assessing the damage suffered by The Oberoi and that it would take another fortnight to arrive at a precise opening date. Keswani said the restoration team had tried to make the Trident appear as it was before the attacks. “All the restaurants will be in pristine condition,’’ he said. Guests “should not find a single trace that would bring back memories’’. Some of the glass panes that line the Veranda-the Trident’s lobby that serves as a coffee shop- had been shattered. The door of Ranee International, a carpet shop in the Trident’s shopping arcade, had been broken while the hotel’s front porch, marble and wood work had sustained some damage. In comparison, the restaurants at the Taj sustained far heavier damage. Shamiana, which was severely hit, would reopen along with Masala Kraft, Aquarius, Souk, Star Board, Zodiac Grill and La Patisserie. The Chambers, the exclusive club for business executives, will also be opened. During the siege, it served as a place where guests were gathered before being evacuated. The tower’s 268 rooms will also be available. Taj officials said room reservations were fairly good. Apart from restoration work, both hotels will be concentrating on luring guests back. Keswani said cancellations of reservations had been “reasonably heavy’’ as travellers were frightened of visiting the country. At this time of the year, the Trident is typically 70 per cent full; but, at the moment, only about 35% of the hotel is occupied. “Guests’ fear, fuelled by government travel advisories, must be allayed,’’ he said. “We are working with our business partners and the government of India to get people back.’’ Christmas and New Year’s celebrations at the hotels will also be a low-key affair. There will be no elaborate parties or functions. “But the restaurants will have special Christmas menus,’’ said Keswani. At the Taj, too, the festivities will be limited. Decorations will be kept as simple as possible and celebrations will only extend to special menus.

 
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