Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ratan Tata refers to Taj as venerable old lady



Tata Group's flagship property Taj Mahal Palace and Towers, that is scheduled to reopen formally on August 15, almost 2 years after the 26/11 attacks, was described as a venerable old lady by its Chairman Ratan Tata."I won’t burden everybody with a speech but say a few words on this special occasion. This flagship property is a venerable old lady and is going to reopen with the splendor that it has enjoyed for over a century," Tata said while addressing a select gathering of hotel staff and guests at the formal announcement for the opening, in Mumbai on Thursday.The new and renovated Taj will open its doors to its guests this Sunday when the country celebrates its 62nd Independence Day.Tata was composed yet delighted when he said that the restoration of the 107-year-old iconic building, that was build by the Tata Group's founder Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata in 1903, was possible due to the dedication and commitment of a a team."It (restoration) was all possible due to the dedication and commitment of having worked as a team which I think the world has come to recognise," India Inc's senior statesman said.While he garlanded and paid homage to the hotel's founder and his great grand-father, the staff and crew, showered rose petals from the top floor, just behind the red dome, and pledged that they would reinvigorate their resolve, rekindle their spirit and reinvent the magic to maintain and keep alive the beauty of the "old lady".The "old lady" is still strong and standing tall, 20 months after a few Pakistani terrorists damaged it severely on November 26, killing 36 people, he said.The terrorists had blasted a 10 kg RDX-laden IED following which the red dome was engulfed by fire as also some portions of the building.Ratan Tata, had then, vowed to build the Taj brick by brick. "We will rebuild every inch," is what he had said on the reopening of the tower wing of the hotel.The 73-year-old industrialist called on the hotel's most senior and junior staff to express their feelings on the occasion.It was a heart-touching moment when the senior staff Vijay Pratap Singh, overwhelmed with the opportunity, asked Ratan Tata to pose with him.However, the hotel felt the absence of the Taj's General Manager Karambir Kang, who lost his wife and two children during the terrorist attacks. Kang's family were living in the hotel when the attacks took place.Security has been beefed up considerably and perhaps the 'freedom' with which people used to move in and out has been curtailed.Some of the guests, who had witnessed the gruesome attack, have already placed their bookings for the reopening, hotel officials said without divulging their names.The heritage wing will open with 280 rooms, including 42 grand suites, initially. The rest five such as the Pt Ravi Shankar and Tata suites, will open in September as they have not been refurbished completely.The Ravi Shankar suite is the same room where the sitar maestro used to teach Beatle-member George Harrison. In the room is a prized possession, a sitar, which was donated by Ravi Shankar.The Tata suite, with markrana marble flooring, will be kept reserved for the chief captains of states and countries. While the executive suites have a tariff of Rs. 80,000 onwards, the theme suites' prices are on request.