Dec 19, 2008

India - Taj, Trident flooded with reservation requests for December 21

Swaraj Baggonkar & Sapna Agarwal

Hotels lining up special menus, Taj to use Jaguar cars for guest transfers.

The Trident and Taj Mahal Palace and Tower said they have been flooded with requests for reservations at their restaurants when they reopen December 21, almost a month after the terrorist attacks on these landmark hotels destroyed significant portions of both buildings.

"Considering the kind of response we have seen ever since we opened reservations we are expecting the restaurants to be packed on reopening day,’’ an official of East India Hotels (EIH) said, declining to be identified. “It will be difficult to share the exact details about the number of people who have booked so far but we are sure that it will be a full-house."

EIH is the holding company of Trident and Oberoi hotels. The hotel has four restaurants — Frangipani, India Jones, Opium Den and Verandah. "Our guests have been asking for reservations at our restaurants till December 31," added the official.

Meanwhile, Taj officials today said the tower wing of the Taj — or the “new wing” — will open The Zodiac Grill, Souk, Masala Kraft, Aquarius, Shamiana, Starboard and La Patisserie on December 21 at 7.30 in the evening.

The iconic Taj Heritage – commonly known as the “old wing” — bore the brunt of the terrorist attacks and will be closed for renovation for some more time.

One or more restaurants will have special menus on that day, a Taj food and beverages (F&B) executive said.

Taj is also making special transport arrangements for guests to arrive and depart from the hotel. The Tata-owned property will add two Jaguars to its fleet for guest transfers.

According to estimates, F&B accounts for more than half the revenues of the Taj Mahal and Trident revenues.

"We do not see revenue from the food and beverage segment going down despite the risk factor. We are already into the peak holiday season when business generally booms for hoteliers,” said Harleen Babber, research associate, Almondz Research.

“We see this trend being extended beyond December 31 till March-April next year," Babber added.

Even as last month’s three-day terrorist attacks severely impacted the day-to-day business of most hotels in Mumbai, the management at Trident expects occupancy levels of 25 to 30 per cent on reopening day. Both Taj and Trident are offering discounts on room tariffs in an effort to attract guests.


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