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Post 26/11, palace wing at Mumbai’s Taj gets ultra-luxe

Mumbai, Aug 13 (IANS) The palace wing at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace Hotel just got more royal, with multimedia systems and an emergency escape route too. The heritage suites promise to be grander than ever before as they open their doors to guests Aug 15 for the first time after the 26/11 attacks.

The hotel, which was opened in stages after the terror strike, is likely to be fully functional by September. On Independence Day, although most of its rooms in the magnificently restored palace wing will accommodate guests, the most luxurious Tata Suite will be reopened in a month.

Formerly known as the Presidential Suite, the Tata Suite will have a personalised butler service and will cost Rs.7 lakh a night. This apart, the hotel’s heritage wing has 40 suites, some named after marine life.

‘You can ride on a ‘dolphin’, search for ‘coral reefs’ or chase a ‘seagull’ for a price ranging from Rs.85,000 to Rs.1.5 lakh,’ said Ajoy Misra, senior vice-president (sales and marketing) of Taj hotels.

Guests in the palace wing will experience the attentive and personalised ‘Palace Butler Service’ where the butler will discreetly and efficiently guide guests in the hotel.

The Palace Lounge will be a private retreat; exclusively for residents of the palace wing, for a cup of perfectly brewed tea or coffee; an evening cocktail or after hour chocolate and cognac.

High-end technology and interactive multimedia systems at the touch of a button ensure that the guest’s experiences are wired for efficiency and comfort. Taj Club rooms and suites come with chauffeur-driven luxurious Jaguar transfers.

The restaurants have also been renovated, including Sea Lounge and Golden Dragon. The Taj Ballroom, the Harbour Bar and Wasabi by Morimoto are accompanied by inspired cuisine from a team of acclaimed chefs.

Another added feature to the rooms and suites are the special levers that allow guests to open the window in an emergency. Upping the security quotient, special access control elevators are installed on the premises, allowing only guests to operate them with a valid key.

Ratan Tata, chairman of Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL), had in December 2008 said that he will do whatever it takes to restore the ‘old lady’ to its former glory, referring to the Taj hotel.

‘When we open the heritage wing and do whatever it takes to get back its old glory; we will send a stronger message – a message that strongly resonates among all of us that we can be hurt, but we cannot be knocked down,’ Tata had said.

Internationally acclaimed designers like Lissoni Associati from Milan, BAMO from San Francisco, DesignWilkes from Malaysia and James Park Associates from Singapore carried out the extensive restoration of the heritage wing of the hotel.

On December 16, 1903, the Taj opened its doors to its first 17 guests. Over the years, the hotel has played perfect host to maharajas and princes, presidents and legends, performers and world figures, offering them the ultimate in luxury, fine dining and impeccable service.

While the adjacent tower wing was left unscathed in the 26/11 attack, the heritage wing was extensively damaged. It has been repaired at an estimated cost of Rs.175 crore.

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