Amid cheer and spirited applause from the hotel staff, Tata group chairman Ratan Tata on Thursday announced that the heritage wing of Taj Mahal Palace and Towers, which bore the brunt of 26/11 terror attack, would reopen on the Independence Day.
"When we open the heritage wing (this Sunday), we also send a strong message that resonates among all of us that we can be hurt but cannot be knocked down," Tata said addressing the hotel staff, guests and hundreds of mediapersons.
As he spoke about the spirit of the staff and the Indian people, a wave of cheers and applause filled the red carpeted stair-case area that leads to all the six floors of the hotel under the red dome.
On the fateful evening of November 26, 2008, four of the 10 terrorists from Pakistan attacked the 107-year-old hotel, as they took it under siege for over 60 hours, firing indiscriminately and killing 36 people.
Overall, 166 people were killed in the terror attack that was orchestrated from Pakistan. The sea-facing hotel is a mix of Moorish, Oriental and Florentine influences and has been renovated extensively as well as intricately, with new look and offerings.
Over 1,000 workers and craftsmen restored the structure and the interiors have been designed by four world acclaimed designers -- Lissoni Associati (Milan), BAMO of San Francisco, Design Wilkes (Malaysia) and James Park Associates of Singapore.
Around Rs 355 crore has been spent to refurbish all the 285 rooms.
The group has received Rs 180 crore in insurance claims. Indian Hotel Company Ltd (the Tata group company which owns the hotel) Managing Director Raymond Bickson said, "We have spent around Rs 355 crore of which Rs 180 crore was paid by the insurance companies for the first 12-months ending December 2009. We have received strong bookings and expect 70 per cent occupancy."
The hotel, which was earlier insured for Rs 700 crore, has been reinsured, Bickson said, without divulging the figures.
With an average room rate of Rs 22,000 per night, the hotel will have 80 luxury Taj Club rooms and 19 theme suites, the rates for which start from Rs 80,000 per night.
All the 285 rooms will have 24-hour butler service for the guests to experience and enjoy exotic food of their choice. The hotel has got luxurious Landrovers and Jaguars providing drop and pick facility for the guests.