Mumbai’s attacked hotels to reopen this weekend

Mumbai’s attacked hotels to reopen this weekend

Mumbai: The two five-star Mumbai hotels that were attacked and held under siege last month are taking reservations and will partially reopen for business this weekend, managers said Tuesday.

Images of flames leaping from the dome of the Taj Mahal hotel quickly became an icon of the three-day attack, which left 164 dead. In addition to the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi hotel, the gunmen attacked eight other sites across India’s financial capital.

Nearly three weeks after the siege ended on 29 November, the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi’s Trident hotel have beefed up security and are accepting reservations for Sunday and onwards, managers said.

“We dedicate our reopening to the city of Mumbai as an affirmation of the values of courage, resilience and dignity," said Raymond Bickson, managing director and CEO of Indian Hotels Corporation Ltd., which runs the Taj Group of hotels.

The Trident hotel sustained less damage than its sister hotel, the Oberoi. The two are connected by a bridge. All 550 rooms of the Trident will be available, along with the hotel’s restaurant, said Ketaki Narain, spokeswoman for the Oberoi Group. The Oberoi is still under repair.

The Oberoi has upgraded its security because “we cannot depend on local law enforcement agencies," Narain said.

Ratan Tata, chairman of the company that owns the Taj Mahal hotel, criticized the government’s response to the attacks as slow and ineffective. He vowed to upgrade the hotel’s security with help from overseas.

“We have decided that we would look at the protection of our assets and our people ourselves," Tata said Monday during a panel discussion on CNBC TV18. “We’ll seek external expertise to help us."

Some 235 rooms will open in the Taj Mahal hotel Sunday, while the rooms in the older wing of the 105-year-old building are repaired. Photographs from the Taj Mahal in the days after the siege ended showed rooms with blackened walls, charred floors and gutted hallways.

India blames the attacks on the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and has called on Pakistan to crack down on terrorists thought to be operating from their soil.

Authorities captured the lone surviving gunman during the attack, and have been repeatedly interrogating him about the operation.