The world-famous Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel in Mumbai has re-opened its Palace wing following a complete restoration, which was begun after terrorist attacks in Mumbai from November 26 to November 28, 2008 caused substantial damage to the 107-year-old hotel.
At least 167 people, some of them in the hotel, were killed and 293 were wounded in the attacks, which also targeted the Oberoi hotel in Mumbai. The terrorists took a number of hostages and barricaded themselves in the Taj Mahal Palace. Indian special forces laid siege to the hotel and by November 28 had killed all the gunmen barricaded there to end the three-day battle.
On December 21, 2008, Ratan Tata, the chairman of the hotel’s owner Taj Group, promised the company would resurrect India’s original luxury hotel to its former magnificence. The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower is the flagship hotel of Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, whose hotels are recognized as being among the world’s most luxurious.
“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 promised.
The re-opening of the Palace wing, the last part of the Taj Mahal Palace to be restored, sees the fulfillment of his promise, according to Taj Hotels. It also comes as India prepares to celebrate its 64th Independence Day on August 15.
“Today, we have fulfilled our promise of rebuilding the Taj to its former glory. The Taj Mahal has always reinvented itself and its storied past which makes it the icon that it is,” says Raymond Bickson, managing director of Indian Hotels Company Limited.
“The palace wing has been lovingly and painstakingly restored, and we will now offer our guests an even more customized experience,” says Bickson. “It is a befitting tribute to the spirit and resilience that is The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai; and the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the hotel. As India celebrates its 64th year of independence, we warmly welcome our guests, old and new to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.”
The extensive restoration was performed by designers Lissoni Associati, Milan; BAMO San Francisco; DesignWilkes, Malaysia; and James Park Associates, Singapore. The Palace-wing accommodations – the Taj Club rooms, Luxury Grande rooms and themed Grand Luxury Suites – are filled with precious art and are designed to provide guests with an opulent standard of luxury.
All guests in the Palace wing receive highly attentive and personalized ‘Palace Butler Service’. The Palace Lounge is a private retreat exclusively for residents of the Palace wing. Suites and rooms contain very luxuriously appointed, individually designed bathrooms, as well as high-end technology and interactive multimedia systems. Taj Club rooms and suites also come with chauffeur-driven Jaguar transfers.
Throughout the duration of the Palace wing’s closure, world leaders and dignitaries – including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – stayed at the Taj Mahal Palace’s Tower wing, which was re-opened long before restoration of the Palace wing was completed.
“With the reopening of the Palace wing, we look forward to receiving once again all those who have supported us and considered The Taj Mahal Palace as a home away from home,” Taj Hotels says in a statement.
The hotel’s restaurants and eateries have also been renovated. These include the Sea Lounge, Golden Dragon and the Taj Ballroom (design by LTW) and the Harbour Bar and Wasabi by Morimoto (design by the Rockwell Group)..
On December 16, 1903, the Taj opened its doors to its first 17 guests. Over the years, the hotel has played host to maharajas and princes, presidents, performers and world figures.
To find out more about the press conference heralding the re-opening of the Palace wing of the Taj Mahal Palace, visit www.tajhotels.com/Taj-Mahal-Palace/Press-Conference.