The Icon Gets More Iconic!

Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) has completed the renovation of the Taj Mahal hotel in Delhi. This iconic Mansingh Road property was recently in the eye of the storm witnessing a heady auction conducted by NDMC.

IHCL retained the right to run the hotel in Lutyens’ Delhi for another 33 years after a 2018 NDMC public auction for the property. It has since spent close to `250 crore in refurbishing the hotel that completes 45 years. Once won again, the Taj Group got down to some serious business, preferring not to shut it down, neither knocking it down, but refurbishing it one step at a time. Re-imagining it, like the group has been doing its entire portfolio! Not surprising the company turned out a profit exceeding 1000 crores last financial, a figure that had never been imagined before in the history of Indian hospitality.

Today, the Taj Mansingh has been fully renovated, it has bounced back to the same levels of revenues and profits that were clocked earlier. And, this is despite the lease rentals (under deal the NDMC) going higher.

The hotel wears an entirely new look. The lobby itself, your first point of contact, has a fresh appearance, with small subtle touches – a new seating with jaali work cordoning; repositioning of facilities, new water bodies. The entire swimming pool and the outdoor lawns have been revitalised, with richer features. Imagine, at the 45th birthday celebrations, the hotel used a drop-down curtain to put up an audio-visual display of the cake cutting among staff, along with the proud re-affirmation saying the ‘best name on Mansingh is that of The Taj’.

So, the birthday bash was an experience to treasure. I am not good with head counts, but perhaps in excess of 800 or so! Largely corporates, the who’s who, senior hotel fraternity (a great gesture in fellow industry bonding), senior travel trade and many of the chain’s partners and associates, were there to celebrate. The Shillong Choir performed much to the appreciation of this large crowd. The food court was un-imaginable – every conceivable cuisine in plenty, so well displayed, with plenty of bars around for easy convenience!

And what were they celebrating? Not just the best name on Mansingh, but equally the new features that have been added to the property. Renovations was about drawing from the past, building on it, and looking into the future and creating something that was in keeping with the changing needs of the customers. Two floors of luxury apartments have also been created for longer stays, the first such facility in down town Delhi, especially in Lutyens’ Delhi. Lesser number of rooms, with studio apartments has meant bringing down the number of keys from 292 to 213, but this is also a recognition that such changes will bring increased revenues.

‘Machan’, the 24-hour coffee shop was modernised on its theme sometime earlier; the ‘House of Ming’ was more recently given an entirely contemporary experience, making it ready for a global launch – the brand was showcased recently in the chain’s London property, taking selective cues from the Delhi outlet.

‘Reimagined’ is elsewhere too. The roof-top Chambers Club with support from luxury fashion and lifestyle company Stefano Ricci, has now taken two floors and a great ambience with separate dining from entertainment facilities. The spa and wellness areas are expected to be open very soon. Revamped banqueting spaces provide for more open experiences and possibly more head count. All in all, the ‘crown jewel’ in the company’s portfolio in North India is headed for yet another long innings in its new avatar.

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