Seventeen months and $45 million dollars later, the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai reopened its doors. The five-star hotel was attacked by 10 gun-wielding, grenade-toting terrorists on November 26, 2008 during a three-day siege. 163 people, both guests and staff, died in the strike.
Reconstruction efforts have not only returned ruined areas to their former opulence, but made improvements leaving them even grander than before. White marble was imported from the Greek island of Thassos and used to rebuild the lobby while the former Tiffin restaurant (and site of many deaths) has been completely revamped and aptly renamed Fenix. Ziya, a new restaurant lead by Michelin starred chef Vineet Bhatia has also been added to the mix. Extra space, shower stalls and flat screen TVs have all been added to the guestroom bathrooms while the overall number of suites has been expanded from 26 to 81. As before, each guest will be offered personal butler service. At the time of reopening, room rates will range anywhere from $560 to $6,714 US.
Lavish aesthetics aside, security has been the main concern and has been amped up considerably with its own separate budget. 150 security cameras (up from 15) are located throughout the hotel and security personnel has been increased by five times the amount the Oberoi employed in 2008. Added precautions include shatterproof lobby windows, a large steel entrance gate and car searches upon arrival.
While the hotel’s renewed exterior does much for the recovering psyche of Mumbai residents, the implications of such an attack reach deeper still. India’s economy, along with the rest of the world’s had already been in the midst of a giant dip when the assault took place. The violence made investors, corporate officials and prospective guests run for the hills. Luckily, tourism to the country is nearly on par to where it was pre-attack, and the government is predicting eight-percent growth for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
Prior to the reopening on April 24, a memorial service was held with seven religious leaders in attendance. Management has also promised a modest ceremony and in-house ribbon-cutting in lieu of the tragedy. The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, the other hotel struck in the 2008 attacks has also been working towards a 2010 reopening.
[Image: Oberoi Hotels]
[Feature Image: WikiMedia Commons/Nicholas]