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Taj luxury apartments open doors in August

Nandini Lakshman in Mumbai | June 18, 2004

If you are a highly placed expat and want to relocate to India for a couple of years, the Taj group of hotels says you are its target audience.

That's because, come August 1, nearly two decades after acquiring a commencement certificate from the Bombay Municipal Corporation, the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces will finally open the doors of its first luxury apartments in India, Taj Wellington Mews.

This downtown Colaba complex will be the Rs 700-crore (Rs 7 billion) Indian Hotels Ltd's fourth property in Mumbai after Taj Palace and Tower, Taj Land's End and President.

"This completes our entire portfolio of hotels in the city," says Rajiv Kaul, vice-president (Mumbai hotels), Taj group of hotels. While the last is a business hotel, the rest are luxury offerings.

The 14-storeyed circular Wellington Mews houses 80 fully furnished apartments. The gamut includes four 5,300 sq ft, four bedroom hall kitchen penthouses; the 1,900 sq ft each three BHK apartments, 1,500 sq ft two BHK apartments, 1 BHK in two sizes, 1,100 sq ft and 700 sq ft, and 12 studio apartments. It also flaunts a special lounge, a delicatessen in the lobby, a business centre and a 12- seater conference room.

Spread over 2.6 prime acres, Wellington Mews, designed by John Portman and Associates, US, with interiors by Sue Freeman, cost the Taj upwards of Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion).

"We want Wellington Mews to be the first choice for the most discerning residents of the city," says Kaul.

Like most service apartments, clients will have to stay for a minimum of 30 days with aspects like maintenance and housekeeping taken care of by the Taj.

And the rent? Only for those with deep pockets. The monthly lease for the penthouses is Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million). It is Rs 700,000 for a 3 BHK apartment, Rs 450,000 for a 2 BHK apartment and Rs 150,000 a month for a studio apartment.

Now look at the suites at the Taj Palace and Tower. The daily tag for a 650 sq ft suite is Rs 10,000 and Rs 50,000 for a 2,500 sq ft suite. So wouldn't the Taj see a lot of migration of its top-end users to Wellington Mews?

That's why, says Kaul, studio apartments at the Wellington Mews are kept to a minimum. "We are aiming for the long-stay clients with families who would have normally settled for a flat. We are offering them the comfort of a home with five star amenities and the security and privacy that goes along with it," he adds.

This comes at a time when many of the hotel chains in the country have already set up service apartments. The Grand Hyatt in suburban Santa Cruz has 147 service apartments. Its 219.2 sq metre 3 BHK apartments cost Rs 18,000 per day. But according to hotel consultant Homi Aibara, the Wellington Mews is the first of its kind in the country going by its scale and pricing.

Wellington Mews will help add hotel room capacity to south Mumbai where the current market is 1,885 rooms. And if all goes well, it plans to open such apartments in a few of the unused floors at the Taj Land's End. It already operates such services at the Taj Palace, Dubai, and 51 Buckingham Gate in London.



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