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'Reservation requests commenced within days of the incident'

December 17, 2008 08:56 IST

The November 26 terror attack on Mumbai was seen as an attempt to destabilise the nation's financial capital, to put a spoke in its financial growth. The targets were the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Cama Hospital and the Taj and Oberoi luxury hotels.

Less than a month after the attack, Trident announced it would be open for business on December 21.

In an email interview, Devendra Bharma, executive vice president, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, Mumbai, tells about the incredible show of support the hotel has seen:

It is indeed impressive that Trident will again welcome guests on December 21. Since the announcement, what kind of response have you had in terms of bookings?

Guests have been very positive in their response and the reservation requests commenced within days of the incident. The moment we have announced the date of opening, guests have been calling in to make their reservations, especially for the restaurants. Of course, we are yet to ascertain the number of requests that we have received.

There have been conference bookings as well, including the StanChart Marathon press conference on December 21.

In fact, within a couple of days of getting access to the hotel, we got a call from one of the customers -- an association that does not want to be identified. They were scheduled to hold a conference and told us they were willing to go ahead on the scheduled date at the same venue if the hotel was available. That's the kind of support and solidarity we have seen from our guests and customers.

Could you share with us the damage -- financially and physically -- incurred by the Trident Hotel in Mumbai?

It is too early to assess the damages at both hotels.

At the Trident, the main damage was to the lobby and the main porch. Despite the best efforts by the bomb disposal squad, an RDX bomb went off under the front porch and caused damage; you can see the scaffolding there as the repair work goes on.

The work at the Trident will mainly involve replacing glass and repairing bullet-caused damage. There is no fire-related damage at the Trident. Of course, we are not talking here of the tragic loss of human lives.

As for the restaurants, while Frangipani and India Jones were untouched, the Opium Den has seen some damage. But it is not severe.

At the Oberoi, the damage has been extensive.

Will the earlier interior be retained, or is the hotel being refurbished?

Trident, Nariman Point, Mumbai will open on December 21, 2008, as it was.

The Oberoi is still being assessed.

Versace has said it retains its plans to open a store at your hotel; are there others who have done so?

All retail space at the hotel is currently occupied amd hence there is no other store opening planned in the near future.

To what extent will this act of terrorism affect your profitability?

It is too early to assess.

What additional security measures you are looking at?

Security has been beefed up and additional security measures have included. Some of these security measures will be visible, but there are a lot of invisible security measures we have put in place as well.

Is there going to special training for your staff to help them cope with the changed security environment? Also, are they undergoing counselling?

We are looking at our staff's needs on a case-to-case basis. We have had group Art of Living sessions, but we are also offering individual counselling sessions as and when required.

Savera R Someshwar in Mumbai