Terror-hit Taj Mahal Palace to fully reopen Sunday

MUMBAI The historic heritage wing of Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palace’s 1903 flagship property will reopen Sunday—India’s Independence Day—following a full restoration and modernization in the wake of the tragic 26/11 terror attacks of 2008.

“Today, we have fulfilled our promise of rebuilding The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, to its former glory,” Taj Managing Director and CEO Raymond Bickson says. “The palace wing has been lovingly and painstakingly restored, and we will now offer our guests an even more customized experience. It is a fitting tribute to the spirit and resilience that is our company’s flagship, 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 hotel now features 285 newly restored luxury guestrooms and suites, including 161 Grand Rooms, 82 Taj Club rooms and 42 Luxury Suites, and newly restored signature restaurants and bars, elegant ballrooms and grand public spaces. Guestrooms were redesigned by teams of acclaimed designers, including BAMO Spain, Lissoni Associati Milano, LTW Designworks of Kuala Lumpur and James Parks Associates Singapore.

Structwel Designers & Consultants served as conservation consultants to assess the historic building’s needs and protect and restore the hotel’s significant architectural heritage. Paintings were meticulously refurbished by New Delhi-based Art Life Restoration Trust.

In an interview with The Economic Times, Bickson says the company was determined to make the best of a tragic situation. “We were able to change an adversity into a favor,” he says. “In a hundred years, we have never closed the hotel. So we took advantage of that to restore the hotel and contemporize and modernize it to the tastes of the modern traveler. We also had the chance to change our 100-year-old pipes and all those things we have lived with and worked with for over 100 years. One of the wonderful things is it has allowed us to put in place the technology which is not the easiest thing to do when you are restoring a palace hotel.”

A refurbished, modernized guestroom at The Taj Mahal Palace
A refurbished, modernized guestroom at The Taj Mahal Palace

The award-winning restaurants, bars and event spaces were also reinvented by noted designers. The legendary Harbour Bar, Mumbai’s first licensed bar, and India’s first contemporary Japanese restaurant, Wasabi by Morimoto, were redesigned by Madrid-based Rockwell Group Europe. Sea Lounge, Mumbai’s favorite social gathering spot, and The Ballroom, celebrated site of many fashionable parties, were reimagined by LTW Designworks.

Art on display at the hotel during the 2008 attack was covered by thick glass and so was saved from critical damage; however, they still required painstaking restoration. The paintings were meticulously refurbished by New Delhi-based Art Life Restoration Trust, whose team of seasoned conservationists set up a workshop at the hotel to restore these works. Many are now displayed throughout the Taj Mahal Palace’s corridors and public areas, resplendent with new designs by James Park Associates.

The hotel is also introducing an array of new services and amenities for Palace Wing guests, including a lounge with complimentary F&B, Internet work stations, 24-hour butler service, complimentary use of the fitness center, free breakfast and high tea, airport transfers and at-airport butler assistance.