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Bharat Hotels eyes Great Eastern

Calcutta, Sept. 14: Lalit Suri of Bharat Hotels has evinced interest in taking over Bengal’s loss-laden Great Eastern Hotel.

Confirming the move, tourism ministry sources said, “Suri has shown interest in the hotel. We are also keen to hold talks with him. He is running quite a few five-star hotels successfully across the country.”

Suri is expected to bid for the hotel when the state government floats a fresh global tender in September-end for privatising the hotel. Earlier, the government had floated a global tender in late 1999.

However, tourism department officials feel that no major international hotel firm is likely to bid for the hotel this time. “French hotel major Accor had a very bad experience with Great Eastern which has sent a wrong signal to international investors. Hence, this time, only domestic companies are expected to take part,” they added.

The government is yet to finalise for how many years it will lease out the hotel to the private party. In the earlier tender the government had decided to give the hotel on a 99-year lease. But now the government plans to give it on a 30-year lease.

The Great Eastern Hotel, located opposite the Governor’s House in the city’s Dalhousie area, has 200 rooms and employs about 450 people.

The Bharat Hotels group is a major player in the country’s tourism and hotel sector. Its portfolio of hotels incorporates five luxury hotels in the metro cities offering almost 1,500 rooms in the five-star deluxe segment.

Bharat Hotels’ first venture was the Inter-Continental Hotel in New Delhi, a 500-room 5-star deluxe hotel. Its next venture was the Grand Palace Intercontinental Srinagar. Its other two ventures are new hotels —the 400 room Grand-Intercontinental Mumbai and 265-room Goa Grand Inter-Continental resort. On November 30 last year the company signed a deal to operate and manage the 183-room Hotel Ashok in Bangalore on a management contract from ITDC, approved by the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment.

Sources said Great Eastern Hotel has made a good recovery of its dues which at one point of time stood at Rs 6 crore. “The hotel has made a recovery of Rs 5 crore and there is a constant effort to recover the rest,” sources added. Till date, Great Eastern Hotel has received Rs 5.15 crore as grant-in-aid. In the current year, it received Rs 25 lakh as grant-in-aid.

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