| Eastward ahoy!
New Delhi, May 14: ITC Welcom Heritage group is all set to sign up its first heritage property in eastern India — Windamere hotel in Darjeeling.
Later this week, it will sign an agreement with the current owners of the heritage property, which originally was a boarding house built for British and Scottish tea planters.
According to the deal, ITC Welcom Heritage will take over the marketing and franchise of Windamere hotel.
Windamere, which is owned by Sherab Tenduf, a Tibetan, was converted from a hostelry into a hotel in 1939.
The hotel consists of two sections: the first is ‘The Windamere’ furnished in traditional colonial style with flowered chintz curtains. To create an ambience that is far removed from the hustle and bustle of cities, this wing of the heritage hotel has no telephones and televisions — the greatest distractions of modern-day.
“This wing also includes a honeymoon cottage which has been extremely popular through years. In fact couples, who have spent their honeymoons, have come back to celebrate their anniversaries,” said an ITC official
Another wing called ‘Little Windamere’ has modern facilities and decor. Windamere heritage hotel offers six suites, two heritage cottages, one honeymoon cottage, 17 superior double rooms and eight standard double rooms.
Rakesh Mathur, president of the Welcom Heritage, said, “The Windamere was a heritage hotel even before the very concept of heritage hotels came into existence in India. It has received the coveted award of excellence presented by the then Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao at the very first national awards ceremony in 1994.”
The Welcom Heritage group has earned approximately Rs 30 crore in revenues from its 26 heritage properties last fiscal. Mathur says the chain plans to increase the tally of its hotels to 30 by June 2003 and 50 by the end of June next year.
The group is in talks with owners of royal properties in eastern and southern parts of India.
Welcom Heritage is a joint venture between ITC Hotels Limited and Marudhar Hotels Limited which has properties, including palaces, forts, havelis, royal tents, jungle lodges and resorts at heritage locations. These are situated and spread across the states of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.