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Housefulsigns at star hotels

Anirban Chatterjee is feeling like Ethan Hunt these days. And unlike the IMF agent, made popular on celluloid by Tom Cruise, for the US-based entrepreneur passing through town this weekend, finding a room in a star hotel in Calcutta has remained Mission Impossible.

“We have gone into a sold-out situation, end-November through December,” confirms a spokesperson for Taj Bengal. The Alipore hotel has Teams Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Alastair Cook already camping there for the third Test match at Eden Gardens. Besides cricket, there are also “several corporate events and more than one wedding” lined up.

Booming business has set the cash registers ringing, with the average room rent doing a hop, skip and jump after a long lull.

“Overall in Calcutta, ARRs (average room rates) are up by 15 per cent. This, however, is the peak season and the current rates are not a reflection of the overall health of the hospitality industry,” points out Vijay Dewan, MD, The Park Hotels, which expects “full occupancy” on all weekdays in December.

“Our average room rate is Rs 10,000-plus, but this time of the year it sometimes goes up to Rs 21,000,” says a spokesperson for Hyatt Regency, which is fully occupied till December 9.

From the Bypass to Chowringhee, the hotel houseful saga continues. “We are sold out for most days in December. This year is busier than usual due to some of the key events happening in the city, particularly in the first 10 days,” says George Kuruvilla, GM, The Oberoi Grand.

On high-occupancy dates, rooms are available on e-marketing channels between Rs 20,000 and 50,000.

It is a lot like airline tickets, explains Vinay Jaiswal, director, operations, Hotel Hindusthan International. “There are all kinds of rates at this time of the year. The rate of the day depends on demand-supply and it definitely goes up by 20-25 per cent.”

For the hospitality addresses around town, this fair-weather window is the only chance to cut the losses piling up through the year. The first couple of quarters have been “tough”, to put it mildly, and the star hotels are hoping the first mornings of December show the day till February.