Great Eastern. File picture
Calcutta, Sept. 14: The Great Eastern hotel in the heart of Calcutta will throw its gates open again on November 19, after a gap of over 12 years, with a fresh look and a new brand name.
Great Eastern was opened for the first time on November 19, 1841. November 19 is also the birth anniversary of Lalit Suri, the founder of Lalit Suri Hospitality, which owns a 90 per cent stake in the hotel, which will now be known as Lalit Great Eastern.
“We are all set to make the launch on November 19. All preparations are being made,” Rakesh Mitra, the general manager of the hotel, told The Telegraph.
“Bookings might start from November itself.”
Mitra said work was being executed at a “rapid pace” to meet the deadline, and that almost 90 per cent of the hotel could be used once it was formally launched.
The Bengal government took over Great Eastern in the late 1970s after a financial crisis had brought the hotel to the brink of closure. But the Left Front government failed to improve the hotel’s condition because of several problems, including labour trouble and a lack of bookings.
To revive the fortunes of the hotel, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government sold 90 per cent of the government’s stake to Lalit Suri Hospitality.
The hotel was initially called the Auckland Hotel after British governor-general Lord Auckland. It was renamed Great Eastern Hotel in 1915. The heritage structure has hosted many celebrities, notably Queen Elizabeth II in 1963.
City-based architect Dulal Mukherjee, who has helped Lalit Suri Hospitality redesign the hotel, said extensive work had to be undertaken to restore several parts of the building.
“The fašade of the hotel has not changed because it’s a heritage structure,” he said.
He said the property had been broadly divided into two parts — the original building, called the “heritage block”, and another portion that reflects contemporary trends in the hospitality sector.
Spread across 2.3 acres, the hotel will have 221 rooms, 21 deluxe suites, two presidential suites, a ballroom and two speciality restaurants. It will also have modern facilities such as a health spa, swimming pool and open-air lounges.