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Star connect for Bypass connector

Calcutta has a new star address — The Gateway Hotel. The 197-room hotel (80 open), near the Ruby roundabout on the Kasba connector, is the second Taj property in Bengal to open after 24 years.

An “upscale” brand like Gateway comes third in line after Taj’s “luxury” and “premium” segments, which means that while the hotel remains modern and contemporary, it is easier on the pocket.

“Strategically, it wouldn’t be viable to open another luxury hotel in Calcutta because there are enough players. As the market grows, there will be more luxury and premium hotels but in our market reading, we felt that the demand for an upscale segment like Gateway was increasing the most,” Deepa Harris, the vice-president of sales and marketing, told Metro, on Wednesday.

The national footprint of Gateway is 24 hotels. “Right now, we have 2,432 room keys across India and another 450 will be added with five more Gateways coming up in cities like Pune and Raipur,” said Prabhat Verma, COO, The Gateway Hotels & Resorts.

What about more Taj properties in the pipeline for Calcutta? “We would love to see a Ginger and Vivanta here, depending on location and market assessment,” said Deepa.

Back at The Gateway, expect the functionalities of a star hotel but without the frills. The rooms are basic and contemporary, the service “crisp and consistent” and the price in the “Rs 5,000-plus range” for a night.

The Gateway brand, as explained by its brand philosophy, is made for the customer who is either a “Chiller”, “Wayfarer”, “Workaholic” or “Wellness Seeker”.

“He or she is a 30-plus business traveller on the move, looking for freedom and flexibility, not boxed in by guidelines. He/ she may want to have breakfast at 3pm instead of by 10am or may not have the time to wait for the laundry to get done. So we offer 24X7 services like breakfast and health club,” said Deepa. Down to things like an ironing board and coat hanger in each room.

The hotel will keep a special — though discreet — eye on the single woman traveller. “As a woman, I would not want to be dealt with differently. But yes, there is an increased level of security, apart from amenities in the room,” said Deepa.

“Without being obvious about it, we look at how a room is allocated to a single lady traveller, how far it is from the elevator, that calls shouldn’t go there directly after 10pm and so,” added Prabhat.

The food is a big focal point. The highlight here is the Dhakai cuisine, led by corporate chef Natarajan Kulandai and Bangladeshi chef Asish Roy. “We went across the border to Purba Bangla and visited places like the Dhaka Club for research. You’ll find things like Bhuna Kitchuri made from kalijira rice and Boal Do Pyaza made from the boal fish,” said Asish, the executive chef, who joined the hotel after his last stint at Rambagh Palace.

Owing to the strategic proximity to nearby hospitals, medical tourism could also be a focus. “We are in talks with the hospitals around the hotel to do packages,” revealed Deepa.

While on location, The Gateway will be a big boost to the profile of this now-booming residential zone of Calcutta that gets its first star address and a much-needed 24x7 sip-and-bite stop.