The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Houseful hotels herald hearty winter rush

“Do not disturb” is the sign city hotels may as well hang outside their doors, because there is hardly a room to be had. Hotels, five-star and otherwise, are full to overflowing, clubs and guest houses, likewise. The reason for the glut: the normal winter rush, plus the deluge of delegates in town for the Cardiology Society of India meet.

The peak season, from November to March, started on a high. The rush began last month with several big corporate events, not to mention the cricket. The marriage dates added to the surge.

This is not a short-term spurt, feels the industry. “The government is wooing investment, and the hospitality and airlines industries are the first indicators of this,” feels Amitabh Rai, general manager, Oberoi Grand. A thought mirrored by Hyatt, which has felt the impact of “increased investment in IT”, in neighbouring Saltlec. “Investor confidence” in a bullish Bengal, says Ranvir Bhandari, general manager, ITC Sonar Bangla, has brought more business travellers.

While this time of year usually sees up to “90 per cent occupancy” at Taj Bengal, they have no rooms to let out now, says Modhurima Sinha, spokesperson, Taj Bengal. Delegates booked rooms from December 3 to 7 two years ago. “We have bookings for another big medical meet in January 2005,” she adds. The Park, too, is running at capacity.

Many “homeless” guests have been heading for the clubs. Tollygunge Club, which is hosting a golf tournament this weekend, has none of its 68 rooms to spare, and some out-of-town golfers have had to put up elsewhere. “This is usually a good month for us. But this year, we’ve had to turn many people away,” says Air Commodore K.B. Menon (retd) of Tollygunge Club.

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