| The bar at Princeton Club
Welcome to the young face of clubbing in Calcutta. Spawning a trend, the six-month-old Princeton Club is all out to woo the 'young corporate profile' in the city. The peppy look of its multi-coloured swimming pool, sports bar and cigar lounges apart, events like a wine appreciation session on April 29 are on the cards to lend a new meaning to club culture, as distinct from that established in the British era.
'Clubbing is still big in Calcutta, but there has been a downward trend of sorts making the culture a little casual and informal in nature. We are trying to raise the bar by taking up the cause of fine-dining on a par with five-star endeavours,' says Pratul Singh Rawat, general manager of the club opposite Navina cinema on Prince Anwar Shah Road.
Thus, even though the d'cor is airy and informal with a lot of greens and open-air features thrown in, strict quality control is being adhered to with stringent screening of member profile and hi-tech measures like an online club management system.
'The centralised system makes it mandatory for each member to register by logging in whenever they are using any of the club services. This ensures transparency in the billing procedure and helps recover outstanding dues, which is otherwise a bone of contention at most clubs,' explains Rawat.
The Merlin Group venture targeting a maximum membership capacity of only 1,000, lays special emphasis on sports and fitness, to suit the client profile it has in mind. The Princeton sports bar is a case in point with each tabletop sporting board games like scrabble and chess, apart from another interesting feature of a dance floor with a detachable wall, that can be pulled on or off depending on the mood and the moment.
Chess and scrabble competitions are in the offing to popularise the concept. Things get more physical with a badminton court, squash court and a table tennis board. 'Youngsters are slowly being weaned away from television and are turning to sports in a big way,' feels Rawat.
Trying to achieve a fine balance between new-age concepts and old-world charm, Princeton has certain unique acquisitions like an antique Lazarus billiards table and score board, apart from using a lot of wood and earth colours throughout the 40,000 sq ft club d'cor towards this effect.
Princeton doesn't have any pretensions about shying away from glamour either, helping with the grooming of Sananda-Tilottama 2005 contestants by sponsoring their fitness and diet regimen at the club.
Aiming to be a complete family retreat, the club has spared adequate thought for children. Special features for children in the swimming pool or in the kids zone with their own mini pool table, carrom board and table tennis board besides the usual kiddie toys have been included to keep the tots off their folks' back while they have their own share of fun. The membership fee: Rs 1,20,000.