| Liz lands in Mumbai. (AFP)
Mumbai, March 5: The rough ride of an East-West marriage seems to be taking its toll on Elizabeth Hurley.
Although she is not being judged yet by her in-laws — an assessment that would carry some weight even in a globalised India — her decision to check into a hotel after landing in Mumbai has raised some eyebrows among the Nayar clan.
A jet-lagged and “pooped out” Liz, who landed by a British Airways flight at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at Sahar around 11.40 am, drove straight to the majestic Taj Mahal Hotel in Colaba.
“Well, it was all planned in advance, and (was) not a spur-of-the-moment decision, but many elders in the family do feel she should have paid a visit to Arun’s family residence first,” said a city businessman and close relative of the groom’s father.
But with keeping the paparazzi at bay being top of the celeb couple’s agenda, Liz’s bodyguards had apparently advised against a stopover at the St James Court building compound where the Nayar family occupies four sprawling apartments.
“Arun has one of the apartments to himself at St James,” the family source said. The building, which overlooks the Marine Drive, is about a 10-minute drive from the Taj, where Liz went for a spa session after checking in. A hotel source said the couple had not sought special security and were cooped up in their private suite most of the day.
It could not be confirmed in which suite Liz and Arun are staying. The hotel has three Grand Luxury Suites, each designed around a central theme: the Sunrise Suite, Moonlight Suite and the Bell Tower Suite.
The suites offer views of the Arabian Sea and The Gateway of India.
The artwork and antiques recreate an old-world charm with a blend of modern amenities and gracious personalised service with butlers available at the touch of a button. Complimentary services include breakfast, high tea and cocktails at the lounge and airport transfers.
Each suite is equipped with a 42-inch Plasma TV, surround sound with fast internet access (via an infra-red keyboard), a DVD player and NEOS (an interactive TV network through which you can access the hotel’s library of films and music).
The cost: $2,800 (nearly Rs 1.24 lakh) per night plus 10 per cent as tax. The hotel also has 43 other suites, each adorned with original paintings and period furniture.
One of Arun’s close friends, who had also attended the UK wedding, denied reports of tension in the family over Hurley’s decision to lodge herself in a hotel.
“In India, a bride does not stay in her husband’s home prior to marriage, that too just a couple of days before marriage. Although Liz and Arun are married for all practical purposes, the Indian wedding has not been solemnised yet. So where is the breach in protocol'” the friend said.
But reports of frostiness towards Liz from some of the Nayars have been around in Mumbai’s Page 3 circuit for some time.
Although Arun’s German mother Gunnar is more than delighted about the match, the groom’s paternal grandmother, known to be a matriarch, had apparently not taken kindly to the former Estee Lauder model at first.
“His grandmother had refused to meet her for a long time. She had been affronted by magazine pictures of them kissing at St Moritz, especially because Arun was still married to Italian model Valentina at the time,” the family source said.
Although a lot has been forgotten and forgiven since, some undercurrents still linger.
“But Arun’s immediate family is ecstatic that he has found happiness with Liz and they love her. Arun’s father has planned a grand reception for her at Hilton Towers in Mumbai after the Rajasthan wedding,” said the groom’s friend.
And before the marriage party leaves for the grand Indian wedding on March 7, Liz, Arun and their close family and friends are getting together for two high-profile but exclusive dinners.
On Monday, the Oomerbhoys, an old Mumbai business family who are close friends of the Nayars, held a private dinner for the Bedazzled star.
And on Tuesday, the flamboyant Parmeshwar Godrej will throw a special party for the couple before the baraat proceeds to Jodhpur.
The prototype for such an extravaganza had been on display when Arun’s brother Nikhil married Samantha Carmichael from Cheshire.
The ceremony spanned two weekends in Jodhpur and Mumbai, with some of the party spending the intervening four days in Jaipur.
Liz Hurley, decked in her £4,000 pink saree and £8,500 diamond choker, will have no less.