How is the hotel being positioned, given that it was previously under the Swissotel brand, now managed by Taj, making it the second Taj hotel in Kolkata after 30 years?
It would have been adventurous for us to replicate at Taj City Centre New Town what we did with Taj Bengal 30 years ago. So, this hotel is a different form of Taj, and what we try to showcase and provide to our guests is ‘urban hospitality’. We are positioning ourselves as a hallmark of ‘urban luxury’.
The hotel brings with it two ‘travelling restaurants’ of Taj – Shamiana and The Emperor Lounge…
Food and beverage will be the main force behind this hotel, so it was the ideal opportunity to represent these iconic brands. Shamiana, especially, is a brand that Taj is taking places. The flagship all-day dining/coffee shop brand from The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, has travelled to Dubai and Ahmedabad before arriving in Kolkata. We will also open Wykiki and a microbrewery, making this cocktail of brands a force to reckon with in the city.
Watch this video for a virtual walkthrough of Taj City Centre New Town
The hotel’s proximity to Kolkata airport makes it primarily a business hotel, is that correct?
While the hotel primarily caters to business travellers, I would say it is multifaceted and also caters to the city residents seeking a break from a regular day in the city. Take a nice drive down to this side of town, stay in a Jacuzzi Room, get a treatment at the spa and spend your weekend at the hotel. Open spaces and natural light make it kind of like an urban resort. For business travellers, it’s the closest luxury hotel near the airport, offers convenient check-in and has a floor with a club lounge that can not only host meetings, but also serves breakfast, high tea, evenings drinks and snacks. These days, a lot of heads of companies fly in and out of the city on the same day and staying here means you can hold a conference without having to enter the main city.
What is the Average Room Rate (ARR)?
Our base rate is Rs 7,500 plus taxes, inclusive of breakfast. Based on the category of room, the rate changes. Prices are dynamic.
Sourav, it’s been a busy four years in Kolkata for you.
I never expected to be in my hometown for so long, but I am lucky to still be here (laughs)!
The city is lucky to have you! You were here for the branding of The Gateway Hotel EM Bypass to Vivanta and expanded the rooms from 80 to 200, handled the opening of Taal Kutir Convention Centre, did the rebranding of Raajkutir and brought it under the IHCL umbrella, and now you have opened Taj City Centre New Town. What changes in trends have you observed over time?
Kolkata has evolved over time, especially with newer avenues for business coming up. The city is seeing an emergence of massive convention centres. Milan Mela was always there, then came the Biswa Bangla exhibition centre, and soon we opened the Taal Kutir Convention Centre a kilometre away, so they could complement each other. The city is evolving and becoming a hub for conferences and exhibitions. I’m very positive, because over time we have seen a change in business and hotels are getting full even in the months of May-June. I think we’ve opened at the right time in this part of town, with Taal Kutir Convention Centre and the hotel within 2.5km of each other. Exciting times ahead!
Has the clientele matured?
I have noticed that people are making reservations for Shamiana, something I didn’t observe at Vivanta. I would say that from the 120-150 covers we do for dinner in the restaurant, around 80 per cent are through reservations. I have not seen people walking in randomly and waiting. And that’s a positive trend; it shows a matured clientele.
Has international travel picked up?
International travel has not really started. We are hopeful that it will pick up post October, because Durga Puja is when people pour into the city. As of now, we see a 20 per cent growth in the international mix but I’m confident that over time, primarily because of our location, we will see a lot of international guests, as well as local residents.
You can never take Bengal out of a Bengali. What does Kolkata mean to you?
Books. In school, I would pick up books from the British Council library and go to the Victoria Memorial, lie on the marble floor and read. Kolkata is about art, culture, and just talking about this gives me goosebumps. I’ve been to so many cities, but no city gives you that feeling like Kolkata. The people of Kolkata are integral to the city. When you sit with someone, it’s never a conversation about material possessions; it’s always a conversation about culture, music or art, about how many books you have in the library or what you inherited from your father in your bookcase. You don’t get that anywhere else.
In Kolkata, when you sit with someone, it’s never a conversation about material possessions; it’s always a conversation about how many books you have in the library. You don’t get that anywhere else.
— Sourav Ghoshal
A few of Sourav’s favourite things
- Author: Amitav Ghosh, I have read all his books. He used to be my dad’s favourite as well.
- Corner: If I get a reclusive corner with my books, any corner in the world will do.
- Travel destination: I love to travel, I love the mountains. Srinagar, followed by Kalpa in Himachal Pradesh.
- Kolkata food: Aminia in Esplanade and Mughlai Paratha from Anadi Cabin