Hotel with a helipad beats New Town blues

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  • Published 28.10.09

Rajarhat the hospitality hub scored a rare victory on Tuesday with the announcement of a Rs 800 crore five-star property, crowned with a helipad.

Shristi Hotel, an arm of Shristi Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd, has joined hands with global hospitality major Westin Hotels & Resorts, for the 323-key address which hopes to welcome guests by end-2011.

The twin towers of the G+35 hotel, a “bionic structure”, will boast a rooftop helipad, “a first by an Indian hotel”, and a high-tech fire-fighting system with Israeli collaboration, geared to evacuate 150 people in eight minutes.

This is the second hotel project with an overseas partner announced in Rajarhat in recent weeks, with Ambuja Realty confirming the Swissôtel Group as its hospitality partner for the five-star mall hotel atop City Centre 2.

The Shristi-Westin alliance on the eight-acre land parcel would be the first standalone deluxe five-star hotel in a Rajarhat rocked by lack of infrastructure and land-grab allegations.

Calcutta, languishing at a five-star room count of just over a thousand — about a ninth of Delhi’s — was promised an injection of at least 2,000 new star keys over a five-year timeframe. Going by today’s status, not even 20 per cent of that room rack will be ready by 2010.

DLF, which had pledged to bring three star hotels to Calcutta with a combined investment of Rs 1,000 crore, is yet to break ground.

Bengal Unitech Universal, committed to adding three properties in Rajarhat offering 500-plus keys among them, has only completed the foundation for the Marriott Courtyard in its IT park, with little signs of moving a step further.

Emaar-MGF, which made real estate history in Calcutta by quoting a record Rs 213 crore for a 6.24-acre plot on the Bypass, is also going slow on its double-header there — a JW Marriott and a Holiday Inn — with 250 keys each.

So why is the Shristi-Westin hotel taking the plunge? “The feasibility analysis by Deloitte has thrown up very encouraging potential for hotel rooms here,” said Sujit Kanoria, the managing director of Shristi Infrastructure Development.

Designed by the Spanish firm of Cervera & Pioz, which created the New York Stock Exchange and the Acropolis Museum in Greece, the star address is banking on “building with the bear and running with the bull”, says an industry veteran.

“Thanks to the small inventory size in Calcutta, there’s always room for more, despite the low energy. When the Shristi-Westin hotel will become operational, the overall economy would have turned the corner and the rest of the hotel projects would not be ready,” he added.

The hotel will have a wrap-around shopping and entertainment arcade with “an eclectic mix of live entertainment, fun and fine-dining outlets, speciality retail and state-of-the-art cinemas”.