After nearly seven years of restoration effort, the erstwhile Great Eastern Hotel (GEH), among Asia’s first luxury hotels, is now set to open.

The Lalit Suri group acquired 90 per cent of the Great Eastern Hotels Ltd from the State government for Rs.52 crore in 2005. Till the closure due to the current restoration programme, GEH was Asia’s oldest-running hotel.

It is now planned that the hotel would be opened in phases with the first being launched in early 2013. The ‘puja’ conducted on Monday at the iconic hotel coincides with the inception of the hotel on this day in 1841 and the birth anniversary of late Lalit Suri. The project entailed a Rs.260 crore investment.

Once completed, it is proposed to have a heritage walk through this historic property. It would be presented in two distinct styles — the heritage block would radiate with charms of the British Colonial era and the new wing.

Commissioned in 1840, it is said to be India’s first luxury hotel. Although it changed hands many times, it was never closed down till now and its reputation ran across the British empire.

Reports say that its guest list included Queen Elizabeth, writer Mark Twain and cricketer Frank Worrell.

While the mandate to the Lalit Suri Group was to keep intact the façade of the hotel and restore other heritage parts, available information suggests that years of neglect had damaged some of the parts beyond repair.

Jyotsna Suri, chairperson and managing director of the Lalit Suri Hospitality group, said “We take pride in restoring this iconic and oldest hotel which has a strong heritage to it. Restoration work has been undergoing in a scientific and careful fashion and we have commissioned experts from various fields for the project.”

A release said that while behind the façade, there would be living accommodation and services, additionally there would be a new wing as per international hospitality standards.

There would be 221 rooms and 21 suites and two presidential suites.

Some of the old and famous restaurants such as Maxims would also be operational.

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