Exotic food and cocktails, foreign DJs, party packages – five-star hotels are big on Christmas and New Year celebrations this time, with the Mumbai terror attacks having brought the previous year to a grim end. Security, of course, will be high.
“People are very enthusiastic about New Year celebrations. After all, this is the time when people want to have fun. Queries have started pouring in and some have already booked a place,” Deepali Narula, CEO of Ashoka Hotel’s F Bar & Lounge, told IANS.
Last year the shocking 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, which claimed 166 lives, had dampened the party mood. Celebrations at prominent hotels were either cancelled or were subdued because people were not comfortable going to five-star hotels.
Apart from mourning the lives lost, fear was on top of people’s mind as five-star hotels - Mumbai’s prominent Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel and the Oberoi Trident - were targeted by the terrorists.
But this year, people want to make the most out of it and have called for double celebrations.
“Last year I didn’t attend any Christmas or New Year party because the mood was very grim and also as a citizen of India my conscience didn’t allow me to celebrate. But this year, I am all booked. I am going to make the most of it by partying non-stop on December 31,” said an enthusiastic Anurag Yadav.
Island Bar at the Shangri-La Hotel in the capital is offering exotic food with festive cocktails and an international DJ has been roped in to set the mood for a spirited night of celebration on New Year’s eve. And the celebration is expected to continue till the wee hours.
“We are not doing anything special for New Year celebrations. It’s just that we are offering elaborate menus and good music. Despite this, the kind of response we are getting is amazing. Our banquet halls are already booked and some Bollywood stars will be performing,” said a spokesperson of Shangri-La.
Agni at the Park hotel here has organised a Bally Sagoo night Dec 24 and a couple entry will cost Rs.4,000.
Chennai’s Park Hotel’s general manager Lemuel Herbert is expecting big crowds. “With positive energy surrounding us, we are expecting a 100 percent increase in the mood of celebrations,” he said.
Mumbai’s Taj Lands End coffee shop Vista is offering unlimited buffet and drinks at Rs.6,500 per person on New Year’s eve.
“Last year the mood was grim, but the kind of response we have been getting from people this year is fantastic. We have given our 100 percent to the security and it becomes more stringent during festive season, said a source from Taj Lands End.
Swarup Datta, General Manager of The Park in Navi Mumbai said, “People are definitely in the mood to celebrate this year and we expect revenues to be better than last year.”
Hotels in every city are being stringent about security checks.
“We don’t want any last-minute goof-ups. So we have already told our guests that they have to give us their guest list in advance so we can scan their background information. After this, we will give them an identity card and only people with those cards will be allowed to enter the hotel,” said the Shangri-La spokesperson in Delhi.
Similar measures are being taken in other cities as well.
“Owing to the strategic downtown location of our hotel and the crowds, regular security is always high. The local police have always been helpful in providing us with adequate assistance during this period and we expect the same from them this year as well,” explained Anirban Simlai, general manager, The Park, Kolkata.
Datta said, “Being the host to key guests of the city, we have always paid special emphasis on security. Our hotel is located next to the Police Commissioners’ office giving us a definite advantage in terms of support and assistance from the local police.”
Narula wants to make sure that entry to the venue is restricted.
“We want to restrict the entry to around 350-400 couples. Although we can easily have more guests in our lounge given the kind of space we have, we want people to enjoy and not get lost in the crowd,” said Narula.
(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)