After suffering extensive damage in the terror attack a year ago, The Oberoi, a five-star luxury hotel announced on Saturday that it would reopen in the first quarter of 2010

Scaffolding, engineering trucks, plenty of construction material and workers wearing protective gear is the scene outside The Oberoi Hotel -- one of four targets that a band of terrorists attacked on the night of November 25, 2008.

After suffering extensive damage in the terror attack a year ago, The Oberoi, a five-star luxury hotel announced on Saturday that it would reopen in the first quarter of 2010. The hotel said they were completely renovating the hotel, which included installation of adequate security devices.

“The restoration of the hotel is making steady progress,” said an official spokesperson from the hotel.

The luxury hotel was almost entirely gutted when a terrorist duo entered its premises and began their killing spree. 31 people including 12 staff members died in the five-star hotel that hosts primarily business travellers. The stand-off between the gunmen and security forces lasted two days. In this time the Hotel’s lobby was completely destroyed by the shelling.

Though unwilling to comment on the financial extent of the damage, Rattan Keswani, president Trident Hotels, said that it would cost between Rs 40-50 crore to restore The Oberoi.

The Oberoi, which is the more luxurious of the two towers, had an extremely swanky lobby and two popular restaurants at the lobby level. After the hotel was secured, all that could be seen of the lobby was blackened walls, charred furniture, shattered glass and bullet hotels in the wide window panes that over looked the sea.

The carnage according to witnesses and investigation took place primarily in the lobby and at the restaurants. However, several patrons and staff were also shot at point blank range by the terrorists after being herded to the higher floors in the hotel.

While the Trident Hotel was the access point for the terrorists, it was not as badly affected. This wing reopened to the public less than a month after the attack, on December 21, 2008 “with all its services, guestrooms, restaurants and banquet halls in pristine condition to welcome guests,” said the spokesperson.

Yet a big change in this hotel has been the fortress like entrance. Cars which could once drive up to the entrance have to deposit their passengers at the bottom of the drive way. The guests then pass through various detectors and checks before entering the hotel.

“It’s completely understandable for them to have these checks and I am sure guests would feel safer knowing these security systems are in place,” says Charles Murray, an investment banker and long stay guest in the hotel, who fortunately was travelling during the attack.

Murray came back from the United Kingdom with his family this year especially to stay in the hotel and show his support. “The hotel was a victim of a well planned attack. They would never do anything to jeopardise the safety of their guests,” he said.

As a tribute to those who lost their lives, the hotel has arranged on November 26, 2009, an all day programme where people who wish to come and light a candle can do so and pay homage to guests and staff who lost their lives.

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