Scaffoldings, engineering trucks, lots of construction material and workers wearing protective gear is the scene outside The Oberoi Hotel - one of the four targets of terrorists on the night of November 25, 2008.
Thirty-one people, including 12 staff members, lost their lives in the attack, which also caused extensive damage to the hotel.
The Oberoi, a five-star hotel, announced on Saturday that they have gone in for complete renovation, which included installation of security devices, and it would reopen in the first quarter of 2010.
“The restoration of the hotel is making steady progress,” said an official spokesperson of the hotel.
The hotel was almost entirely gutted when a terrorist duo entered its premises and went on a killing spree. In the two-day stand-off between the gunmen and security forces, the lobby was completely destroyed.
Though unwilling to comment on the financial extent of the damage, Rattan Keswani, president, Trident Hotels, said it would cost between Rs 40-50 crore to restore The Oberoi.
The Oberoi, 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 hotel hosts primarily business travellers,
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 – “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 is the 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.
Mr. 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 those who lost their lives.