Mumbai Local

Visiting a 5-star hotel? Don’t forget to carry your ID

Curious visitors who walk into a hotel to hang around in the lobby or pose for selfies are being stopped or asked the purpose of their visit, with several being turned away—Photo: Paul Noronha  

Next time you decide to walk in to a five-star hotel, make sure you have some kind of identity card with you. After the terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008 , passing through a metal detector and then being frisked became mandatory.

Now, thanks to the emergence of Islamic State as a deadly terrorist organisation, you’re likely to be asked to prove your identity as well.

Hotels in the city have now been advised by the local police, security consultants as well as their own top management to allow only genuine visitors and guests into their premises, and only after thorough checks.

Hotel executives said they have been asked not to leave anythingto chance due to enhanced threat perception from terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and their terror franchises.

Curious visitors who simply walk into a hotel to hang around in the lobby or pose for selfies are being stopped or asked the purpose of their visit, with several being turned away. Comparatively smaller five-star properties have stepped up security; all walk-in guests are quizzed at multiple points to establish their genuineness.

Ashish Ashok Mahankal, assistant security manager, Sofitel in Bandra Kurla Complex, said, “Earlier we used to get advisory from the police once in a while depending on the inputs they received, but now it has become frequent. And as a standard practice, we are maintaining the highest level of security. We have been asked by the police to enhance security in and around our property, and fully secure the hotel on our own. In case of any doubt, we are asking for ID cards and allowing all genuine visitors.” He said that hotels, apart from monitoring visitors and the premises through close circuit TV cameras, are also depending heavily on frisking to ward off any threat from terrorists.

A senior official of a five-star hotel near Sahar in Andheri, requesting anonymity, said they had been asked by the police to upgrade security following the recent terrorist attack at Brussels airport. “The police have not issued any letter per se but have asked us to be extra careful considering the current scenario. This could be a standard advisory, but security is of paramount importance for us, and we are doing everything to protect our guests as well as the property.”

According to hotel industry officials, American chains such as Marriott, Hilton, Renaissance, Hyatt, Westin and Sheraton, are more obsessed with security than their Indian counterparts. But now, top hotels across the board are following them and adopting best practices to keep terrorists at bay.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti said the advisory was issued keeping in mind Maharashtra Day on May 1, and that similar advisories are issued to establishments, including top hotels, ahead of important days such Republic Day and Independence Day. “The objective is not to put the onus on the establishments, but to ensure security measures are being followed strictly.”

Hotel industry executives admit that any added security measure will cause inconvenience to genuine visitors, and they could only sensitise the external security guards to be as courteous as possible.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 4:40:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/visiting-a-5star-hotel-dont-forget-to-carry-your-id/article8543452.ece

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