Kolkata's landmark hotel Great Eastern reopens after renovation

Kolkata, Nov 19 : Kolkata's landmark colonial-era hotel The Great Eastern, which in the past hosted the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Twain and British royalty, was formally opened Tuesday after renovation.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the renovated heritage property, now christened the Lalit Great Eastern, owned by the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group.

One of the country's oldest luxury hotels, and lauded as the "Jewel of the East" during the British rule, it was set up by British confectioner David Wilson on this day in 1841 and named Auckland Hotel after George Eden, the first Earl of Auckland, and then governor general of India.

Chairperson and managing director Jyotsna Suri said the group, which currently has 90 percent stake, would soon buy out the remaining ten percent from the state government.

With renovation work still on, Suri said the 244-key hotel would be ready for the public in a short time. Around Rs.320 crore was spent for the renovation. The entire hotel would be operational in six months.

From Mahatma Gandhi to Mark Twain, from Queen Elizabeth II to Soviet Communist leader Nikita Khrushchev, and legendary writer Rudyard Kipling, the iconic hotel has hosted dignitaries from different eras from across the globe.

On the verge of closure, the West Bengal government took over the property in 1970 but after the failure to revive its fortune, the erstwhile Left Front government sold 90 percent of the stake to Lalit Suri Hospitality in 2005.

--IANS (Posted on 19-11-2013)

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