IHCL to connect Taj Lands End and Sea Rock Hotel with bridge
February 12, 2018
MUMBAI: A skywalk over the Arabian sea is sure to make heads turn - and that is what Indian Hotels Co is proposing to build, connecting Taj Lands End and the soon-to-be constructed Bandra's Sea Rock Hotel. Indian Hotels (IHCL), a Tata group company which runs the Taj chain of hotels, might just be redefining Mumbai's skyline one more time with this planned bridge.
The bridge, which is intended as an exclusive skywalk for clients, will cover a distance of less than 2 km and stretch over the Arabian Sea. The Sea Rock Hotel — located opposite Taj Lands End hotel, another Indian Hotels' property — has been shut since 1993 after the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, and was ultimately razed in 2010.
Indian Hotels recently got its reconstruction plans approved by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA). The bridge connecting the two hotels will be one of its kind in India. Tata Group's historic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel overlooking the Arabian Sea in Apollo Bunder has long defined the city's skyline.
"We have received all the necessary permissions to connect the two hotels and build new rooms in both the hotels,'' said a person with direct knowledge of the plan. "A bridge will give customers of both the hotels access to a wide variety of restaurants and other facilities.'' "The bridge will bring an element of convenience and novelty to the hotel property.
It will help increase footfalls in the restaurants, but not impact the room occupancy rate too much," said Naimish Dave, executive director at Avalon Consulting, an Asia-focused strategy, and management consultant.
Rebuilding of Sea Rock Hotel will increase the hotel chain's footprint in North Mumbai.
Indian Hotels raised Rs 1,500 crore through rights issue last year to fund its growth, reduce its leverage ratio, and for capital expenditure, including funding the expansion of its Sea Rock and Taj Lands End properties.
"Mumbai has a paucity of good luxury business hotels. There's a clear potential for adding more rooms, and it makes sense for Indian Hotels Co to expand with Sea Rock in the same location. It will provide economies of scale and better utilisation of property overheads," said Dave.
The hospitality sector is expected to see better business this year, helped by domestic tourism and foreign tourist arrivals, according to experts. Room occupancy rates surpassed the 2008 peak of 65% last year. The industry is now emerging from the recent challenges of ban on liquor sales and goods and services tax.