Hospitality clubbed with heritage
"The lush green gardens offer a beautiful sight, when viewed from these balconies, in the morning"
Majestic and prestigious
BESIDES OFFERING the best services in the hospitality industry, the Taj Garden Retreat, Madurai branch of the Taj group of hotels, has got yet another thing to be proud of: The building in which it is housed has a rich heritage.
In fact, the site on which the hotel is located looks like a meadow. No changes have been made to the original structure of the building and the hotel has retained the aesthetic beauty. All rooms have a high-rise ceiling and the floors have been laid with the famous Aathangudi tiles. The timber used in various parts of the building is the Burma teak variety. Decorative pieces like deer horns still adorn the rooms.
Yet another feature is that the building is more than a century old.
The main building was the residence of the CEO of the J.B.Coats Limited, UK, since 1890. Now the company is functioning in the name of Madura Coats, one of the leading players in the textile sector.
The prime beauty is the present main block of the hotel, which was used as dining hall with a massive kitchen on the western side. This is used as the dining hall even today. Just in front of this block there is a long courtyard, with beautiful lawns, developed by the former owners, on both sides, leading to the main entrance. In these lawns now functions the Nattukottai restaurant.
On the first floor of the main block was the master bedroom and there were two other rooms. These three rooms have been converted into five rooms, one to five now.An annexe to these buildings is where the guests were accommodated then, which are now numbered 6 to 9.
"Most of our customers prefer mostly rooms in these two blocks because the colonial architecture is still maintained here.
The demand is more for rooms from 1 to 7. It still has the old charm, with wooden floors, high-rise ceiling and a big balcony. The lush green gardens offer a beautiful sight, when viewed from these balconies, in the morning", says Karthik, Assistant Relationship Manager, Taj Garden Retreat, Pasumalai.Followed by these are the rooms 10 and 11, from where a private school was functioning till some time back. This block is located close to the annexe. A spacious horse staple, on the backside of the main building, was constructed as a separate block and now it houses 2 rooms 12 and 14. "We don't have a room with number 13, as many feel that it is an unlucky number", says Karthik.
The rooms, just behind the staple, which were used as boiler room, store room and servant quarters then, have now been numbered 15, 16 and 17.
Another block that fascinates the customers most are the swimming pool and the resting place on the poolside.
The steps, leading to the swimming pool, and the swimming pool are retained, as they are located in a serene atmosphere.
"Despite requests from our customers to expand the swimming pool we have not disturbed it as it may spoil their natural beauty. To spend their leisure in sports activity, the old timers had also developed a tennis court, which is still being used by our customers", he says.
"The total area of the mountain is 63 acres. Of this, we are using only five to six acres. We still retain the beauty of the building as maintained by the Coats company.
And for this endeavour we have been receiving the Heritage Classic award, for the past four years, being given by the Central Government", Karthik says, adding, "some of the customers come here just to have the pride of staying in this building. They are also very particular about occupying certain rooms".
"Even the water sources created by them are still being used. We initiate a lot of eco-friendly activities and the entire place has been marked as a green belt area and also a plastic-free zone. For this also we received the second prize at all-India level", he points out.
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