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Friday, September 10, 2010

TAJ CAPE TOWN GRAND OPENING

A year ago few people could have imagined that two historic buildings
in the Cape Town city centre would host international investors, local
business leaders and celebrities at the grand opening of a five-star
Taj hotel.

Mr Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons, Mr RK Krishnakumar, Executive
Director Tata Sons& Vice Chairman Indian Hotels Company Limited and
Raymond Bickson, Managing Director and Chief Executive of Indian
Hotels, officially inaugurated the Taj Cape Town at a red-carpet event
on Saturday evening (28 August 2010).

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Bickson said: "We are delighted to
announce our foray into South Africa with Taj Cape Town. This is in
sync with our strategy to continue our vision of growth in key
international destinations. Cape Town is an increasingly popular
tourist and business destination and this is yet another step towards
establishing a significant presence for brand Taj across the globe
with its exemplary combination of product and service."

Joint venture partners Tata's Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces and city
centre developers Eurocape spent two years and over R500 million
(US$69 million) restoring the original South African Reserve Bank and
Temple Chambers buildings.

Eurocape successfully developed the neighbouring Mandela Rhodes Place
and is actively pursuing a project to create a multi-billion rand
mixed-use development in the inner-city. Taj Hotels Resorts and
Palaces has considerable experience in marking and operating iconic
city centre hotels. Its portfolio includes The Pierre in New York, 51
Buckingham Gate in London and its flagship property, the Taj Mahal
Palace in Mumbai.

The Taj Cape Town has been called the city's oldest new hotel because
of the historic buildings it occupies, but its location also sets it
apart.

Together with the adjacent Mandela Rhodes Place and St George's
Cathedral, it is in the middle of a historic precinct that links St
George's Mall, the Company Gardens, the Slave Lodge and the Houses of
Parliament, with the Groote Kerk, Grand Parade and the City Hall. It
is an area steeped in history and alive with art, culture, cuisine and
entertainment.

"Like all great city centre hotels, you have museums, art galleries,
top restaurants, live music venues, open- air markets and crafts all
right on the doorstep," says general manager Michael Pownall.

He emphasises that the Taj Cape Town is very much part of this city
centre experience for Capetonians and international guests alike.

Its two entrances, the porte-cochere on Wale Street and the South
African Reserve Bank entrance off St George's Mall, both lead into a
magnificent lobby, which was once the main banking hall.

The lobby is dominated by a barrel-vaulted skylight, supported by four
fluted marble columns, all of which have been meticulously restored.
The chandeliers are also originals as are the heavy grills and doors
at the pedestrian entrance, still bearing the South African Reserve
Bank's lion heraldry. Even the clock in the banking hall, which first
kept the banking hours in 1932 has been polished and repaired.

Leading off the lobby are a formal lounge, cocktail bar and cigar bar.

A beautifully crafted wooden staircase leads from the lobby to the
first floor of what was the Temple Chambers and later the BoE
Building, dating back to 1896. This floor houses the banqueting and
meeting rooms and here there is plenty more evidence of how heritage
has been conserved. The wooden panelling is all original as are the
fireplaces in some of the rooms and large sash windows letting in
oodles of natural light.

The furnishings in the 177 guest rooms combine old-world quality with
modern amenities. Comfortable, classic furniture doesn't preclude
high-speed internet and a wireless multi-media hub allowing laptops to
be interfaced with the television.

All the interiors are by renowned Singapore designers James Park and
Associates, whose previous commissions include another of the Taj's
historic city centre hotels, the Pierre in New York.

Large marble bathrooms are standard and most rooms look out over the
city or mountain. The Tower rooms in the new section of the building
all have walk-out balconies and the two-bedroom Presidential suite on
the 17th floor provides a panoramic view of the Mother City and Table
Mountain.

Good news for guests and Capetonians alike is that the Taj's
restaurant repertoire includes the Bombay Brasserie, a fine-dining
Indian Restaurant offering authentic Indian flavours in contemporary
dishes. It is modelled on its famous namesake in London, which is
considered one of the top Indian restaurants in the UK.

Looking out over St. George's Mall, Mint is an all-day informal
restaurant offering a classic menu featuring meat, seafood and poultry
grills. There's plenty of choice and starters can be ordered as main
courses and vice versa. Patrons can opt for the relaxed atmosphere of
the contemporary interior, watch their meals being prepared in the
show kitchen, book a private function on the mezzanine level or enjoy
the sights and sounds of Cape Town at open-air tables under the trees
in the Mall.

The quaintly named Twankey takes it moniker from the statue
overlooking the corner of Adderley and Wale Streets. Originally
intended as a symbol of the benevolence of the Board of Executors,
Capetonians cheekily christened the large draped female the Widow
Twankey after the pantomime character. Today the relaxed seafood and
champagne bar below her celebrates this historic irreverence. It's an
ideal place to meet friends and enjoy a fresh seafood snack and a
glass of excellent South African wine. Local bands often provide
evening entertainment.

Another feature of the hotel that is proving popular is the Jiva
Grande Spa. Exclusive to the Taj group, Jiva Spas draw on ancient
Indian healing wisdom of Ayurveda. Everything that touches the body is
completely natural, from organic cotton, sun-bleached fabrics and
oven-baked pottery, bamboo fibre, soy cotton and a range of other
ingredients making up 200 customised products. The spa is equipped
with single- and double-treatment suites, beauty treatment rooms, and
vitality pools.

Downstairs from the spa is a fully equipped, modern Techno gym,
complete with a heated indoor pool, two saunas and male and female
changing areas.

The Taj Cape Town combines the comfort and convenience of a modern
luxury hotel, with the splendour and character of yesteryear. It's a
mix of historic and contemporary Cape Town, reflecting the city around
it.

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