An excited Chief Minister who spent a night in Kashmir’s newest five star hotel, the Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa, at Gulmarg formally threw it open Thursday noon. Omar Abdullah said the impressive property is the landmark in Kashmir’s winter wonderland and will raise the bar for the overall hospitality sector especially for Gulmarg.
The Rs 120 crore hotel has 85 super deluxe rooms and it took exactly four years to complete. It looks a fairytale blend of traditional architecture and the most modern facilities that money can buy. It has an indoor swimming pool, a home theatre, a children playing belt and lot many villas surrounding it. It also has a gymnasium and a spa which would be operational within less than a year.
“It is one of the 613 small luxury hotels of the world of which only five are in India,” one of the senior executives of the interstate hotels that runs the property said. “Since we are managing 410 hotels with around 77000 rooms across the world, it will give us a real depth in Kashmir to make it more competitive with other similar ski destinations,” he added.
Umer Khursheed Tramboo, the promoter of the hotel said they are sold out till January 5 even though only half of the room capacity is operational. “We are adding certain more facilities and we ensure that every part of the hotel should look Kashmiri,” Tramboo said.
In a bid to make a difference beyond what is visible, the accommodation for most of the 200 staffers is a three star setup. Even for the driver who drives with tourists and have no room to stay, the hotel has a special air conditioned enclosure. Last year a driver died of cold.
The hotel is the first that has the most modern sewerage management plant operational within it’s premises. To your surprise, an executive not authorized to speak on record said, even the mattreses and the pillows that the hotel uses are being introduced for the first time in India. It’s space management is termed exceptional as the hotel that seems only two floor from outside is actually a four story premesis that has lower and upper basements managing part of the back end facility.
One designing company official who claimed to have been associated with the hospitality sector for his thirty year career said there are no comparisons. The nearest comparison you can have is in Bhutan where you have Anam, a hill resort but that is not as good as this one is.
“The comfort at hotel is decided by the urge to leave or stay back,” chief minister Omar Abdullah said in his long speech. “The fact of the matter is that after spending a night here, I want to create a clone of myself that will take care of my job so that I stay in this hotel.” Omar stayed for the night with his friends and aides Nasir Aslam Wani and Devinder Singh Rana.
“This is the best hotel that you can find in north India,” Rana said.