Ruposhi Bangla Hotel will remain shut for more than a year from September for massive renovations.
But the employees of the five-star hotel want the renovations to take place in phases without ceasing operations as they fear job losses.
James P McDonald, general manager of the hotel, said the overhaul process has already been delayed due to the ICC World T20. He also ruled out scope for renovations in phases keeping the hotel services on.
“We need to change every cable, every pipe, every toilet and even the chiller boiler system, to give it a look of an international-standard hotel."
Gradual renovations will also increase time and costs, he said, adding that the noises due to the repair work will bother the guests.
“If the guests have options and you don't renovate in the meantime, visitors will go to some other hotels. So, you will lose business,” he said.
Md Shafiuddin, president of Ruposhi Bangla Hotel Shramik O Karmachari Union, a platform of employees, said: “In the past, renovations were done without closing down the operations. Why will it be shut this time?”
He also sought a guarantee from the authorities that none will lose job.
Md Mostafa Gazi, general secretary of the platform, feared the renovation work may not complete in time.
But McDonald said they are confident about resuming operations in early 2016.
He also said there will be no job cuts during the renovations, as most of the employees will be transferred to Bangabandhu International Conference Centre and Balaka and the rest will continue their job on the project site.
The employees will be paid their basic salaries and other benefits during the renovation period. “Everyone will get a letter of undertaking,” McDonald said. He said 2012 will be the base year to calculate their salaries and other benefits, including service charges.
In 2012, the five-star hotel logged revenues of Tk 125.26 crore, while its gross operating profit was Tk 53.81 crore and net profit Tk 46.51 crore. In February 2012, InterContinental Hotels Group, a leading global hotel chain, signed an agreement with Bangladesh Services Ltd, which owns Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, to take over the operations and management of the hotel.
A condition of the deal was that the hotel would undergo extensive renovations and then be handed over to InterContinental for a period of 30 years.
Bangladesh Services will bear the renovation cost of around Tk 400 crore -- a portion from its own funds and the rest from bank loans.
After taking the operations and management charges, InterContinental will share profit with Bangladesh Services.
In line with the renovation plan, McDonald said, the number of rooms will come down to 226 from 272 as the size of a room will be increased to 40 sqaure metres from 26 square metres now.
The dining hall and swimming pool will be relocated while some added services and benefits will be offered, he said.
InterContinental had earlier run the iconic Dhaka hotel from 1966 to 1983. Sheraton took over its operations and management in 1983 for 25 years that ended in December 2008.
The government requested Sheraton to continue the operation until April 30, 2011 for the ICC Cricket World Cup.
Starwood, the mother company of Sheraton, gave Bangladesh Services a conditional extension offer in 2009, but there was a disagreement between Starwood and the Bangladesh Services authorities over the renovation cost and the fate of the employees. Eventually, Bangladesh Services took over the hotel's operations, renaming it Ruposhi Bangla Hotel.