12:00 AM, September 10, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:10 PM, September 10, 2018

InterContinental opens Thursday

The renovated InterContinental Dhaka is ready to welcome guests. Photo: Star

InterContinental Dhaka, formerly known as Ruposhi Bangla and Sheraton, is scheduled to open on September 13 after four years of renovations.

First estimated in 2014 to take Tk 344 crore, the refurbishment cost soared nearly 60 percent to finally stand at Tk 550 crore.

State-run public company Bangladesh Services Ltd (BSL), the hotel's owner, is providing the finance with its own funds and bank loans.

The makeover was supposed to be complete by December 2015 but it took two and a half more years.

“It is easier to make a new building than to renovate one,” said Md Mohibul Haque, the BSL chairman.

It took longer due to some changes in plans after the previous structure was broken down to erect the new one, he said.

“Though the design of the building looks almost the same, everything of this hotel has changed,” he said.

There are now 46 less rooms while the remaining 226 have had their size enlarged. Of them, 201 are premium or deluxe rooms, 10 deluxe suites, five superior suites, five diplomatic suites and five presidential suites.

Moreover, two ballrooms and seven meeting rooms provide more than 21,000 square feet for conferences and exhibitions.

“The room size of the hotel has been extended to 40 square metres from 26 alongside the meeting spaces as well,” said Haque, also acting secretary to the civil aviation and tourism ministry.

Now one ballroom can accommodate 1,000 people, double the previous capacity, he said.

There are five restaurants, including all-day dining with buffet, lobby café, club bar, pool bar and restaurant and specialty restaurant.

Other features include a temperature-controlled swimming pool, gymnasium, steam room, sauna and spa treatment rooms.

“Location of this hotel is much more convenient for tourists and business programmes, so we are hopeful to be more competitive in the hotel business in Bangladesh,” said Shahidus Sadeque, director for marketing and business promotion of InterContinental Dhaka.

He said InterContinental is a global brand and so it would be able to catch people's attention.

In February 2012, BSL signed a 30-year deal with InterContinental Hotels Group, paving the way for the British multinational hospitality company to undertake the hotel's management. There is an option for renewing the agreement two more times, each for five-year tenure.

The deal comes into effect on the first day of commercial operations.

InterContinental had run the iconic Dhaka hotel from 1966 to 1983 before Sheraton took over.

Though Sheraton's agreement ended in December 2008, BSL requested it to continue operations until April 30, 2011 for the ICC Cricket World Cup.

BSL ran it as Ruposhi Bangla Hotel from May 2011 till its closure for refurbishment in September 2014.