Ruposhi Bangla set for wholesale renovations
The government-owned Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, the country's first five-star hotel, is set for a major facelift next year, in a bid to upgrade the iconic property to global standards.
The hotel will also be rebranded to InterContinental Dhaka, following an agreement between InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Bangladesh Services Ltd (BSL), Ruposhi Bangla's owner, to manage the property for 30 years.
“We have designed the hotel keeping its iconic and historical aspect in mind,” said Christopher Cribb, project director of inProjects, which is overseeing the hotel refurbishments, at a media presentation yesterday on the conceptual design of InterContinental Dhaka.
“With all the changes, InterContinental Dhaka will have competitive edge over other hotels of the country. This will place the hotel firmly to rival the five-star hotels across the subcontinent and South East Asia.”
The government will bear the cost of the renovations, estimated to be around $40 million, said Lutfur Rahman, managing director of BSL.
The renovation works that will start in mid-2014 include positioning the main entrance back to the original location of the East Wing, as it was when InterContinental first came to Dhaka 47 years ago.
The guest rooms will be enlarged and fitted with all modern amenities, while the number of rooms would be brought down to 231 from the existing 272.
A show kitchen is to be added to the all-day dining restaurant, along with construction of specialty and themed restaurants.
New meeting rooms will be built with contemporary décor and facilities, with the banquet halls renovated.
The swimming pool will be relocated to the upper level, and will be accompanied with a health club and spa with the “finest” equipment.
The hotel will remain closed during the overhaul as part of the agreement with IHG, said Rahman.
“The full closure of the hotel is needed to achieve the most cost-effective and speedy renovation,” he said, adding that renovation is expected to be complete in 2015.
However, no employees will lose their jobs due to the closure, said Faruk Khan, civil aviation and tourism minister, adding that all employees including contractual ones will continue to receive their existing pay packet and benefits during the renovation period.
Ruposhi Bangla now employs 600 officials, of whom 350 are permanent.
The majority of employees will be relocated to Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, which is being managed by BSL since July 2012, while the technical and logistical staff will remain at the hotel for project-related activities.
Opportunities also exist for many employees to enhance their skills by being deployed in IHG-managed hotels abroad, as well as cross-exposure training at other IHG properties in the region, said James McDonald, general manager of Ruposhi Bangla Hotel.
All employees will return to the hotel prior to its re-opening as InterContinental Dhaka, he added.
Assets of Ruposhi Bangla Hotel which are acceptable to IHG will be retained for use in InterContinental Dhaka.
Other assets of the hotel will be offered to Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation for use in their various properties.
Remaining disposable items will be auctioned through open tender.
The redecoration works were scheduled to start in June this year as per the agreement signed with IHG on February 19 last year, but the government postponed it for ICC World Twenty20 tournament, which is due to be held in March next year.
IHG, a UK-based leisure company, ran the historical property from 1966 to 1983, followed by Sheraton, a concern of Starwood, until 2011.
Upon completion of Sheraton's tenure, BSL took over the management and renamed the hotel to Ruposhi Bangla.
IHG will take 2 percent of the hotel's total revenue in the first 3 years, 2.5 percent for the 4th and 5th years and 3 percent from then on in management fee, according to the management deal with BSL.
It said the UK-based hotel group will also get up to 10 percent of the net profit as incentives.
Ruposhi Bangla posted Tk 125.8 crore in gross revenue and Tk 46 crore in net profit in 2012, up from Tk 111 crore in gross revenue and around Tk 35 crore in net profit in 2011, Shahidus Sadeque, marketing and communications manager of the hotel, told The daily star.
IHG is the largest hotel chain in the world in terms of the number of rooms, which currently stands at 658,000. It has 4,480 hotels in nearly 100 countries and territories around the world.
It operates seven hotel brands -- InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.