The Taj Group
Above: the Taj Mahal in Bomby/Mumbai
Billed by the Times, London as the finest hotel in the East, the Taj's first hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Mumbai was perhaps the only place in the world where a British Viceroy could rub shoulders with an Indian Maharajah, where the Congress could debate with right wing leaders, and where sailors on shore leave could flirt with the Pompadour Follies.
Built at the cost of a quarter of a million pounds, the hotel introduced a series of firsts that set new benchmarks in Indian hospitality. Over the years, the Taj brought into Bombay, Professors of Dance Mademoiselle Singy to raise temperatures and a few eyebrows with the Tango, the first air-conditioned ballroom to cool things down, the first cold storage, the first licensed bar, and more. The changing decades ushered in new tastes and newer guests including Mick Jagger, Steven Spielberg, and David Rockefeller, to name a few. From Nobel laureates to rock stars, fashion divas, to oil-rich sheiks, Taj represented a global village long before the term was to become a cliché. Even today, a hundred years on, guests will find Taj taking luxury to greater heights in all its hotels around the world including business capitals, fairy-tale palaces, on secluded islands, in private yachts, aboard executive jets, and amidst spas and resorts. Still, as the discerning traveller will note, a little ahead of its time.
Among the hotels run by Tai is the Taj West End, built in 1887 in Bangalore.
Important Milestones in the History of Taj
1903: Created history with the opening of The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Bombay (Mumbai) India's first Luxury hotel.
1971-72: Pioneered the concept of authentic Palace Hotels in the country with the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, the Palace of the Maharajah of the erstswhile state of Jaipore.
1974: Conceptualized the unique beach resort at Fort Aguada, Goa built within the walls of a Portuguese fort overlooking the Arabian Sea
1978-82: Taj launched in Delhi with its luxury hotel - Taj Mahal Hotel on No. 1 Man Singh Road and then prepared India for the Asian Games by setting up Taj Palace, Delhi with the largest convention centre in the country 1982: Taj established a presence in the Western Hemisphere with the historic St. James Court Hotel near Buckingham Palace, London
1984-92: Well before these destinations became world renown for their beauty, Taj expanded to Kerala and Sri Lanka
1992-97: Rolled out Business Hotels in key cities and towns across the country, branded as Taj Residency hotels
2000: Consolidated its position as the largest chain in India with hotels in Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, the latter city being a joint venture with GVK Hotels resulting in a dominant position in the market for premium and luxury hotel rooms
2002: The new Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives, within six months of its launch, was awarded the title of "The Best Resort in the World" in the first ever Harpers and Queen Travel Awards 2003: Mr. Raymond Bickson Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer Raymond Bickson's experience in hospitality spans thirty years and four continents. In January 2003, Mr. Bickson moved to India and joined the Board as Executive Director & Chief Operating Officer of Taj Luxury Hotels, overseeing the operations of all luxury properties and playing a key role in the global expansion and development of future hotels. He assumed the role as Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of The Indian Hotels Company Limited in July 2003.
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The following notable hotels are run or owned by Taj The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower (Mumbai) Taj Lands End (Mumbai) The Taj Mahal Hotel (New Delhi) The Taj West End (Bangalore) Taj Coromandel (Chennai) Taj Krishna (Hyderabad) The Pierre (New York) The following hotels are part of the Leading Small Hotels of the World, Ltd.: Taj Lake Palace (Udaipur) Rambagh Palace (Jaipur) Umaid Bhawan Palace (Jodhpur) Taj Exotica Resort & Spa (Maldives) Taj Exotica Resort & Spa (Mauritius)