The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) and its subsidiaries are collectively known as Taj Group and is recognised as one of Asia’s largest and finest hotel companies.
The company opened its first property in Bombay in 1903 and continues to this day with a collection of hotels which offer guests comfort, luxury and truly unforgettable experiences.
Situated within the same premises, St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel and Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences, are unique offerings from Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. The two hotels have been a part of the group’s portfolio since the 1980s and over the past few years have been updated and rebranded as part of a programme to improve the product and service experiences for guests.
Premier Hospitality recently caught up with Digvijay Singh, General Manager at St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel and Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences, to find out a little bit more about the rebranding. Digvijay explained the reasons behind the changes as well as giving us an insight into some of the main features at the hotels.
“The hotels were originally town houses surrounding a central court yard. The doors of the hotel originally opened in 1902, when the hotel was known as St. James’ Court, long before we took over the site. Most recently we have undertaken a rebranding exercise which has seen us conduct work in the town houses to improve facilities for guests with the final townhouse being completed in June 2014.
“Over the past two years we have undertaken renovation work at St. James’ Court and this was in response to market feedback and customer feedback. Of course we will always continue to refurbish rooms as part of our ongoing operations. In 2012 we introduced a retail outlet which sells a variety of handicrafts and garments from India and we also rebranded our spa to become the Wellness Centre. New technology and equipment has also been introduced.”
One of the biggest elements of the rebrand has been to update rooms to cater for the different types of client that visit the hotels.
“For a number of years the business of the hotel has changed so our room inventory has been remodelled accordingly. With the development of the Victoria area we get a large number of corporate clients coming into the area who want large work desks or office chairs, so we have brought these elements into half the inventory. We have also addressed the requirements of our leisure guests, a mix of Western European, UK and American clients. These guests visit London to experience the tradition and heritage of an English hotel, so the rooms have been refurbished to maintain the English character and in line with our positioning as an English Classic re-invented in the heart of Westminster.”
Taj 51 Buckingham Gate is a five star hotel which includes a butler service, Michelin starred restaurant, Quilon and an award-winning courtyard. The hotel does not include standard hotel rooms; instead it includes 85 contemporary suites, ranging from one to nine bedrooms, with each suite comprising a living room, bathroom and a fully-equipped kitchen.
The Presidential Residence includes the one, two and three bedroom Presidential Suites, with the first suite measuring 167 sq meters, the second comprising 74 sq meters and the third suite covering 65 sq meters. Additional suites on offer at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate include the Falconers Suites, Kings Suites, Ministers Suites, the signature Jaguar Suite and the impressive Cinema Suite.
The Cinema Suite was created by acclaimed Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee and comprises a 170 sq meter, two bedroom suite, complete with dining room, powder room, kitchen, living room and study. The Cinema Suite is truly remarkable and captures the unique history of cinema in one perfectly spaced offering.
Taking its inspiration from world cinema, the Cinema Suite includes an impressive 85 inch, high definition 3D TV and surround system from Steinway Lyngdorf. Additional highlights of the Cinema Suite include a Royal Attaché service, internet access, breakfast, a fully stocked complimentary bar and a daily cinematic platter.
Not surprisingly, Buckingham Gate is less than half a mile from Buckingham Palace as well as other London landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, Tate Britain and Westminster Abbey. St. James’ Park Tube Station and Victoria Station are also within close proximity of the hotel, allowing convenient access to and from airports and national rail links.
Complimenting Taj 51Buckingham Gate is St. James’ Court A Taj Hotel, a luxury hotel with 338 guest rooms and suites, in a classic or executive style. Classic rooms are traditional in their presentation and meet guests’ expectations when it comes to the quintessential elements of English heritage. Classic rooms range from Double and King Rooms to Classic suites at 71sq meters.
St. James’ Court also offers guests a choice of Executive Rooms, along with Classic and Executive Suites. Ideally suited for corporate travellers, the Classic Studio suite provides 40 sq meters of open plan living, whilst the Executive Suite is 45 sq meters and the grand Classic Master is 72 sq meters.
An additional feature of St. James’ Court is the hotel’s Wellness Centre, which offers bespoke treatments, from a relaxing massage to an extensive programme which is divided across a guest’s stay. To round out the hotel’s facilities, St. James’ Court also offers up conferencing and banqueting suites, providing the perfect meeting and events spaces.
“With this project we have focused on bringing in the same standards associated with all Taj Hotels properties. The broad objective is to achieve excellence in guest satisfaction and this is what all of our employees are targeted on. We are introducing enhanced luxury service standards from 24-7 laundry services to in-room dining, plus additional embellishments to existing services. We are also offering a few experiences outside of the hotel, to enhance what we can offer guests.”
For more information, please visit: www.tajhotels.com/london.
Connor Construction specialises in the construction of hotels as well as the build and refurbishment of residential developments. The company has been in operation for 17 years and within this time has worked on a vast array of high profile projects, from Crowne Plaza Kensington, Rydges Hotel Kensington, the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnall Green, Pennyhill Park Hotel, numerous projects for Imperial London Hotels Ltd, Royal Berkshire Hotel, Ascot and Falconer Apartments, St James Hotel.
Working on the St James’ Court & Buckingham Gate project, Connor Construction was responsible for the full refurbishment of 30 apartments in 17 weeks.
Stuart Ingham, Connor Construction, said:
“It is our second project for this client and we have enjoyed a good working relationship. It is a high profile project and ideally suited to our specialist skills.”
“At Connor Construction we pride ourselves on our on time delivery and the quality of our finished product. Working in the hotel sector, both of these are absolutely vital. The fact that repeat business accounts for around 75% of our workload demonstrates our ability to deliver quality, on time.”
Working closely with interior designers, Thomas Interiors specialise in the manufacture and supply of furniture to four and five star hotels and apartments. The company has been in operation since 1980 and since this time has worked on many prestigious projects including The Stafford, The Chester Grosvenor and Claridge’s in Mayfair.
Working on the St. James’ Court project, Thomas Interiors is supplying furniture, including wardrobes, TV/media units, sofas, dining chairs and tables.
Thomas Interiors Company Owner, Tom Elson, said:
“This project is very important to us and marks the third time that we have worked with St. James’ Court A Taj Hotel and 51 Buckingham Gate. Previously we completed 17 apartments and 12 apartments, respectively, supplying all required furniture.”
“Most of our customer base comes from repeat business and we pride ourselves on our friendly manner and our ability to deliver all works on time and within budget.”