THE VINTAGE GULMARG
Ski-resort gets new landmark
With state-of-the-art facilities, it is tailor-made for high-end tourists
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Gulmarg, May 26: A confluence of traditional Kashmiri and British architecture, the famous ski-resort Gulmarg has achieved a new landmark in the shape of The Vintage Gulmarg—a state-of-the-art hotel.
Laced with world-class facilities and latest technology, The Vintage Gulmarg stands out and above all the other tourist accommodations of the ski-resort as a tailor-made destination for high-end tourists.
However, as they say a goal without a plan is just a wish, The Vintage Gulmarg is a more than a compilation of wood, bricks and cement. It is a result of immense planning, dedication and professionalism.
You name, it has it! The Vintage Gulmarg is studded with a lift, swap card room locks, sophisticated heating system, spa and above all great view of breathtaking view of Gulmarg bowl from its life-size windows. Everything from paper napkins, paintings, towels to sugar sachets is customized.
A noted business group of Kashmir, Ali Shah, dealing with Valley’s age-old craft of carpets, owned a piece of land at a prime location in Gulmarg. However, as the political situation in Kashmir kept changing it colors, the family for years together could not decide fate of the land.
However, things started moving when the family’s younger generation returned to their homeland after pursuing higher education from abroad and within the Country. Powered with loads of professional degrees, experience and new ideas, the younger generation of the Shah family—Mehboob Iqbal, Arif Ahmad and Manzoor Sidiq set on a challenging journey to construct a hotel at par with international standards in Gulmarg.
“We felt that there is need of hotel in Gulmarg which meets latest global requirements. We planned the hotel in such a way that it blended with Kashmir’s culture and environment. We also kept into consideration elements of latest architecture and technology,” said Mehboob Iqbal Shah vice president (Marketing) Ali Shah Group.
Having done his MBA from England, Mehboob shared his ideas in months of brainstorming sessions with his cousin Arif besides elders of well-wishers of the family. “We got architects from outside the State and penned down our plans on paper,” he said.
The construction of the hotel started in 2006 and within three years its structure was complete. “However, it took us over another three years to undertake its interior designing,” said Arif Ahmad vice-president Projects and Designs Ali Shah Group. Arif who is a master in business from Mumbai, was instrumental in getting the interior work done—from selection of carpets to pictures on walls.
The hotel’s exterior has been done with a confluence of wood paneling and traditional Kashmiri pinjra works.
“God is in details. Every brick and every brush of paint has a planning and purpose behind it,” Arif says in a philosophical tone while pointing towards a modern fire place gadget in the lobby— decked with copper covering and surrounded with traditional Kashmiri devri stone. Arif has decked every room with breathtaking photographs of noted photographer Arvind Hoon showcasing different facets of Kashmir.
The hotel has 28 world class rooms including spacious suites. “We could have even constructed 40 rooms but we confined ourselves to 28 as we believe in quality rather than quantity. We wanted to give our valued guests enough space to spend their holidays in a serene way and we have succeeded,” Mehboob says with confidence.
Suites and other rooms are laced with variant hues and shades. A confluence of Oakwood and neatly crafted brick shaped devri stone adds to elegance of the rooms. “Though the rooms are centrally heated, we have built a fire place and placed small logs symbolically to give our guests a feel of warmth,” said Arif.
The Shah cousins received a major boost with the inclusion of Jehangir Khan as General Manager. Having completed his Hotel Management from Switzerland, Khan has worked in internationally acclaimed hotels across Europe and within the Country.
“When I joined the hotel, I told Mehboob and Arif that everyone can work for a brand but let us make our own brand rather set our own standards,” Khan said. Soon Khan managed to gather a professional team of 48 persons comprising guards, cooks, stewarts, IT personnel and desk managers.
“For success in any fields, teamwork is important. In hotel, everybody ranging from guard to house keeper is equally important,” Khan said.
The team also has an IT professional Tariq Ahmad who has worked in IT giants DELL, IBM, HCL before joining the Vintage. “I left the jobs to join a group of professionals who gave me a chance to showcase my skills,” said Tariq who is incharge of the hotel’s IT wing. “Everything has been computerized here from room locks to ordering tea. With a click of few buttons, our guests can get required service with moments,” he said.
1860- EXQUISUTE RESTAURANT
Mehboob Shah is instrumental to name the spacious restaurant as 1860. Studded with multi-colour Tiffany and Mother of Pearl light, the restaurant provides serene environs to satiate taste buds. Mehboob says that 1860 is a landmark year in the history of Kashmir as it witnessed official commencement of tourism in the Valley.
Mehboob says in 1986, the then Maharaja lend his royal boats to European sportsmen and travelers to experience a cruise on river Jhelum. “The restaurant pays a tribute to this historic milestone that led to the emergence of Kashmir as a preferred global tourist destination.”
The restaurant offers a wide variety of continental and Indian cuisine besides, the guests can make their own menu from variety of options. With dimply lit lights, the candles floating in a small bowl of turpentine oil, makes the environment romantic
The delicious food is prepared by a team of experienced cooks headed by Chief Chef Biswas. Before joining the Vintage Gulmarg, he was associated with ITDC in various parts of the Country for 12 years. ”We cook food not only with spices but love,” Biswas says.
The hotel has its own latest machinery for preparing bakery of all kinds including buns, breads, biscuits and cakes
Just opposite to the restaurant, there is The Café— an ideal meeting place for spur-of-the-moment espresso, fresh fruit juice or a delicious snack. The terrace of the hotel, a part of the restaurant, overlooks Gulmarg meadows and towering Apharwath peak housing the world
Besides the Vintage has a Garden Grill in its terraced garden offering mouthwatering grilled delicacies.
The Vintage Gulmarg has a spa at its top floor. Equipped with a private Jacuzzi, a relaxing sauna chamber and a steam room, the Spa offers a wide range of specialized massages provided by highly skilled and trained masseurs.It also has a spacious Board Room for meetings, presentations or conferences. “The tranquility of this space is accentuated by the large picture window that permeates wealth of natural light and offers a scenic view of the mountains,” said Mehboob.
The Vintage Gulmarg is backed by a powerful generator for uninterrupted electricity and state-of-the-art boilers for hot water even in freezing temperature. It also has a filtration plant for giving potable waters to its valued guests.
A recreation room on the top floor of the hotel is entirely dedicated for leisure activities and entertainment. The hotel has a host of complete entertainment and leisure facilities including lightning internet, popular books, magazines or a large selection of DVD library. Besides a lift having a capacity to carry nine persons at a time, adds another feather in the Vintage’s cap.
CARING FOR EMPLOYEES
The owners of The Vintage Gulmarg have provided all the facilities to its staffers. ‘We have extended them all the perks which a government employee gets. Besides good salary, they have been already enrolled for CP fund, bonus, ,gratuity, insurance, casual and earned leave and national holidays,” Mehboob said.
“Ali Shah Group has lot of enthusiasm to do something for Kashmir and Kashmiris by contributing as an employment generator for the people deserving and providing them a platform to perform. The Vintage Gulmarg is a major step towards that direction, where young and deserving Kashmiri youth will get a chance to hone their skills as per international standards,” Mehboob said.
Mehboob gives credit to his cousin Manzoor for success of the project. “Manzoor has been the backbone of the whole project. It is only because of his and his team’s efforts of finding the best vendors globally that most of the interiors and systems in the Vintage are customized,” he added.
The Vintage Gulmarg is slated to open on June 1 and has already received advance bookings.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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