The view is to die for-seeing
the sun rise over and set on the Hooghly from 80 feet above the
river, while sipping a cup of tea or your favourite tipple. No,
you don't need to hire a chopper or spend time atop the Howrah
Bridge to do so. Manor Floatel has recently launched a floating
hotel on the river, christened Floatel, just off Kolkata's Central
Business District, that allows you to do these and more. Says
Rajib Roy Choudhury, gm, Floatel: "We are positioning it
as an urban resort. Our catchline is 'Take a break from the city
without leaving the city.' Where else can you sleep on the water
(which is believed to rejuvenate one's body and also improve concentration
Besides wonderful views of the sunrise and the sunset, the 4-star
hotel, which is actually a 180'x50' ship, also offers guests jogging
and meditation facilities at the adjacent Millennium Park on Strand
Road, colonial cuisine at The Bridge, its 24-hour coffee shop,
and kebabs and other North West Frontier fare at The Compass,
its restaurant. Also on offer are river cruises and angling. An
invitation weekend package, which has just been launched, costs
Rs 2,400 (plus taxes).
Floatel, only the sixth in the world and the first in South
Asia, is not yet fully operational. Only 24 of its 61 rooms are
functional, but these are running at 100 per cent occupancy. The
other rooms will be thrown open within the next six months. There
will eventually be 58 deluxe rooms, called The Sunrise Rooms and
The Sunset Rooms and three suites-The Owner's Suite, The Columbus
Suite and The Vasco da Gama Suite. The Sunrise Rooms come for
Rs 7,500 plus taxes, The Sunset Rooms for Rs 8,000 plus taxes
and the suites for Rs 13,000 plus taxes.
Floatel has two banquet halls-The Promenade Deck (capacity:
300) and The Concourse Deck (capacity: 700). Besides, one can
have outdoor conferences at The Bridge Outer Deck and The Compass
Outer Deck, overlooking Hooghly, and discover the different moods
of the river. "Wonderful" and "Most fascinating"
are the two common expressions in the Guests' Comments Book, which
has signatories like Ian McCartney, British Trade Minister, Anthony
Leggett, Nobel Laureate for Physics (2003) and David Green, Head,
British Council, London. The hotel doesn't yet have a bar licence.
The Compass Bar will open in May and serve the usual range of
Truly wonderful: (From
top to bottom) Be it the suites, the bathrooms or the food
Another attraction is the staff's navy-inspired uniform-complete
with epaulettes. "The whole idea is to give guests the essence
of a ship-from the decor to the names of the restaurants, conference
halls and virtually everything else," says Manab Pal, MD,
The Floatel, incidentally, was designed and built in Singapore
and then towed to its current position. And Pal adds, with a touch
of pride, that it is the first Ecotel floatel in the world; it
has been certified by HVS International, us, a global consulting
and services organisation.
Pal also claims that it is a Zero Garbage Property. "We
spent a lot on vermiculture (artificial rearing or cultivation
of earthworms), vermicompost (the end-product of the breakdown
of organic matter by earthworms), water conservation and preservation.
The Floatel uses bio-degradable tissues and we ensure that all
our vendors' cars are PUC (Pollution Under Check)-compatible,"
The management team is cooking up some novel ideas and value
additions to attract clients. Says Roy Choudhury: "We plan
to conduct gourmet cooking classes on board. Then, if you catch
a fish while angling, you can have it cooked by the chef and have
it too (that sounds exciting). Besides, we are also planning to
start a Chai Bar (tea bar), a library, adda (chat) sessions and
Saturday night jam sessions with an open-air dance floor; we will
also host movie sessions."
Pal, on his part, is burning midnight oil over his next move.
He is working out the logistics and the technical and commercial
viability of launching another Floatel and has shortlisted Varanasi,
Mumbai and Goa. "The final decision is still some way away,
but we will have to keep the idea afloat," says Pal.