Tuesday, 25 August 2009
The Bell Hotel
When did Mr RS start working on the swimming pool? Was it after he made the container hotel rooms or before? Or, was it done at around the same time? I cannot recollect for sure.
But I do remember this interesting conversation I had had with him while the pool was being dug out. Sivakasi has no public swimming pools, he said. This one was going to be the first. It will give a chance for the townsfolk to learn swimming. It will be a standard size pool with changing rooms, lockers, and showers. Experienced male and female coaches will be available throughout the day and separate timings will be allotted for men, women, and children. The fee will be nominal. As for the hotel guests, they could use the pool at no extra charge, of course.
Amazingly enough, during my next visit to Bell hotel, I could see Mr RS had delivered on his promise. The small-built, soft-spoken genius showed me round the swimming pool complex and its immaculately maintained lawns and was visibly embarrassed when I profusely congratulated him on the successful execution of yet another project.
It did not take him long to realise the container park hotel concept, at best, was a stop-gap arrangement. By this time, he had also learned the ropes of hoteliering and realised the sustained demand for his compact hotel rooms, augured well for the future. So his next step was to totally demolish the container park, and build a brand-new brick-and-mortar hotel in its place.
Today’s Bell Hotel is an imposing structure, boasting of 40 well-furnished rooms, two restaurants, and a conference hall that can seat 100 people. A few weeks ago, after a fairly long gap, I visited Sivakasi and had lunch in one of the restaurants of the hotel and felt deeply nostalgic, reminiscing about its humble origins.
But Mr RS was nowhere to be found. But then, I was not surprised. The hotel brochure tells me that they are now a chain of hotels and Bell hotels can be found in the towns of Madurai, Tuticorin, and Alleppy as well. No doubt, Mr RS must be overseeing some fine detail in one of these properties or he must be scouring new towns in South India to set up yet another Bell Hotel.
P.S. This, incidentally, is the 100th post at Stepping Sideways, a small but significant landmark!