With lesson learnt from Mumbai, capital’s hotels tighten security

December 3rd, 2008 - 3:30 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 3 (IANS) Inquisitive guards, metal detectors, intensive baggage checking and body frisking will now await visitors to all star hotels in the national capital as managements have beefed up security in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.Taj Mahal and the Taj Palace hotels here, both of which belong to the Tata group whose iconic Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel in Mumbai was among the 10 places targeted by terrorists last week, have not only increased the deployment of security guards but also installed X-ray machines to check baggage.

And some others have also hired the services of global security agencies and started placing security personnel in plain clothes at strategic locations inside the premises, notably the entrances and lobbies.

“We’ve got orders that we have to be more alert and vigilant. We have already increased the security staff. Now we have more guards at virtually every checkpoint to ensure the safety of guests ,” said Vasudev Mishra, a senior security personnel at the Park Hotel.

“We have also a gunman now. This has added more strength to our team,” Mishra told IANS.

“We do not want to take any chances. So we have got this new X-ray machine in both our Taj hotels here,” said Taj Mahal Hotel’s security supervisor Raj Anand, standing near the machine through which all the baggage was being scanned.

“Also, we have considerably increased the number of guards. We also have armed guards in the lobby. They were not there before,” he said, adding it was a three-level security system - guards at the entrance, exit and inside at places like the lobby.

“We have also appointed a special team of security supervisors at the entry and exit to keep an eye on every outdoor activity and immediately intervene if there is any kind of suspicious activity.”

Hotel managements said they were also taking a closer look at the guest list and keeping a regular eye on employees. Hotel Imperial’s spokesperson said they had already had rigorous background checks on staff, only that more precautions were being taken now.

“All reservations are scanned properly. We ensure that we do not miss a single piece of relevant information about our guests and the staff. We have also hired the services of the outside agencies to deploy guards in plain clothes to man our entrances.”

Some hotels like the Claridges, apart from taking precautions, have also ensured that there are enough deterrents. “Our entrance and exit gates have barricades. This will deter attackers from barging in,” said the hotel’s director of security Hemant Jaggi.

“The number of lobby covers have been increased and we are also training all staff and associates to handle exigencies or any emergency in the hotel.”

Even security agencies have started reassessing the security being provided to clients and ensuring that their guards are well trained to tackle terror attacks effectively. The threat perception is being looked at in a new light.

“Hotels need stringent security measures as the current scenario demands safety over hospitality. We believe there can be no luxury without security,” said Rupal Singh, the regional managing director for global security agency Group 4 Securicor.

“We’ve been in close contact with our clients after the recent attacks. We’re revisiting the threat perceptions of each site and giving recommendations on how to mitigate the risk to premises, property and above all their people,” she added.

With security getting beefed up, guests do find that gaining entry into hotels is taking that much longer and do have a feeling that they are being constantly watched. But they are certainly not complaining.

“It’s sometimes irritating when you have to meet these check points at regular intervals but the Mumbai attacks have taught us a lesson. It pays to be patient,” said Sangeeta Sharma, a guest at Hyatt Regency Hotel here.

Said the spokesperson of the Imperial Hotel: “Guests also have to be equally cooperative when it comes to following these safety norms. After all, we are doing whatever we are doing for their safety.”

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