Marriott was Islamabad’s iconic landmark

September 20th, 2008 - 11:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) For years, the Marriott Hotel in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad was more than just a five-star hotel. As the only luxury hotel in the city at the time, it was where well-heeled residents went for a relaxed mid-morning cup of coffee, a leisurely meal post-midnight, a swim in its heated pool and even for a bit of music at its “dry bar”. On Saturday, when a devastating terror attack virtually gutted the hotel, it represented the end of an institution for many who had spent happy years in the Pakistan capital.

Before the Serena Hotel opened, the Marriott was the virtual refuge of expats in the capital. The Coffee Shop was a favourite hang out and the Chinese restaurant Dynasty was the one place to go to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary. On the side, was what passed off for Islamabad’s only nightclub, Muddy Waters, where you could hold parties with music - and actually dance.

As the only five-star hotel, it was a virtual one-stop destination - for seminars and soirees, recitals and receptions, birthdays and other bashes.

Overlooking the picturesque Margalla Hills, the Marriott Hotel was probably an obvious target. The last blast was just before an Indian reception a couple of years ago. The Marriott escaped virtually unscathed then.

But as Pakistan gets in the crosshairs of more terror groups, it was probably too much to hope that the Marriott would escape. This was perhaps slated to happen.

In this holy month of Ramadan, the terrorists struck again, killing at least 60 people. Huge flames billowed out of the windows and terror came home once again - exactly a week after Delhi’s busiest markets were targeted.

This time it was Pakistan.

(Minu Jain has lived in Pakistan for a number of years. She can be contacted at

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