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‘Fortune’ keeps smiling on queen of hills 05 May 2005

Hindustan Times

This summer Fortune Resort Central Darjeeling will add a dash of nostalgia for the tourists going to the picturesque hill district. Darjeeling lures tourists with its old world charm any way.

The reason is simple. Fortune Resort, a part of the Fortune Park Hotels chain under the ITC group’s hospitality flagship banner-Welcomgroup, completed 100 years of operations.

The centenary celebrations, launched by Asok Bhattacharya, the state urban development and hill affairs minister, will have a series of events, seeking to focus on various aspects and personalities of the region, who have helped to create the Darjeeling of today. Visitors to Darjeeling can look forward to two interesting food festivals, that are being planned in May and June 2005. There will be a Parsee Food Festival, which will be followed by a Marwari Food Festival. A number of other events between August and December are still on the drawing board.

A commemorative volume on Darjeeling titled "Darjeeling Revisited", sponsored by ITC and published by Fortune Park Hotels, was released on the occasion.

Bhattacharya said, "Tourism to Darjeeling is showing steady growth and we hope that this favourable trend will spread to the entire region. The hotel incidentally holds an important position as one of the oldest in Darjeeling. It has not been allowed to fade away, but has been upgraded to a very attractive hotel."

N B Madan, past owner of Central Hotel, as the property was earlier known, recalled, "Central Hotel was opened by my grandfather J F Madan a hundred years ago. At the time, it was a two-star hotel, but I am happy to see the transformed Fortune Resort Central which can be considered as no less than a four-star hotel". Madan saw an opportunity in the fact that in summer there was an acute shortage of accommodation in Darjeeling. Soon he proceeded to convert his departmental store and the four shops below it, into hotel rooms. In 1910, the Central Hotel bought over the adjoining building owned by the Maharaja of Burdwan. 18 more rooms were then added to the hotel. In 1972, an annexe with 24 more rooms was added in the building across the road.

In 1985, the property was sold to the present owner, M P Agarwal, who signed an agreement with Fortune Park Hotels in 1999 to manage and market the property. Fortune Hotels began operations in April 2000.

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