Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday inaugurated hotel Ruposhi Bangla with a new name, 'InterContinental Dhaka', on completion of its four years of basic renovation work.
Bangladesh Services Limited, a state-run company, renovated the hotel spending Tk 6.20 billion. It is a historic hotel for many reasons and it has now emerged with its old name, InterContinental Dhaka.
The Inter-Continental Dacca opened in 1966 as the first international five-star hotel in Bangladesh. The InterContinental Dhaka had run this historic hotel till 1983 before Sheraton took it over.
The renovation work was carried out under an agreement signed between BSL and InterContinental Hotels Group (Asia Pacific) Pvt Ltd (IHG) on 19 February, 2012.
The InterContinental Hotels Group will run the hotel for 30 years under the agreement.
Addressing the inaugural function, the prime minister said it had been the lone posh hotel during the struggle for independence and the 1971 liberation war.
She said when the Pakistani occupation forces swooped on unarmed Bangalees on 25 March, 1971, all foreign journalists staying in the Inter-Continental hotel were confined to it by them. "Our many memories are intermingled with the hotel," she added.
Then young foreign journalist Simon Dring came out of the hotel with the help of its staff and spread the news of genocide and arson attack unleashed by the Pakistani forces to the world by taking pictures of these.
She cordially thanked the Inter-Continental Hotels Group for coming back to run the hotel. "I think many people will recall many historical memories with this return (of the company)," she added.
Noting that Bangladesh is now the role model for development in the world, Sheikh Hasina said the foreign investment flow to the country is growing due to its socioeconomic uplift. "Since the foreign investors and foreign guests are largely coming to Bangladesh, we need such luxurious hotels very much," she said.
Hasina said the hotel has taken a new look keeping consistency with the socio-economic development of the country.
The PM said the hotel will play a vital role in expanding business as it will be attractive to the local and foreign investors and tourists for its nice location.
Civil aviation and tourism minister AKM Shahjahan Kamal and chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the civil aviation and tourism ministry Muhammad Faruk Khan also spoke on the occasion.
Under the renovation project, each room has been widened to 40 square metres from the existing 26 square metres and the number of rooms has been brought down 231 from previous 272. Its dining hall and swimming pool have also been relocated apart from adding some new services.
The hotel hosted many important political events in the run-up to the independence of Bangladesh, including negotiations on the transfer of power after the 1970 elections.
During the liberation war in 1971, it was declared a neutral zone by the International Red Cross. Many buildings in its surrounding neighbourhoods were targeted by the Pakistani military, including newspaper offices and university halls.
On the dark night of 25 March, 1971, a host of international media journalists, including Mark Tali and Saimon Dring of BBC, Anold Zaitlen and Clare Halingworth, Associated Press (AP) bureau chief of Pakistan, David Greenway, a reporter of Washington Post, who were staying at the hotel, captured pictures of the brutal genocide risking their lives.
The world was able to know about the barbarity taking place in the country through their photos.
The hotel's other basic facilities for its guests include minibar, electronic safety deposit box; high speed internet connectivity; express check-in; business centre; Wi-Fi internet in all rooms, executive club lounge, business centre, meeting rooms and public areas; gift shop; fitness centre and swimming pool.
Club InterContinental offers guests an even higher level of luxury and exclusivity, from the spacious and generally appointed rooms to the private club lounge overlooking the hotel atrium; everything will revolve around the guests and their individual needs.