Thiruvananthapuram: As the iconic Mascot Hotel in the State capital is celebrating its centenary with newly accorded five-star status, Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) has drawn up a comprehensive project for the restoration of the heritage building on a budget of Rs. 25 crore.
The restoration project of Mascot Hotel was inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on February 27. Kadakampally Surendran, tourism minister and M Vijayakumar, Chairman, KTDC were also present on the occasion. “Mascot Hotel is a priceless treasure of Kerala. It is the jewel in KTDC’s crown. It has been a witness to the history of the last 100 years,” Vijayakumar said.
The works to be taken up include strengthening of the building, rooms, passages, beautification of the premises and improving its amenities. They will be completed in two phases within a year, Vijayakumar said.
“The project to strengthen and preserve the heritage property will be carried out under the leadership of Uralungal Labour Contract Co-operative Society (ULCCS). The restoration will be carried out without in any way harming its heritage and the distinguishing architectural features,” said Rahul R IRS, Managing Director, KTDC.
The State Government has already accorded administrative sanction for Rs 5 crore towards the project.
Mascot has passed through a long history while emerging as the premium brand in Kerala’s hospitality sector. The present day five-star hotel was originally an accommodation unit for officers of the Royal British Army during the First World War (1914-18).
The hotel has hosted a long list of distinguished personalities including top national leaders, diplomats, foreign dignitaries, writers and captains of the industry. Mascot Hotel has emerged as a brand in Kerala’s hospitality segment with plush amenities, bright rooms and suites, resplendent décor and scrumptious dining choices. It also boasts of a chequered history that is peppered with fascinating stories. It is a sterling example of how an accommodation unit for the British Army officers transitioned to an iconic heritage hotel. It was in 1919 that it started providing actual accommodation facilities; till then it served only as military barracks.
The Army used to conduct daily parades starting from Mascot Hotel till Vellayambalam through the present-day main road. The hotel building was constructed during the period of Travancore King Sree Moolam Thirunal.
After the end of the First World War in 1918, the Mascot hotel building was used as an accommodation unit for the British officers while its upkeep was the responsibility of the Public Works Department of Travancore. On July 21, 1934, D H Watts, the then Directress of the State Guest Department, sent a proposal to the Chief Secretary Rao Sahib Kunjan Pillai to bring Mascot Hotel along with the Guest House in Thiruvananthapuram, the Central Store and State cars under the State Guest Department.
According to KTDC, which claims to have verified historic records, the brand name ‘Mascot Hotel’, Trivandrum existed in the country prior to 1934, as evident from government records. Besides, the brand name ‘Mascot Hotel, Trivandrum’ was also found to be featured in a map published in 1937. Mascot Hotel, Thiruvananthapuram and Malabar Hotel, Cochin were the only hotels that featured from Kerala along with the West End Hotel, Bangalore and Coromandel Hotel, Madras from South India.
An advertisement released in 1940 stated that the hotel had 11 single rooms and 6 double rooms with facilities like attached bathroom, hot & cold water, modern sanitation, comfortable furniture and excellent cuisine. The tariff was Rs. 10 for a single room and Rs. 18 for a double room; breakfast/lunch was priced at Rs. 2 while for dinner, one had to pay Rs. 3. However, there were concessions for children and long-term occupants as is done by any modern hotel throughout the world. The hotel also used to arrange special tours, Travancore sightseeing tours and a string of parties for tourists.
In 1941, the hotel was leased to Spencer’s and Co, Madras and Pauline Gross was appointed as manager of Mascot Hotel. When the lease period of Spencer’s & Co., Madras was to expire, a fresh tender notice was issued for lease from interested parties for one year from September 1, 1949 by the State Guest Department. The tender mentioned that the building has two floors with electric lights, fans and telephone. The entire hotel was fully furnished and the cost of furniture would be around Rs. 15,000.
After the lease period, the hotel was taken over by the Government of Travancore-Cochin formed after independence while the State Guest Department was given its control. It was brought under the Political & Military Department. Later, with the formation of Kerala State, the Tourism Department was established and the hotel brought under it.
KTDC was incorporated in December 1965 and Mascot Hotel was handed over to the Corporation along with Kovalam Tourist Bath House, and Aranya Nivas, Lake Palace and Periyar House in Thekkady.