Back to business in Mumbai

The Indian city bounces back to life after the terror attack that killed 172.

Two luxury hotels that were stormed by Islamist militants have re-opened in Mumbai, less than a month after devastating attacks that rocked India's financial and entertainment capital.

Guests checked in at the Trident hotel from Sunday morning, with about 100 of the 550 rooms booked and all four restaurants serving diners for the first full day of business in just over three weeks.

A private, multi-faith ceremony "to pray for solace and a safer future in the days ahead" was to be held during the day, Trident hotel president Rattan Keswani said.

At the nearby Taj Mahal hotel, more than 1,000 key clients and guests have been invited for a private reception before an evening reopening of 268 rooms and seven eateries in the modern Tower wing.

The waterfront hotel, opposite the British colonial era Gateway of India monument, was the focus of last month's 60-hour reign of terror, which left 172 people dead, including nine of the 10 gunmen, and nearly 300 injured.

Opened in 1903, the red-domed Palace part of the hotel quickly became the place to stay and be seen. Over the years it has played host to royalty and presidents, prime ministers and rock stars, as well as India's moneyed classes.

Ratan Tata, chief executive of the giant Tata Group conglomerate that owns the Taj, has vowed to restore the building to its former glory after it was ravaged by fire, bullets and grenades as gunmen fought commandos to the death.

The speed with which both hotels have been readied for business again has won praise. Raymond Bickson, chief executive and managing director of the Indian Hotels Co., which runs the Taj, has said the re-opening is an "affirmation of the values of courage, resilience and dignity" in cosmopolitan Mumbai.

"To re-open the Taj with such speed but with no loss of attention to details, shows our resolve to commemorate all the innocent and brave people who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks," he said last weekend. "In their honour, the Taj will shine again in all its brilliance.

" Like Bickson, Keswani said he felt "deep pride" for his staff's work both during and after last month's attacks. "Yes, there is grief, there is definitely a huge amount of sadness in everybody's mind because of colleagues and guests that we lost," he told a news conference.

"But since those days and the days after that, they have been committed 100 percent to whatever the needs are and they are desirous that the hotel bounces back as quickly as possible."

A total of 22 guests and 10 staff were killed at the Trident, while 52 people died at the Taj when militants allegedly from the banned, Pakistan-based Laskhar-e-Taiba group opened fire with automatic weapons and took hostages.

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