First of all, Merry Christmas to all of our Christian readers out there, and Happy Quaid-e-Azam Day to my fellow Pakistanis, since today is a national holiday in honor of Mohammed Ali Jinnah‘s birthday, [the father of Pakistan]. Sorry that my coverage this week has been a bit sporadic – I’ve been traveling and have had limited access to the internet. However, I did read today that the Islamabad Marriott Hotel, which was bombed on September 20, [click here and here for some of CHUP’s past coverage] is slated to re-open this Sunday, December 28. According to Dawn, “Peter Alex, the chief operating officer of the Hashoo group which owns the 289-room hotel, says ‘new concepts of security and safety’ have been used in the extensive renovation work to ensure guests can check in without fear.” Alex told the AFP, “It will be the Fort Knox of Pakistan,” [referring to the site where the United States stores most of its official gold reserves].
Starting on Sunday, 60 rooms will reportedly be available for the hotel’s “soft-opening,” and the entire Marriott will be open for business starting in March. Peter Alex showed the AFP the hotel’s new “bomb-proof” wall in front of the freshly repainted building. According to the news agency, the wall is 14 feet (3.5-metre) high and 15 feet thick, and “has been designed to absorb the shock of even a massive explosion outside, like the one in September. Visitors will have to pass through a bombproof room within the wall in order to gain access to the hotel, which will feature sophisticated scanning equipment.” Although the hotel’s restaurants will also reopen on Sunday, there will be no available parking, and visitors will instead have to be dropped off at the front gate.
I will be home in Islamabad soon after the opening, and am interested to see if the re-opened and re-designed Marriott will still attract its usual crowd of people. [Image from the AFP]