Delhi hotels prioritise security for women guests

New Delhi, June 9 (IANS) From eva rooms, lady butlers to restricted elevators and only women's wings - Delhi's hotels are going the extra mile to make women guests feel safe and secure in a city that has seen its reputation dented by reports of frequent assaults on women.

Major players in the India's hospitality industry are aware that ensuring the safety of women guests is critical to their business and many of them are either reviewing or upgrading their security measures.

"Women today constitute over nine percent of the workforce in the services sector. This makes the role of the hospitality sector in ensuring their safety and comfortable stay critical," Rahul Pandit, chief executive officer of Lemon Tree Hotels, told IANS.

Lemon Tree Hotels recently introduced a special women's wing that can provide special facilities to single travellers.

"We have among the highest percentage of women guests across hotel chains at 17 percent. We have launched a wing exclusively for women and the response is welcoming," said Aradhana Lal, vice president, corporate communication, Lemon Tree Hotels.

The initiative also holds importance as a study conducted by the industry body Assocham revealed that there has been a 35 percent drop in women travellers to India in the aftermath of the Dec 2012 gang-rape.

"There is a general perception based on media reports that India is not a safe country for single women travellers. However, our hotels have done well to rightly recognise that concern and have upgraded their security accordingly," Garish Oberoi, president, Hotels and Restaurant Association of North India, told IANS.

The ITC Maurya is perhaps a torchbearer in this regard by implementing path breaking measures.

"ITC hotels traditionally have strong security systems. Our eva rooms are exclusively reserved for women travellers catering to all their needs. In fact we were the first to introduce such a concept in the country in 2006," a spokesperson for ITC Maurya told IANS.

Hotels have also undertaken steps to boost the level of preparedness among their women staff.

The Imperial Hotel organised a self-defence workshop that saw participants learning various techniques to enable them handle any untoward situation.

"There is an undoubted need for the security of women in the existing social scenario. That's why we along with Delhi Police initiated this exclusive workshop to train women associates techniques to ensure their safety in the hour of need," Vijay Wanchoo, senior executive vice president and general manager of The Imperial, told IANS.

The Leela Palace in New Delhi has also taken several steps to make women guests feel valued and comfortable.

Kunal Chauhan, its resident manager, said: "In an endeavor to ensure their safety whilst they enjoy the finest levels of luxury and comfort, we have put in place a number of measures."

"With tailor-made services like fully-equipped wing with CCTVs, restricted elevator access for women guests and lady butlers and housekeeping staff round-the-clock, we are now planning to introduce an exclusive wing for single women soon to provide them comfortable stay during their visit," Chauhan told IANS.

Sangri La Eros has also introduced facilities like a reserved women's floor and elevators that run on a guest's room card after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

"Our hotel provides the best of security amenities amongst all other hotel in the same line. We tightened security here post the 26/11 Mumbai attack," Prashant, duty manager at Sangri La's Eros, told IANS.

The Le Meredian, located in the heart of the city, said it is yet to introduce any specialised safeguarding measures.

"Our hotel handles security irrespective of gender," said Rashmi Pal, marketing communications manager at Le Meredian. She said there are some plans in the pipeline.

But all agreed that providing sefety and security to women guests remains their "top priority" which they take very "seriously".

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