Five decades on, The Park is still as welcoming as the day it was inaugurated. Yo! Vizag takes a nostalgic trip.
A five-star hotel that stands out for its muted grandeur, charming beach-side ambience and an abundance of local flavour. One that stands to be the first five-star hotel in all of Andhra Pradesh. That’s ‘The Park’, which started in 1968 as Sun-n-Sea Hotel. With an impeccably maintained lush green garden, this beachfront property, spread across six acres, has much more to offer than just good food and accommodation.
Tracing its beginnings
The hotel traces its beginning to the mid-’60s, when a very dynamic District Collector, Late Abid Hussain, a man of great foresight and vision, felt that for Vizag to grow, it needed proper infrastructure including good hotels. Impressing upon Mohan Jauhar, to build the first 5-star hotel, he even procured approval from the Government of India. Working with the Apeejay Group, and looking after their business interest in Andhra Pradesh at that time, Mohan Jauhar recollects how Abid Hussain helped them acquire a little more than five acres of prime land on the beach front. “He went so far as to arrange a loan for the Apeejay Group from the State Finance Co-operation, at a very nominal rate, to build the hotel”, he remembers. With a background in the construction field, and in the hospitality line helped, and Sun-n-Sea Hotel was set up in record time. Work began in 1966 and the hotel was commissioned in 1968. Operating it till the mid 80’s as the first Managing Director, he then left the company to start his own business.
Change of name
The name of the hotel changed, when the third hotel of Apeejay group was planned in Delhi. The idea was to bring all the Apeejay Hotels under one umbrella, called ‘The Park’. When Sun-n-Sea was renamed ‘The Park’, people out of the city started recognising it, and the awareness grew. With the first hotel in this chain having opened in Kolkata, the Park Vizag thus became the second hotel of the Apeejay Group of Park Hotels.
Guests from across the world
With most of their regular clientele being from the Indian Navy, Merchant Navy, Steel Plant and various other industries, Jaideep Biswas, Acting Director at the helm of The Park, Visakhapatnam, remembers how during the early years and till date, many of the long-stay guests were from other nations. “They would prefer Park for its cuisine and the open design, which does not force them to stay cooped up in their room”, he adds. Being one of the earliest places in the city to have a swimming pool, a few regulars revealed how they had learned swimming here. Many have shared fond personal memories of the place, and treasure special memories here.
Cuisines and tariffs
“When we started, our tariff, including food was just Rs 50!”, shares Mohan, while Jaideep remembers that their European and Oriental cuisine along with Indian cuisine have been their time-tested strengths. “In fact, many of the old-timers from Vizag share their memories of dining and enjoying tea here. One of the dishes that they fondly recollect is Chicken a’la kiev, a dish that we still serve”, he remembers.
Landscape and beautification
When Priya Paul, Chairperson of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, took charge, she beautified the premises and upgraded it to its present glory. Making a mark for their architectural design, the chain of hotels also has the unique distinction of including many local artistic elements. Priya Paul, very consciously incorporated local art in some of the design aspects of the hotels and in Vizag, it is the Ramayana painted in local tribal art style, that adorns the pillars. In terms of aesthetics, old-timers often remember the various changes they’ve seen the hotel undergo over the years, especially with landscaping and renovation. “The unique factor of The Park is that though we are very much within the city limits, once you are inside, the hotel is more like a sea-side resort”, mentions Jaideep. “In the fifty years of its journey, the hotel has housed a lot of celebrities and VVIPS, hosted a lot of important banquets and quite a few VVIP weddings have been conducted here”, he adds.
Over the years, it has grown from strength to strength, as it continues to maintain its classy vibe. And on the significant note of its golden anniversary, we at Yo! wish many more eventful years to come. Happy 50 and counting!