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Karol Bagh budget hotels severely hit after kitchen ban

Karol Bagh budget hotels severely hit after kitchen ban

By Kunal Dutt(Eds: Replaces 'north' with 'central' in para 1) New Delhi, Jun 2 (PTI) From shrinking occupancy to losing loyal customers, budget hotels in central Delhi's Karol Bagh have been severely hit after the new safety norms kicked in banning kitchens on the premises, the hotel managers say.Officially designated as guest houses, a number of these economy hotels in the vicinity of the famous Karol Bagh Market were shut after a massive fire in February at the the five-storeyed Hotel Arpit Palace in the area killed 17 people.For Swati Hotel, which is adjacent to Hotel Arpit Palace on Gurudwara Road, it's not business as usual."We reopened about two months ago. But kitchen is not allowed on hotel premises. So our guests, who are used to order food through room service, are now looking out for restaurants. This has really affected our business," said an employee on the condition of anonymity.Pointing to a nearby restaurant, he said, "Most of our guests dine there now, it's a big loss for us."Madhurendra Singh, the manager of Royal Holidays, a four-storeyed hotel on a narrow lane between Ajmal Khan Road and Gurudwara Road, said he has lost his loyal customers because of the "kitchen factor"."Our customers would prefer to order food through room service as it helped them get a consolidated bill. Because of the inconvenience, they are choosing to stay at other places, so our occupancy rate has dropped," Singh told PTI.The manager at Hotel Intercity, opposite Royal Holidays, has a similar story."Of course, we are losing loyal customers. People have read about kitchen closure in newspapers and are not coming to Karol Bagh for budget hotel stay. We can't even keep catering utensils," he said."While our hotel was shut, we suffered a huge loss. The kitchen staff and waiters had to be laid off," he said.Hotel Intercity reopened about a month and a half ago, after complying with all safety requirements mentioned by the fire department, including provision of battery-operated emergency lighting in case of power outage during a fire incident, the manager added.Days after the fire at Arpit Palace, the Delhi government approved amendments to its building bylaws banning rooftop as well as basement kitchens and stopping issuance of fire safety certificates to guest houses having more than four floors.While giant neon light signages are back on the buildings of most of the hotels in what is called the "West Extension Area" of Karol Bagh, Arpit Palace sinks into darkness after the twilight, the property sealed by authorities after the incident still shut.A board of Crossroads Resto & Bar hung ingloriously on the facade in darkness, evoking the horrors of the tragedy.At Hotel White House, its manager Sarabjeet Singh said, "Besides fall in occupancy, our roof-top restaurant is now shut. It is a big financial loss for us".Neeraj Sharma, manager at four-storeyed Hotel Paradise Inn, on a lane off Ajmal Khan Road, said occupancy has reduced by nearly 50 per cent."We have 24 rooms, six on each floors, and currently the occupancy is about 12 guests. Our business has been severely hit, and the kitchen ban has compounded our problem," Sharma said.At times, guests order online or "we arrange it for them from nearby restaurants" but it "feels very unprofessional", he rued.The loss for these budget hotels has turned into a gain for restaurants and eateries."Our restaurant is getting a lot more people in the last two months than previously. Our business has gone up," said Radha Krishnan of Om Saravana Bhavan, which has a speciality for south Indian dishes. PTI KND SLBABH