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Mayfair Gopalpur at Sea
Image by BOMBMAN This Prestigious Heritage Property was built way back in 1914. Originally acquired by Rai Bahadur M.S. Oberoi was being operated as a part of the Oberoi Group till 2003. It is completely reconstructed with more rooms, amenities and world class facilities. Just over 2 hours picturesque drive from Bhubaneswar, it is located right on the Bay of Bengal. Before 1830, an Englishman by the name of John Spence had established the Spenceâs hotel in Calcutta, making it perhaps the oldest western style hotel outside Europe and in 1841 David Wilson built the âWilson Hotelâ now known as 'Great Eastern Hotel', also, in Calcutta, which was considered to be one of the best of its kind, in this part of the world. In far away Shimla, a place not unknown to many, two intrepid hoteliers from Italy, Signor Faletti and Signor Pelitti had already established âThe Cecilâ, and âThe Grandâ, which had already set the benchmark in hotels. At that moment a 20 year old, from New Julfa, Armenia, was struggling to sell his wares from a wheelbarrow in the streets of Calcutta but by the year 1911,that Armenian Stephen Arathoon, had built the 'Grand', on the foundation of the burnt down âTheatre Royalâ, making sure that it was better than its two rivals. No one had really by then heard of Gopalpur on Sea. And Gopalpur on Sea returned the compliment. Barely 16 kms from Berhampore, the commercial hub of Southern Orissa, in the Bay of Bengal, it was extremely uncanny of a young Italian Signor Maglioni, to mysteriously find home all the way from Sicily, and establish the 'Palm Beach' in 1914. It was Odishaâs first hotel, of its kind. Gopalpur on Sea on sea how very British suffix on sea like Midleton-on-sea / Frankton-on-sea was a palm fringed beach and Maglioniâs dream fused with the sepia and romance of the langorous town,where the silence was broken only by the breakers and the occasional coconut thudding on the ground.Originally a small fishing village on the coast of Odisha when it was so named, when a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna âKrishna Gopalâ temple was built in the 18th Century. Legend has it that Gopalpur on Seaâs sands had witnessed maritime ventures of a much earlier age when Odisha had flourished as part of the Kalinga Kingdom in the 4th and 5th century B.C early colonists to Java, Bali and Sumatra were supposed to have sailed from here, carrying the seeds of Indian civilization with them. We in Odisha still celebrate this as 'BALIYATRA'. Between the two World Wars (1914-1918 and 1939-1945) Gopalpur on Sea was overrun by the men in Khakis and became the eastern sectors base for flying out troops and supplies to Rangoon. The commercial port became the living symbol of its grandeur and the pulsating lifestyle was evident in the packed dance floors of the hotel âBlue Havenâ in 1945. The World War2 came to an end and India inched towards being an independent, sovereign republic. By 1947the British had left the Indian shores and the commercial activity of Gopalpur on Sea had dwindled to a trickle. The once vibrant, emblazoned ball rooms gaped at open skies. The noisy wharfs moulted and the warehouses became seedy gateways for derelicts. Gopalpur on Seaâs importance dwindled when trade with Burma abruptly ceased during the war. When the British left India, even members of rich Bengali homes preferred to holiday in other places and Gopalpur on Sea began to revert to what it originally was a fishing village. In 1938,another enterprising, courageous Indian Hotelier, Rai bahadur M.S Oberoi had already taken over a closed down âGrandâ hotel from the Armenian Stephen Arathoon and reinvented it with trademark Oberoi elanâ as the 'Oberoi Grand',to make it the most sought after address in Calcutta. In 1947, on a chance visit to Maglioniâs âPalm Beachâ hotel his keen eyes did not miss the state of disrepair that the hotel had fallen to. His instinct smelled a bargain and Maglioni was only too happy to sell it to the Oberoiâs for a paltry 3.0 lacs rupees; thereby enabling the Oberoi legend to root itself as the âOberoi Palm Beachâ. As its doors opened the whoâs who of the country, from Prime ministers, to celebrities and royalty left their impressions behind along with their footprints on the sands of time. History was being created every day, as the hotel played hosts to the history makers. Maglioniâs Mediterranean Architecture had undergone a makeover by the Oberoiâs, but the core of the structure was slowly but surely giving way to the Gopalpur on Sea on Sea corroding effects of the saline sea breeze. The erosion had begun and no amount of hasty repairs could make it anymore safe for its guests. The Oberois closed gates in 2002 and decided to distance themselves and sell this piece of Orissaâs history to any worthy taker. It was at this time, 2011, that âMayfair hotels and resortsâ stepped in. T o protect, renovate and restore the 'Palm beach', where history echoed from every cobble stone. Lured by the fact that Gopalpur on sea still stood untouched by the concrete commercialism that had destroyed nearby Puriâs equally pristine beach and also because Gopalpur on Sea had actually wrapped itself in a romantic mysticism that tugged at history but refused to drown in its excesses. Rebuilding the core structure from scratch, lovingly touching up the details, reinventing the old magic, preserving the memories, Mayfair has now breathed new life to the âOberoi palm Beachâ in its all new avatar - 'The Mayfair palm Beach resort' Itâs the ultimate tribute to your senses and helps in stealing your time and mind in order to find your DNA and recreate you for future generations... where always, every time, anyday 'sometimes the sky looks like the sea and sometimes the sea looks like the sky'.
Mayor of La Garde (Var)
Image by .H0oT. Jean-Louis Masson, Mayor of La Garde during the day of the liberation of La Garde. 08/23/11 Copyright and permission to use should be sought to: farsac.t[at]gmail.com