Last British-Armenian hotel sold in Calcutta

14:41 • 20.02.18



Fairlawn Hotel, the 235-year-old colonial structure where the late actor Shashi Kapoor spent his honeymoon with Jennifer Kendal in July 1958, has been sold, Telegraphindia.com reports.


Elgin Hotel & Resorts, which is owned by the Oberois, has bought the hotel, and it marks the exit of the last British-Armenian hotel owner in Calcutta.


Jennifer Ann Fowler, the 70-year-old, third-generation owner of the property that was originally built in 1783 by William Ford, will leave India for good with her son David and daughter Catherine on Tuesday. She wrapped up all the legal formalities and completed the handover at the weekend.


The family was forced to contemplate a sale after Violet Smith, Jennifer's mother who stayed in the city and managed the property till 2014, died at the age of 94.


"I am settled in the UK and it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage the property from there even though I used to come three times a year. This is an old building that needs mending and for that you must have time, energy and finance," Fowler said with her son David by her side.


The hotel has played host to writers like Gunter Grass, Dominique Lapierre and Tom Stoppard, actors ranging from Julie Christie to Patrick Swayze, movie producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory, and Sting, the musician.


Fowler wistfully recalled the time when the area around the hotel used to be filled by Armenian and Jewish families who started to leave the city over the years. Several hotels such as Kenilworth, which was also owned by overseas owners, had changed hands when the owners found it hard to cope with the stress and strain of a declining work culture and the rise in red tape.


The 18-room property on Sudder Street had changed hands many times over the past two centuries but it always remained out of bounds for an Indian owner.





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