Kathmandu, September 14
Nepal Reconstruction Authority plans to come up with a proposal within one-and-a-half weeks on its plan to convert palatial buildings in the Kathmandu Valley into boutique hotels.
NRA plans to operate the hotels under Public-Private Partnership model, whereby the properties will be leased out to the private sector, while the government will work to attract tourists. The basic idea behind this move is to ensure efficient maintenance of such palaces built during the Rana-Shah era, which have immense historical importance.
Except for a few such buildings, most, especially those occupied by the government, are in a state of disrepair for various reasons such as age, neglect, or natural disasters like the 2015 earthquakes.
Emulating the model adopted in various other countries where such historical structures have been converted into hotels, such as the famous Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in India’s Mumbai, the NRA plans to retrofit and preserve such palatial buildings instead of pulling them down.
The authority is currently conducting a study in close coordination with the Ministry of Urban Development and the Department of Archaeology. It also plans to hold consultations with stakeholders, including hoteliers, who are already operating heritage hotels such as Dwarika’s and other chain hotel operators, for their inputs.
“After gathering inputs, we will come up with a concrete decision within a week and a half and take the proposal to the Cabinet,” said NRA Joint Secretary Rajuman Manandhar. “An action plan, including the business model, will possibly be ready within a month.”
NRA Chief Executive Officer Govinda Raj Pokharel also said the study was under way in close coordination with the Ministry of Urban Development, and the NRA would hold consultations with the aforementioned stakeholders before Dashain.
“We are still in the study phase. Hopefully, we will come up with a decision before Dashain,” he said, adding the study was focused on whether the concept was appropriate in the Nepali context.
The NRA has identified around nine such buildings which could be converted into hotels. These include Kaiser Mahal Library at Kantipath and Sita Mahal at Naxal that houses Bal Mandir orphanage.
Since these properties are already occupied, the NRA plans to relocate the occupants either by constructing new buildings for them or by offering them the rental fees in the interim to relocate. “These provisions will be included in the action plan as per the Cabinet decision,” said Manandhar.
A version of this article appears in print on September 15, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.