Nilanjan Dey

Kolkata, May 13

CIRCA 1570: Andrea Palladio is appointed architectural advisor to the Venetian Republic. Later, he earns the reputation of being the creator of what is known as `ancient classicism'.

What does The Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry have in common with Palladio? Why is it showing a preference for an architect whose theories embodied Renaissance architectural thought?

The answer lies in the fact that the chamber, which traces its origins back to the Raj days, has started playing a new role. It is seriously promoting its exclusive lounge-cum-bar, whose name, as is clear, has been inspired by Palladio himself.

`The Palladian Lounge', as BCCI members put it blandly, is presented as an executive club lounge-cum-bar, complete with conference and meeting rooms. The facilities on offer are fine dining (read: traditional Indian and continental cuisine), secretarial services, travel-related services and broadband connectivity.

Says Mr Khokan Mukherjee, Secretary General, BCCI, The Palladian Lounge is the only exclusive lounge bar of its kind located in the heart of Dalhousie Square, Kolkata's business district. "We are just a minute or two away from every office in the Square", he says in reference to the Chamber's unique locational advantage.

For the uninitiated, BCCI is close to Writers' Buildings, General Post Office, Calcutta Stock Exchange, Reserve Bank of India, Calcutta High Court and a whole lot of banks and other offices.

The lounge is being run in association with Asian Hotels, known for its links with Hyatt.

Mr Sandip Ganguli, V-P, Asian Hotels, says that the hospitality company and the chamber have entered into a partnership agreement. "We will explore the possibility of entering into similar alliances with other institutions. However, BCCI is unique in its own way and there are not too many institutions like it", he observed.

On Friday, The Palladian Lounge and Standard Chartered Bank together launched a gold credit card for BCCI members. According to Mr Anirvan Ghosh Dastidar, Regional Head of StanChart, the card would provide the holder a number of privileges, including a 35 per cent discount at the Lounge up to February 28 next year. "It will be an affinity card, one that will cement the relationship between our bank and the Bengal Chamber. Both have been operating in the city for the past 150 years or so," he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 14, 2005)
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