The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), branded as Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, is an Indian chain of hotels and resorts headquartered in the Oxford House in Mumbai. This company is a part of the Tata Group, one of India's largest business conglomerates. Taj Hotels Resort and Palaces owns and operates 93 hotels in 55 locations across India with an additional 16 international hotels in the Maldives, Malaysia, Australia, UK, USA, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Africa and the Middle East and employ over 13000 people.
Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata, founder of the Tata Group, opened the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, the first Taj property and the first Taj hotel, on 16 December 1903. The building overlooks the Arabian Sea. He decided to open the grand luxury hotel after an incident involving racial discrimination at the Watson's Hotel in Mumbai, where he was refused entry as the hotel did not permit Indians, who were non-white. Hotels which accepted only European guests were then very common across British India. Jamsetji Tata travelled to London, Paris, Berlin and Düsseldorf to arrange for materials and pieces of art, furniture and interior artefacts for his hotel. The Taj Group has been active in converting former royal palaces in India into world class luxury hotels such as the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur and Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur. In 1974, the Taj Group opened India's first international five star deluxe beach resort, the Fort Aguada Beach Resort in Goa. The Taj Group also began its business in metropolitan hotels in the 1970s, opening the five-star deluxe hotel Taj Coromandel in Chennai in 1974, acquiring an equity interest and operating contract for the Taj President, a business hotel in Mumbai, in 1977, and opening the Taj Mahal Hotel, Delhi in 1978. In 1980, the Taj Group took its first step internationally by opening its first hotel outside India, the Taj Sheba Hotel in Sana'a, Yemen and in the late 1980s, acquired interests in the Crown Plaza - James Court, London and 51 Buckingham Gate Luxury Suites and Apartments in London. In 1984, the Taj Group acquired under a license agreement each of The Taj West End, Bangalore, Taj Connemara, Chennai and Savoy Hotel, Ooty, with which the Taj Group made its foray into Bangalore. With the opening of the five star deluxe hotel Taj Bengal in Kolkata in 1989; the Taj Group became the only hotel chain with a presence in the five major metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkatta, Bangalore and Chennai. Concurrently with the expansion of its luxury hotel chain in the major metropolitan cities, the Taj Group also expanded its business hotels division in the major metropolitan and large secondary cities in India. During the 1990s, the Taj Group continued to expand its geographic and market coverage in India. It developed specialized operations (such as wildlife lodges) and consolidated its position in established markets through the upgrading of existing properties and development of new properties. Taj Kerala Hotels & Resorts Limited was set up in the early 1990s along with the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation.
Since the late-2000s, the Taj group started organising its hotels into different brands, in a market segmentation strategy. As of December 2011, not all hotels have been rebranded - some properties still retain the generic "Taj" brand and await classification.
The luxury brand is the erstwhile generic brand of the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. These hotels cover business destinations, landmarks, palaces, resorts and forest destinations. Most of Taj's oldest and most prestigious hotels have been retained under this brand. Two speciality brands developed under the Taj are :
Taj Exotica, the premium resort brand in Maldives, Mauritius and Goa.
Taj Safaris, Taj's nascent wildlife lodge brand. It is expected to cover Taj's premium, high-end forest lodges and destinations. Currently[when?], Taj's luxury lodges in the national parks of Central India carry this brand.
Vivanta is a contemporary-luxury hotel brand. The brand caters to an upscale market and is positioned a step below the flagship Taj brand. Vivanta Hotels are found business and vacation destinations as well.
Gateway is a mid-market brand, positioned below the Vivanta. It contains properties in business and vacation destinations like Vivanta does. The Gateway Hotel brand was created by Taj in its earlier market segmentation effort in the 1990s, and has been retained and expanded in the current wave of brand-segmentation.
IHCL operates Taj Air, a luxury private jet operation with Falcon 2000 aircraft designed by Dassault Aviation, France; and Taj Yachts, two 3-bedroom luxury yachts which can be used by guests in Mumbai and Kochi, in Kerala. IHCL also operates Taj SATS Air Catering Ltd., the largest airline catering service in South Asia, as a joint venture with SATS (formerly known as Singapore Airport Terminal Services). Additionally, it operates the Indian Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad since 1993. The institute offers a Four-year honors degree, designed with the help of international faculty and has affiliations with several American and European programmes. A 100% subsidiary of IHCL, Inditravel Limited is a travel company.