The Taj Group of Hotels has retained the iconic Taj Malabar Hotel at Willingdon Island in Kochi, Kerala. The Cochin Port Authority (CPA) which owns the property, finalised the bid for operating the heritage property on July 1. Though many leading hospitality groups showed interest in the bid, but the Taj Group managed to retain it for an enhanced lease amount of Rs 1.25 crore per annum. Taj Group paid Rs 71 lakh per annum for the earlier lease. Under the new agreement which is for 30 years, the lease amount will increase marginally every five years. Quite a few hospitality chains had picked up the bid documents, but ultimately there were only two bidders. Though the Taj group had the benefit of first right of refusal, they resorted to outright bidding to retain the property. CPA, did not disclose the name of the competing bidder. With the new Coastal Regulation Zone rules in place, no expansion of the hotel can be undertaken. So, the Taj Group will undertake an exhaustive renovation of the hotel and resort. Ever since CPA indicated that it was going for a fresh bidding of the resort, no upgradation or renovation was done at the premises for nearly two years.