The iconic doorman at the Galle Face hotel, Kottarappu Chathu Kuttan, who made history for being one of the oldest hotel employees in the world, passed away peacefully in the early hours of today 18th November 2014.
The hotel observed a minute’s silence in his honour for a personality that many people from around the world will not forget. His career as a restaurant waiter and then as the hotel’s prestigious usher, Kuttan became an integral part of the hotel. He recognized almost all faces of frequent visitors and was a hit amongst the many Guests of the Hotel. His welcoming broad smile and hands raised to say “Ayubowan” (may you live longer), was always a symbolic sight at Galle Face Hotel.
Kuttan celebrated his ninety fourth birthday on February 15 2014, and was eager to share the celebrations of 150 years of Galle Face Hotel with Mr Sanjeev Gardiner, Chairman of the Galle Face Hotel Group. Since he served the hotel for over seventy years, he was an essential part of the Galle Face Hotel’s culture and value system.
“I was helped to get this job by a Police Constable and started on the 13th May 1942” And since then stands undoubtedly as the oldest serving team member in the hospitality world.
Kottarappu Chathu Kuttan ran away from his home in Kerala, India when his parents died, and has been domiciled in Sri Lanka ever since. He hadn’t gone back to India for a while until the Chairman of the Galle Face Hotel Group offered him a trip to Kerala.
Kuttan lived to see the many changes in the hotel and in the country. He joined during the latter part of the British rule in Sri Lanka “The hotel was exclusively for foreigners, the only locals who visited were Sir John Kotalawela, Sir Francis Molamure, and the present owner’s great grandfather,” said Kuttan at his recent interview with Sunday Island.
Kuttan, when recalling his memories as a waiter, said he had served dignitaries such as Lord Mountbatten, Princess Elizabeth, Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru, Gandhi and Arthur C. Clarke. (Colombo Gazette)