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Incredible India


in. this issue . Vol.5 No. 07 APRIL 2012


On a comprehensive growth track

14 Incredible India campaign touches the sky 16 Goa gears up for a musical summer 18 Ramoji Film City to hold a rocking summer carnival

P 24-25

19 Visit Singapore, to take home a unique holiday 28 Relish, oriental cuisine and beer at Galaxy 29 Leela Palace New Delhi scales new heights 33 Arabian Travel Market to be held in Dubai, from April 30 P 26-27 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW




P 8-9

P 10-11

P 12-13

P 22-23

Radka Neumannova

Priti Chand

Alex Koshy

V Duraikkannan Photo Courtesy (Cover): Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing



Editor & Publisher : Chief Executive Officer : Group Editor : Photo Editor : Art Editor : Senior Sub Editor : Sub Editor : Editorial Team : Director - PR (Mumbai) : GM (Marketing) : GM (Finance) : Manager (Marketing) : Marketing Coordinator : Financial Advisor : Legal Advisor : GM -Tamil Nadu :


he power of new age technologies is just marvelling. They have, over the course of time, changed the very concept of doing business. Those industries that have embraced the new technologies with open hands and used them innovatively and effectively have always gained from it. The encouraging results have, in fact, tempted each industry to look for new and sophisticated use of such technologies, to drive further growth. This irresistible drive can be, today, seen in any industry. And tourism industry is not an exception. When it comes to tourism industry, it was new communication technologies such as internet, social media and mobile applications that brought in the new wave. It was admittedly a wave that changed the very growth prospects of the industry. A powerful wave that helped the industry to sell destinations by spreading awareness about their unique attractions and clock in more business! It would be wrong to say, everyone was quick in realising the potential of these technologies and seized it, at a go. However, there were brilliant ones, who sensed what such platforms could do. Though a small state in the Indian subcontinent, Kerala has shown to the world, how fast a hitherto unexplored destination can be turned into a tourist hot spot, with the help of internet, social media and mobile applications. The state boasts an award winning website, which provides a stunning picture of various attractions in it. This South Indian state would not have so easily established itself as the God’s own country in the global tourism map, had it not exploited the potential of above mentioned new technology platforms, as and when they made entry. And the state is still exploiting such platforms, to take the tourism industry to new heights. The latest addition is a WAP website to promote the state’s tourism products and services. At the recently held World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism, UNWTO has recognised the role of new communication technologies, particularly the internet and mobile based applications, in transforming the tourism industry. Now, one can see, how far has Kerala travelled in this front. The state has not only set a perfect example for Asian countries, but others as well.



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On a comprehensive growth track


s part of the efforts to increase the share of international tourist arrivals to one per cent by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan, India has taken a slew of measures, keeping in mind the comprehensive growth of its tourism industry. At present, the country’s share of international tourist arrivals stands at 0.6 per cent. To achieve the set goal, the subcontinent has already stepped up promotional activities in important as well as potential overseas source markets. In addition, the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, has taken steps to promote and exploit the potential of adventure, cruise, and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism, in the country. If India succeeds in drawing one per cent of the international tourist arrivals during the projected period, it will see about 11.37 million arrivals by 2016. To propel adventure tourism, the ministry has introduced a voluntary scheme for approval of adventure tour operators, while to grow the MICE segment, it has extended the benefits under Market Development Assistance (MDA) scheme to the active members of India Convention

As the Ministry of Tourism goes about vigorously planning and implementing various initiatives to grow the country’s tourism industry, the emphasis, however, seems to be on the safety and security of tourists Promotion Bureau (ICPB), towards bidding for international conferences/ conventions and bringing more MICE business to the country. Under the MDA scheme, ICPB members will get financial support on winning the bid, or for obtaining second and third positions in the bidding process. The ministry now extends financial assistance of Rs 5 crore to the state governments, for constructing one convention centre in a state. The Ministry of Tourism, which now provides 25 per cent of the cost of water sports equipment, consisting of kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, fibre glass boats, hovercrafts, water scooters,

etc., to the state governments, is also planning to extend the financial assistance for developing tourism infrastructure in adventure tourism destinations. The assistance will cover facilities for trekking, rock climbing, mountaineering, aero-sports, winter/water related sports, trekker huts, wildlife viewing facilities, etc. Recently, the central government had given security clearance for opening 104 additional peaks in Jammu and Kashmir. The opening of the additional peaks, though subject to clearances from state government, Home Ministry and other concerned agencies, will help in positioning the Indian

Himalayas as an adventure tourism destination. The country is also likely to see efforts at promoting cruise tourism in Kerala and Goa, and construction of roads in hilly states. As the Ministry of Tourism goes about vigorously planning and implementing various initiatives to grow the country’s tourism industry, the emphasis, however, seems to be on the safety and security of tourists. “Safety and security of tourists should be of utmost concern to everyone in the country. All stake holders, including central and state governments and other agencies should be fully involved in this task,” says, Subodh Kant Sahay, Union Tourism Minister.

A perfect medical tourism facilitator


n order to better play the role of a medical tourism facilitator, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, has taken several promotional measures, including production and distribution of publicity materials like brochure, CD and films, in target markets. In India, medical tourism

activity is mainly driven by the private sector and the Ministry of Tourism only plays the role of a facilitator, in terms of marketing and promoting it in key markets. The ministry, however, provides financial support to approved medical tourism service providers, be it representatives of

hospitals accredited by Joint Commission International (JCI) and National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) or medical tourism facilitators like travel agents and tour operators approved by it, to take the medical tourism to new heights in the country.



With great options for all forms of tourism, including meetings, incentives, conferences and events, Czech Republic is slowly but steadily making waves in the global tourism industry. The credit goes to the CzechTourism authorities, who are relentlessly working on creating new and different experiences, for the travellers. In an interview with Anil Mathew, Radka Neumannova, Director, CzechTourism India, talked about what makes the Czech Republic a destination worth visiting, the efforts being made to lure more travellers and the industry’s contribution to the country’s economy. Edited Excerpts:

The Czech Magic As you are aware, international tourist arrivals are forecast to touch one billion this year. In this wake, what all measures have you taken to draw more arrivals to the Czech Republic? I am proud to say, the number of visitors to the Czech Republic has grown in 2011, by more than seven per cent and we have received over 6.8 million arrivals, last year. This is definitely a great achievement for a country of 10.5 million population. It proves that the Czech Republic is an attractive holiday destination and its tourism attractions, be it heritage, history, architecture, spa, culture, adventure or family holidays, can offer a wide range of products and experiences. Therefore, we are positive that we can maintain a growing interest in our country, especially, thanks to our marketing efforts in important international markets. India is definitely one of the main markets we are expecting to grow

in number of visitors to the Czech Republic. Since the opening of our office in 2010, we have received more than 30 per cent growth in Indian arrivals. So, I see a large potential in India, to become one of our main source markets in the near future. According to you, what makes the Czech Republic a destination worth visiting for the travellers? The Czech Republic is a fascinating country, with a great accessibility. It offers spectacular heritage sites, world famous spas, international events and

entertainment. The country has always been Europe´s true hub and therefore, today, one can admire great architectures and heritage places that combine traditions and modern lifestyle. What makes Czech Republic a great destination is not only numerous UNESCO sites and heritage locations, but also friendly and relaxed atmosphere, which makes you enjoy your new experiences even more uniquely. It is also home to famous personalities like Franz Kafka, Vaclav Havel, W A Mozart, Sigmund Freud and Alfons

Mucha. Besides hundreds of different beer flavours and wine, travellers can also taste unique cuisine in the Czech Republic. To complete your bohemian experience, you can look for special Czech products, like Czech Glass and Bohemian Crystal, garnet jewellery, etc. Prague, no doubt, pulls a large number of travellers every year. How far has Czech tourism grown beyond Prague? Prague, being not only the capital city, but as well the main architectural and heritage gem, attracts millions of visitors, annually. Another factor that works in favour of Prague, I would say, is the special atmosphere, ‘genius loci’ that you will feel almost at every corner of this city of magic. Beyond Prague, cities like Karlovy Vary, Česky Krumlov and the region of South Moravia have, over the years, become important tourist attractions. Karlovy Vary is traditionally one of the most important spa centres and it forms part of


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW the Western–Bohemia spa triangle. Karlovy Vary Film Festival, which welcomes a handsome number of international filmmakers and stars every year, has enhanced the value of this budding tourist spot. Then, if you desire a relaxed atmosphere in the middle of lush forests, Karlovy Vary will surely entice you. On the other hand, Česky Krumlov is a beautiful, scenic UNESCO sight, hosting several international cultural events during summer, while South Moravia is home to Moravian wines, wine cellars and the centuries old wine making traditions. These attractions, in fact, speak volumes for the range of diversity you can find in the Czech Republic. How an important contributor is tourism industry to your country’s economic growth and job creation? How do you plan to propel this key economic driver? Tourism industry accounts for approximately three per cent of the total gross domestic product of the Czech Republic and employs about 2.50 lakh people, which is 4.6 per cent of the total working population of our country. Tourism is certainly one of the potential sources of economic growth and CzechTourism is constantly putting a big effort on developing regional tourist attractions and products to increase the economic sustainability and create a portfolio of new products which would attract repeat travellers to the Czech. It is no secret that today’s travellers are looking for a variety of experiences, while holidaying. Do you think your country is equipped to meet this growing demand of the travellers? As I have already mentioned, our emphasis is more on creating new and


different experiences. Hence, we are developing and promoting new products, involving more local character of different places, be it wine or beer trails, or adventure tours. Another new product is definitely lifestyle, including fashion, design, shopping and entertainment, and it is being developed centred on Prague. We see concentrated efforts to turn the Czech Republic into a sought-after meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) destination. How far has your labour yielded results and why would you suggest one to opt for the Czech, for MICE? MICE falls under one of our primary products, which we are promoting in India. Indian companies like Birla Insurance, Mahindra, Lenovo India and IBM have chosen Prague for their MICE events.

How important segments are leisure, wellness and medical tourism, for you and how do you plan to sell/market each segment to international travellers? Leisure, especially heritage, culture, spa and wellness, and active holidays are our core products. In India, we are going strong on promoting places and experiences beyond Prague, which are equally attractive, with new products like lifestyle and active holiday that are based on a mix of old charms and beauty, in the modern cosmopolitan and entertaining atmosphere. The spa industry has a long-lasting tradition in the Czech Republic. As early as the 14th century, mineral springs were used for curative purposes. Since then, the spa towns were founded around healing mineral springs and over the time, they have become a symbol of health, wellness and luxury. Today, the Czech Republic boasts not less than 35 spa towns, where you can We are also very proud recover from different kind that the TATA Motors have of diseases. If you want zeroed in on Prague for their nothing more than a relaxing annual conference, this year. break for mind and body, Since Prague is a main Central they are perfectly designed European hub for several to cater to you, with modern international medical and facilities, relaxing landscapes, pharmaceutical conferences, enchanting promenades and regular groups of Indian colonnades. specialists visit the destination Don’t you think that film to attend such events. tourism is fast gaining Moreover, this year, the ground? Have you taken any Czech Republic has been initiative to cash in on this selected to host Indian show, novel idea to lure travellers during the Engineering Expo from other countries? If yes, in Brno, in September. We please detail. expect more than 200 Indian The Czech Republic has companies to participate a very long film industry in this event, along with tradition, dating back to 20´s the official delegation from of the last century. Since 90´s, the Ministry of Industry, the Czech Republic is one of Government of India. I the most popular destinations believe, it will help us for the international film even more to showcase the producers. Films such as beautiful surroundings and Mission Impossible 1 and 4, rich heritage, together with a Page 13 warm Czech hospitality.


It wasn’t with disappointment Priti Chand, who had a decades’ experience in public relations and marketing communications, started her innings in the hospitality sector, on a pittance of a salary. She was determined, enthusiastic and passionate about the sector, and above all had a clear vision about what she wanted to do and become. And today she is the custodian of brand Zuri. In fact, her career growth can very well be compared to the success of brand Zuri. She has craved out her own distinguished place in the Indian hospitality sector and sees success as the sum total of how much one invests oneself into a work. Read more…

Priti Chand VP - Corporate Communications, Zuri Group Global

I took a break and came to India. I received the Holiday Inn offer and decided to take it up despite the meagre pay, because the industry fascinated me. Besides, there was the promise of new learning, on new shores and on my own terms. So, I decided to wipe the slate clean and start afresh. After working in India for a while, I went back to Sri Lanka and joined Taj Samudra, as a PR Manager, which soon turned into a portfolio that included PR management for three Taj Hotels in Sri Lanka. I have not looked back since then and, in fact, I have never found a reason to! There were difficult times... But looking back, today, I see them as essential milestones that ultimately brought me where I am today. And that is how I prefer to view every obstacle. Would you please cut a clear picture of the task cut out for you, as the Vice President - Corporate Communications, Zuri Group Global? As the Vice President Corporate Communications, Zuri Group Global, I am the brand custodian. I juggle several responsibilities, while spearheading the multiple communication activities of the Group. I am part of the core group, who created the



What attracted you to the hospitality sector? Please take us through the early days of your career. My entry into the hospitality sector was, in fact, a unique beginning. For me, it was like a second home coming. It all began with a Guest Relationship position with the Holiday Inn, Ahmedabad, on a pittance of a salary, experience and a lot of determination. When I joined hospitality, I had a decade’s experience in public relations (PR) and marketing communications, with my family business in Sri Lanka. There I discovered my natural affinity for PR and marketing communications and an innate passion to push my limits kept me going, for nine years. However, towards the end of ninth year, I began to feel it was not enough. My family business was something which I had inherited and not earned, and that began to bother me. Besides, life had its own knocks to give. Around this time, I began questioning who I am and what I stand for, as an individual.

Q&A brand identity of Zuri from scratch and hence, I look at it as my responsibility to personally guide and direct the growth of this identity, to make it firmly established in the minds of our customers and across the hospitality industry, worldwide. As a hospitality industry professional, what plans, immediate and long term, you have? Also, where would you like to see yourself, in the long run? My singular focus, right now, is to make the brand grow. I have been with the group since its inception and it gives me incredible pleasure, watching the brand I have helped develop grow in strength every day. It is easily on its way to becoming a brand of international repute. We are already known for our zestful nature, as a young brand with a penchant for doing the regular things, with innovative style. Currently, all my energy is focused on sustainable strategies, to bring this attribute into the limelight and build the power of the brand. As for my personal goals, someday, I would like to start a one-stop communications and branding solution for events, brand launches and more. When you look back, do you recall the ones or incidents, who/which have exerted an influence in your professional life? If yes, tell us as to how have they changed your career for better? That’s a loaded question. As a person of passion, everyone and everything I have come across, during my journey, has only inspired me. But the real meaning of inspiration, as for me, lies in a deeper resilience and spiritual strength I like to centre within me and draw


from, in times of need. My natural personality is selfmotivated, self-driven and that of a perfectionist. I have inherited these qualities from my mother, who is a similarly strong and independent person. When you are all of these things, you aren’t particularly easy on yourself. You do not depend easily and you set impossibly high standards for yourself. You, then, either bungee jump, or steeplechase like an Olympian, to live up to them! It becomes essential for you to have a core within, what refills and inspires you at all times to be at it, because that is what your nature is and you have to be true to it. As a woman, what were the challenges you had to face in building up a successful career in this fast growing sector? As much as we would like to believe in women’s lib, the ground reality is that nothing comes easy to a woman. And that is a truth all over the world. Especially, if you wish to step out and take up a lead role. Then, you meet success and that makes the journey even more difficult. You face obstacles and even resentment, just because others find it difficult to accept a woman, in a nonsubjugatory space. The hospitality industry is a predominantly male dominated environment and I have had my share of troubles. It has not been easy. Having a strong personality and dedication to my work went a long way in enabling me, to create a niche for myself. When I look around me today and observe the interactions I have, there is a sense of achievement, because am I not treated as ‘second-rate’ citizen, by virtue of being a woman. And I know I have created that space entirely on my own,

trusting my instincts and pouring my entire self into the work that I cherish. What do you like to tell the young girls, who aspire to build a career in the hospitality sector? The first thing I would like to tell young girls is that the hospitality sector is not only about glamour. There is a lot of hard work and one must be prepared to take them up. The job becomes more difficult, because while looking glamorous, one needs to work, really work hard. Find a mentor you trust and respect, learn from him/her and put in your best. The best thing about this industry is that with a focused approach and willingness to learn, you can climb the ladders very fast. Never forget to put immense passion in whatever you do, because ultimately that is what helps you stand out as a unique person. And the hospitality sector has a high respect for such people. Your career, no doubt, is full of success stories. Do you mind sharing with us the secret of your success? That (success) is quite a magical word, isn’t it? If only each one of us had a recipe and one big trick to make it, wouldn’t it be a wonderland for all of us? However, it is not. At the end of the day, yet again we realise it is the values you hold close to your heart and how much of yourself you invest that defines the nature and extent of your success. For me, it has been a combination of smart work, conviction and deep passion, I guess. I trust my beliefs and take calculated risks. Also, I am a person who rigorously believes in perfection, in whatever I do, or am responsible for. Slaving at it continuously really has its rewards and I reap mine every day. Besides that, straightforward-ness

and unshakeable integrity are non-negotiable for lasting success and these qualities have always stood by me. If you don’t mind, share with us the proudest moment you like to cherish. That has to be the day, brand Zuri was officially launched! It was a cherished dream for all of us, especially me, who had put in a lot of hard work, blood and sweat in realising it. At the launch, the Managing Director of the company, who I report to directly, thanked me in front of a large gathering of people that included the media as well. That meant the world to me, I’ll never forget that day. It was not only about applause, it was about the value I had created and the affirmation of the fact that everything I had done was getting a meaning in public, which was most fulfilling. Would you paint a picture of your family? Well, my family is a very small one. It includes my mother, sister and her son, who live in the US, and my two children. Your hobbies? I have many, but the closest to my heart is theatre and fine arts. I am qualified from the Trinity College of Speech and Dramatic Art and have participated and directed several plays. At one point, I even used to teach drama and English to children and youngsters, in the age group of 8-20. I think it is a creative space that allows one to express oneself and I identify it with freedom of expression. And then, there is this gypsy in me who loves travelling. Stepping out of your comfort zone is always fun, be it physical, professional or social and who doesn’t love globetrotting! I am also fond of modelling and cooking, which I love to dabble in, now and then.



Here is a humble and down-to-earth hospitality professional, who made a choice to be part of this fascinating sector, to realise the passion he developed at a young age. And today, Alex Koshy, General Manager, Carnoustie Beach Resort and Ayurveda Spa, has made his mark in the sector, both in India and abroad. He sees positives in everything and holds high the hospitality tradition of God’s own country. Through 10 Questions, besides explicating the role of hotels in developing a destination, he unveils his journey so far in the hospitality sector.

Alex Koshy General Manager, Carnoustie Beach Resort and Ayurveda Spa


of choice between engineering and hotel management, it was a bit unconventional in my neighbourhood, to opt for the latter. However, I guess that’s where passion played a big role. I knew I was going to be in the hospitality sector and I am glad that I have sustained that decision so far. Most of my classmates have chosen to follow diverse career paths. Just a few of us chose to stick on to hotel management. So, it’s more a thing of choice than chance, I guess! As the General Manager, what plans do you have for Carnoustie Beach Resort and Ayurveda Spa? The property holds a great promise and we hope to turn it into an ambassador for the hospitality tradition of God’s own country and the modern face of India’s growing tourism sector, in the near future. I love to see the company grow, with presence across Kerala and soon dot the India tourism map as well. As far as plans for the resort is concerned, I would like to see us, as the top spa destination You have been in the in India, within the first year hospitality industry for the past several years. Could you of operation. tell us about your early days? In your career, have you ever worked abroad? What, What made you enter the according to you, are the hospitality sector? advantages of working I, somehow, developed overseas? a passion for food and My managerial career beverage, at a very young actually took flight in Ireland. age. When at the crossroads

It was, perhaps, the first time that an Asian wore the garb of Deputy General Manager of a premium business property in Ireland. I went to attend one of the business schools in Ireland in 1999, to pursue my Masters in Business Studies and stayed back in the country, till 2011. During my stay in Ireland, I have worked with Fitzpatricks Castle, Jurys Doyle, Carlson and Preferred hotels. The advantages are obvious. It’s a more evolved community of hotel users and you also get familiar with the highest standards of hospitality governance and customer satisfaction. Would you please share with us the proudest and some of the unforgettable moments in your professional life? The proudest moment in my career will have to be my first hotel opening, The Park Plaza in Dublin, Ireland, back in 2006. Even though I did open The Fitzwilliam in Belfast three years later, the first opening still remains special. And most recently, when the entire team of Femina Miss India 2012 contestants, who enjoyed our warm hospitality, cheered me on, it really brought goosebumps! It simply meant Carnoustie Beach Resort and Ayurveda Spa, Mararikulam, had taken care of its guests


Q&A very well and my team was successful in engraving the experience in their hearts. It was, indeed, a proud moment, as the leader of the team! Where would you like to see yourself, say, 10 years from now? This is a new challenge. There is lots of opportunity and potential. Right now, my focus is on building Carnoustie into a soughtafter resort group in India and perhaps that might take time. I like to account for life by the years, rather than decades. Ten years ago, if you had asked me the same question, I wouldn’t have said ‘the GM of Carnoustie’. So, there is always space for the unexpected and I am fortunate that the turn of events were actually progressive and fulfilling. Life takes unexpected turns and I think, making the most of what you encounter beyond the bend, determines success in the long run. How do you see the role of a hotel in developing a destination? What all things

can hospitality sector do in this regard? Having good hotels and resorts that cater to various types of travellers is a major part of making a destination desirable (to the travellers). Hotels are no longer stopover places; they are destinations by themselves. With the growth of meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) and the development of weekend tourism, hotels have, actually, replaced conventional places, to a large extent. A young executive couple would look for a beautiful property that provides good relaxation and rejuvenation, like Carnoustie with its ayurveda spa, beach and service, to take a break from their hectic schedule. Look at Dubai or UAE, for example. A major part of the destination experience revolves around its hotels, whether it is a global icon like the Burj Al Arab, Emirates Palace, or other major hotel brands. What is important is the overall take home experience. I am sure, along

with the other operators here, we will be able to promote Marari, as a hot destination very soon. How do you see the growth prospects of Indian hospitality sector? India is growing, with weekend breaks and corporate escapes becoming a part of the culture. As India gains global prominence in business, the chances of inbound tourism also goes up. At present, Alappuzha is the most sought-after destination in Kerala, with its backwaters, paddy fields and beaches. The response we have received at the various travel marts in Moscow, London, Germany and Singapore has been amazing and the enquiries which followed were phenomenal. If it is any indication, the hospitality sector in India has only positives ahead. How supportive has been your family, in building your career? My wife Ammu, thankfully, is from the travel industry background and it

has helped me immensely, to work all those long hours, during hotel openings! One thing I miss, though, is the time I get to spend with my two and a half year old son, Koshy Alexander. My parents, who are in Chengannur, are delighted that their grandson is not in Belfast anymore and they get to spend time with him, as they please. Please tell us about your hobbies and other interests? As nearly every other person here, I love cricket. Not a great fan of IPL, though. During my free time, I like writing and have my own blog, safetyvalverelease@ At the moment, my free time is consumed by watching Peppa pig and Ben and Holly and reading ‘Minnaminni’, ‘Kalikuduka’ etc!! Which is your favourite destination? Why? I have to say, I have two favourite destinations. One is Killarney, in Ireland and the other one is Munnar, in Kerala. As someone once said about Munnar, if there is heaven on earth, this is it!

markets for us and now we are seeing increased arrivals from China. So, definitely Asia is becoming one of the main source markets for us. Do you have a strategy in place to attract more travellers from Asia, especially India, to Czech?

If yes, please share with us your initiatives towards the same? As far as India is considered, our main strategy is to raise awareness about the destination, by working with both consumers and travel industry stakeholders. We are currently running marketing campaigns in print and online. We are as well working on strengthening our ties with key partners in the market, to support our marketing efforts and help collaborate with Indian film studios. In April, we will be opening a Czech Glass Art Gallery in Mumbai. We were taken up by the success of the food festival held in Delhi last year and hence we will be holding one in Mumbai, this year.

The Czech Magic Page 9

Casino Royal, Hellboy, XXX, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Bourne Identity, etc., were shot in the Czech Republic during the last two decades. Rockstar, one of the Bollywood super-hit movies in 2011, was as well shot in Prague and we could see the potential of Bollywood in creating the hype and awareness about a destination - suddenly everybody was talking about Prague! Therefore, this year, we are already in discussion for other Indian film projects to be shot in Prague and other locations in the Czech Republic. Is Asia a major source market for Czech tourism? If yes, how do you see the ASIAN TRAVELLER | APRIL 2012

increase in arrivals from this continent to various destinations in Czech, over the last decade? Importance of Asian markets has been increasing over the past few years. Traditionally, Japan and South Korea are important



Incredible India campaign touches the sky


ncredible India campaign will soon get more than a facelift, as the Union Ministry of Tourism has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, to work together on positioning India as a preferred tourist destination among the travellers across the globe. As per the MoU, the Airport Authority of India will provide space at various airports for ‘Incredible India’ campaign, a branding initiative rolled out by the Union Ministry of Tourism to highlight various tourism attractions in the country, at a nominal cost. The move is expected to give more visibility to the Incredible India campaign. The airport authorities are expected to offer the required

space for the branding activities at prominent locations, such as in the arrival hall, near the luggage belts in the arrival lounge and in the departure hall, in consultation with the Union Ministry of Tourism. In another initiative, the Ministry of Civil Aviation will take up the issue of

promotional films provided by the Ministry of Tourism on both inbound and outbound flights, after take off and before landing. “The MoU aims at effectively promoting tourism, by leveraging the promotional opportunities provided at airports and aircrafts. The

‘The medium of civil aviation will be used Subodh Kant Sahay Union Tourism Minister

to promote ‘Incredible India’ brand, so as to achieve the common objective of increased tourist arrivals to the country

displaying Incredible India logo on all aircrafts, with the Indian carriers. The logo will, however, be designed by the Ministry of Tourism. Also, Ministry of Civil Aviation will ask foreign/Indian carriers to screen Incredible India

medium of civil aviation will be used to promote ‘Incredible India’ brand, so as to achieve the common objective of increased tourist arrivals to the country. Conversion with Civil Aviation Ministry is very important for developing

tourism in the country and abroad, as it will help in effectively branding India as a major tourist destination,” smiles, Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay. As per the MoU, besides jointly participating in the road shows and events organised by each other, Ministry of Civil Aviation will collaborate with the Ministry of Tourism, to take forward the ‘Clean India’ campaign. It is learnt that the Ministry of Civil Aviation will take adequate steps to ensure cleanliness in and around all airports and their office premises in the country. The Ministry of Tourism, in turn, will undertake the marketing and promotion of some of the newly upgraded airports, including the ones in Aurangabad, Udaipur, Varanasi and Madurai. The Ministry of Tourism has been actively promoting ‘Incredible India’ as a brand and it is now recognised worldwide. It has already successfully collaborated with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, for dovetailing their promotional efforts, with the Incredible India campaign.

Himachal moves fast on rural tourism


nder the ‘Har Gaon ‘Har Gaon Ki Kahani’, new Ki Kahani’ scheme, circuits will be developed Himachal Pradesh for rural tourism, to give a State Tourism Department boost to local handicrafts, has identified 12 indigenous products villages – one village and cultural activities,” from its each district says, Prem Kumar – for developing Dhumal, Chief Minister, and promoting rural Himachal Pradesh. tourism. The villages selected Prem Kumar “Through the include Hewan in Dhumal, CM, innovative scheme of Himachal Pradesh Shimla, Baggi in Mandi,

Bela in Hamirpur, Saho in Chamba, Nerti in Kangra, Salasi in Bilaspur, Shamsher in Kullu, Udaypur in Lahaul and Spiti, Brua in Kinnaur, Baniya Devi in Solan, Sangrah in Sirmaur and Nari in Una. ‘Har Gaon Ki Kahani’ scheme was launched to promote rural tourism in the state by diversifying tourism activities.




‘Discover Bihar’ on roads


fter introducing religious tourism circuits to woo Bouddha, Jain, Hindu, Sikh and Islam devotees to the state from across the globe, Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) seems to have turned its focus on luring domestic travellers, by spreading awareness on various tourist attractions in the state through its cleverly designed roadshow programme ‘Discover Bihar’. The highlights of the roadshow include cultural performances, quiz contests for schools and colleges, exhibition of indigenous handicrafts, and presentations and discussions on (the potential of) various tourist spots in the state. BSTDC has so far conducted roadshows in five Indian metros – Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and

New Delhi. The roadshows, besides showcasing wildlife attractions such as the Rajgir Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhimbandh Sanctuary, Kabar Jheel Bird Sanctuary and Gautam Buddha Sanctuary, also highlighted the potential of locations such as Bodhgaya, Gaya, Nalanda, Pawapuri, Rajgir, Vaishali, Vikramsila and Kesariya. The roadshows were managed by Sphere Travelmedia and Exhibitions, Bangalore. While Navin Kumar, DGM, Bihar Tourism, headed the roadshows in Hyderabad,

Bangalore and New Delhi, Ashok Kumar, Bihar Tourism Director, led the shows held in Chennai. It was Keshri Kumar, Asst. Tourist Information Officer, Bihar Tourism, who manned the show in Mumbai. “One should visit Bihar and enjoy what it has to offer, be it the lovely eco tourist spots where black bucks roam freely close to Nalanda, or the majestic Garuda bird spotted in parts of Bihar,” says, Navin Kumar, DGM, Bihar Tourism. Bihar had attracted 1.32 crore tourists

between January and November, 2011, including more than 1.27 crore domestic and about 5.28 lakh foreign arrivals. Known for rich heritage of history, antiques and artefacts, Bihar is home to innumerable ancient monuments, prominent ancient universities, Mahabodhi Temple - a Buddhist shrine and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Mahatma Gandhi Setu, Patna - the second longest river bridge in the world.

Goa gears up for a musical summer


hat is in store in Goa this summer is nothing less than a musical beach holiday. And who won’t be taken up by the picture of a perfect evening by the beach side, watching the sun set, while renowned musicians transport you to an entirely different world? If one likes to sip the taste of this rare magical holiday experience, be in Goa while it hosts the GoaWire Goa Music Festival. Spread over 52 days, from April 8 to May 30, 2012, the festival will be held at 40 different venues in North and South Goa, rocking and shaking Goa and Goans out of the hot summer suninduced lethargy.


About 60 DJs from Goa, Mumbai and the rest of the world will perform at this musical gala event. Added attractions include Goan food and culture.

“The GoaWire Goa Music Festival will cover and traverse the length and breadth of Goa, from Canacona in South Goa, to Morjim, Ashwem and

Arambol in North Goa. The main stops would include the tourist haunts of Anjuna, Vagator, Baga, Calangute, Candolim, Miramar and Panaji in the North and Majorda, Benaulim, Colva, Cavelossim and Palolem in South Goa. It is touted as the biggest music festival ever held in Asia till date,” say the organisers. The brain-child of Goan DJ Jenny D, the Goa Music Festival is co-ordinated by DJ Frank Franklyn. The music festival will feature different genres, styles and types of music and bring together Jazz, Pop, Rock, Reggae, Retro, Blues and Bollywood musicians under one umbrella.



Speedwings emerges as the second best IATA ATC


t the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Training Partner Congress 2012 held in Singapore, Speedwings Aviation Academy, Kochi, the only professional airline academy in India, has been listed as one of IATA’s top ten ATC Premier Circle Members. Speedwings Aviation Academy is now the second best IATA authorised training centre (ATC) amongst the 245 IATA ATCs, worldwide. Biji Eapen, Chairman and CEO, Speedwings Aviation Academy, received the award from Guido Gianasso, Vice President - Human Capital, IATA and Ismail AlBaidhani,

Head of Global Partnerships and Learning Innovation at ITDI, Montreal-Canada, at a glittering function held at the Fort Canning Hotel, Singapore. Speedwings offers one year PG course in Airport

Station Management, which is an IATA aviation certified professional course, comprising topics such as Ground Operations Management, Airport Ramp Services, Aviation Security Awareness and Passenger

Ground Services (processing). The course also enjoys four GDS certifications Galileo, Amadeus, Abacus and Worldspan. “This is a unique course that equips the students to work in the position of a Station Manager at the airport,” says, Eapen. The aviation academy also offers BBA Degree in Aviation Operations, in association with UPES, a UGC recognised university. Besides, Speedwings offer specialised courses on Airline communication systems, DGR, ULD system control, Live animal regulations and Shipping perishable cargo.

Ramoji Film City to hold a rocking summer carnival


ooking for a cool holiday, in this hot summer? Then, Ramoji Film City, home to sprawling film locales, make-believe sets, period settings, exquisite gardens and cascading fountains, is all set to provide a cool summer gateway for the visitors. The world’s largest film city, located in Hyderabad, will organise a spectacular summer carnival from April 21 to June 10, 2012, the main attraction of which will be carnival parade. During the carnival days, the film city will be fully illuminated with specially created strings of coloured lights and there will be special entertainment for the vacationers. “The summer festival is aptly designed to lend a memorable experience to the tourists and make the most of the holiday season. During the carnival, tourists will get an opportunity to stay longer to experience more fun and 18

more movie magic, as every single day will have extended visit hours up to 8.00 pm. The carnival will feature live band, stage performances and jumbo jamborees. The evenings will be full of excitement, with special dances, music and entertainment,” says, V Srinivas Rao, Senior Manager – Publicity, Ramoji Film City. “With a dazzling show of costumes, the carnival parade will be a riot of colours. The gentle evening breeze and the

themed carnival float, with multi-continental variety will multiply the evening charms. The jugglers and fire-eaters would engage you with their great mix and mingle acts and the stilt walkers and clowns would assimilate many moods,” he goes on to give a detailed picture of added attractions that the summer carnival offers to the visitors. A visit to Ramoji Film City, usually offers different experiences to the travellers.

One can visit the new butterfly park which is home to a variety of exotic species and engage in activities such as thrill rides, live stunts and Ramoji Movie Magic. It is a place, where travellers can also stroll around the lavish sets of world cities, inspired from ancient, medieval and modern times; shop from a variety of boutiques and pamper one’s taste buds from the multicuisine thematic restaurants dotting the dream landscape. “During the summer carnival, exclusive packages that include gala dinner are on offer for the tourists, who visit the film city in the evening, for a change of pace and to relax in a dream environment. As one day may not be enough for the complete experience of the carnival fervour, special ‘fun under the sun’ packages will be offered by Dolphin Hotels, at its comfort hotel Tara and luxury hotel Sitara,” informs, Rao.



Visit Singapore, to take home a unique holiday


ho doesn’t like a holiday experience that one can take home with him/her? Realising the very magnetic power of such holiday experiences to pull large number of travellers, Singapore Tourism Board has launched a new marketing campaign, ‘Singapore – the holiday you take home with you’, to attract more Indian outbound travellers to the urbanised island country that is still known for its scenic greenery. “In strategic collaborations with specialised travel and lifestyle partners in India, we will market various Singapore itineraries that enhance enriching experiences. The experiences cut across various


segments, including active It is third in a series of lifestyle, family fun, romance customised and differentiated and culinary,” says, an official marketing campaigns with Singapore Tourism Board. launched by Singapore

Tourism Board. In China and Australia, it had adopted a similar consumer centric approach, by tailoring experiences based on a deeper understanding of the needs of the travellers. “By understanding the travellers’ needs, better quality experiences can be created and delivered, which is a natural evolution of the ‘Your Singapore’ destination brand, with an emphasis on personalisation of experiences,” explains the Singapore Tourism official. It is learnt that the board, in association with its strategic travel partners like Thomas Cook and Mercury Travels, is all set to deliver various experiences to the discerning travellers.



Thailand readies for the New Year bash


t is celebration time in relieving the summer heat by Thailand, with Bangkok joyfully splashing each other. and 12 other major cities set It is Thai ancient traditions to hold exciting and engaging (which are on display) cultural events, as part of the that make the Songkran Songkran Splendours Festival popular with Festival, which marks visitors, who want the Thai New Year, a memorable Thai from April 9-24, experience,” says, 2012. The Songkran Suraphon Svetasreni, Festival is based on Governor, Tourism ancient traditions Authority of Thailand. that recognise the During the Suraphon Svetasreni importance of family Governor, Tourism festival, people Authority of Thailand ties and progression splash water on of life, by honouring each other and it elders in a family. symbolises the cleansing and “Songkran is the annual purification process. Grand festival that all Thais look processions, folk dances, street forward to, as it brings parties and other spectacular together families and friends events provide enough to celebrate the Thai New avenues for the travellers to Year, by honouring elders and immerse themselves in Thai

culture in a fascinating way. The festival also provides an opportunity for the visitors to savour delicious Thai cuisine, while enjoying cultural performances. “During the 2012 Songkran Festival, visitors

to Thailand can enjoy a series of events taking place throughout the country. It will also be an opportunity to experience how people living in different areas of Thailand are celebrating the festival,” smiles Svetasreni.

Brazil seeks strong tourism ties with India


he bilateral tourism cooperation between India and Brazil is likely to get a further boost, as Gastao Vieira, Tourism Minister of Brazil, has called on Subodh Kant Sahay, Union Tourism Minister, Government of India, to exchange experience in destination management and promotion, share best


practices in the area of rural and eco tourism and explore possibilities of promoting joint venture investment in the field of hospitality and tourism infrastructure segments. The countries had signed the bilateral tourism cooperation agreement in January 2004. The tourism authorities are also considering a special

programme, wherein the Marketing Representative human resource development Office in Brazil. Currently, experts from India and Brazil India Tourism Office New can visit some of the hotel York looks after various management and tourism tourism promotion activities institutes in both the countries in Brazil, including road and interact with shows, workshops and the teaching faculty, seminars, to create through conferences awareness about India and seminars. among the Brazilian “India allows travel trade. 100 per cent foreign India and Brazil direct investment in are also part of the hospitality sector IBSA Dialogue Gastao Vieira, Tourism through automatic Forum, a trilateral, Minister, Brazil route and it will developmental allow Brazil to smoothly go initiative comprising about its plans to invest in the South Africa, to promote country’s hospitality sector,” South-South cooperation says, Sahay. He also suggested and exchange. As per the holding a conclave of BRICS proposed action plan under tourism ministers, to explore the IBSA agreement, India will more avenues of cooperation organise a workshop on rural to propel the tourism industry tourism, while Brazil will hold in the region. a workshop on beach tourism. To enhance its reach in Workshop on rural tourism is the Samba country, Ministry supposed to be held this year, of Tourism, Government subject to the confirmation of India, has proposed to of participation of Brazil and appoint India Tourism South Africa.




V Duraikkannan


he Bard of Avon wrote: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The rose will possibly smell the same sweet but the name change will definitely mean something else or something more! Recently, when I walked into the restaurant of a hotel where I was staying in Hyderabad, I noticed a plaque on a table with some eight chairs around, with the word ‘Promised’. The nice and thoughtful phrase ‘Promised’ sounded different, more sweet and sensible, and easier on the ears, instead of the usual ‘Reserved’, which could sound rude in a way for a customer, as if it were meant for a special and privileged class and you and I do not belong to that echelon. It was equally pleasant, when a very small bookshop by the side of Vile Parle railway station in Mumbai billed me a book for Rs 400, but charged me only Rs 300 and the term they used for the adjustment was not ‘Discount’ but ‘Your Saving’! ‘Economical airfare’ sounds better than ‘cheap airfare’ for an airline just the same way ‘physically challenged’ sounds more dignified than ‘physically handicapped’ for a person. Can such simple words mean so much of a difference and give a different feel? Is it just a euphemism? There are

people who strongly believe that mere words cannot do any great thing, mean much or make any difference. One such person challenged a very learnt pundit, who was discoursing on the power of words, on the efficacy of such words and mantras. His argument was that the mere chanting of a name like ‘Shiva’ or ‘Rama’ could not bring in any big solace or happiness for anybody. The pundit tried to explain as much as possible. When he was not listening to any of his explanations, he raised his voice as if flying into a rage and shouted at him: “You, IDIOT!” At the very instant, the man’s face turned red and he shouted back at the discourser how he dared call him so. The savant disarmingly smiled and said: “Now you see the power of word? You are not an idiot at all. Yet, the moment I uttered

the word ‘Idiot’, it worked so much on you! It was, after all, just a word and yet you see what it did!” There is tremendous power in a word. Otherwise, why would the automobile company founded by Kiichiro Toyoda in 1937 have the name Toyota, instead of Toyoda, for its car? The company did indeed have his name - Tokyo Toyoda Motor Sales - until 1936, when a stroke of the brush changed it to Toyota. Writing ‘Toyoda’ in Katakana, Japanese syllabic, requires 10 brush strokes but writing ‘Toyota’ requires eight. While ‘eight’ is considered an auspicious number, ‘10’ is not, as it consists of two strokes crossed against each other and resembles the ‘plus’ symbol, or even a crossroad or an uncertain path. Not a good omen for a company. Eight again is a bringer of good luck to the Asians. One may recall the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics at Beijing was begun at eight seconds and eight minutes past eight pm, on 8/8/08! Narendranath Dutta became Swami Vivekananda and founded Ramakrishna Mission in 1897. All the disciples and followers of the Mission gave up their pre-monastic names and became ‘Anandas’ and the practice continues till


COLUMN date. For instance, Swami Brahmananda, who was the first President of the Ramakrishna Mission, was Rakhal Chandra Ghosh in his pre-monastic days. The basic idea of name change is total relinquishment of their life led so far attached to that name and severance from the past. They do not hearken back to their previous worldly life and they are now totally new. Rolls Royce had a model called ‘Silver Cloud’. When they progressed with another variant of the same, they called it ‘Silver Mist’, only to recall the name fast and quickly replace it with ‘Silver Shadow’. It was because ‘Mist’ in German language would precisely mean ‘dung’ and how would they sell the model in Germany at all?! When the Satyam Computers went bust,



following the launch of their new venture MAYTAS, a construction company, there was a widespread belief that the company suffered a setback because the parent company’s name SATYAM was reversed as MAYTAS and so were the fortunes! The Kingfisher Airline too perhaps got into much more trouble, only after acquiring

Air Deccan and renaming it Kingfisher Red, landing them in the red! Way back in 2003, I was attending an Indo-Polish Chamber Meeting on a cultural show, at Chennai. The Consul-General of Poland was the chief guest and his name was Mr. Marek Moron! He was such a nice gentleman to meet with, yet one could

imagine how awkward and embarrassing it could have been for me to shake hands with him and greet him: “Hi, Mr. Moron! Nice meeting with you!” And, more so for the Indian host of the evening to introduce him to each and every guest arriving, ‘Meet Mr. Moron!’ Names and their meanings do matter!



An exotic summer getaway With a rich bio-diversity and an unspoilt natural beauty, Meghamalai beckons travellers to have a refreshing experience, writes Dr S Bakthavatchalam


he places to go and sites to see during the warm summer months are virtually endless. It ranges from an exotic tropical getaway to a backpacking excursion. However, today’s stress is on multi-activity holidays. Not everyone wants to lie on the beach. Hill stations have become the preferred getaway for


many. It is in this context, Meghamalai in Theni district of Tamil Nadu, stands apart. It’s a hill station, with a difference. It is where you can enjoy a multi-activity holiday. So, get ready to take a mesmerising journey to the Meghamalai, which beckons avid travellers, with a host of attractions, ranging from the clichéd to the never-before.

Endowed with spectacular scenery, hills, waterfalls, valleys and lakes, the scenic town of Meghamalai will surely offer a respite from the hustle and bustle of a city life. Meghamalai is located on the slopes of the Western Ghats, close to the Periyar Tiger Reserve, about 43 kilometres off Chinnamanur, on the Madurai-Kumily

interstate highway. The drive to Meghamalai, which is popularly known as ‘High Wavys Mountains’, is a thrilling experience, as the roads snake through the spice plantations and a series of hills and winds around eighteen hairpin bends. All through the drive from Theni to Meghamalai, where silence reigns supreme at


1500 metres above sea level, the forests and the mountains often disappear, as the mist mysteriously wraps everything in it. As you drive past the stretches of tea and coffee estates, and pepper, cardamom and cinnamon plantations, you can see Meghamalai welcoming you with its extensive forests, plenty of wild flowers, misty moors and luxuriant grasslands. Covered in lush vegetation and surrounded by undulating hilly terrain, Meghamalai is home to attractions like ASIAN TRAVELLER | APRIL 2012

Manalar, Venniyar and Iravangalar dams, echo points, Meghamalai estate and Maharaja Mettu. Spread over an area of about 6000 acres, Meghamalai is home to several unique varieties of wildlife. Gaurs, elephants, tiger, leopard, Nilgiri Tahr, langur, spotted deer, barking deer, sambar deer, wild boar, porcupine, lion-tailed macaque, pea fowls, jungle fowl and Malabar giant squirrel are commonly sighted across the forest terrain.

can find a view point by the very name Highwavys. From here you can enjoy a spectacular view of the nearby Varusanadu Hills. Another major attraction is Vellimalai, which could be described as the heart of Meghamalai. Standing at an average elevation of 1650 metres, Vellimalai is sure to cast a spell on the travellers, with its emerald green mountains. An abode of river Vaigai, Vellimalai offers a breathtaking beauty. The tea and coffee estates, houses of plantation workers and an artificial lake, add to the charm of the place. It’s not enough to go to Meghamalai and just drive to the top of the mountain peak. There are a variety of sights and sounds that are worth indulging in. The beautiful 190 feet high Meghamalai waterfalls is special, as it embodies a twin-waterfall that is active almost throughout the year. The fall is also known as Clouds land fall. If you wait enough, you can also spot elephants, gaur, spotted deer and other wild animals, which often frequent the site, at dawn and dusk. What you cannot miss is a drive to Manalar dam. The entire stretch from High Wavys to Manalar is scenic. You will just get awestruck at Meghamalai is also home the number of lakes you see to a wide variety of birds, on the way to Manalar. From mammals, reptiles and Manalar dam, one can view butterflies. Over 100 species of the deep Cumbum Valley and birds have been identified so the villages of Theni district. far. One of the rarest fruit bats Then, there is something in the world, Salim Ali’s Fruit extraordinary awaiting you Bat, which is named after at Maharaja Mettu. Lo and Indian ornithologist Salim behold! A mist clad peak. Ali, is found in this mountain The congregation of range. If you are either a clouds, water and green bird-watcher or a wild life covered hills of Iravangalar enthusiastic, you are surely in will be the perfect finish that for a big surprise. you could ask for. Heavenly The hill station is ideal for would be a word too clichÊd trekking and long mountain to describe the beauty of walks and on the way you Iravangalar.



Organic, yet Classic In the wake of hotels trying to create destination restaurants and bars, Matthew Cooper, General Manager, Courtyard by Marriott, Gurgaon, takes a look at the changing F&B trends, with a stress on organic food


hen it comes to food and beverage (F&B) trends, people often look at New York, London and Sydney. However, the latest buzz word in F&B has embedded roots in the subcontinent foodie culture. There is no doubt that great food starts with fresh ingredients. Take the case of Indian hotels. The emphasis is always on fresh ingredients - harvested overnight, purchased from the markets in the morning and used in menus on the same day. No wonder, ‘organic’, the latest buzz word in F&B, has its roots in the subcontinent foodie culture. Visiting the fresh produce markets in India is not a trendy thing to do, but it is a way of life. No chef worth 26

his salt would be caught for not knowing what is in season and what it tastes best today. Walking among a thousand vendors, who sell every imaginable herb, spice, legume and vegetables, is really an amazing feeling. One never knows how that is going to affect ones food and beverage decisions, leave

alone what innovation and inspiration will be drawn from it. We currently have a vendor growing fruits, vegetables and meat products organically, only for our menus. As a devout foodie, you can imagine my pride to say that you have never tasted a tomato like this,

and literally mean it. Locally grown food, with a story is a real trend. Knowing where the food is grown and how it is being handled after harvesting is not just a trend, but minimum requirement of a discerning dinner. In many countries, the concept of fresh juice and boosted beverages and smoothies are booming. What better way to showcase all these fresh organic products, than having a live juice blending station over breakfast, where you can create your own taste sensation. If you have never had an orange, apple, carrot, celery or beetroot juice blended fresh during breakfast, you do not know what you are missing. It certainly beats pre-packed orange juice! Add a shot ASIAN TRAVELLER | APRIL 2012


of guarana and you will be energised all day. At MoMo café, it is very part of the breakfast menu. While standalone restaurants are doing incredible things, hotels have the resources to constantly push the envelope of innovation and reinvention.


The trend of creating destination restaurants and bars in hotels is on the rise. It is a norm rather than a trend in Marriott. Each hotel and city has its own identity and so has each restaurant and bar. Local food has to be authentic and who will be better to prepare it than a

local? Eating, when staying in a hotel, becomes a part of the experience and not just a part of the process. People visiting will drive an extra half an hour to ensure great food, incredible service and an experiential meal. One of the topics being talked of in health food circles internationally is trans fat or artificial fat. Trans fat is added to processed foods, to give them texture. But, it increases the risk of coronary heart diseases. Unlike other fats, trans fats are neither required nor beneficial for health. For these reasons, health authorities worldwide recommend that consumption of trans fat be reduced to trace amounts. The latest trend in beverage is very exciting. Gone are the days of mixed beverages and cocktails being

passé. The classics are back! Martinis, Cosmopolitans and Mai Tai’s are some of the beverages of choice. The latest twist to the trend is not to use standard pouring brands to mix these cocktails, but instead signature spirits to mix your own personalised favourite. Varun at Bar Zen, at the Courtyard by Marriott, Gurgaon, makes the best Grey Goose Martini you have ever tasted and when he makes a Ciroc Bloody Mary, with freshly muddled organic tomatoes, it is to die for. Varun is not a barman; he is a ‘mixologist’. The flavour infusions of spirits are very popular. Tea in vodkas and chilli infused white rums being produced and presented over the bar are really adding a dynamic change to something that has been around for a long time.



Relish, oriental cuisine and beer at Galaxy


one stop hotel for travellers! There is no apt term than this to describe Galaxy, a five star luxury deluxe hotel situated in Gurgaon, NCR. It is a place where you can stay, eat, shop and relax your mind and body with a unique spa experience. Designed in contemporary style, the hotel is ideal for both business and leisure travellers. It comes with a number of accommodation facilities, dining options, banqueting facilities, recreational activities and business facilities. If you like to take home some special

moments on your trip back from Gurgaon, you should try the Monk and Howzatt, at Galaxy. The Monk, its award winning restaurant, with minimalistic Zen décor, offers a calm and liberating ambience for a perfect dining experience. The apt use of colours - neutral earthy, tans, browns and cream - gives it a striking visual appeal. Flat surfaces and clean, simple furniture adds to the overall elegance of the restaurant. The Monk serves authentic oriental cuisine and has a capacity to seat 62 persons. The food is tantalising and

visually appealing as well. The creative, aromatic and colourful cuisine is peppered with mild spices, citrus juices and light herbs like Cilantro and Basil. The Monk offers a superb choice of culinary delights, including fresh and light Dim Sums, Sautéed Prawn Sichuan style, Crispy Vegetables in Lemon Chili, Chicken with Seven Spices Dumpling PakChoy Spinach Dumpling, Sticky Rice Chicken in Sichuan Sauce, Sticky Rice with Spinach, Baby Corn and Straw Mushroom in Soya Dry Chili Sauce, Teppan Seafood in XO Sauce and Teppan Vegetable Spicy Chili.

Howzatt, on the other hand, is the first of its kind pub brewery, sporting Indian cricket theme. Let’s call it cricket themed pub brewery. Be it to enjoy the freshly prepared beer with friends and family, or to experience the rock band Black Slade on Thursdays, a visit to Howzatt will be rewarding. Howzatt brews three different styles of fresh beer at its microbrewery and where else can you sip the taste of preservative free fresh mug of gourmet beer, to start afresh a new innings of fun, in a world filled with the love for Indian cricket?

WelcomHeritage opens new property, near Hampi


taying in a heritage hotel, while exploring a heritage site will surely be a unique experience. And that is what the newly opened WelcomHeritage Shivavilas Palace at Sandur offers to the visitors to the World Heritage Site Hampi, in Karnataka. This exquisite property is located at Sandur, a peaceful valley surrounded by hills, which Mahatma Gandhi described as an ‘Oasis’ when he visited it in the early 1930’s. While the property is just a short distance away from Hampi, it will take five hours drive from Bangalore to WelcomHeritage Shivavilas Palace. 28

The magnificent WelcomHeritage Shivavilas Palace is built over a sprawling area of about 20 acres and sports wooden flooring. It houses 12 rooms, including two grand suites, one regular suite and nine

deluxe rooms. To add to your staying experience, it offers regional and multi cuisine dining, with all modern facilities. Then, there is ‘Jungle Bar’, serving mocktails and cocktails of the times gone by, which have been long

forgotten. It has another attraction in ‘Regale’, an open air barbeque, where you can treat your senses with sumptuous culinary delights. Besides Hampi, tourist attractions near Sandur include, Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Tungabhadra Dam, Kumaraswami Temple and Sandur Kushal Kala Kendra. You can either stay at WelcomHeritage Shivavilas Palace to explore these destinations or just relax in the Palace, pampering yourself with the in-house facilities such as swimming pool, billiards, vintage and classic car museum, spa and off road bike riding.



Leela Palace New Delhi scales new heights


he success run the The Leela and Virtuoso Leela Palaces, Hotels brands align perfectly, and Resorts is making as both are trusted for in the country has reached their uncompromising new heights, with the Leela commitment to quality, highPalace New Delhi end personalised selected to join the service and guest prestigious list of delight. With the luxury properties Virtuoso trusted featured in seal of approval Virtuoso, a network and global access to of the world’s finest elite travel advisors, travel agencies with The Leela Palace Rajiv Kaul, President, knowledgeable Delhi will be listed The Leela Hotels, Palaces and Resorts advisors. This amongst the world’s by-invitation-only finest hotels. It will, organisation comprises more in turn help us consolidate than 330 travel agencies, over our position as the hotel of 7,200 elite travel advisors in choice in India,” says, Rajiv 20 countries in North and Kaul, President, The Leela South America, the Caribbean, Hotels, Palaces and Resorts. Australia and New Zealand, Ensconced in the and more than 1,250 of prestigious Diplomatic world’s best travel providers Enclave, The Leela Palace and premier destinations. New Delhi offers spacious “It is very exciting to join and beautifully appointed the Virtuoso programme. guestrooms and suites,

internationally acclaimed fine dining restaurants such as Megu and Le Cirque, signature Indian gourmet cuisine at Jamavar, globally renowned environment friendly spa brand – ESPA, art collection of some of the

most renowned contemporary artists in the country and the only rooftop weather-controlled swimming pool in the city. “The Leela Palace New Delhi is destined to become an icon, in a city renowned for its attention to service and we are thrilled to welcome India’s newest gem. This hotel unites a state-of-the-art facility, with traditional architecture and India’s legendary hospitality,” says, Albert Herrera, Vice President of Hotels, Destinations and Tours, Virtuoso.

Leela Goa to offer a new staying experience and the new restaurant. We prefer rooms, the hotel now look forward to welcoming offers an option in ‘Lagoon guests during the Terrace Rooms’, which holiday season, come with a private which commences balcony overlooking in April,” smiles, the lagoon, its greenery Morton Johnston, and the garden General Manager, entrance. the Leela Goa. The resort’s new The hotel’s new dining experience, ‘Lagoon Suites’ are ‘The Restaurant’, Morton Johnston, ideal for family designed by Jeffrey General Manager, the Leela Goa getaways and can Wilkes of Malaysian accommodate firm Design Wilkes, two adults and two children features interactive live under the age of 12. The kitchens, serving Indian, n order to offer its guests portfolio of accommodation exterior façade is influenced Western and Asian cuisines. a luxurious summer facilities and dining options. by Portuguese design and Offering all-day dining with vacation, Goa’s most Now, the hotel boasts a range blends well with the newly both, alfresco (108 seats) and popular holiday getaway, of 206 rooms. refurbished contemporary indoor seating (134 seats), ‘The the Leela Goa has added “We are very excited about interiors. The suite comes Restaurant’ offers stunning a number of new and the renovation project and feel with a spacious bedroom, views of the pool, the resort’s refurbished rooms that feature certain that our guests from a living room and a private executive golf course as well modern amenities and a new India and overseas will enjoy balcony, overlooking the as the azure expanse of the restaurant, to its existing the enhanced room product lagoon. For those who Arabian Sea.





Park Hyatt enters Hyderabad


s part of its expansion plans in India, Hyatt Hotels has opened Park Hyatt hotel in Hyderabad, the financial capital of South Indian state Andhra Pradesh. Named Park Hyatt Hyderabad, it is the first city Park Hyatt hotel in

India. It is also the first hotel in Hyderabad, to offer 42 fully serviced luxury apartments, with five star facilities and amenities. “Park Hyatt hotels are premium luxury hotels, designed to cater to the discerning individual seeking

privacy, personalised service exclusive ‘home away from and luxurious elegance of home’ experience, with a wide a contemporary hotel. This range of services and facilities. new hotel will maintain the Other attractions include the brand’s emphasis Manor, its meetings on art and culinary and event facility, and excellence, with locally a spa and fitness centre. inspired artwork in All restaurants at the public areas and a Park Hyatt Hyderabad signature restaurant are designed with headed by experienced interactive show Sven Hoffmeyer, chefs,” says, Sven kitchens, which are GM, Park Hyatt Hyderabad Hoffmeyer, General central to the guest Manager, Park Hyatt experience. The hotel’s Hyderabad. signature restaurant is The modern, eight-storyied Tre-Forni and other options Park Hyatt Hyderabad comes include the formal Dining with 185 guestrooms, 24 suites Room, the Living Room and and 42 service apartments. the Oriental Bar and Kitchen. Spacious, welcoming and The hotel is just about 15 modern, each of the hotel’s minutes from the technology guestrooms are among hub of Hi-Tech City and the largest in Hyderabad. the business district, and 45 The Residence, its five star minutes from Hyderabad serviced apartments, offers an international airport.

Hotel Sahara Star wins Business Initiative Directions Award


t the 14th annual Century International Quality ERA Convention, held in Geneva recently, Hotel Sahara Star has won the prestigious Business Initiative Directions (BID) Award, in the gold category. BID awards recognise the outstanding companies, organisations and businessmen in the business world. Manish Sodhi, Head of Operations and Rajesh Mohan, Head – Strategy, Hotel Sahara Star, received the award from the organisers. Hotel Sahara Star was selected for the award for the excellence it showcased in customer satisfaction,


communication strategies, planning and decision making, human resources, continuing education and training, process and production, financial outcome and business results. “This accolade is a reaffirmation of the continuous hard work team Sahara Star has been putting into perform better and deliver a great experience to all our guests. We, at Hotel Sahara Star, always aim to create a memorable experience for every guest during their visit to the hotel, while catering to their every need. Hotel Sahara Star has once again displayed its perseverance in being India’s

premiere luxury destination. We humbly accept this honour and aspire to deliver the best always,” smiles, Vivek Kumar, CEO, Hotel Sahara Star and Aamby Valley. Sahara Star, the flagship hotel of Sahara India Pariwar, is a leading business luxury five star hotel in Mumbai, India. It comes with finest meetings and banquet facilities, spa and wellness centre,

nine speciality restaurants and well appointed 223 attractive rooms, including 13 luxury suites. The hotel offers a serene ambience for the business and leisure travellers.



Arabian Travel Market to be held in Dubai, from April 30


f you like to find out what is really happening in aviation and religious travel, how is luxury sector performing, the development pace of golf in the UAE and other important things related to travel and tourism industry, pack your bags to attend Arabian Travel Market, the biggest travel and tourism event in the Middle East, for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. To be held at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, from April 30 to May 3, 2012, the event is expected to attract a large number of exhibitors and visitors, from around the globe. Into its 19th year, Arabian Travel Market is, today, the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world. Last year, the event attracted around 2,232 exhibitors and more than 21,000 visitors. Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Arabian Travel Market will also offer a platform for tourism destinations from the Middle East and around the ASIAN TRAVELLER | APRIL 2012

world, to showcase a diverse range of accommodation options, breathtaking tourism attractions and new airline routes. The event, organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions, the world’s leading event organiser, usually attracts industry and government decision-makers at the very highest level. The four-day event will feature Travel Agents Day, UNWTO and ATM forum, Seminar Theatre, Tech Theatre, ATM Jobs Board and Hosted Delegates Programme. However, the highlight of the event would be the forum of Middle East tourism ministers that will focus on cooperation and expansion of tourism products, as key drivers for future tourism growth in the region. This high profile forum is scheduled to take place on the first day of the event. “Our decision to invite the region’s tourism ministers was spurred not only by the wave of positive sentiment felt across the industry, but also by the points raised at the UNWTO/ATM session at the WTM,” says, Mark Walsh, Group Exhibition Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.

At Arabian Travel Market, Travel Agents Day is the best platform to promote your destination, products and services to travel agents and visitors. The exhibitor profile at Arabian Travel Market 2012 include airlines, hotels, serviced apartments, rail operators, car rental firms,

online booking companies, credit/ company cards, business travel agents, etc. Arabian Travel Market has, over the years, evolved as an exhilarating and dynamic business environment, delivering growth opportunities for exhibitors and participants.



1. What does Istanbul mean? 2. Which is the largest landlocked country in the world?


3. What is the fear of going bald called? 4. What is pandiculation? 5. Which is the deepest diving bird? James Hogan, President & CEO of Etihad Airways, has been appointed as World Tourism Travel Council’s Vice Chairman for the Middle East and Africa

Caroline Alexander has joined Courtyard by Marriott, Pune City, as Director of Sales

6. NH stands for National Highway. Some roads have AH as the designator. What does it stand for? 7. Who was the first woman to get a pilot license worldwide? 8. How many volcanoes make up the island of Hawaii? 9. What is the difference between ‘Moon’ and ‘moon’?

Samyukth Sridharan has joined Cleartrip as President and Chief Operating Officer

10. Who was the originator of Bisleri water?

Philip Logan has joined Formule 1 Hotels as Vice President

Compiled by Deekay

Send in your answers to with TYKC 54 in the subject line. Answers should reach us before the 31st of this month. Answers to TYKC 53

aPRIL 2012 ATM, Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre

April 30-May 03

MAY 2012 Thrissur Pooram, Thrissur, Kerala


Summer Festival, Mount Abu, Rajasthan

04 - 06

MITF, Moscow, Russia

18 - 20

IMEX, Frankfurt, Germany

22 - 24 JUNE 2012

ILTM Asia, Shanghai, China

04 - 07

AIBTM, Baltimore, Maryland

19 - 21

Beijing International Tourism Expo, Beijing, China

15 - 17

WINNER OF TYKC 53 SURESH S NAIR 38, Gopal Bhavan, 199, Princess Street Marine Line, Mumbai - 400002

One all-correct entry will get

JULY 2012 Champakkulam Boat Race

1. From Romanized contraction of the Japanese words ‘Poketto Monsuta’ standing for ‘Pocket Monsters’. 2. Renren. 3. It just means ‘ normal’. 4. City Temple. 5. Nibble. 6. OISEAU ( = bird). 7. Jupiter ( Ganymede is 3.5 times the volume of Earth’s moon). 8. Amygdala. 9. 88. 10. 4000 miles ( 6,400 kms)


Aviation Outlook, Shanghai, China

10 - 11

Travel & Tourism Fair, Kolkata, India

13 - 15

IITM, Chennai, India

27 - 29

Travel & Tourism Fair (TTF), Hyderabad

20 - 22

IITM Bangalore, India

20 - 22

Teej Festival, Jaipur

22 - 23

Free Stay at UDS, Kovalam [ 2 nights and 3 days for two ]*

With its sleek and stylish design, Uday Samudra Leisure Beach Hotel is nothing less than a golden feather in the cap of Kovalam beach. Located just 15 metres from the sea, this four star hotel can well be categorised into a destination in itself. Its philosophy of combining the best elements of incomparable lifestyle, with the convenience of today’s modern world through exceptional standards of luxury, elegance and services, is well reflected in its products and services and has put the Uday Samudra Beach Hotel, popularly known as UDS, at the top position, in Kovalam. What is more noteworthy about UDS Kovalam is the international flair it sports.

* Conditions apply



Incredible India



Asian Traveller April 2012  

Travel & Trade Publication on travel and tourism industry in the Asia Pacific region

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