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Vol. 6

No. 6

Pages 64

` 100

US$ 10 (Overseas)

February 2013

India | Thailand | Singapore | Malaysia | UAE | Srilanka | Maldives | Germany | UK | Australia | Switzerland | Canada | USA | African & Latin American Countries


through the pages .

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VOL. 6 NO. 6 FEBRUARY 2013

8.

Berlin -The Creative Capital of Germany

20. Mysterious Myanmar 24. Whales are awesome and the sea is grand! P 14-15

55. MP First State to Fully Utilise Plan Funds 56. World Heritage Sites in Tamilnadu

P 30-31

Exclusive Interview

Face to face

Interview

P 6-7

P 12-13

P 36-37

ARUN CHITTILAPPILLY

KUNAL KOTHARI

JACK BARTHOLOMEW

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


EDITOR’S NOTE

Editor & Publisher : G. Biju Krishnan

Group Vice President : Siji Sen

Chief Executive Officer : M. P. Sreekumar

Group Editor : Reeny Joseph Art Editor : Pradeep C. N.

Sub Editor : Sreejith N. K.

Director Marketing : Grierson V. P.

GM-Marketing : Thomas P Thomas

Sr. Manager (Sales) : Lineesh V.

Sr. Manager (Operations) : Krishna Nair

Director - PR (Mumbai) : Ashok Bania

Financial Advisor : Jayachandran S

ITB-A GATEWAY TO BUSINESS

ravel industry’s biggest and the most popular trade show is on the cards. All eyes in the tourism industry are now focussed on ITB–Berlin 2013 which is slated for the first week of March. This is also counted as the leading B2B platform to generate business in a big way. Social Responsibility is not a trendy topic in these trade fairs but social necessity as well as precondition for long-term economic success and the competitiveness of business enterprises become very relevant in today’s business scenario. ITB Berlin undertakes, understands and encourages Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as an over arching concept for sustainable corporate development in tourism. The forum is also actively aware of tourism’s responsibilities to society as a whole. As the leading trade show for the tourism industry, it sees itself as a link between research and science, between companies, markets and societies. It utilizes this key position in order to actively encourage research and science and to engage in a dialogue with companies in their efforts to create economically, socially and ecologically responsible tourism products and services. ITBs are beneficial for the entire tourism fraternity.These platforms act as a driving force and beneficiary for the travel industry. They give important impulses to a continuously growing market. Exhibitor sales of about 6 billion Euro and an exhibitor satisfaction rate of 92 percent are evidence enough that supply and demand meet at the right place.

USA : Jiju K. Thomas UK : Abdul Najeeb UAE : Sanjeev S L Kuwait : Mariam Titus Mumbai : Ashok Bania Bengaluru : Sophy K. Magal Goa : Casey Fernandes Kolkata : Sobha Joshi Chennai : Nisha J Hyderabad : K.S. Johnson Indore : Manohar Bhati Madurai : P. Deenadayalu

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car rental

With more than 170,000 visitors, among these 113,000 trade visitors, and 11,000 represented companies from 180 countries ITB is the leading B2B-Platform of the tourism industry. In addition, the world’s largest tourism convention provides unique opportunities to benefit from the leading think tank of the global tourism industry. All levels of the value added chain are present in this mega show including tour operators, booking engines, destinations, airlines, and hotels right through to companies from different countries.

Despite its size, ITB Berlin is clearly structured. It enjoys worldwide media recognition and offers comprehensive support for all marketing questions exhibitors might have. This exhibition is organized by an experienced exhibition management company, that successfully faces new aims and objectives again and again – namely the Messe Berlin. Now the ultimate aim of the tourism fraternity should be to utilize the potential of these trade fairs to the maximum.

Legal Advisor : Adv. G.S. Prakash GM -Tamil Nadu : P. Deenadayalu Tel: 281-709-5433 Tel: 0044-7769940391 Tel: 00971 508914709 Tel: 00965 6638670 Tel: +91 9322915695 Tel: +91 9343983719 Tel: +91 8308153367 Tel: +91 9477406768 Tel: +91 9841008588 Tel: +91 9441236010 Tel: +91 9893559563 Tel: +91 9843129535

Administration Jaya Prasad J S, Sajith A G

All Communications to: Media Steps India, “Loveshore”, No. 32/2819-A1, Labour Colony Road, Behind Chevrolet Showroom, Thammanam, Kochi, Kerala-682032 , S.India Tel: +91-484-2343647, 2343747, 09447 555 222 Email: info@mediastepsindia.com, www.mediastepsindia.com Mumbai Media Steps India 708-B-Bldg, B’ wing, Jai Hari Housing Society Forjett Hill, Tardeo, Mumbai-36. HP: 9322915695 Goa Media Steps India No. 312, Pandavaddo, Near St. Bartholomeu School Chorao, Tiswadi, Goa-403102, Tel : +91 8308153367

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Regd. Office: Media Steps India, TC-27/1915, MBRRA 70, Mathrubhoomi Rd., Thiruvananthapuram–695 001, Kerala State, South India. Edited, Printed & Published by G. Biju Krishnan and Printed at M/s. Safire Offset Printers, Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu for Cristal Printers, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala State, South India. Reg No.: KERENG 01910/11/1/2006-TC New Reg No.: KERENG / 2007 / 28719 RNI Reg. No.: 101276

T ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013

rr acrin a G. Biju Krishnan Editor & Publisher editor@mediastepsindia.com +91 9447555222

The news items and Advertisements published herein have been collected from various source, which are considered to be reliable. Readers are however requested to verify the facts before making business decisions using the same. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission from the Publisher. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2009 *Responsible for selection of news under the PRB Act

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Exclusive Interview Arun Chittilappilly, Managing Director at Wonderla Holidays Pvt Ltd has been the key architect of Wonderla, India’s favourite amusement park promoted by the V- Guard Group. Arun has been actively involved in strategizing and conceptualizing the Wonderla Parks. Being well versed in industrial engineering and driven by his keen interest in the functioning of the amusement park, Arun has taken this concept to new heights. While talking to ASIAN TRAVELLER he speaks about his future aspirations and plans.

The Man Behind The Wonders rides have been imported from reputed international suppliers, making it unique in India. Eventually, Veegaland was merged into Wonderla In 2000, when my father, Holidays making it a single and founder of the company, company. The park in Kochi launched Veegaland in Kochi has been expanded from its it was a roaring success. initial size to accommodate We had visited many Veegaland was a very small over 55 rides as well. With the amusement parks on trips amusement park with about opening of Wonderla Resort, abroad and always wondered 16 rides at that point of time. we now offer a complete why such entertainment Soon after my studies in theme park based holiday didn’t exist in India. We loved 2003, I got involved in the destination to our visitors. going to theme parks and operations of this park. Being Today Wonderla Holidays has wanted something like that well versed in industrial revenues of over 115 Crores in our city Kochi. In Kochi, at engineering and driven by annually and we hope to the time, there was a limited keen interest in the design and double our foot print to two opportunity available for functioning of amusement more cities within four years. families to unwind, relax and parks, I set out designing and just have fun while doing Among the top amusement building my own amusement something new and different. parks Wonderla is branded park project here in Bangalore, We started off with our park as the best in India. Tell us using the latest technology in Kochi, known then as more about the company’s to compliment its brand new Veegaland and the success focus in South region? attractions and facilities. that we were met with was With the tremendous Wonderla Bangalore was phenomenal. This served as success of operating two designed as a much larger an inspiration to grow in this parks, the company is all park with over 55 land and category and aim higher. set to take Wonderla to water based attractions, the Today Wonderla is the most Hyderabad and Chennai highest for any amusement preferred entertainment parks in India. Many of these by 2015 with an investment You are the key architect of Wonderla Holidays Pvt. Ltd. What was the passion behind the idea of venturing into a very novel concept of establishing amusement parks like Wonderla and that too at a very young age?

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destination for all. Brief us about this success story of taking Wonderla to these heights?

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


Exclusive Interview of about Rs 500 crore.The Chennai park project will be spread across 50-55 acres and Hyderabad park project at 50 acres. We will be investing around Rs 250 crore in each of these parks. We have already completed the land acquisition in Hyderabad and in Chennai and may take around three and half years for becoming operational. Our immediate plan is to set up amusement parks in major cities in South India and then look elsewhere in the country.

of its kind in India, a luxury holiday resort within the premises of our amusement park. We have 4 banquet/ conference rooms capable of accommodating up to 800 guests and a fully-equipped board room, making it the perfect venue for corporate events and meetings as well as parties and functions. Surrounded by 82 acres of lush greenery, the holiday resort is a combination of luxury and leisure which offers finest in hospitality.

Wonderla Holidays Pvt. Ltd. is venturing into its latest project of luxury resorts, a first of its kind in India. Elaborate more on company’s foray into hospitality sector?

We are looking at a similar set up at the Kochi Park as well.

Based on feedback from visitors on the need for a place to stay at/near the park, we have entered in the hospitality space with the opening of our first resort in Bangalore. Wonderla’s Resort, an 84 room luxury resort, a first

As a young entrepreneur brief us about your vision and mission of your company. Our mission remains the same as it did 12 years ago: to provide state of the art entertainment, high in quality and hygiene at an affordable price. Having been a part of this project right from its

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013

conceptual phase, I have witnessed and experienced the phenomenal growth of the amusement park industry. The category is growing at a fast pace and my vision for Wonderla is in sync too.Our vision hence has changed a lot, now we are looking at spreading our presence to other states and hope to be present pan India in the future. How do you see the growth prospects of your company and what are your future plans? Our existing parks are still growing in terms of footfalls and revenue. We have entertained over 170 lakh visitors since 2000, and currently our parks attract over 2.3 million visitors each annually.

curve is slightly higher than the industry. Wonderla has been growing at about 20% YoY. Our goal is to take the brand Wonderla to other South Indian cities in the short term horizon and to have parks in all major cities, in a phased manner. Additionally, we are also planning to launch a Wonderla Resort project in our Kochi park as well. Are you planning any more amusement parks in the near future. If so where will it be located?

Yes, we are planning to take brand Wonderla to Hyderabad and Chennai by 2015. We have already completed the land acquisition in Hyderabad, where the amusement park will take at least two years to The amusement industry become operational and in in India is worth over Rs. Chennai we are at the land 2,500 crore at present and is expected to double by 2020. In acquisition stage. terms of revenues our growth

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Berlin

Berlin The Creative Capital of Germany T wenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city of Berlin has morphed into the creative capital, a mecca for artists from around the world. Hip and trendy, it is a city of fashion, design and music – and much more besides. It is this creative climate, the artistic drive, the restless, unceasing desire to shape something new that best characterises the New Berlin.

Art is everywhere, created by more than 20,000 visual

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artists whose works are on display in public spaces, in innumerable courtyards of hip and trendy districts such as Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg, in über-stylish galleries and at alternative art centres, or simply on the walls of buildings. But Berlin’s independent art scene is only one aspect of one of the most exciting and energetic centres for art in the world: leading international conventions and trade fairs are held in Berlin and attract huge audiences. Whatever you are planning,

in Berlin you will get your money’s worth. Not least because it has remained a very affordable destination, an honest city with honest prices. This extends to the famous currywurst, Berlin’s signature dish served at countless food stalls around the city: Berlin and its people are genuine, direct and uncomplicated. You are bound to fall for them – and return time after time. Berlin can also be a peaceful place to relax and unwind. That doesn’t just go for the parks in

the central districts, such as the Tiergarten and Charlottenburg Palace Park. In addition, Germany’s largest municipal forest is ideal for leisurely walks with 29,000 hectares of woodland. Thirteen lakes and five rivers within the city boundary offer a total of 360 kilometres of waterside paths that allow visitors to escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life. The natural beauty of the lakes and their surrounding meadows is particularly enchanting – from Krumme

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


Berlin passageways with pedestrianonly access. The famous quadriga depicting the goddess of victory, Victoria, riding a four-horse chariot was added in 1794. The government quarter in Berlin The route along Wilhelmstrasse right through the old and new government quarter and embassy district heads towards Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. The ministerial buildings and the Federal Chancellery, in particular, reflect the successful synthesis of the old with the new through prestigious yet modest elegance. From here, your gaze is immediately drawn to the Reichstag, one of the most famous sights in Berlin. Its glass dome by leading British architect Norman Foster has become a hugely popular attraction for visitors from far and wide. The Berlinale film festival The city’s largest cultural event and a major festival for the international film industry, the Berlinale is for Germany what the Oscars are for Hollywood. Stars and starlets, culture Lanke and Lake Wannsee, a and commerce, glitter particularly wide section of and glamour at a festival the river Havel, to Berlin’s of distinction with largest lake, Müggelsee, in the 270,000 visitors, 4,000 south-eastern part of the city. journalists, and as Brandenburg Gate many as 400 films, mostly world and No other monument in Berlin is as famous around the European premieres. Despite its size, the world as Brandenburg Gate, event is great for built between 1789 and 1791 to plans by C. G. Langhans on meeting new people Pariser Platz in the heart of the and discussing the city. After the Berlin Wall was latest films. The cream of world built in 1961, Brandenburg cinema, the Gate became impassable independent for 28 years. As a signature and arthouse attraction and symbol of scene, movies German reunification, it for younger now represents the past audiences, newly and present of the German unearthed gems capital in exemplary fashion. from The gate is supported by six German Doric columns, forming five

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013

Wall was built, the museum at the legendary Checkpoint Charlie traces the history of the divided Germany and is one of the city’s most popular Berlin’s Museum Island visitor attractions. A symbol A UNESCO World of the tensions between Heritage site in the heart of the major world powers, the city, Berlin’s Museum Checkpoint Charlie became Island is a hugely popular the world’s most famous attraction both with locals and border crossing within a city. international tourists. One of The ‘Haus am Checkpoint the world’s most important Charlie’ museum has a museum complexes, it is permanent exhibition on the home to priceless cultural history of the Berlin Wall and treasures. Collections at many other related themes – the Museum of the Ancient from opposition, resistance World, New Museum, Old and the Stasi to the fall of the National Gallery, Bode Berlin Wall on 9 November Museum and Pergamon 1989. Museum take visitors on a The memorial to the fascinating journey through murdered Jews of Europe art and culture from the cradle The memorial to the of civilisation in Mesopotamia murdered Jews of Europe through Egypt, Classical Greece and Rome, Byzantium, at the northern end of Wilhelmstrasse close to the Islamic World and the Brandenburg Gate testifies to Middle Ages right up to the modern age and 19th century the fact that these unspeakable crimes had their origins in Romanticism. Berlin. Covering approx. ‘Haus am Checkpoint 19,000m², the site is adorned Charlie’ Museum with 2,711 rectangular Originally opened back in concrete blocks designed 1962, shortly after the Berlin cinema, films from faraway lands and experimental formats: the Berlinale has all this – and more besides.


Berlin

by New York architect Peter Eisenman. The information centre underneath the wave-shaped ‘field of stelae’ has an exhibition documenting the persecution and murder of European Jews. A taste of Old Berlin: the Hackesche Höfe The Hackesche Höfe is a magnificent retail complex that embodies the history and characteristic buzz of Berlin’s Mitte district. Germany’s largest interconnected series of courtyards, 10

the site has been under a historical preservation order since 1977. This extremely popular ensemble has brought back to life a genuine slice of Old Berlin. Exuding all the distinctive charm of the city’s traditional courtyards, it is home to a vibrant mix of art galleries, cinemas, theatres, variety venues, restaurants and bars, not to mention all the charming boutiques and big-name flagship stores. Berlin’s TV tower Berlin’s 368-metre high television tower is the tallest building in Germany. It was erected in Berlin’s historic centre right next to the medieval Church of St. Mary close to the Rotes Rathaus and immediately to the west of Alexanderplatz square. At a height of more than 200 metres, its observation platforms offer a magnificent panoramic view of the city. The tower was opened in 1969, although apparently the

architects were not invited to the ceremony. The reason was that those in power at the time were annoyed about the crossshaped reflection on the outer panels – known as ‘the Pope’s revenge’. Lake Wannsee On sunny days, Berliners flock to Lake Wannsee. As well as providing the perfect backdrop for scenic walks far from the buzz of the city, it is also a true paradise for water sports enthusiasts. Just a few minutes from Wannsee train station, it’s the ideal place for swimming, diving, canoeing, rowing and sailing – or simply enjoying a great day out. Boat trips on the lake offer spectacular views of the huge gardens belonging to the lakeside residences and there are many small bays where you can moor up and enjoy a picnic. The shady beer gardens are the ideal settings in which to enjoy a Berliner Weisse beer.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


Face to face

Kunal Kothari, the Executive Director of Rail Europe India Private Limited, has over 12 years of experience in the field of travel and hospitality. He started his career with Cox and Kings, and moved on to Al Rostamani Travels before joining Rail Europe. Kothari has been the key driver to achieve 25% growth rate on Rail Europe products including GCC partners. While talking to ASIAN TRAVELLER he tells the success story of Rail Europe.

FOCUSSED DRIVE You head the India operations of Rail Europe that sells European railway passes and tickets in over 30 countries around the world. You have a vast experience in travel and tourism sector. What is the role of Indian Travellers towards the growth of Rail Europe?

At the end of 2011, India was amongst the top 5 markets of Rail Europe 4A. In fact, India has been in the top 5 markets for RE4A since 2007-2008. It stands at about 9% of the total worldwide sales.In 2011, more than 1 lakh 96 thousand travellers opted for Rail Europe passes while in 2010 this number stood at 1 lakh 38 thousand from India. Worldwide, this number stood at 27 lakh 40 thousand in 2012 and just over 19 lakh in 2011.

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So I can safely say that India is the key market for Rail Europe and as our economy is strengthening, more and more people are opting to travel abroad because of increased disposable income. This further consolidates India’s position as an important growth market.

What are the marketing initiatives adopted by you to tap the Indian market? Rail Europe has traditionally worked with its GSAs to distribute our products. Our strong partners and their network help us reach far and wide in India across 35 cities and towns. In late 2012, we conducted a sixcity training programme and trained over 700 agents. This year, we will conduct training programmes in Tier-II cities

such as Kochi, Coimbatore, Ahmedabad, Pune, among others. Right now, we are still in the process of planning our strategy tobuild uponour relationships with the travel trade. As far as marketing is concerned, we are in the process of finalising a few Promotion offers to coincide with our Anniversary next week, which will be launched later this February.

fares, which are available locally, and this will benefit them even further if they book tickets well in advance.

The web fares will also provide e-tickets, which means, clients don’t have to worry about losing their tickets. This is because, if a traveller loses a paper ticket, the tickets cannot be reissued. The e-tickets and access to low prices will be the biggest plus Tell us more about the Indian point of web fares. operations and your future Can you elaborate on Rail plans to attract more Indian Europe’s international Travellers to utilize the market and future plans? facilities of Rail Europe? Rail Europe as a brand is We already have our available around the world. website catering to the Indian It consists of 4 companies to market for both, agents as look after various parts of well as travellers. In terms of the world.Rail Europe Inc. new initiative, we will have looks after North America web fares from German Rail (USA, Canada, Mexico), and Trenitalia. The web fares Rail Europe UK looks after will give travellers access to

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


Face to face United Kingdom, Rail Europe Continental manages the continental Europe and Rail Europe 4A looks after Asia, Africa/Middle East, Australia, South America. That is why it is named Rail Europe 4A (Asia, Africa, Australia and America).

various languages ranging from English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic etc.. We have recently started offering Hindi language option to our booking engine and are in the process of converting content as well.

Rail Europe 4A is the largest distributor of rail travel worldwide with a market share of more than 92%. We have traditionally worked through a network of agents and continue to believe in our 150+ appointed agents under our markets. However, in the recent past we have also launched our own websites for those travellers who prefer to book their holidays online without using travel agents, or are forced to do so due to a variety of reasons. We have simultaneously launched some websites for agents to book directly with us. Our 36 websites cover almost all our markets and are available in

Rail Europe’s expected growth rate in India in 2013 In the year 2013, we expect a growth rate of 20 -22 %, keeping in line with our growth rate in the past few years. Brief us about your exclusive services and promotion plans? We have just launched the NTV Italo tickets in the Indian market. NTV is the first private operator in the EU who will compete directly with a national rail carrier, in this case, on the Italian highspeed rail network. It’s stateof-the-art train travel with

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only high-speed trains which will be competing directly with Trenitalia. It offers service from Salerno to Genoa and Venice. NTV is composed of five partners with Ferrari having a majority stake at around 33%. We are currently the only distributor for NTV Italo worldwide. At the moment bookings are offline, but we will launch online bookings by March 2013. Another product we will be promoting in the Indian market will be the France Rail Pass, which offers unlimited rail travel on the national rail network of France. RailEurope has exclusive rights for the France Rail Pass. While it is not a new product, its importance has never been more relevant with France opting out of the more popular Eurail Select Pass. Do you expect to face challenges and competitions from the Indian Market and

if so how do you plan to tackle it? The challenges as of now from the Indian market are the slowing economic growth and the unstable rupee. The last thing the industry needs is the rupee weakening again and newspapers screaming “Travel set to get costlier” on their front page. In 2012, the weakening rupee meant travellers took shorter trips to Europe to keep within their budgets. However, the stability of rupee has improved in the past recent weeks,which is good news. Ifit stabilises around 70 against a Euro we should see travel to Europe improving over 2012. Of course, a better economic growth will only boost this better and hopefully the coming budget will brighten the situation.

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In focus

Coimbatore : The Manchester of South India

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


In focus

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oimbatore known as Kovai in Tamil, the second largest city by population after Chennai in the west of Tamil Nadu bordering Kerala is a commercial hub with over 25,000 small, medium, large scale industries and textile mills is referred to as the Manchester of South India. One of the top 10 fastest growing cities of India, Coimbatore has a population of about 42.72 lakhs according to the 2011 Census. Tucked between the Western Ghats mountain range on the West and North, with reserve forests such as the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve on the northern side, Coimbatore has a salubrious climate almost throughout the year with lot of tourist attractions, shopping centers and religious places. Some of the major sites in Coimbatore that strikes the tourists are Aliyar Dam, Monkey Falls, Siruvani Dam, Cholayar Dam, Botanical Garden, Horticulture Farms and Vaitheki Falls. It is also well known for motor sports with regular events being held at the Kari Motor Speedway. The city has comfortable hangouts and hotels for accommodation with all facilities offering delectable delicacies that would be appealing to the visitors like a perfect home away from home. The city is also the transit point to the popular hill station Nilgiris with one of the country’s major tourist attraction Ootacamund or Ooty in short. Historically, Coimbatore was earlier known as Kongunad under the Chola during the 2nd-3rd centuries AD before its fall to the British colonial rule along with the rest of the state.

Tamil epic Silappathikaram and other poems in Sangam literature have also mentioned Coimbatore as Kongu Nadu. Prior to the British rule it was ruled by great rulers like Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Pandyas, Hoysalas and the Vijayanagara kings. Interestingly, the region around Coimbatore was ruled by Sangam Cheras and served as the eastern entrance to the Palakkad Gap, the principal trade route between the west coast and Tamil Nadu. Large number of Roman coins and other artifacts were unearthed in Coimbatore signifying the region’s ties with Roman traders. During the reign of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 15th century, the city encouraged new settlers from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The Madurai Nayaks

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established an independent kingdom, forming new kingdoms in Vellore, Tanjore, Gingee, Chandragiri and Mysore after the fall of Vijayanagara Empire. The Nayaks introduced the Palayakkarar system under which Kongunadu region was divided into 24 Palayams. The Coimbatore region came under the Kingdom of Mysore, in the middle of the 18th century after a series of wars with the Madurai Nayak Dynasty. Later the British East India Company annexed Coimbatore to the Madras Presidency in 1799 after defeating Tipu Sultan in the Anglo-Mysore Wars. The Coimbatore region played a prominent role in the Second Poligar War (1801) and in 1865; Coimbatore was established as the capital of the newly formed Coimbatore

district. In 1866 it was accorded the municipality status and Sir Robert Stanes became the first Chairman of the Coimbatore City Council. Industrialization of the region began in 1888 and continued into the 20th century. However, the region was hard hit during the Great Famine of 1876–78 resulting in nearly two lakh famine-related fatalities. The city experienced a textile boom in 1920s and played a significant role in the Indian independence movement.

Post Independence: Coimbatore has seen rapid growth due to industrialization. In 1981, Coimbatore was constituted as a corporation. The rich black soil of the region has contributed to Coimbatore’s flourishing agriculture industry and, it is in fact, the

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In focus and Jain Temples are also present in Coimbatore. Churches: Christian missions date back to 1647 when permission was granted by the Nayak rulers to set up a small church in Karumathampatti (12 km). It was destroyed by Tipu Sultan’s army resulting in a new church in 1804. In 1886, Coimbatore was constituted as a diocese after bifurcating with Pondicherry. Now, there are many churches including the Bethel City Cathedral, City Harvest AG Church, Pentecostal church, CSI Christ church, Infant Jesus Church and Church of Glory. Mosques: The mosques in Oppanakara Street and Big Bazaar Street date back to the period of Hyder Ali.

successful growth of cotton has served as a foundation for the establishment of its famous textile industry. Coimbatore houses a large number of textile mills and has the central Textile research institute. Its neighbouring town of Tirupur is home to some of Asia’s largest garment manufacturing companies. In spite of its prominence as a busting industrial city, Coimbatore still remains one of the most pollution free cities in India. Covering an area of 23.5 square Kilometers, the city houses some of the leading firms of Indian Industry. Coimbatore is also emerging as an IT and BPO city and is the second largest software producer in Tamil Nadu, next only to Chennai with many IT parks around the city. It is ranked at 17th place among the global outsourcing cities. Research and Development organizations like Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and

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South India Textile Research Association, contribute a lot to the city. Major industries include textiles, textile machinery, automobile spares, motors, electronics, and steel and aluminium foundries. The motor and pump industry in Coimbatore supplies two thirds of India’s requirements, due to which it has earned the title “Detroit of the South”. Now, Coimbatore has special economic zones with manufacturing centres and trading houses. The rich fertile soil and tropical climate of the region is excellent for the growth of millet, paddy, cotton, tea, oil seeds and tobacco. The weather is subtropical, MarchMay are the hottest months of summer, and NovemberJanuary the coolest. Coimbatore is more diverse and cosmopolitan than all other cities in Tamil Nadu. Though it is considered a traditional city, the people have a reputation

Cultural legacy of Coimbatore: Known for their hospitable and honest nature, for entrepreneurship. the people of Coimbatore Coimbatore District has six have bequeathed a unique taluks namely Coimbatore culture and heritage. Some (North), Coimbatore (South), of the major events are Mettupalayam, Sulur, Pollachi the World Classical Tamil and Valparai and two revenue Literature Conference and the divisions of Coimbatore and Classical Music Concerts that Pollachi. In addition to its sets all eyes on Coimbatore industries, Coimbatore is turning it into a city of joy as famous for its established thousands join to celebrate education system with it in all pomp and splendour reputed schools, universities, with pageantry and feasts. engineering colleges, medical This issue of Asian and management schools. Traveller explores the various Religious Tourism: facets of the city and brings Temples: There are to you some of the must-see numerous temples in and destinations which include around the city including amusement parks, waterfalls, the Perur Patteeswarar theme parks, wildlife Temple, Konniamman sanctuaries and museums in temple, Thandu Mariamman Coimbatore. temple, Vazhai Thottathu Weekend Getaways in Ayyan temple, Echanaari Coimbatore: Ganesh temple, Karamadai VOC Park and Zoo: temple, Marudamalai Named after the freedom Murugan temple and the fighter, V.O. Chidambaram, Dhyanalinga Yogic Temple. it is one of the chief The Mariamman festivals, at amusement centres in the the city’s numerous Amman region for recreation and for temples, are major events in a glimpse of the wildlife and summer. Sikh Gurudwaras

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In focus

With conference halls and board rooms available here, corporate meetings and casual Water Theme Park: The get-togethers are common. Black Thunder theme Park A multi cuisine restaurant is the finest water theme caters to all sorts of menu park located at the foot of that is popular and lunch is the Nilgiri Mountains near served in the open lawn that Coimbatore. It is considered the biggest water theme park appears like a green carpet. Other facilities include Health in the whole of Asia and is near to Mettupalayam railway club, 40 deluxe rooms for stay, massive 12 acre land parking station. Encompassing a space, a bar, coffee shop and Waterfalls: The Monkey sprawling area of greenery children’s play area. falls is an excellent and and natural landscapes, this Wildlife Sanctuary: Indira an ideal sight situated 27 theme park extends to nearly Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, kilometers away from Pollachi 65 acres of rustic land near also known as Anaimalai on Coimbatore-Pollachithe forest boundary. It has Sanctuary, is a preferred Valparai main road. People many entertaining games site for wildlife enthusiasts making their travel in the area for children and adults around Coimbatore. As part of Coimbatore or Pollachi alike. Interestingly, the of Nilgiri Biosphere reserve, district should never miss to theme park provides luxury this sanctuary is known for make a visit to Monkey falls accommodation for the its rich flora and fauna. This known for its scenic splendor family and for other visitors. maintained by the Coimbatore Corporation. The highlights of the amusement park include an aquarium and mini zoo, housing contrasting aquatic species and animal life. Models of dinosaurs, Golf swing, Slider, Train safari, See-saw and other playing equipment for children are featured in the recreational park.

and an ideal place for the children to take bathe.

wildlife reserve provides habitat for animals such as panthers, tigers, elephants, spotted deer, civet cats, and wild boars. Besides, the region is referred to as birder’s paradise as it houses contrasting varieties of birds, which include The Black Headed Oriole, Rocket-tailed Drongo, Tree Pie, Spotted Dove and Red Whiskered Bulbul. Botanical Garden: One of the major attractions of Coimbatore is the Botanical Garden of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. Spread over an area of 300 hectares, this Botanical Garden is located towards the west of the city centre. It has a good collection of different


In focus

species of flowering plants and trees, and each species is labelled with its common name as well as scientific name. Agriculture Museum: The Agricultural College Museum is located near the Botanical Garden and is a part of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. This museum has an interesting collection of different minerals, rocks, pests, insects and disease that afflict plants and trees. Tourists are allowed inside

for an entry fee of Rs. 10. They conduct plant and a flower show once in a year in the month of January and it is witnessed by more than a lakh visitors. The visitors from far and near make a beeline to have a glimpse of the rare plants and flowers grown in-house as well as the ones imported for the event. Gass Forest Museum: This museum is named after H.A. Gass, the then conservator of forests, Coimbatore circle. In 1902, Gass conceived the

idea of starting a museum to represent various aspects of forestry though a comprehensive collection. It was started in one of the rooms of the conservator’s office building and was extended to the verandah and some other portions of the District Forest Office. The present building is made of red stone and built in British Gothic style. The ventilation is such that light spreads throughout the hall. The folding in the four corners offers the building the strength to withstand perpendicular seismic impact and the iron pillars in the hall were imported from Britain. During World WarII, the museum was closed to accommodate evacuees from Greece and Malta. In 2002, the great grandchildren of Gass visited the museum. G.D. Naidu Museum: Founded by G D Naidu a leading industrialist, an expert engineer and a legendary figure, G D Naidu Industrial Exhibition is located in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. The exhibition

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showcases engineering products, and other interesting curios, many of them invented by G D Naidu himself. Amaravathi Dam: built primarily for irrigation and flood control the steep Amaravathi dam in Coimbatore has a reservoir that generates electricity and its catchment basin has a significant population of Mugger crocodiles. There is a well laid-out park where one may climb steep steps on the dam to have a picturesque view north of the plains below and south to the Anaimalai Hills and Palni Hills above and since Jan 2011, boating for tourists in the dam began. Lakes: Singanallur and Valankulam lakes are located in the heart of Coimbatore. A railway track connecting Podanurand Irugur passes through Singanallurlake which has over 110 species of birds have been spotted in this lake. At ValankulamLake one can spot water birds such as Little grebes and Purple Moorhen. KovaiKondattam: A

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


In focus

complete entertainment park with different rides for the children’s excitement, KovaiKondattam is located in Perur and it’s an eco- friendly amusement park. It is a total amusement park and is an ideal fun park for the whole family to enjoy.

heavenly place located above 3,500 feet from the sea level on the Anamalai mountain range. Valparai also ensures kind hospitality having boarding, food, shopping with lodges, hotels and shops amidst the cool breeze of nature and its luscious greenery.

Valparai: With its lush greenery and forest all around, Valparai mountain ranges is a pollution free

Grass Hills: This unique grass forests is also located near Valparai. It sports tall grass, houses elephants,

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boars, cheetah and other wild animals. In addition, one can drive around the mountain tea estates enjoying the pleasant climate forgetting the once dense forest that has paved way for the tea plantations and bushes.

have a wonderful shopping experience in Coimbatore city that offers a wide range of textile and handloom garments. Some of the main markets for shopping in Coimbatore are Big Bazaar at Oppanakkara Street, Raja Street at RangaGownder Perks Pyramid: A Street, SukravarPettai for wonderful place for visitors Handloom Saris, Poompuhar to relax, Perks Pyramid is a perfect hideout located within Handicrafts Emporium, Cothe quiet Perks school campus optex, Khadikrafts and Tansi Sales Center. in Coimbatore. It is an ideal spot for meditation for all. Some of the shopping malls include Shri Lakshmi The Integral Yoga Institute: Complex, Asoka Plaza, This institute in Coimbatore Nilgiris Supermarket, offers classes in Yoga and Karthikeya G Shop, Soorya Meditation for all with separate batches for children, Complex, Vibe and ABC shopping complex. It has ladies, elders and pregnant pizza joints of Domino’s and women. It is conducted in Pizza Hut, Ice cream parlours a combination of Tamil and such as Boomerang, Bon English as required by the Bon and JPR Ice land and participants. many sweet stalls such as Sri Perfect Shopping Krishna Sweets, Akshaya, Experience: AdyarAnandBhavan, Surya The visitors can also Sweets and many more.

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Myanmar

Mysterious Myanmar

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yanmar, one of the most mysterious and undiscovered destinations in the world, is a land of breathtaking beauty and charm and offers all the traditional delights of Asia. Myanmar stretches from the sparkling islands of the Andaman Sea in the south right up into the Eastern Himalayan mountain range.

Myanmar lures the visitors with its Virgin jungles, snow-capped mountains and pristine beaches, combined 20

with a rich and glorious heritage spanning more than two thousand years. Spectacular monuments and ancient cities attest to a vibrant culture that is still home to 135 different ethnic groups.

family guest houses in all the major centers, as well as stunning mountain and beach resorts.

You may get a feeling of adventure in every tourist spot inside Myanmar whether it be cruising down Myanmar can be easily one the mighty Ayeyarwaddy of the safest destinations in River in style, drifting over Asia as it boasts of one of the the ancient city of Bagan by lowest tourist crime records hot air balloon, or searching in the world. The country’s for that elusive tiger on the tourism infrastructure is back of an elephant. With marked by five star properties, two modern internal airlines intimate boutique hotels and upgrading and expanding

their networks, new and exciting destinations off the beaten track are gradually being opened. Most popular destinations

Bagan- offers luxurious riverside accommodation, where after a busy day of touring the temples, guests can relax with cocktails and watch the sunset over the Ayeyarwady River. There are also many clean, familyrun guesthouses that offer a more intimate taste of local

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Myanmar

life. For an unrivalled view of Bagan, hot air balloons can take visitors over the ancient kingdom in the soft light of dawn or dusk. Bagan is also famous as the centre of Myanmar’s thriving lacquerware industry. Today tourists can watch the skilled artisans as they work on the various stages of the sixmonth process. Much of this lacquerware is destined for souvenir shops in Yangon, and from there to the world markets. Visitors with extra time on their hands can take halfday excursions from Bagan to Mount Popa to the east or Salay to the south. Mount

Popa is the centre of nat (spirit) worship in Myanmar. A shrine at the base of the mountain holds images of the major spirits and attracts devotees from all over the country. The mountain itself is protected by a national park where visitors can hike and ride horses through the forest while on the lookout for rare birds and butterflies. Yangon -The garden city of Yangon maintains its charm with wide, treelined avenues, tranquil lakes and majestic colonial architecture. It is home to one of the ancient wonders of the world, Shwedagon Pagoda, a 98-metre-high stupa whose

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golden glow can be seen from throughout the city. The greenery of Yangon provides an enchanting backdrop to the beautiful shrine. Yangon offers a whole range of sights and experiences. There are of course hundreds of pagodas – Botahtaung, Sule and Chaukhtatgyi among the more famous – as well as Hindu temples, Islamic mosques and Christian churches. The National Museum displays relics from the days of the ancient kingdoms, while the Gems Museum holds collections of uncut rubies as big as bricks as well as the world’s largest piece of jade.

The park around Kandawgyi Lake can be explored on foot, as can the city’s numerous markets. Inle Lake- Just a short plane flight away from Yangon in the cool green highlands of Shan State, and yet seemingly worlds apart from the rest of Myanmar, lies Inle Lake in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The lake itself sits at a pleasant 2900 feet above sea level and is famous for its leg rowers, floating markets and prolific birdlife. In this unique wetland environment, whole villages sit on floating islands on the lake. Colourful hill tribes inhabit the surrounding

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Myanmar famous rock lies within a one-day drive of Yangon, at the peak of the forested Mt Kyaikhtiyo. Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is only 5.5 meters high, said to be enshrined with the Buddha’s hair relic and resting on top of a huge boulder that balances on the edge of a cliff. The gold-covered rock is roughly in the shape of a man’s head, and it is believed to represent the head of a hermit who had carried the Buddha’s hair wrapped in his own topknot before he died. He had left instructions that such a boulder was to be found and the precious hair enshrined in a pagoda on its crest after his death.

fertile valleys and forested cities and other cultural mountaintops, and their hand- attractions. woven silks are a speciality of The city’s notable the region. attractions include Kuthodaw Mandalay-The principal Pagoda, where Buddhist cultural and economic scriptures are carved on 729 city of upper Myanmar, marble tablets, billed as the and former royal capital, “biggest book” in the world. Mandalay still evokes images One particularly beautiful of a romantic bygone era. legacy of Mindon is the The royal palace and its all-teak pavilion he lived in impressive surrounding just before his death, Golden moat sit at the foot of the Palace (Shwe Kyaung). Once imposing Mandalay Hill. completely gilded inside and Positioned on the banks of the out, only the interior gold mighty Ayeryarwaddy River, remains undamaged. The rest Mandalay lies within easy of his palace was destroyed striking distance of former in World War II and a replica colonial hill stations, ancient was built on the site. Nearby

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Mandalay Hill is crowned by a pagoda from which visitors can enjoy a 360-degree view of the city and surrounding countryside. Mahamuni Pagoda to the southwest of the palace holds one of Myanmar’s most revered Buddha images, a 4-metrehigh statue covered with a thick layer of gold leaf applied by generations of pilgrims seeking merit. Golden Rock-The jewel in the crown of Mon State is Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda, also known as Golden Rock and considered a miracle by Buddhist devotees. The

Golden Rock, which seems to be constantly on the verge of plunging down the mountainside, seems a miracle in itself and devotees are firm in their belief that a pilgrimage here will bring them good health and fortune. The route to the pagoda winds up through pretty scenery and is lined with many sites playing one part or another in the legend of the pagoda. Every year on the night of December 31, the Kyaikhtiyo platform glows with the light of 9000 lamps and is fragrant with 9000 flowers offered by pilgrims. There are two ways to get to the top of Mt Kyaikhtiyo: by truck along a winding road, or by foot on an 11-kilometre hiking path through thick forests and past numerous mysterious shrines to the Buddha and to local spirits. In either case, the last section to the top must be covered by foot as the trucks stop at a parking lot about an hour’s hike short of the peak. However, those suffering from a lack of energy can hire porters to carry them up to Golden Rock in a canvas litter.

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California

Whales are awesome and the sea is grand!

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he California Gray Whale makes the most spectacular and longest mass migration of any marine mammal. Tens of thousands of gray whales migrate annually along the west coast of North America from the summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea to the winter grounds of the Baja California lagoons and back again along the Orange County coast during the months of December, January, February, March, & April. During the gray whale migration it is not uncommon to view five or more gray whales a cruise making for excellent viewing opportunities. Gray whales are medium

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sized whales, reaching up to 45 feet in length. Males grow to 45 feet - longer than a city bus - and females are slightly larger. The average weight of a gray whale is 16 tons (32,000 pounds) and some have reached weights of 30 to 40 tons. They are gray with white patches, which mostly consist of areas where barnacles and lice have attached themselves to the whales. They have no dorsal or back fin. Instead, they have a low hump and a series of six to twelve knuckles or bumps. The gray whale is a baleen whale and has approximately 300 plates of cream-colored baleen hanging from its upper

jaw. Two to five throat creases which allow for limited expansion of their throats during feeding. Sparse hairs are found on the rostrum, especially in young whales. Gray whales surface every three to five minutes to breath and can remain submerged for up to 15 minutes. The destinations of the whales are the coastal waters of Baja California and the southern Gulf of California, where they breed and the young are born. After several weeks, the return trip starts. This round trip of 16,00022,000 km (or 13,670 miles), at an average speed of 10 km/h, is believed to be the longest yearly migration of

any mammal. This whale watching migrations is one of the most beautiful experiences not only for eco tourists and marine mammal enthusiasts but for you and me as well. New Port Beach, California The waters surrounding Newport Harbor offer deep nutrient rich waters which draw not only Gray Whales but all types of dolphins, seals, fish, and numerous other marine creatures. The underwater Newport Canyon running very close to shore brings nutrient rich waters incredibly close as a result Gray whales are often seen just outside the harbor entrance. The Laguna Beach coastline is just south of

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California

Newport Harbor and offers some of the most beautiful coastline of Southern California. The gray whales seem to enjoy the beauty of the coastline as well. Most whale watching cruises take in the scenic backdrops of Newport Beach & Laguna Beach while viewing the gentle giants just a few hundred yards from shore. Due to the geography of the orange county coastline, surrounding Newport Harbor, the ocean conditions are comparable to a fresh water lake with very calm/flat seas, which allows whale watchers to fully enjoy the amazing migration Monterey Bay, CaliforniaMonterey Bay Whale

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Watch offers year-round whale watching trips to observe the spectacular diversity and abundance of whales and dolphins inhabiting the Bay. The Monterey Submarine Canyon approaches close to the shore, allowing deep water species of whales, dolphins, and seabirds to occur near the coast. Shallow water species, such as the gray whale, are found very close to shore in the narrow shelf region. Monterey is the best place along the California coast to observe Gray Whales. Whales can be seen very close to shore here due to the proximity of the submarine canyon, as the Gray Whale prefers shallow water and therefore migrates closer to shore here

highway turnouts in Big Sur from December through April. December to early February the California Gray Whales are migrating south. Beginning in February you begin seeing whales migrating back to Alaska with their newborn babies by their sides. There is sometimes what appears Migrating Whales to be an overlap in migration than at other places along patterns with the coast. This allows us to some whales still heading easily find the whales and south while others are moving spend more time with them, north. On their northern leaving enough time to search migration they swim close to for deep water species of shore, with their babies on the dolphins and porpoise and shore side. It has been said Killer Whales near the canyon this is to protect them from edge. attacks from Great White Sharks. This is often when the Big Sur Coastline- The best viewing can take place entire population of Gray because they are moving Whales migrates past the Big more slowly because of their Sur coastline twice a year. Once when going south to the young calves and also they are swimming against the current. lagoons of Mexico (late fallearly winter) and once again when returning to Alaska (late winter-early spring). Bring your binoculars and enjoy this spectacular sight from the many roadside turnouts, restaurants, and cafe’s. Gray whales can be seen from the

Another spectacular sight is watching them as they migrate south. Occasionally the water is filled with spouts going off one after another, looking like a long line of steam locomotives spouting out in the ocean.

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Profile

Experience the Unique Elephant Safari at The Elephant Court

A

n elephant camp visit and an elephant safari would be so royal an experience and if you never want to miss that, The Elephant Court Resort situated in the misty, mystical and serene Thekkady will be the perfect holiday option in the God’s own country. Opened in 2006, The Elephant Court Resort has rapidly improved to become a truly outstanding collection of luxury, independentlyowned hotel. The hotel has been awarded a FIVE STAR rating by the Ministry of Tourism in June 2011. This 65 luxury room hotel is situated on four acres, over a landscaped hillock. The architecture establishes the cultural identity of the property and is a marriage of traditional design and responses to contemporary demands. It explores the relationship between the environment and individuals. The extensive use of teak all around keeps the spaces cool and one’s senses are calmed by the connection with nature that wood provides. Subtle definitions of space provide a serene, yet dynamic environment. Seated atop an elephant, guests are taken along trails into the depths of the forest. A trained handlers and guides will accompany the safari. This is time for an intimate communion with nature. Here there are no automobiles, only the sounds of nature emerging from a profound silence. During the warmer season

one can get to spot animals drinking water beside the lake and at other watering holes in the jungle.

capacity to seat 150 people provides cutting edge equipment and the space to host a conference or an occasion. We also possess Other than the elephant a smaller 30 seat mini safari a lot of activities conference hall to host smaller await you here. Thekkady is gatherings. The Elephant blessed with all the faculties, Court offers you the largest necessary for royal living. swimming pool in the area The verdant tranquil of the with separate kid’s pool, a region, entices infinite number gymnasium and a recreation of travellers from across the centre with indoor games globe. This hill station is the and kids play area. We have great dome of magnetism, multilingual staffs speaks which could leave a long English, Tamil, Hindi, lasting impact on the minds of Arabic etc. All our rooms are the travellers. equipped with digital safe, tea A boating in the Lake coffee makers, mini bar, TV would be so serene and with more than 100 channels you can enjoy the blissful etc. 24 hours courteous room nature Walk also. Bamboo service is just a touch away Rafting, Jungle Patrol ( Day/ The facilities here include: Night Safari), Border Hiking, Multi Cuisine Restaurant, Trekking Spice Plantation Speciality Restaurant Room visit and Bullock Cart Ride Service, Swimming Pool would make your holiday with Jacuzzi Spa with exciting. For entertainment Thai Massage & Swedish Tribal Dance, Classical Massage, Conference Hall, Dance, Kalarippayattu, Mini-Conference Hall, Panchavadyam and Shingari Indoor Games Area, library Melam are on offer. Lounge, Health Club, Yoga The Conference and / Meditation Area, Roof Banqueting facilities are Top facilities to view the top an extension of hospitality of Wild life Sanctuary and offered to the business Boutique with collectables and traveller. A hall with a organic spices.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013

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Profile

The Saga of Sarovar

S

arovar Hotels & Resorts, pioneers in the mid-market hotel segment, ventured into the Indian hospitality landscape 18 years ago in 1994. Over a very short time period, the Company has not only been successful in meeting the demand in this segment, but is today the fastest growing hotel management company in India, with 60 hotels under the brands Sarovar Premiere, Sarovar Portico, Hometel, Park Plaza & Park Inn. Sarovar Hotels operate Park

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Plaza and Park Inn hotels in India under a franchise agreement with Carlson Hotels Worldwide.

path for Sarovar with hotels opening across India and overseas.

Sarovar Hotels & Resorts started out by managing properties in Mumbai, Lucknow, Agra, Chennai and Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania) in the initial five years of its operations. The next five years saw the Company spreading to cities such as Goa, Kochi, Puducherry, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Manali and many others. From then on, it’s been a steady growth

Sarovar Hotels has a diverse portfolio encompassing hotels, resorts, restaurants and corporate hospitality services. The properties may vary by type, size and the market niche they serve, but all provide a consummate and unmatched international hospitality experience at competitive price offerings. No wonder then that Sarovar dominates the economy market segment

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Profile with properties across India, including metros and minimetros. Apart from operational 60 hotels, an additional 20 projects are at various stages of development. By 2020 Sarovar Hotels targets to achieve a 100-hotel portfolio. The Company is also building assets by way of companyowned hotels and is also venturing into serviced apartments. Anil Madhok, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts is upbeat about future growth for the group and the hospitality industry in India. He says, “The hospitality industry has again picked up strength and is showing positive signs of growth. The mid-market segment continues to grow in India with maximum growth in the budget and no-frill segment

Sarovar across metros, non-metros and Hotels operate smaller cities.” Park Plaza and Sarovar Hotels also Park Inn hotels provide corporate hospitality in India under services at the Indian a franchise Institute of Management, agreement with Ahmedabad – a prestigious Carlson Hotels educational institution in the Worldwide. country, Hindustan Unilever World Travel Limited’s corporate training Brands awarded centre in Mumbai and The Vasundhara Indian School of Business at Sarovar Mohali. Geoffrey’s, Sarovar’s Premiere, Vayalar as the‘Best English Pub brand, operates across multiple cities in India Upcoming Spa Resort in including Bengaluru, Chennai, Kerala’ at a recent event in New Delhi. These awards Faridabad, Goa, Jodhpur, are amongst world’s most Ludhiana and Mumbai. authoritative travel awards Lead by experienced that offer exceptional hoteliers and an impressive recognition to best service network of hospitality provider brands that professionals, Sarovar Hotels contributed immensely in deliver more profitable transforming the face of the hotels than any other hotel global travel industry. management company in Vasundhara Sarovar India.

Anil Madhok, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts

Premiere is a premium 5 star resort located on the tranquil and unexplored backwaters of Vayalar in the Alleppey district of Kerala. The hotel offers 60 luxurious accommodations including tastefully appointed floating cottages and houseboats, complemented with elaborate on-site dining options, recreational and wellness facilities including a Spa.


Thailand

In the Land of Smiles…

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hailand, the amazing country, features Buddhist temples, exotic wildlife, and spectacular islands. Along with a fascinating history and a unique culture that includes delectable Thai food and massage, Thailand features a modern capital city, and friendly people who epitomize Thailand’s “land of smiles” reputation. Located in the center of

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Southeast Asia, Thailand is truly at the heart of the region. Looking over a map of Thailand will reveal a country whose borders form the rough shape of an elephant’s head: the head and ears forming the mostly landlocked northern and eastern provinces and the trunk extending down the Malaysian peninsula between the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.

features many natural borders with neighbouring countries: a mountainous border with Myanmar (Burma) to the north and west; a long stretch of the Mekong River separating Thailand from Laos to the north and east; and the Mekong River and the Dongrak Mountains delineating the border of Cambodia to the east.

Covering an area of The geography of Thailand approximately 514,000 square

kilometers (200,000 sq miles), Thailand is the 50th largest country in the world, most nearly equal in size to Spain.

The Thailand climate is controlled by tropical monsoons and the weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid across most of the country throughout most of the year. While Thailand’s seasons are generally divided into the hot season, cool season, and rainy season,

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Thailand respectively. The other inland season, the rainy season, lasts from May to November and is dominated by the southwest monsoon, during which time rainfall in most of Thailand is at its heaviest. Thailand is a country with abundant natural resources, including a wide variety of flora and fauna, and distinct ecological zones. There are over 100 Thailand national parks, including more than 20 marine parks, and each park features unique attractions, outstanding facilities, and opportunities to see animals in Thailand. Those interested in trekking, mountain biking, photography, birding, camping, scuba diving, or getting up close to exotic animals in Thailand have many options to choose from.

in reality it’s relatively hot most of the year. The weather in central, northern, and northeastern Thailand (the landlocked provinces) is determined by three seasons, whereas the southern, coastal regions of Thailand feature only two, making the weather in Thailand quite easy to understand and plan a trip around. In Thailand’s inland provinces the seasons are clearly defined: Between November and May the weather is mostly dry and the cool season and hot season occur from November to February and March to May

A visit to a Thailand beach or one of the many Thailand islands is an opportunity for visitors to relax, experience exotic marine life, or even learn to scuba dive. However, across Thailand, whether at a beach, island, or Thailand National Park visitors will discover unique flora and fauna and distinct ecological zones, from the temperate forests of the northern mountains and the plains of central Thailand to the savannahs of the northeast and the mangrove forests of the southern coasts. Animals in Thailand include not only elephants and monkeys but also bears and whale sharks, the world’s largest fish. The central provinces Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, easily blends both old and new, East and West and traditional and fashionable. Twenty nine kilometers away from Bangkok, you can reach Samut Prakan which has countless tourist attractions such as historical sites, old markets and indigenous lifestyles along the canals. The

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largest crocodile farm in the world is situated here. Samut Songkhram highlights King Rama II Memorial Park and Amphawa Floating Market. Those who love to experience the local lifestyles have many choices of homestay programmes to choose from. The old capital from 1350 to 1767, Ayutthaya (76 km from Bangkok), is today visited chiefly as a historical site, especially the World Heritage Historic City of Ayutthaya and associated Historic Towns. Bang Pa-in Palace, and Bang Sai Folk Arts and Crafts Centre are places recommended for inclusion in a one-day tour.

to Saraburi, Buddhists should not fail to pay homage to the Buddha’s Footprint there. Lop Buri is famous for shrines in the Khmer style, the remains of King Narai’s palaces of the 17th century, and the sunflower fields.

Nakhon Pathom is the town that boasts the tallest Buddhist pagoda both in Thailand and in the world. The greatest Elephant Show in Thailand can be seen here. Phetchaburi has many tourist attractions, including the famous Cha-am Beach and many other beaches, scenic mountains, limestone caves, historical sites, and ancient temples. Prachuap Khiri Khan (281 km) is well known Kanchanaburi is a good place for nature lovers, where for Klai Kangwon Palace, a they can raft down the stream summer palace of the King watching enchanting scenery. and the Royal Family, the oldest beach resort, Hua Hin, The Death Railway and the and Khao Samroi Yot National Bridge over the River Kwai are also located here. On a trip Park. Another famous

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Thailand

located at the northern tip of Thailand in the very heart of the Golden Triangle, gains fame from its scenic views, exotic hilltribes and exciting elephant-back riding tours.

attraction is the 12-km-long Ban Krut Beach. Prachuap Khiri Khan Bay is scenic and suitable for sport activities. The Eastern Provinces Just 2 hours’ drive from Bangkok is Pattaya, the renowned recreation centre on the east coast. Its fine sand, blue sky and limpid sea are among many other good things that prove irresistible to both foreign and domestic tourists. Although Pattaya is the cream of Chon Buri other places of interest are plentiful in this province -- Khao Sam Muk, where stands the Chao Mae Sam Muk Shrine highly revered by Thais; Bang Saen, the nearest-to-Bangkok beach resort for families; Ko Sichang, a paradise island whose name has become the title of a song. Chanthaburi , a coastal province famous for its gemstones, fruits, hot pepper and Chanthabun mats. Rayong ,where the most attractive tourist spot is the

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Samet Island, has become very popular among foreign visitors. Trat ,the most farflung province on the eastern coast, is well known for its Ko Chang Marine National Park. Prachin Buri is famous for its “Hin Phoeng” Rapids which is part of Khao Yai National Park. The Northern Provinces The fine weather, the mountainous scenery, the exquisite handicrafts and the rich northern Thai culture are some of the charms of the North. Nan (668 km) is where culture blends well with nature. This small and peaceful province amidst the mountains is one of the most exciting sites to shoot the rapids. Chiang Mai (697 km), the second biggest province of Thailand, provides visitors with a host of places of interest, such as, Doi Suthep, Doi Inthanon, Bhubing Palace, etc. Chiang Rai (785 km),

Lamphun (670 km) is a town of beautiful women, bountiful orchards and ancient temples. Lampang (599 km) is the sole province in Thailand where horsedrawn carriages are still used as a means of transportation. Phrae (643 km) is known for the northern costume called mohom and Phae Muang Phi, a small area of weird earth formation. Lying in the northwestern corner bordering Myanmar, Mae Hong Son (942 km) is well known as the “Town of Three Mists” because it is mist-shrouded throughout most of the three seasons. It has several tourist attractions, both natural and cultural. Being mountainous, the province has many waterfalls and caves.

(426 km) This mountainous province is ideal for nature lovers and adventurous tourists as there are numerous places for white-water rafting, trekking and elephant riding. Blessed with high mountains and natural beauty, Phetchabun (346 km) is where the scenic Nam Nao National Park and Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park are situated. It is also rich with waterfalls, rivers and lakes. Phitsanulok (377 km) features many historic sites and natural scenic spots like Chat Trakan and Thung Salaeng Luang national parks. The province is also famous for the Khek River which is excellent for shooting the rapids. The North East

Known as Isan in Thai, the Northeast consists mostly of a plateau. Some may think that this area is dry and lifeless. But in fact, it has large numbers of tourist spots, especially sites of historical and archaeological significance. Sukhothai (427 km), Nakhon Ratchasima (259 the first capital of the Thai km), or Khorat for short, is Kingdom, is well-known the gateway to the Northeast, for its two historic sites -where are located the Thao Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai Suranari Monument, KhmerHistorical Parks, which have style stone shrine Prasat been declared World Heritage Hin Phimai and an over Sites by UNESCO in 1991. Tak 250-year-old banyan tree. ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


Thailand

Khon Kaen (449 km), one of the northeastern commercial centres famous for the local product -- matmi silk. At Phuwiang National Park, dinosaurs’ fossils, which were uncovered at the site, are on show. Kalasin (519 km) is where dinosaurs’ fossils were excavated and are now exhibited at Dinosaur Research Centre in Sahatkhan District.

elephants, is world famous for its Elephant Round-up taking place at the third weekend of November. Si Sa Ket (571 km) where the famous Khmer ruins, Khao Phra Wihan, is located on the Cambodian border. There are many other Khmer-style stone buildings in the province which are worth visiting.

Buri Ram (410 km) Comprising plenty of Khmer Ubon Ratchathani (629 km) ruins, this province is where the largest Khmer-style stone is the easternmost province temple, Prasat Hin Phanom of Thailand, bordering Laos Rung is located. Loei (520 on the east and Cambodia km), a challenging place for on the south. The renowned nature lovers who want to Pha Taem and Pha Mon are admire the scenic beauty of sandstone cliffs featuring Phu Kradueng National Park prehistoric colour paintings. in the cool season. Other attractions include beautiful old temples and Udon Thani (564 km) is many rapids and cascades famous for its World Heritage along the Mun and Mekong site -- Ban Chiang Village rivers. Sakon Nakhon (647 of ancient civilisation, and km) offers tourists the Phu Phra Bat Historical Park picturesque scenery of the with bizarre rock formations. vast Nong Han Lake and Nakhon Phanom (740 km) is Phu Phan National Park. well known for its Phrathat Surin (457 km), the land of Phanom, which is a very

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013

of the ancient Sri Vijaya Kingdom, which has long been forgotten leaving only a few hallowed hills today. Songkhla is a famous seaside resort in the far South where a cruise on Songkhla Lake is The 14 provinces in the fascinating. Another famous South stretch along the place in this province is Hat narrow peninsula of Thailand Yai, the big bustling city from Chumphon to Malaysian widely known for the low border. The Andaman Sea priced imported goods. coast on the west with Phang-nga, adjoining numerous offshore islands Phuket, is full of magnificent and a beautiful underwater seascape and beautiful limeworld offers many fascinating stone caves. Those who love travel opportunities to the diving may visit Krabi to sea loving tourists. The most explore its Phi Phi, Lanta, prominent tourist attraction in and Hong Island Groups. At the South is inevitably Phuket Rai Le Beach, you can enjoy ,the biggest island of Thailand the exciting rock climbing. located in the Andaman Sea. It Krabi and Phang-nga are two has rapidly become one of the stars besides Phuket. They best known seaside resorts of are becoming popular with tourists because there are the world. interesting attractions both on But if you find Phuket a land and in the sea. little too crowded in the peak With its plentiful tourist season, then Samui picturesque islands, the Island of Surat Thani will be Trang province has many fine another choice. Its tranquillity beaches and beautiful scenery and unpolluted environment waiting to be explored such will refresh you. Pha-ngan as Chao Mai National Park, Island, which is a famous and Ko Muk and its Morakot diving centre, is also an Cave. Tarutao Island off interesting destination. Satun, being the remotest, will provide you with the Ranong , Thailand’s most marvelous underwater rainiest province, is well life and most tranquil known for its hot mineral atmosphere. Nakhon Si springs. Visitors can enjoy Thammarat (780 km), the land mineral bath in many hotels of predominant Buddhism here. The offshore Surin during the Sri Vijaya period, Island is stunning with is famous for its Talumpuk abundant coral reefs and Cape and Hat Khanom-Mu colourful fishes. Phatthalung Ko Thaletai National Park. is believed to be in the realm ancient pagoda containing a relic of the Buddha, and its annual Illuminated Boat Procession Festival, which is held around October or November.

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Profile

A Revolutionary Leap

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ehind every novel concept there is always perseverance and determination. The new initiative from the government of Kerala to provide better connectivity to domestic and international tourists visiting Kerala in the form of seaplane services embarks on a landmark decision to boost the tourism industry. The State of Kerala – God’s own Country, famous for its backwaters and beaches is amongst the highest visiting state among the tourists.This project is operated by Wings Aviation and Odds Travel Solutions who are experienced in aviation and tourism industry

Mr. Umesh Kamath MD

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The project concept is to provide an additional layer of transportation by offering last mile connectivity by air to the renowned destinations of the state. The abundant water bodies across the state will be strategically leveraged to effectively implement this project. The service shall provide unique experience to travellers both as a joy ride and as an effective

mode of air transport to distant destinations. The initial operations shall be in a prioritized circuit consisting ofAstamudi, Punnamada, Kumarakom ,Munnar, Bolgatty and Bekal with the three airports as base station. The possibility of connectivity by air between international airports and destinations like Munnar, Kumarakom, Kochi etc. is also included in the future plans.

India.

Odds & events is widely recognized as a wholesome complete Travel (Domestic & International) & events solution factory. This venture is run by a team of young, creative, enthusiastic and dynamic professionals with a sparkling stream of ideas having vast experience in the field of Events, Entertainments & Travels. Our goal is to give each & Established in 1995, Wings every Service rendered by us Aviation Pvt. Limited (WAPL) a different Meaning, identity and a Vision with true is India’s Premier fully professionalism . Odds Travel integrated Aviation training Solutions Pvt Ltd is a travel company. WAPL is one of division of ODDS & EVENTS. the pioneers in the Country, started with an aim to Under the dynamic change the face of the Indian and able guidance of Aerospace Industry. WAPL Mr.PrabhakarReddy ,CMD has worked relentlessly in of Wings Aviation and Mr. setting high standards of Umesh Kamath the Managing aviation training and services Director of Odds Travel in India. It has also set new Solution PvtLtd.the company milestones on quality and is all set to scale new heights. processes acknowledged by The seaplane project which the fact that WAPL is included is a novel and innovative one amonga few privileged is going to boost the tourism ‘Cessna Pilot Centres’ in the industry in every way. world.WAPL also operates www.keralaseaplane.com four seater chartered flights from airport to airport all over ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


World Travel Brands Award for Best Upcoming Spa Resort in Kerala 2012

www.vasundhararesorts.in www.sarovarhotels.com

IIA Asian Paints Gold Leaf Award for Excellence in Architecture 2012

Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Top 25 Hotels in India 2013


Interview

Jack Bartholomew, Khiri Travel General Manager for Cambodia, has spent the last three years working and travelling throughout Southeast Asia. In the last year, Jack moved from being Operations Manager for Khiri Travel Laos in LuangPrabang to take on the leading role in Khiri Cambodia, restructuring and growing tour operations throughout the country. Currently residing in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, Jack sat down with Ryan van Velzer to share his thoughts on Cambodia and its people.

Jack Bartholomew

Cambodians Are Trendsetting Despite the ‘Weight’ They Carry What’s special about Cambodia that differentiates it from other countries in the region? The people have had such a tough time. It’s incredibly rewarding working with people who in spite of all that, rather than give up, work much harder than other countries. They’re trying to play catch up and they know it. They are really focused, really hard working and I would go as far as to say they have a natural capacity to take on new ideas and skills quickly. As a country, I think it’s a country that is really looking forward. While

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working in Laos I found it to be a quite inward looking country. Whereas Cambodia is pioneering in the region; Cambodia is trend setting. There’s just so much happening here. Why should people visit Cambodia? There’s the heritage, the history, the Angkor temples. I think that’s all fantastic and fascinating and that is a reason why people should come. But I really think the key is that when people come here they’re seeing a great example of a group of people who are bouncing back. In spite of what happened, these people are the happiest and

kindest people you’ll meet. I’ve never seen people with so little give so much. They really want people to experience their country. There are so many great opportunities to interact with the local people and learn about their culture and lifestyle -- but also how those people have taken all the negative things and turned them into something really positive.

Laos, Thailand and large swathes of Vietnam. So the history is deep. The Khmer people are passionate about their history and how great their culture once was and the mark that was left in so many other countries. Cambodian people know that their history played a large part in the region.

On that, what is unique about Cambodian culture compared to the West?

What were some of the biggest challenges the Cambodian people faced after the end of the Khmer Rouge?

It’s one of the oldest cultures in Southeast Asia. One-thousand years ago the Khmer empire spanned most of Southeast Asia, Myanmar,

I think there was just a massive displacement. They had to restart their country from scratch. There was nothing. There wasn’t even

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


Interview

any money. Even some of my staff, they were born in refugee camps on the border of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. You know they didn’t get birth certificates until they were in their teens. The challenges are endless really. They’ve had to learn all these skills again, learn these languages, learn to re-identify with their culture and promote tourism. It’s a part of their history now and the younger generation is taking that and turning it into something positive. What should tourists know about Cambodia before coming? I think there’s this tendency to sort of look at Cambodia as a ‘plus one’ country. I think it shouldn’t be perceived like that. It’s a destination in its own right. There is so much to see and do here. It has so much to offer. I think people should know a little bit about the history. I think that can help explain some of the puzzling things about Cambodia.

What is one thing tourists should see in Cambodia? I think there is a really diverse set of things to see. It’s got such a mix of cultures. I mean in the last hundred years you’ve had the French influence, the Khmer Rouge, and the current struggle for the transition into democracy. There are so many different building styles, food styles, cultures that are here now. When people come to Cambodia, they should also come to Phnom Penh, see the architecture, try the food. What’s your favourite local food? The one everybody talks about, Amok. Fish Amok particularly, which is sort of a slightly thick curry. It’s quite expensive and it’s not eaten everyday by Khmer people. It’s sort of seen as a special dish. That is probably my favourite. Why does Cambodia use the US dollar? Post-Khmer Rouge the monetary system was totally

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013

nullified. In the early 90s the United Nations came in set up the United Nations Temporary Authority Command Control. In Cambodia it was the largest UN launched operation in UN history. So for a four to five year period there were Americans, Europeans, everybody here rebuilding and reconstructing the society. They were all using US dollars. So it kind of hung over from then. Unlike in Laos, which several years ago switched from the use of the dollar, here they’re still using it. It’s basically levelled out at 4,000 riel to $US1. What’s your favourite place in Cambodia? That’s tough. Angkor, SamborPreiKuk, the Cardamom Mountains, the southern beaches, there’s a lot to do in quite a small space. I love living in Phnom Penh because this city has seen so much. It’s the commercial hub. You can see it’s really growing. There are new buildings going up all the time. I find that really

exciting and I think it’s my favourite place. Unlike other Southeast Asian cities it’s got a very unique feeling. In some respects, it’s very dark. You can feel the weight on some days, especially if you visit the Killing Fields and that area. You still see people carrying a lot of weight from that time. But I think also you have a younger generation really pushing things forward. There’s a real desire for people to grow, push forward and create their own identity and that’s coming from the capital. If you were travelling to Cambodia for the first time, what is one thing you would bring with you? An open mind. Try the food. Some people come here and don’t want to see things like the Killing Fields because they’re too depressing. I think you should see it. Put the time in at Angkor Wat, set aside a few days and really see it. Go to the beaches in the South. And don’t be afraid to eat the fried spiders.

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Profile

The Residency, Coimbatore: The Best Landmark in the City

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he Residency at Coimbatore, the finest hotel and a landmark in the city, epitomizes traditional Indian Hospitality and will make you come back for more. This 4 star premium luxury hotel offers spacious and comfortable rooms with thematic interiors. Located on a major arterial road, it is a 20 minute drive from the airport.

can instantly feel at home. Suite offers a unique style of living, an experience made more memorable by spacious rooms and comprehensive facilities. All blend together here to make the stay remarkable.

In Pavilion-the buffet restaurant, you get a unique opportunity to enjoy the magic of the outdoor, while The luxurious rooms here you have food that befits are categorized as standard a gourmet. The Pavilion rooms, residency club and provides an out of the world suite. Standard Rooms are experience for you; a feast Spacious and fully furnished for your eyes as you sit in and are ideal for business harmony with nature. And the executives. In Residency food from one of the longest Club, you can indulge in an buffet tables is a veritable executive lifestyle while living treat. Customise food to in the cosmopolitan city. You your taste in our interactive will appreciate the space, kitchen. comfort and security of our Chin Chin, the Chinese club rooms, where every guest 38

specialty restaurant, open for lunch & dinner offers Quick Business Lunch;Private dining rooms are available. Bike& Barrel, the resto bar, Reminiscent of a British pub, with its informal settings, unusual memorabilia and pulsating music is the perfect place to unwind after a long day’s work. Enjoy delectable Mexican, Continental & Indian Cuisine along with a variety of cocktails only at the Restobar. The main attractions are House of Lords, the plush and tastefully done cocktail lounge, Afghan’s Grill, The poolside bar-be-cue, open air restaurant serving North West Frontier cuisine, and Baker’s corner, and the in-House Confectionery.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


Profile

THE PARK OF WONDERS W

onderla is India’s most favourite amusement park operator with two of India’s biggest theme parks, Wonderla Bangalore and Cochin. The park is adorned with a wide variety of thrilling, breathtaking, gut wrenching dry rides and refreshing clean water rides. The park also houses a spectacular Musical Fountain and laser show encapsulating the audience with its unusual cinematic experience. Wonderla has 55 land and water based rides, the highest for any amusement park in India. Many of the rides are

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unique and are imported from reputed international suppliers, making it one of its kind in India. The park also has attractions specially designed for children, and these are gentle yet engaging like a kiddies free fall ride. There are around 2500 lockers at the park and visitors have the option of hiring a locker during their stay at the park. The park also has a fully fledged first aid facility and an ambulance on a paying system. Safety and Hygiene is of prime importance to the management of Wonderla.

The park is OHSAS 18001:2007 certified, which is an International Safety Hygiene Standard certifying an organisation to have confirmance to stringent parameters. Wonderla is the only park in India to use Reverse Osmosis Treatment Technology for treating water in pools. Reverse Osmosis is the same technology used by leading packaged drinking water manufacturers. The park has a full fledged water quality control laboratory which carries out 90 rigorous tests on a regular basis. Wonderla is the only park in the country that uses solar heated water for all its

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


Profile water rides during winter. Many of the rides have been custom made and imported from reputed international suppliers, making them unique in India. Wonderla has two strong R&D and assembling units one located in Bangalore and the other in Cochin. To ensure supreme quality, most of the rides are manufactured by Wonderla in-house R&D team. R&D units have over 100 well qualified technicians who design and manufacture rides for in-house purpose and for the clients. The imported components in the rides ensure the maximum quality and safety standards. Wonderla is also concentrating on the developing export markets in Asia and Africa. Wonderla is not only a leading amusement park, but also a socially responsible entity. Wonderla regularly provides free Health insurance to the neighboring villages. Wonderla also conducts free health checkups and medical camps in partnership with leading hospitals. Wonderla strongly believes in knowledge empowerment of youth for a better tomorrow, thus the company has been providing helping hand for students

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013

by distributing free books, uniforms and furniture for local village schools. The management has also supported AksharaBalawadi Schemes of the Akshara Foundation. The park is newest venture is Wonderla’s Resort in Bangalore, an 84 room luxury resort, a first of its kind in India - a luxury holiday resort within the premises of India’s most popular amusement park. Surrounded by 82 acres of lush greenery, the holiday resort is a combination of luxury and leisure which offers finest in hospitality which has set a new bench mark to the hospitality and entertainment industry in India. The resort is designed as a great place to host business and family gatherings. The resort has 4 Banquet Halls, the largest of which can accommodate 500 guests, thus becoming an ideal venue for events. The exclusive board room also makes the resort a perfect place for a business getaway combined with wholesome entertainment. The resort includes equipped business/ banquet halls, a swanky rest-o-bar ‘Red Ice’, a theme restaurant ‘Woods’, luxury rooms, a 20 meter heated pool and recreation areas for adults and kids.

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Profile

Lake Palace An Exclusive Ayurvedic Resort on the Lake

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ake Palace Resort, the Luxury Backwater resort and spa, is an excellent combination of modern and traditional Kerala architecture spread over 50 acres of exclusively landscaped gardens in Alappuzha which has been described as one of the must see 100 destinations around the World by National Geography Channel.

Thomas Chandy Chairman

Lake Palace Resort opens the doors to the world of authentic Ayurveda. Lake Palace offers traditional Ayurvedic therapy as well as Yoga in a blissfully peaceful environment. You can benefit from Ayurveda Rejuvenation and Beauty care packages. Ayurveda is practised here in its classic and traditional form and classified as ‘Green Leaf’ by Tourism Dept. of Govt. of Kerala. Lake Palace ayurveda centre has

developed an ayurveda menu to suit your taste as well as your digestive system. Ayurveda is not merely a system of treatment. It is a way of life. In order to sustain the effects of the treatment, the centre also conducts classes in yoga and meditation so as to help the patients to have control over body and mind. Effective Ayurveda treatment for back pain, knee joint pain, asthma, diabetes infertility, hair regrowth, knee pain, dandruff, paralysis, obesity, pimples, migraine, hair loss, hair fall, skin diseases, fibroids, piles, weight loss, constipation, acidity, osteoarthritis, cholesterol, jaundice, sciatica, osteoporosis, hemorrhoids, gastric problems spondylitis, cough, insomnia, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, PCOS , sinusitis etc... Full range of treatments/ packages is available starting from Seven, Fourteen & twenty one days. Efficient and effective schedules for maximum benefits bring value for your money and time. The elegant and stylish accommodation facilities here will provide you with the comfort of home. Deluxe bedding, spacious floor plan and all sorts of modern facilities including premium television channels, in room safe, Tea/Coffee maker, Mini bar are the specialties of Lake Palace accommodation. The new Premium Lake View Cottages are the epitome of true luxury stay. There are

20 Premium Cottages - facing the finishing point, featuring maximum elegance and sophisticated richness that one luxury lover can ever imagine. The additional features includes remote controlled curtains, LCD TVs, spacious private balcony, most modern bath rooms with shower cubicle & bath tub. Aboard the floating hotelLake Palace’s premium House boats “Rajdhani” & “Maharani” a resort in itself with all sort of luxury is the ideal choice of House boats in Alleppey. No holiday experience in Kerala can be complete without an exotic cruise in one of those lavishly furnished floating barges called House Boats (Kettuvallam) in the golden waters of the Vembanadu Lake. In this relaxed atmosphere far from everyday distractions, thoughts flow easily and horizons expand. The prime location, marvellous design and world-class comforts and facilities available give a distinct personality. The hall is designed in a way, with landscaped surroundings, fine floors and enough room to make the occasion more interesting, more profound and productive. DJ and sightseeing trips can also be explored. For its world class services Lake Palace was acclaimed by traveler’s choice in Trip Advisor for Relaxation & Spa category in 2012. www.lakepalaceresort.com

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


London-Paris

5 nights & 6 days, 3* hotels with continental breakfast. Arrival transfer, Cityrama tour of Paris, Hop on hop off tour of London. Travel from Paris to London on the Eurostar in second class.

Athens

6 nights & 7 days, 3* Accommodation All transfers, city tours, Delphi, Poros, Hydra, Acgina Cruise Dinner & folk dance All taxes.

Europe

11 nights & 12 days. 3* Accommodation in Paris, London, Nice, Interlaken, Geneva, Lucern. All transfers & Eurail Pass

Russia

5 nights & 6 days. 3*/4* accommodation in Moscow and St. Petersburg. All transfers and tours.

SOUTH INDIAN PASSAGE

Kerala

3 nights & 4 days. Accommodation in houseboat, sightseeing and transfers included

Honeymoon in Kerala

2 nights & 3 days. Accommodation in Kerala

Ootty

2 nights & 3 days Accommodation sightseeing and transfers in Ooty.

Munnar

3 nights & 4 days Accommodation, sightseeing and transfers in Thekkady.

3M, an exclusive tour company, offers a world cruise ingeniously orchestrated to leave you bewitched. It’s a perfect ensemble of exotic destinations, impeccable services, and happy price tags for an unprecedented travel experience.

“Loveshore”, No. 32/2819-A1, Labour Colony Road, Behind Chevrolet Showroom, Thammanam, Kochi, Kerala-682032, S.India Phone : +91 484 2343647, 2343747 Email: info@3mtoursandtravels.com, www.3mtoursandtravels.com Bengaluru: +91 9343983719  Chennai: +91 9841008588  Hyderabad: +91 9441236010  Mumbai: +91 9702493708  Indore: +91 9893559563  Thiruvananthapuram: +91 9946654666  A sister concern of Media Steps India


NEWSLINE

Zambia to Tap Indian Tourism Market MSI Newswire | New Delhi

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ambia, after making its debut at the OneWorld Travel Mart (OTM) 2013’s Mumbai and Delhi editions, is all set to establish itself in the Indian market. Mato Shimabale, Director of Marketing, Zambia Tourism Board, said, “India is a very important market with great potential as it is among the top ten in terms of arrivals. Over the past years, we have seen many Indian travellers coming into Zambia, and hence we want to further grow our relationship with India. Zambia has many tourist attractions, the greatest of them being the

famous Victoria Falls. Being one of the Seven Wonders of the World, this World Heritage Site is a phenomenal spectacle and draws huge numbers of tourists annually. We also have fantastic scenic landscapes, 20 national parks, safaris, varieties of Adventure Tourism activities like upsailing, bungee jumping, game parks and our famous walk with the lion nature trails, a low crime rate and a thriving nightlife.” One of the safest African countries, Zambia mainly attracts leisure travellers owing to its wide scope of offerings and is now looking at attracting Meetings, Incentives, Conferences/ Conventions, Exhibitions

(MICE). “As Zambia is hosting the 20th edition of the UN General Assembly of the WTO (World Tourism Organisation) on the Victoria Falls , we are looking at hosting more than 1,000 delegates, thus making Zambia a MICE hub”, said

Shimabale. Working in tune with the Indian travel trade, Zambia is actively participating in road shows and trade fairs, organizing workshops and conducting FAM trips for tour operators to throw light on its array of offerings.

Via Rail Canada to Enter the Indian Market MSI Newswire | Canada

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cknowledging the rising number of India’s outbound travellers, VIA Rail, the National Passenger rail service of Canada has decided to extensively market itself in the Indian market in 2013. In the wake of the set up, VIA will be discussing its plans for the Indian market at a press briefing to be held on March 04, 2013 in Delhi. Addressing the media, Pierre Santoni, Senior Director, Domestic and International Sales, Via Rail Canada will unfold the marketing strategies, the board plans on implementing for their latest venture. Realizing the importance of Indian tourism as an emerging sector, VIA plans to work on a consultative basis with India’s travel trade to provide extensive product

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knowledge and destination information. The national passenger railway service has a marketing strategy focused on partnering with the Canadian Tourism Commission to promote activities and engage the industry with familiarization trips.

VIA Rail carried a total of 4.1 million passengers in 2011 and also noticed a remarkable increase of 20% in the number of Indian passengers travelling on board VIA. As a part of the India market approach, VIA plans on working with top travel agents in the market while also training them with product knowledge by conducting regular educational workshops across Delhi & Mumbai. Addressing the concerns of vegetarian food and excess luggage faced by many Indian passengers, the

company assures that their policies are well suited for Indians and such situations do not arise in the future. Indian passengers can just sit back and enjoy the quality of the on-board service, the world-class mobile Wi-Fi and the comfort of rail travel. VIA Rail has up to 497 departures weekly, connects over 450 Canadian communities, transports 4.1 million passengers yearly and boast of 396 passenger cars and 78 active locomotives. As Canada’s national

rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada’s mandate is to provide efficient and cost-effective passenger transportation, in the country’s two official languages. Every week, VIA Rail’s intercity, transcontinental and regional trains link 450 communities across its 12,500-kilometre route network. VIA transports over four million passengers annually. VIA Rail also won the 2011 Railway Association of Canada (RAC) Safety Award.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


NEWSLINE

India and Japan to Strengthen Cooperation in Tourism Sector MSI Newswire | New Delhi

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ndia and Japan resolved to strengthen cooperation in tourism sector at a meeting between the visiting Japanese Senior Vice-Minister of Tourism, Hiroshi Kajiyama and Union Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi in New Delhi recently. It was also decided that both the countries will identify areas for working together and explore new opportunities in tourism sector especially in the field of human resource development, exchange of tour operators, investment

in the tourism sector and exchange of information related to tourism sector. The possibility of signing a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between both the countries was also discussed. Japan is one of the top ten tourist generating markets for India

as for as inbound tourism is concerned and there is a strong interest of Japanese

tourists in places connected with Buddhism in India.

Makemytrip Launches Route Planner MSI Newswire | New Delhi

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akeMyTrip’s newly launched mobile application Route Planner is becoming a blessing for Indian travellers as it integrates availability of services like flights, buses, trains and cabs to display the exact connectivity options between any two places in India. It allows users to view multiple routes for the same origin-destination pair. Amit Somani, Chief Products Officer, MakeMyTrip.com, said, “MakeMyTrip is committed to using technology and innovation to empower travellers. We are delighted to introduce RoutePlanner in India. The application combines our strong product portfolio and technology expertise to integrate travel search and simplify the

travel planning experience. Its remarkably simple user interface that is powered by the Route Rank algorithm designed in-house makes RoutePlanner very easy to use.” RoutePlanner enables trip-planning between any two destinations in India by

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013

combining multiple modes of transportation across 4,300 cities, 2,300 flight routes, 65,000 bus routes, 970,000 train routes and an extensive road network. Each route is ranked by an algorithm called RouteRank, which ranks the routes basis convenience, duration of travel and price.

Once a route is selected, RoutePlanner displays the best transport combinations to the specific flight number, train name or bus operator with approximate fares. The tool also gives user the option to receive results in a portable document format (.pdf) along with the pricing details for flights and trains.

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NEWSLINE

Outstanding Performance by Australian Tourism MSI Newswire | Australia

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ourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said that to achieve 6.1m international arrivals and annual growth of 4.6% was a very creditable performance, against the backdrop of a fiercely competitive global tourism marketplace, a persistently high dollar and economic stagnation in a number of Australia’s key traditional source markets. “In many ways, 2012 was a year of transition for our industry, as we continue to adapt to the Asian Century and the enormous opportunities provided by the region’s fast emerging and increasingly mobile middle classes. “This year China leapfrogged the UK as our second largest source market of international visitors, with more than 625,000 arrivals.

But it’s not all about China, and that’s a message the industry needs to bear in mind as we move into 2013. China is undoubtedly a key engine room of growth - up 16% in 2012, on the back of similar double digit growth in 2011 and 2010. “But, what’s remarkable about the 2012 arrivals figures is the fact that eight of our top ten inbound international markets now originate from within the Asian Pacific Rim. We mustn’t underestimate the importance of these other Asian markets, like India, Malaysia, Singapore and, in time, Vietnam. “And there are strong growth opportunities beyond Asia too - South America being an obvious example. “Nor should we forget our traditional western markets. After a few difficult years, the US market is showing signs of recovery, up 4% in

2012. We’ve now seen growth at these levels since the hey days of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. We’re also seeing a similarly positive bounceback out of Japan, another important market for us. “Difficult economies have dampened performance out of the UK and Western Europe, but as their economies recover I think you’ll start to see the Europeans return in better numbers. And we have two

great kickers this year, with the British and Irish Lions tour starting in June and an Ashes tour on the horizon. “Tourism Australia will retain this balanced portfolio approach to our international marketing in 2013 and beyond, an approach which I believe is the right one if we are to achieve our Tourism 2020 goal of doubling overnight tourism to up to A$140b by the end of the decade,” he said.

Global Spa & Wellness Summit Shifts Venue MSI Newswire | New Delhi

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eviating from its earlier plan, the Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) has announced that its 2013 Summit will now be held in New Delhi, India, from October 5-7, 2013. Earlier the venue was fixed at Jaipur but it was changed to accommodate the schedules of several high-profile speakers. The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) will be the Titanium partner for the Summit.

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“We are happy that an Indian city has been selected as the location for the 2013 Global Spa & Wellness Summit and look forward to sharing India’s rich and diverse wellness offerings with delegates and media persons from all corners of the world,” said Dr K Chiranjeevi, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Tourism, Government of India. “The GSWS is a major force behind innovative and healthy growth in the spa/wellness industry, and we think that

India, with its ancient history of wellness, is the perfect location for global leaders to gather,” he added. The GSWS also confirmed that the Summit will take place at The Oberoi, Gurgaon. A visit to Jaipur will be available to delegates as a post-Summit option.

The annual Summit attracts top industry executives and media from around the world and is recognised as the pre-eminent gathering dedicated to bringing together industry leaders in a collaborative setting. The theme of this year’s Summit is ‘A Defining Moment’.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


NEWSLINE

MoU for Ecotourism Projects in Vidarbha MSI Newswire | Mumbai

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n a bid to bring more development to the backward Vidarbha region, the Maharashtra government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) worth Rs 37.38 crore which will be utilized for development and promotion of Ecotourism projects in the region. According to Maharashtra Public Works and Chhagan Bhujbal, Minister for Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, the agreement with the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) and Forest Development Corporation was signed in October last year under the Centre’s

‘Mega Circuit’ programme. Speaking to reporters at Moharli, near the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) recently, the minister said that central government has already released half of the proposed amount for the projects which is being utilised to build tents, nature trails and ‘machaans’ for tourists visiting forest areas under Nagpur, Bhandara, Gondia, Amaravati and Chandrapur districts in the region. Also, the existing MTDC resorts at Moharli, with 12 double-bed AC rooms and three non-AC double bed

rooms would be upgraded with 18 additional AC rooms for convenience of tourists with a total availability of 33 rooms by December 2013 at a cost of Rs 4.07 crores, he said. Bhujbal also said that booking for entry into TATR would be made online in the near future to facilitate tourists. The government also plans to encourage local villagers around TATR to provide ‘Bed and Breakfast’ arrangements to visitors interested in acquainting themselves with

local culture and jungle stay in a natural manner. The minister informed that the construction of four-lane road between Warora and Bamni would be complete by 2014 to provide a boost to tourism in the area.

Marriott International Makes its Entry into Bangalore MSI Newswire | Bangalore

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arriott International Inc., recently launched its signature Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand called Bengaluru Marriott Hotel ,Whitefield which marks its entry into the Bangalore market. Speaking at the launch of the property, Rajeev Menon, Area Vice PresidentIndian Subcontinent, Maldives & Australia Marriott International Inc ,said, “Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield is an exciting addition to the portfolio of Marriott Hotels & Resorts, the iconic, flagship brand of Marriott International. As India’s fifth and Bangalore’s first, this property embodies the brand philosophy of inspiring and energizing the performance of its patrons. The tremendous potential

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for business and hospitality growth in this city made it an obvious choice for us to introduce our signature brand. Adding to this, a heritage of rich culture and tradition well balanced with modernity blends with our brand vision. We foresee this property growing to be the next community center of Whitefield.” Designed as a premier up market hotel, Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield stands tall amidst the top Fortune 500 companies in Whitefield’s IT hub. Located in beautifully landscaped surroundings, the hotel offers its guests 324 spacious and elegantly designed rooms which include 16 junior suites and one plush presidential suite. Coupled with state-ofthe-art facilities and services, these rooms provide an elevated standard of design

and décor that reflects real comfort and style. The hotel has been conceptualized to meet the varied tastes of travellers, business and leisure alike. With over 10000 sq. ft. of efficient meeting space,

equipped with the latest technology and amenities, the hotel provides an ideal destination for business travellers. Guests can choose to use the efficiently designed executive lounge on the 14th floor for business purposes or relaxation. ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


NEWSLINE

An Ice Show Beyond Imagination at Amby Valley City ace and beauty beyond all imagination, a feast for the senses, Cirque de Glace is finally here! The internationally acclaimed UK – United Kingdom’s Broadway productions, ‘Cirque de Glace’ and ‘Snow White on Ice’ are all set to perform exclusively at Aamby Valley City. The performances include a team of more than 20 Russian Ice Stars who will present an astonishing display of physical prowess coupled with grace and beauty on ice for a period of two months at independent India’s first planned Hill City.

Combining dazzling ice dance from the internationally renowned Russian Ice Stars with the world of cirque, made famous by Cirque du Soleil, Cirque de Glace is truly a magical spectacle. Evolution promises a thrilling, breathtaking experience filled with music, colour, incredible costumes and jaw-dropping acrobatics to give an evening of pure entertainment that’s out of this world. In this glorious performance the brilliant Russian Ice Stars combine with the magical world of cirque in an eclectic mix of spectacle and ice dance that is guaranteed to dazzle, thrill and entertain all ages.

Cirque de Glace is a magnificent vision on ice that brings to life the story of the creation of our planet, man’s evolution and a journey to the limits of technology as a stunning ice spectacular.

With Snow White on Ice the world famous Russian Ice Stars will take you on a magical journey to the heart of the best-loved fairy-tale of all time. The original story of an enchanted mirror, a

MSI Newswire | Mumbai

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beautiful girl, the ultimate Prince Charming and a shiny red apple comes to life on ice, with ballet, gymnastics and aerial aerobatics to create a breath taking and mesmerizing experience. Aamby Valley City is being developed as an integrated Hill City spread over an area of 10,600 acres (4,294 hectares). It is positioned as a premium, self-contained city addressing the various socio-physical infrastructure requirements like school, hospital, captive utilities (power, water, telecommunications etc.), shopping facilities, and recreational areas. The project envisages development of a gated community of high end villas, condominiums, an airport, an international school, a hospital, a 18 hole championship golf course, a town plaza, a community

centre, hospitality services like hotel and resorts and a business district. Apart from this the City boasts of a well planned professional security systems, IT & Communication network, a well designed and modern Water treatment and Solid Waste & Sewerage Treatment Systems & Networks and a State of the Art Water treatment Plant. Aamby Valley City is located at a distance of 120 km from Mumbai, 90 km from Pune and lies 25 km off the town of Lonavala on the Mumbai Pune Expressway. Aamby Valley City is associated with: High Quality Living (Comfort, Convenience, Wellbeing and Leisure), Luxury and Spacious Homes, High Quality Recreational and Leisure facilities, Exclusivity, Social Status, Comprehensive and Well developed and maintained physical infrastructure, social infrastructure and support. Aamby Valley is conceived and executed to the scale and magnitude of the current day in order to provide a well differentiated and unique positioning of an “Exclusive Premium Gated City” and not being limited to a conventional real estate project. The luxurious quality and style of Aamby Valley life have redefined City living. This paradigm shift in lifestyle has been very well accepted and has also become the new benchmark. We are fully committed in making Aamby Valley to be one of the Top Five destinations of the World.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013

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NEWSLINE

Srilanka – The Emerging Wonder of Asia MSI Newswire | Sri Lanka

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ri Lanka Tourism, under the guidance of the Minister of Economic Development, Hon.Basil Rajapaksa, launched a five year strategic development plan for the sector, from 2011-2016, based on the Mahinda Chintana -Vision for the Future - Development Policy Framework. This strategic development plan of Sri Lanka Tourism will achieve its core objectives of serving the needs of all stakeholders and ensuring the economic benefits of the industry expanded within a larger cross section of the society from fisherman, craftsman, farmer, street vendor, tour guide and tour operator, and the hotel industry. With the visionary leadership of H.E. the President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the guidance of Hon. Minister Basil Rajapaksa, the tourism industry is poised for growth being in line with the national effort of making Sri Lanka, the emerging Wonder of Asia. The Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Development Dr. P. B. Jayasundera has played a

crucial role in the process of this Three Day Join Promotion Campaign. The Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Mr. Bhashwara Gunarathna’s and the Managing Director of SLTPB Mr. Rumy Jauffer’s active participation in organizing this activity has also contributed immensely to make this campaign successful. Sri Lanka Tourism,under the Ministry of Economic Development, has organized this event in partnership with state associate partners such as Export Development Board, Sri Lankan Airlines,Sri Lanka Cricket,Sri Lanka Tea Board, National Gem and Jewellery Authority, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, Sri Lanka Handy Craft Board(Laksala), and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. Taj Hotels and Palaces, Sri Dalada Maligawa, Kandy, Tourists Hotel Association of Sri Lanka(THASL), Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET) to taste the extraordinary difference – Edna Group, Crowning Success - Ceylon Biscuits

Limited, Avirate, World class table ware- Dankotuwa porcelain, The hall mark of Luxury Ayurveda-Spa Ceylon, Your Ultimate Choice in Tableware - Noritake, Sri Lanka’s fashion statement Prasanna Bathik, Welcome to a new world of tea - Dilmah Tea, The Finest Ayurveda Resort& spa - Siddhalepa, the vide variety of jewellery for your needs - Stone & String, premier international airline- Jet Airways, The best of Woven - Divulapitiya Handlooms, join as the associated partners for this joint promotion campaign. Sri Lanka High Commissioner to India H.E Prasad Kariyawasam and Dr. K. Sudakar Honorary Consulin Bangalore have also assisted in organizing this joint promotion campaign in India.

stood at 14.21 million. Sri Lanka welcomed 186,525 Indian tourists in 2012; the biggest number arrived from a single country. SLTPB is also expecting to attract 400,000 Indian tourists by the year 2016, thus helping to reach Sri Lanka’s goal of 2.5 million visitors by the year 2016.

SLTPB believes that the upcoming city based campaign series in India will help the country to capture a slice out of the vastly growing outbound travelers of India. According to the UNWTO, Indian outbound tourists will rise to 50 million by 2020, while in 2011 this number

Nearly 100 flights (Sri Lankan airlines, Jet airways, Indian airlines) travel between India and Sri Lanka per week. Sri Lankan Airlines operates in eight Indian cities, giving easy connectivity between the two countries.

Sri Lanka makes an ideal destination for Indian travelers due to factors such as close proximity between the two countries, Sri Lanka’s diverse tourist attractions such as, pristine beaches, Shopping, Adventure, Food, Nature, Casinos, Night Life and many more.

Hilton Worldwide Opens Second Hilton Garden Inn Hotel in India MSI Newswire | Mumbai

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ilton Worldwide opened its second Hilton Garden Inn property in India - Hilton Garden Inn Gurgaon Baani Square, recently. With this opening, Hilton Worldwide now manages seven hotels in Delhi-NCR. Operated by Hilton Worldwide and owned by the Baani Group, the 201-room property is strategically located near the prime corporate, commercial

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and residential districts, including Infocity, Unitech Cyber Park, Sohna Road and Nirvana. “We are delighted to open the second Hilton Garden Inn hotel in India,” said Martin Rinck, President, Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide. “While we are exploring opportunities across all segments, for which we are well positioned with the six brands we are developing in the country, we are placing significant emphasis on the

expansion of our midmarket and focused-service brands, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton, to accommodate the exponentially growing demand for midpriced hotel rooms in the country,” he added. The hotel features the brand’s signature offerings that include complimentary

internet access; 24hour complimentary business centre facilities; complimentary remote printing service from the guestroom to the business centre, among others.

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COLUMN

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he more I visit the lesser known places of interest (‘lesser known places of interest’ and not ‘ places of lesser interest’!), the stronger I am convinced that the development of tourism in our country is lying in these places.

V Duraikkannan

Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh is the most highly visited place in India, followed by Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh. Day in and day out, pilgrims throng the shrine of Lord Venkateswara or Balaji as the deity is popularly known atop the seven hills in great multitude and the crowd sometimes goes beyond even a lakh in a single day. But hardly 5% of this crowd visits or is even aware of an equally great temple that is at the foothills of the great pilgrim city - just about 12 kms away from the point known as Alipiri, west of Tirupathi ( ‘Alipiri’ is basically the concoction of two Tamil words ‘Adi’ + ‘Padi’ meaning the base or the first step, signifying the start-up point for the climb atop ). Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami temple situated at Srinivasa Mangapuram is an equally impressive one. According to legend, Lord Venkateswara stayed here after his marriage with Sri Padmavathi Devi, before proceeding to Tirumala. The belief is that whoever visits and prays to the deity Govindaraja Perumal here will get married soon and I myself had found this to be true. Way back in year 2000, I took a team of about fifteen people ( staff members of Jet Airways ) to this temple and there barring three of us, rest all were single including a person who was partly visually challenged

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who was convinced that he would never get married for his shortcoming. Two of the girls had been through unsuccessful alliances (matchmaking). But believe you me, every one of them got married in the next three months’ time following the visit to the temple! The same way, temples for the Saturn are very few and far between in our country. The two best known temples of the Planet God , Saturn in the country are Shani Shingnapur in Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra and Thirunallaru near Karaikal in the Union Territory of Pondicherry. Pondicherry by itself is very exotic in its make-up in the sense that it is a union territory with its territory in three other different states of India. It has Mahé in Kerala (locally called ‘ Mayyazhi’), Yanam in Andhra Pradesh, and Karaikal in Tamilnadu! Shani Shingnapur is also famous for the fact that no house in the village has doors, but only door frames. There is no locking of the house anywhere in the village. The villagers firmly believe that the deity stands guard for them all through the day and the night and that they have nothing to worry about by way of theft or robbery. So much so, even the UCO Bank

( United Commercial Bank) which opened its branch there for the first time in 2001 reportedly let it to be ‘lockless’! Thirunallaru is the place where the ancient King Nala was delivered from the bad effects of Shani ( Saturn) .The place name evolves from the very legend : Nala ( the King ) + Aru ( Tamil for ‘heal’) > Nalaru > Nallaru > Thirunallaru( and Thiru is a respectful epithet for a holy place . an equivalent of Sanskrit’s ‘ Shri’). Most of the people who have been to both these places would not know about Kuchanur, a small town in Theni district of Tamilnadu with a population of under 10,000 . ‘Kubjan’ is one of the names for Saturn and Kubjan’s Place ( Kubjan+Ur) became Kuchanur. The temple for the Saturn there is a very ancient one and worth visiting. The tourism development in India is lopsided. Ten of India’s twenty eight states account for 88% of the country’s domestic tourism business (Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Gujarat) which means the remaining eighteen states are not inviting enough

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COLUMN from their book.

of our own compatriots. A country like Singapore is getting more number of tourists than its own population. Tourism in Singapore

We propound that the tourism industry of India is based on certain core nationalistic ideals and standards which can be called Seven Sigma (7S) :’ Swaagat’ or welcome, ‘Sahyog’ or cooperation, ‘Soochanaa’ or information, ‘Sanrachanaa’ or infrastructure, ‘Suvidha’ or facilitation, ‘Safaai’ or cleanliness and ‘Surakshaa’ or security. But it is anybody’s guess how much we have arrived on our avowed goals. Among all the seven core points, I would rate that ‘Soochanaa’ (Information) is is a major industry and the worst hit and it is time contributor to the Singaporean for us to do some serious economy, attracting 11,638,663 thinking! tourists in 2010, over twice As regards ‘Soochanaa’ Singapore’s total population from the other side of the and we need to take a leaf fence, I always think of my

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industrialist friend who had an elaborate tour of Italy and Rome and Florence in specific. He was swept off the floor on seeing the art museum in Florence, ‘ the Uffizi Gallery’ in all its gorgeousness, so much so he named his new and trendy looking corporate office back in India after it as ‘Uffizi’. The Uffizi stands very proud in his place but when I shared the story behind the name, his enthusiasm took a nosedive! ‘Uffizi’ was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 to accommodate the offices of the Florentine magistrates and the name ‘Uffizi’ is just Italian for ‘Offices’! A very plain vanilla name for one of the most aspiring works of architecture in his town indeed!

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NEWSLINE

ICTT 2013 - Kerala to Lead The Country in Promoting Tourism through Social Media MSI Newswire | Thiruvananthapuram

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ssociation of Tourism trade Organisations India (ATTOI), Tour Operators Association has taken a lead role in making the stake holders of the tourism industry to get equipped with the new marketing opportunities available in the internet. More than 50% of the tourism activities are now happening on the web space and the way forward is social media optimisation. This learning by the tour operators in Kerala have paved the way for International Conference On Travel Technology India 2013 to be held at The Leela Hotel, Kovalam from 07th to 09th June 2013. Eminent speakers with diverse backgrounds will

attend the sessions. Talks on various core topics in tourism will be held as part of it. The conference aims at preparing the travel and tourism partners in India and neighboring countries to use the resources available online to drive business, get inputs in adapting to the changing technology and acquiring skills to beat the competition. Selina Power, a social media specialist and social media commentator from Australia will speak on the topics ‘How travellers use

social media and how travel business need to respond?’ and ‘Social media’s relevance and its impact on consumer behaviour.’ Australian social media speaker Adam Franklin will speak on ‘Inbound marketing the cost-effective way of marketing’ and ‘Blogging - an inexpensive medium to generate leads and add value to your websites.’ On the topics ‘Online reputation management - art of listening and responding’ and ‘Changing technology

and marketing trends for the future in tourism,’ Sheila Scarborough, writer and speaker from the US, will speak. Chad Wiebesick from the US will delve upon ‘Social media - opportunities and challenges in tourism marketing’ and ‘Organic search or PPC or both what’s the way out?’ Social networking entrepreneur Philip Calvert from the UK will deal with the topic ‘How to leverage your networking on LinkedIn: Powerful and proven strategies for travel professionals.’

MP First State to Fully Utilise Plan Funds MSI Newswire | Madhya Pradesh

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adhya Pradesh (MP) has achieved the rare honour of becoming the first state in India to fully utilise plan funds released to them by the Ministry of Tourism for the development of tourism infrastructure at various tourist sites in the state. Dr K Chiranjeevi, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Tourism, praised the State Government for this achievement at a recent meeting in New Delhi to prioritise projects pertaining to the development of tourism in MP for the year 2013-14. Dr Chiranjeevi commended the efforts of the State Tourism Department

for timely implementation of projects and utilisation of funds released to them under the 11th Five Year Plan (up to 2010-11). MP is thus the first state to have submitted all utilisation and completion certificates and has achieved ‘zero pendency’ of Government of India funds lying with them, thus fully complying with the directions issued by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India on the utilisation of funds. MP has utilised all the funds released for the development of tourist destinations such as Mandu, Vidisha, Shivpuri, Burhanpur, Maheshwar, Datia, Indra Sagar, Mandasaur, Handia, Betul

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and Chitrakoot. Tourism development at these sites has increased footfall and the sites are becoming popular with domestic and foreign tourists. The State Government has now come up with plans to develop more

destinations with potential to attract tourists to sites such as Bhopal, Indore, Nagod-Maihar, Noorabad, Nemawar, and Vindhya Phase II. These destinations will be taken up for the integrated development of tourism infrastructure from 2013-14 onwards. 55


Tamilnadu Traveller

World Heritage Sites in Tamilnadu DR. S Bakthavatchalam takes us through the culturally and historically important sites in Tamilnadu which are included in the UNESCO world heritage list 56

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or those interested in exploring Tamilnadu the UNESCO heritage sites will be a delight and a different kind of experience.

World Heritage status is usually granted by UNESCO to sites of special physical or cultural significance. Of the 911 sites listed across the

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Tamilnadu Traveller the Brihadisvara Temple as a World Heritage Site in the year 1987; the Temple of Gangaikonda cholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram had been included as extensions to the Great Living Chola Temples World Heritage Site in 2004. These Great Temples had been built during the Chola rule in South India. These temples demonstrate the tremendous power, wealth, imperial domain, and religious commitment of the Chola Dynasity in the cities of Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram. The Great Chola Temples of southern India are an exceptional testimony to the development of the architecture and the ideology of the Chola Empire and the Tamil civilization in southern India. They represent an outstanding creative achievement in the architectural conception of the pure form of the Dravida type of temple (characterized by a pyramidal tower).

The Brihadisvara’s income in gold, silver and precious stones during the Chola period has been precisely evaluated. These vast resources were efficiently managed and provided not only for the upkeep and improvement of the buildings (which was continued until the 17th century) but also for real investments to be made. The temple lent money, at rates which could sometimes reach 30%, to shipowners, village assemblies and craft guilds. Dedicated to Shiva, the Brihadisvara stands to the south-west of the historic city. A first rectangular surrounding wall, 270 m by 140 m, marks the outer boundary.

This is dominated on the east side by a 30 m high entrance gateway (gopuram). A second wall, with its entrance in line with the first and crowned with a smaller gopuram decorated with two dvarapala (gatekeepers), surrounds a colonnaded inner courtyard. The temple itself, built from granite The Cholas were the blocks and, in part, of bricks, second great historic dynasty is oriented east-west like the of the Tamil Nadu, the Tamil courtyard. The layout takes its country, which was the home inspiration from the Pallava of the ancient Dravidian tradition, and especially from culture whose influence was the layout of the Shore Temple so considerable in the whole in Mahabalipuram. There of south-east Asia. The great is a succession of halls and temple of Tanjore was built in vestibules (mukta-mandapa, a few years, from 1003 to 1010, maha-mandapa, ardhaduring the reign of the great mandapa) leading to the king Rajaraja (985-1014), true shrine, which is crowned with founder of the Chola Empire a 13-storey pyramidal tower. which spread throughout the This vimana, which is 60.95 whole of southern India, part m high and, in turn, crowned has recently made it to the list. of Ceylon and the Maldive world, India has 29, of which with a bulb-shaped monolith and Laccadive archipelagos. merely five are in the South. In weighing an estimated 70 Great Living Chola Richly endowed by the Tamil Nadu, Mahabalipuram, tonnes, is rightly considered Temples sovereign, the sanctuary, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway to be one of the architectural which also bears his name The temples at Thanjavur and three of the major Chola masterpieces of India. The - it is sometimes called (Brahatheeswara Temple), temples – Brahatheeswara, intricately carved decorations Rajarajesvaram - had a Gangaikondacholapuram and the Temple of Gangaikonda covering the outer walls of permanent staff of several Darasuram – are the only sites Cholesvaram and the the temple are continued hundred priests, 400 devadasi Airavatesvara Temple at which enjoy World Heritage inside by the well known (sacred dancers), and 57 Darasuram are designated status. The State, along with representations of the 108 musicians, according to as Great Living Chola Kerala and Karnataka, also poses of the Bharata-Natyam, inscriptions and chronicles. Temples. UNESCO selected has the Western Ghats that the classical Indian dance,

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Tamilnadu Traveller

is known especially for its rathas (temples in the form The iconographic of chariots), mandapas (cave programme, inspired by Shiva sanctuaries), giant open-air mythology, also consists reliefs such as the famous of a series of murals from ‘Descent of the Ganges’, and the Chola period which the temple of Rivage, with decorate the corridor around thousands of sculptures to the the shrine. The famous glory of Shiva. series depicting Rajaraja in Mahabalipuram is preconversation with his guru, eminently testimony to the Karuvur Devar, gives a good Pallavas civilization of southidea of the graphic quality, east India.The sanctuary, the delicacy of the colours, known especially for its the expressiveness of the rathas (temples in the form characters which make this of chariots), mandapas (cave sequence one of the great sanctuaries), and giant openmasterpieces of Chola art. Inside the inner courtyard, the air reliefs, is one of the major centres of the cult of Siva. The Nandi-mandapa, a pavilion influence of the sculptures of which houses the colossal Mahabalipuram, characterized statue of Nandi, the bull mounted by Shiva (vahana), is of very great interest. The temple of Devi, built in the 13th century by the Pandya king Konerinmaikondan, the temple of Subrahmanya, built and covered with carvings in the 17th century by a Nayak king of Madurai, together with additional temples and chapels of a later date (temple of Ganesh, mandapa of Nataraja) complete this remarkable religious architectural group mimed by Shiva in person.

Most of the monuments, like the rock-cut rathas, sculptured scenes on open rocks like Arjuna’s penance, the caves of Govardhanadhari Founded in the 7th century and Ahishasuramardini, by the Pallavas sovereigns and the Jala-Sayana Perumal south of Madras, the harbour temple (the sleeping of Mahabalipuram traded Mahavishnu or Chakrin at the with the distant kingdoms rear part of the Shore temple of South-East Asia: Kambuja complex) are attributed to the (Cambodia) and Shrivijaya period of Narasimhavarman I (Malaysia, Sumatra, Java) Mamalla. and with the empire of The monuments may Champa (Annam). But the be subdivided into five fame of its role as a harbour categories: has been transferred to its rock sanctuaries and Ratha temples in the form Brahmin temples which were of processional chariots, constructed or decorated at monolithic constructions cut Mahabalipuram between 630 into the residual blocks of and 728. by the softness and supple mass of their modelling, spread widely (Cambodia, Annam, Java).

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram This group of sanctuaries, founded by the Pallava kings, was carved out of rock along the Coromandel coast in the 7th and 8th centuries. It

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Tamilnadu Traveller diorite which emerge from the sand. The five ratha of the south, which are the most famous, date to the reign of Naharasimhavarman Mamalla (630-68), the great Pallavas king (the Cholas texts, moreover, call the city Mamallapuram). Mandapa, or rock sanctuaries modelled as rooms covered with bas-reliefs (the mandapa of Varaha, representing the acts of this avatar of Vishnu; the mandapa of the Five Pandavas and, especially, the mandapa of Krishna and the mandapa of Mahishasuramardini). Rock reliefs in the open air illustrate a popular episode in the iconography of Siva, that of the Descent of the Ganges. The wise King Baghirata having begged him to do so, Siva ordered the Ganges to descend to Earth and to nourish the world. The sculptors used the natural fissure dividing the cliff to suggest this cosmic event to which a swarming crowd of gods, goddesses, mythical beings (Kinnara, Gandherya, Apsara, Gana, Naga and Nagini), wild and domestic animals bear witness. Temples built from cut stone, like the Temple of Rivage, which was constructed under King Rajasimha Narasimavarmn II (695-722), with its highstepped pyramidal tower and thousands of sculptures

dedicated to the glory of Siva. Monolithic rathas, from single- to triplestoreyed, display a variety of architectural forms, while the Dharmaraja, Arjuna and Draupadi rathas are square in plan, the Bhima and Ganesa rathas rectangular, and the Sahadeva ratha apsidal. Structural architecture was introduced on a grand scale by Pallava Rajasimha (700-28), culminating in the erection of the Shore Temple. Another piece of architectural beauty is the Shore temple, standing against the background of the deep blue waters of the ocean. It belongs to a period when the constructional style of the Pallavas was at its peak

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in its decorative beauty and intrinsic quality. This building has become eroded by the corrosive action of seawater and air and the sculptures have become indistinct.

connects Mettupalayam to Udagamandalam in Tamil Nadu State. The railway can be divided into three sections:

Some 7 km, from Mettupalaiyam to Kallar The Nilgiri Mountain (elevation 405 m), across the Railway central plain of Tamil Nadu, with its betel-nut palm and The construction of the other plantations. Maximum Nilgiri Mountain Railway, speed is 30 km/h called the a 46-km long metre-gauge Blue Mountain Express, the single-track railway in Tamil Nadu State was first proposed name of which was changed recently to the native Nilgiri in 1854, but due to the difficulty of the mountainous Express. location the work only started The rack section of the in 1891 and was completed line, from Kallar to Coonoor in 1908. This railway, scaling (elevation 1,712 m). There are an elevation of 326 m to 208 curves and 13 tunnels, and 2,203 m, represented the 27 viaducts. The Kallar Bridge latest technology of the time. over the River Bhawani, the The Kalka Shimla Railway, Adderley Viaduct and the a 96-km long, single track Burliar Bridge are examples of working rail link built in the such composite bridges. Here, mid-19th century to provide a the railway climbs through service to the highland town almost uninhabited, tropical of Shimla is emblematic of jungle. the technical and material efforts to disenclave mountain A stretch of 18 km runs populations through the through a landscape with railway. All three railways are dominant eucalyptus and still fully operational. acacia forest. The railway continues to climb across The Nilgiri Mountain the Nilgiris until it reaches Railway consists of the summit, just before the 45.88 km of a 1 m gauge terminus of Udagamandalam single-track, partly rackat 2,203 m. and-pinion railway that

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Hospitality

The Treehouse Blue: Creating Perfect Holidays for Your Family

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he brand new Treehouse Blue-located a fleeting distance from the picturesque Majorda beach in South Goa brings alive the spirit of Sossegado with a unique hospitality experience. The complex offers a set of beautifully furnished service apartments combined with fabulous facilities to give you a relaxing holiday with friends and family.

The Treehouse Blue encourages loads of family fun beginning with cycles you can take out for long trips around the beach, an in-house pool for adults as well as a kid pool for the little ones. With lots of games and recreational activities available, The Treehouse Blue brings back the fun into family vacation time. For long and extended holidays, it proves to be the best option for travellers. Catch a spot of Goa life, with Treehouse Blue allows the beach just a swindle away, you to enjoy the privacy and as well indulge in some great flexibility of an apartment Goan cuisine at the nearby stay in South Goa, with all Martin’s Corner, Zeebop and the facilities of a hotel. This Pentagon. You also have the great destination has 24 plush option to rustle up your own service apartments comprising delicacies in the kitchen, or of six studio apartments and just book the in house chef to pamper you with a spot of 18 one bedroom apartments, all of which come with living local cuisine. The facility has a well furnished tuck shop areas, kitchenettes, and which provides most of the balconies overlooking lush greenery and all the amenities necessities, and a masseur on call in case you need to needed for the business unwind after a long day on or leisure traveller. The the beach. modern and flexible facilities accompanied with homelike The facilities include Wiprivacy, make the guests feel Fi, LCD, full size Almirah, at home and yet have the king size bed, balconies with comfort of a hotel. furniture, Kitchenette with

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modular facilities including fridge and induction plate, electric chimney, cutlery and crockery, work table, luggage rack, electronic safe-box, personal air-con, and many more. The Treehouse Group is built on the philosophy of combining excellent locations with best in class hospitality and service. The Treehouse concept offers hospitality at a premium, within realistic budgets and is based on great value for money propositions which promise to never take the fun out of your holiday. In the words of Founding Partner and CEO, Jayant Singh, “Treehouse as the brand name suggests is a unique concept that centres on great hospitality, locations that offer a break from the madding crowds and unique concepts that will make you want to come back again and again. The Treehouse properties offer the best amenities at realistic budgets as well as a relaxed atmosphere which is perfect for both the business and leisure traveller.”

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


Test your knowledge contest 63 1. Where is Azadi Stadium? 2. Which country borders the most other countries? 3. What is the name of Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s official residence? 4. What was Amazon.com’s first name? 5. Who invented the strong box (for cash and valuables)? 6. Which is the biggest chocolate selling point in the world? 7. The lake’s Tibetan name is ‘Mapam Yumco’. Which one is that? 8. Which is the most visited country in the world? 9. Which is called the Internet Capital of the World? 10. What is ‘bacn’ as contrasted with spam?

Compiled by : DEEKAY

Send in your answers to info@mediastepsindia.com with TYKC 63 in the subject line. Answers should reach us before the 30th of this month. Answers to TYKC 62 1. Neil Papworth of UK 2. Boscobel, Jamaica (named after the novelist who had his Goldeneye Estate there) 3. Royal Mountain ( Mont - Mount + Real - Royal) 4. It means ‘Top of the Tent’ 5. At New Hampshire in USA 6. Australia 7. Orbital & Beltway 8. Italian for ‘ Wind’ ( to signify its speed) 9. Garlic 10. Fear of floods or flooding. WINNER OF TYKC 62

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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.

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ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013

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Profile

RAJ HOSPITALITY’S First Project in Kerala SGHR by Mandharaa (Spice Grove)

R

AJ Hospitality has entered into Kerala with its flagship hotel, a very cute boutique hotel at Thekkady called Spice Grove.

Hospitality to promote this hotel and it will surely be a great pleasure to come back to Kerala and meet all the old teams and friends.

Raj Hospitality will manage and market this property under its brand Mandharaa, and will be rebranded as Spice Grove by Mandharaa (SGHR).

Being this as the flag ship property of Raj Hospitality, this will always remain close to the heart and will give the best support from the operations to the quality management and also

We will build innovative branding ideas and Marketing strategies which will give a real boost to the destination.

branding & Marketing of the property. RAJ Hospitality Management has won two prestigious awards within these two years of operations. The awards are the Arch of Excellence Award by All India Achievers Conference and The Epicurus Award for the Best Hospitality Management Company.

RAJ Hospitality will work on the Quality commitments, setting up the highest standards, Training and development, Brand Value etc. It’s a real challenge an Inspiration for RAJ

&

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&

Chef Roberto Conrad, appointed as Executive Chef of Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort

Anders Olesen, appointed as Pastry Chef of Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), appointed Ms Daniela Wagner as PATA European Coordinator

Charlie Stewart Cox, appointed as General Manager, South Asia, Middle East and Africa of Cathay Pacific

Rajeev Babbar, appointed as Vice-President, Finance & Planning, of Premier Inn, South Asia

Aditya Shamsher Malla, appointed as Director of Sales and Marketing of Shangri-La’s-Eros Hotel

Prakash Chandran, appointed as General Manager of the Ramada, Chennai, Egmore

Anilkumar Kurukshethra, appointed as Executive Director of Technokraaft Info Systems Pvt. Ltd.

Thomas P Thomas, appointed as General Manager (Marketing) of Media Steps India

Lakshmi Menon, appointed as Executive Assistant to Editor of Asian Traveller

ASIAN TRAVELLER | FEBRUARY 2013


Asian Traveller February 2013  

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

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