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Dear Readers, Welcome to another edition of Go Now with the luxury section as a major highlight. We pick and choose the best from across the globe. From exploring Italy in a Ferrari to relishing the finest whiskeys from the Scottish highlands, we take you to luxury getaways at The Leela Palace Udaipur and The Oberoi Vanyavilas. The World Traveller section takes in the delightful aroma of coffees in Vienna and initiates you in ‘the art of doing nothing’ at Langkawi. In Hotelscapes, Le Meridien storms Coimbatore with its finesse, size and creativity; even as Suresh Kumar, CEO, Fortune Hotels, shares with us his future strategy for one of the fastest growing hotel brands. Destination India goes down south where we find that, more than 100-years after Ooty was discovered, it continues to enchant tourists with scenic views, wildlife reserves and boating; while Udaipur attracts people for its luxury quotient in colourful Rajasthan. In Tourism Connect, Dr Venu V., Joint Secretary, Culture, Government of India, takes us through the various connects that make Kerala the tourist hotspot it is, even as the WTTC deliberates on the employment potential of the tourism sector in India. This year saw a lot of discussion on the sector as an employment generator. We heard Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai talk big about the need to give a push to the sector that is expected to become one of the largest livelihood creators in India. The minister has been telling us every now and then that he has been

stressing upon the Prime Minister and the Planning Commission to lend the hospitality sector a helping hand to tap the potential that lies unexplored. From what the Minister tells us, 2012 will usher in a significant period for India’s tourism and hospitality sectors. It will be significant because India’s 12th Five Year Plan begins in 2012 (2012-17) and the Tourism Ministry has sought a Rs 600-crore package under it. With the Plan focusing on inclusive growth, the Tourism Ministry’s proposal should pass muster with flying colours simply because the tourism sector is said to generate the maximum jobs per capita. Such planning will also gel with the ambitious target that the Tourism Ministry has set for getting more foreign tourists. India currently has about 5 million foreign arrivals which the minister wants to double during the next five years. In other words, the 12th Five Year Plan should have enough teeth, and the Ministry enough endeavour, to ensure that this gigantic goal is met. We will know soon as the new financial year dawns upon us. You will be delighted to know that Go Now is up on the web at and we have also started a weekly newsletter that goes out every Monday with travel and hospitality offers from our partners that reaches out to over 1,00,000 corporates across the country.

readers write in Information Galore

Exploring Amritsar

I extend my heartiest gratitude to your team. The articles in the magazine give adequate information related to travel and tourism industry across the globe. I hope it would be more informative.

I could very well associate with the views in the article about the city of Amritsar. My knowledge of Amritsar is still limited to the Golden Temple, Wagah Border and Jallianwala Bagh. The article was pretty nice and it did give me new things to look for in case I make a trip to Amritsar once again.

Alok Mishra, Orissa

Brand Segmentation of Hotels With hotels mushrooming everywhere, one really wonders if there is so much demand. Further, there are so many subbrands within one brand of hotel. While that can be confusing, it only spoils the consumer for choice. Also, it brings in competition which leads to competitive pricing. The forum in the magazine last month made for an interesting read on the subject. Leena Mehta, Delhi

Satish Nair, Ahmedabad

Editor: Navin S Berry Senior Editor: Rahul Kumar Assistant Editors: Purva Bhatia Business Development: Sudhir Sood

Enchanting Bundi

Design: Ashok Saxena, Neelam Aswani

The article on Bundi was very interesting. I haven’t been there but have heard a lot about it. It appears to be a complete destination with everything from wildlife to history. The article was very informative and well written. I am heading there soon for sure!

Go Now is published and printed monthly by Navin Berry on behalf of Cross Section Publications Pvt. Ltd. and printed at Rakesh Press A-7, Naraina, Phase II, New Delhi and published from IIIrd Floor, Rajendra Bhawan, 210, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi - 110002. Tel: 91-11-43784444. Fax: 91-11-41001627, 41001628. E-mail: This issue of gonow contains 96 pages plus 4 pages cover

Anirudh Kapoor, Delhi

drop us a line Like something we wrote? Wondering how to get somewhere? Or been to a place you want to talk about? Write to us and let us know. Don’t have the words to describe a place? Don’t worry – send us your best travel pictures and we’ll let them speak for you. If your letter or photo is published, you will get a year’s subscription to gonow absolutely FREE! Send your letters and photographs to E-mail: Material not used will not be returned

December 2011 GO NOW



WORLD TRAVELLER 10 Culture: Sit back and enjoy the best musicals when in London. 12 Feature: Know about Vienna’s unique café culture. 16 Nightlife: Party hard in Singapore’s newly launched nightclubs – Avalon & Pangea. 22 Destination: Langkawi: An ideal retreat for doing nothing.

TOURISM CONNECT 26 City: Delhi as heritage city. 28 States: Jharkhand steps out to showcase its diversified product. 30 States: The Kerala Connect. 32 Cuisine: Basmati is the latest Brand Ambassador. 34 Concerns: WTTC India holds its annual conclave. 36 Heritage: PHDCCI conducts its first ever heritage tourism conclave.

DESTINATION INDIA 42 Destination: Ethnic Udaipur offers unparalleled luxury. 46 Destination: Discover the calm and cool Ooty. 50 Guest Column: Goa offers opportunities beyond leisure. 52 Hotel Check Out: Goa Marriott. 56 Hotel Check Out: Mary Budden Estate, Binsar.

On the

COVER The Leela Palace Udaipur. Pix: Manavi Siddhanti

LUXURY TRAVEL 62 Feature: Introducing Lufthansa’s upgraded first class cabin in India. 64 Retreat: Exemplifying opulence: The Leela Palace Udaipur. 68 Luxury Spirits: Savor Glenfarclas, the newest flavor in single malts. 70 Destination: Explore Italy in a Ferrari. 72 Destination: Oberoi’s Vanyavilas in Ranthambore is a luxury retreat. 76 Destination: Sample the Six Senses Con Dao Resort in Vietnam.

HOTELSCAPES 80 Brand Analysis: Fortune Hotels bets on full service strategy. 82 Guest Column: Pair Christmas cuisine with the right wine. 83 New Development: The Ascott Group brings serviced apartments to India. 86 Hotel Check Out: Royal Orchid, Gurgaon. 88 Hotel Check Out: Courtyard by Marriott, Ahmedabad. 90 Newsmaker: Le Meridien makes waves in Coimbatore. 96 Guest Column: The café culture in India is seeing a change. 2

GO NOW December 2011


December 2011 GO NOW



NOVEMBER 25, 2011 - 15TH JANUARY, 2012



he national Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival in Bruges presents its ninth edition this year. In a special thermal and cooled tent, an international team of professional ice sculptors has created dozens of impressive works of art, at a constant temperature of minus 5 degrees Celsius. The forklifts used to move the blocks run on gas. The burning of gas leaves no soot particles behind so that the ice is not discoloured by air pollution. Approximately 300 tons of crystal clear ice and 400 tons of fresh snow form the natural materials upon which the sculptors set to work. The gigantic ice blocks are up to 2 metres high. A single block weighs easily 2 tons and takes up to 4 weeks to complete. Ice sculptors once worked natural ice from Swedish Lapland, but now the artists realise their creations on high-quality, selfmade ice from West Flanders. Through a special technique in the freezing process, no 4

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air bubbles can form in the water tanks and we get solid, crystal clear blocks. In order to make the tremendous amounts of snow that the artists require, workmen grind ice very finely with a snow crusher. Snow sculptures are made using the same techniques as ice sculptures. The carvers place the snow, layer by layer, in large wooden moulds, and stamp it down firmly. After three days, the wooden moulds are dismantled and we have rock-hard giant snow

blocks as a result of this whole process. Then the actual sculpting or carving can begin. Although each carver has his or her own method, they all generally work from top to bottom. The rudimentary forms are made with chainsaws, grinding discs, and drills. They then utilise chisels, blades, and even sharpened shovels to create the details. In addition, pieces of the sculptures are often “welded� together. In this case, the artists use a pressing iron to melt the seams of the surfaces to be joined, thus achieving a smooth, polished surface. The seams are then placed against one another and the freezing cold does the rest of the job. For four long weeks, the best sculptors from China, Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Ukraine, The Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium work on their pieces. Email: Web:

December 2011 GO NOW



DECEMBER 1, 2011 - JANUARY 15, 2012



n its 5th edition, the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (GKSF) gets bigger and better. The festival, managed by the Government of Kerala,brings great offers and exciting prizes to provide an enthralling shopping experience. Major brands like the South Indian Bank, Malabar Gold, World Gold Council, JOSCO, Bhima Jewellers have entered into strategic alliance with GKSF 5. Shoppers can enjoy good discounts through scratchand-win coupons and also test their luck through daily and weekly lucky draws. Over the 45-day period, they would get their share from the 101 kg of gold on offer. This year, the festival will provide a 100 per cent VAT refund for consumers from outside the state who shop using their credit cards. 6

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There is a guaranteed prize for each purchase in the form of scratch ‘n’ win coupons and gift vouchers. The Department of Tourism, Kerala, has

designed the festival to give a ‘real shopping experience’ while awarding an opportunity to experience Kerala where visitors can connect with the state and explore its rich art,

crafts, culture, customs and architecture. The aim of the festival is to make Kerala an international shopping destination on the lines of Singapore and Dubai and thereby attract tourists in large numbers. There are three categories to register in the shopping festival: industrial members can come under any of the categories; one can become Gold Partner by paying Rs 25,000; Silver Partner by paying Rs 5,000 and becomes a member under the General category by paying Rs 1,000. The official closure of the festival is to be held in Malapuram on January 21, 2012. Artists from India and abroad will perform at the closing ceremony. For more information log on to







Special Lufthansa Fares for Mastercard Holders

On purchasing a Lufthansa ticket, MasterCard cardholders can now enjoy US$60 or the same amount equivalent in local currency off the best available rate. Available on all fare classes, all customers simply need to do is to register on to receive their promo code. The booking period is until 31 January 2012 whereas the travel period is from now to

14 May 2012. When purchasing Lufthansa tickets with MasterCard, US$25 or equivalent in local currency per transaction is contributed to HelpAlliance, an independent aid organization founded by Lufthansa employees to support humanitarian projects around the world.

Special Promotion by VisitBritain & British Airways Keeping in mind the holiday season, the airline, in partnership with the nation’s tourism board, VisitBritain, has launched a special promotion as part of their global campaign, “Great Britain, You’re Invited.” Special fares for flyers from India and the United Kingdom starting from INR 45,570 (inclusive of taxes) in World Traveller economy and from INR 1,34,326 (inclusive of taxes) in Club World are available for sale until November 30, 2011 and are valid for travel till 31 December, 2011. The airline is offering a free limited period upgrade offer that allows customers to travel one-way in the super luxurious First at the price of business class. The upgrade offer is valid from Bangalore to London on select Club World fares from 21 November 2011 till 31 December 2011 and for outbound travel from 21 November11 to 31 January 2012. For further information visit

Airbus Builds on Corporate Jet Activity

Green light for Berlin Brandenburg Airport

Rates Slash as Agoda Partners with Cebu Pacific Air, a leading hotel booking website announced a partnership with the Philippines' largest national flag carrier Cebu Pacific Air. Thanks to the partnership, CEB's customers can enjoy instant access to hotel deals in the airline's route destinations. Customers can search hotels directly through CEB's webpage, enjoying instant confirmation and savings of up to 75 per cent. Every booking also earns customers Rewards Points, which can be used to reduce the cost of future hotel stays. "We are very glad to be in partnership with as we bring exclusive travel 8


deals to our guests. Now CEB's guests not only get to enjoy our trademark low fares but also catch unbeatable deals for hotel accommodation easily and conveniently online," said Candice Iyog, CEB VP for Marketing and Distribution. Cebu Pacific Air operates flights from their Manila, Cebu, Clark, and Davao hubs to 34 domestic and 17 international routes, with major destinations including Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. CEB currently utilizes 10 Airbus A319, 18 Airbus A320 and 8 ATR-72 500 aircraft.

GO NOW December 2011

In a key ruling of 13 October in Germany, the Bundesverwaltungsgericht, has confirmed the operating hours of Berlin Brandenburg Airport in last instance. The new airport for Germany’s capital region will be Europe's most modern airport when it opens in June 2012. The court confirmed the planned night flight ban between midnight and 5:00, while upholding that regular scheduled flights can take place between 5:30 and 23:30. There will be no scheduled flights between 5:00 and 5:30 and between 23:30 and 24:00, however, early or late arriving and departing aircraft are allowed to use these 30 minute windows.

A growing customer and operator base has prompted Airbus to create a new business unit, Airbus Corporate Jets, to better respond to this part of its business. The Airbus Corporate Jets unit will bring together commercial, programme and support activities in a single in-house unit. It will also have a direct link to the company’s Airbus Corporate Jet Centre cabin-outfitting subsidiary, part of a worldwide network of approved completion centres. “Our corporate jet customers and operators already benefit from the features, reliability and support that we build into our modern airliner family, but we also recognise that they have different needs, and our more integrated Airbus Corporate Jets division will help us to address these even better and more responsively”, says Habib Fekih, President Airbus Corporate Jets. Airbus offers the world's most modern and comprehensive corporate jet family, ranging from the Airbus ACJ318 to the ACJ380, offering companies, individuals and governments the comfort they want in the size that they need. Airbus corporate jets are the only business jets flying on every continent, including Antarctica.


Duty Free Offers Perfumes ● Cosmetics ● Confectionery Liquor ● Tobacco ● Fashiono Discover India Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport Liquor: ● Buy 2 save $5 Ballantines (finest 100 cl) $ 18 ● Buy 2 get $ 10 ooff Glenmorangie (single malt scotch whisky 100 cl) – $ 70 ● Buy 2 save $ 6 Johnny Walker (Gold label reserve 75 cl) – $ 45 Chocolate: Buy 2 get one free MARS (mixed minis pouch – 500g) – $ 10 ● Buy any 2 get one free NESTLES: Minis Sharins bag 500 gm; Mini Mix sharins bag 520 gm; Smarties minis sharins bag 450 gm. - $ 14 Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Mumbai Liquor: On 2 CIROC bottles get a free martini glass New launches: ● Premium Vodka – Belvedere red – $46 (limited edition); Belvedere intense Unfiltered – $56 ● Single Malt Whiskey - Glenfiddich Madeira Cask Finish 19 YO - $ 136 Rajiv Gandhi International Airport Hyderabad Hyderabad Duty Free offers you the convenience of pre-booking your buys at departure and then collecting them at arrival, when you get a five percent off. ● ●

Celebrate New Year at “The Legian”, Bali Celebrate the new year amidst quietness, serenity, lavishness with The Legian, an all exclusive all suite luxury resort set in the landscaped tropical gardens offering unraveled view of the Indian Ocean. Flanked by a quiet beach, this deluxe property offers a unique chance to experience the magical island of Bali in a relaxed setting. Beautifully integrated with landscaped gardens and lotus ponds, The Legian boasts of its suites in an ample variety of exquisite accommodation styles. The cost of a package for a couple for two nights and three days is USD 1100 to 5800 USD without taxes. The rates are valid till December 31, 2011.

Steal a deal with Yatra to Hong Kong Travel portal “Steal a Deal” exclusive international holidays in Honk Kong and Macau. The Hong Kong Disneyland package is for 3 Nights/4 days for twin sharing at Rs. 71039 with a stay at Disneyland Hotel. The package is inclusive of 2 day admission Disney Park Ticket, Buffet breakfast served at Enchanted Garden Restaurant and two Rs 1000 International Flight coupons. The validity of the deal is till January, 2012 with 20% flat discount. Log on to

NYC calls visitors for New Year’s Eve Celebrations On December 31, approximately 1 million revelers, celebrating the start of the New Year, will fill New York City’s Times Square to enjoy performances by Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber and to watch the famous New Year’s Eve Ball descend from One Times Square. New Year’s Eve Wishing Wall: Located at the Times Square Visitor Center, the wall is quickly filling with visitors’ wishes for 2012. Everyone is welcome to stop by and record their wishes on pieces of paper. Individuals can also submit their wishes

online at Grand Army Plaza: New Year’s Eve celebrations in Brooklyn kick off around 11pm with entertainment and hot refreshments at

Grand Army Plaza and fireworks from midnight to 12:15am at the Long Meadow. The best viewing locations for the fireworks are within Grand Army

Plaza, along West Drive in Prospect Park, and along Prospect Park West between Grand Army Plaza and 9th Street. For more information, go to Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises: This New Year’s Eve party cruise includes an open bar, hors d’oeuvres, a DJ, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. The cruise sails from 10pm-1am (boarding at 9pm) and tickets are $140 (you must be 18 years old for the cruise and 21 to drink alcohol). For more information and to purchase tickets, visit For more information about New Year’s Eve events happening in New York City, visit compiled by MANAVI SIDDHANTI

December 2011 GO NOW



WORLD TRAVELLER CULTURE A scene from Wicked Witch of the West.

Coming up attractions Shrek the Musical: Book & Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, playing at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Crazy for You: Music and Lyrics by George and Ira Gershwinat, playing at Novello Theatre. Matilda the Musical: Music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, playing at Cambridge Theatre – West End.

where one gets what one is looking for, entertainment of both kinds, light and intellectual. Wicked runs at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.

The Phantom of The Opera

What’s on:For the Love of Musicals in


As London plays stage for the best theatre productions, Go Now shares some of the best musicals currently on the boards which woo globetrotters.


he city of London caters to anyone and everyone who loves drama and music without discrimination but with a variety that can leave one dizzy due to the abundance of options. From princes to paupers, London makes its theatrical riches available to one and all with anything in between 5 to 500 pounds in their pockets.

Wicked This musical is based on the acclaimed novel by Gregory Maguire that re-imagined the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of 10


GO NOW December 2011

Oz’, telling the untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two girls, who first meet as sorcery students and grow to fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West. For the next 145 minutes one dissolves into an invisible presence which is observing the life of a green girl called Elphaba whose friendship with Glinda, the golden girl leads to the creation of the wicked witch of the west who features as the villain of Wizard of Oz. The musical is a treat to the eyes, rich with music, elaborate settings and cinematography. Wicked is a roller coaster ride

From the world of witches where you come out perplexed about who is black and white, one jumps into the mortal world where appearances are everything. The Phantom of the Opera proves all this and more because of which it is the second-longest running musical in the history of West End where it made its debut in 1986 and runs successfully with packed houses till date. The spine chilling haunting musical love saga based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux about a disfigured phantom and a beautiful opera singer is simply brilliant. Another reason why this time tested, critic-proof musical draws more and more people everyday is its music composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber. The grandness of the show gives a very cinematic feel to it. The heart touching tragic love story features grand sets, vibrant costumes and great special effects making it a show not to be missed. You can catch The Phantom of Opera at Her Majesty’s theatre.

Billy Elliot The next stop from the world of passionate love for a person to where is exists for an art is unexpectedly pleasant. Billy falls in love with ballet and trades the profession his father wants for him, with his own dreams. Elton John’s music for this musical is one of its prime attractions though for anyone in love with lines, will witness art in its best form. By the time Billy Elliot, the musical concludes everyone in the audience will feel like swaying irrespective of whether they can dance or not because everything come to life with the dances, singing and acting. Billy Elliot is running at the Victoria Palace Theatre. by ROLI MAHAJAN IN LONDON

December 2011 GO NOW




A Viennese ‘Melange’ with a generous helping of cake on the side.

Coffee was never about standing in queues of retail coffee chains and waiting for your order in a spill free cup. Go Now travels to the Austrian capital to explore the elaborate culture of coffee houses where you’re not expected to exit after your order.

Unique Kaffeekulture of


t’s unfortunate that the word ‘café’ will forever add a French flavour to that most ubiquitous of urban, caffeine-injecting institutions. You may think, well, it’s just a word, what does it matter what we call it? But there is a distinction to be made between a café and a coffee house – they’re very different, you see, if not in appearance and function, then in atmosphere and customs. And the Viennese would be the first to point this out.

Tracing Back: the Origin of Kaffeehaus Known as a Kaffeehaus in German, the more 12


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than 200 coffee establishments in the Austrian capital are not merely about grinding and brewing beans, adding milk and sugar and away you go. There’s far more to coffee – an entire culture and lifestyle in fact – and it's one of the great pleasures of spending time in this beautiful, history-rich city. The Austrian writer Peter Altenberg described the Kaffeehaus as ‘not at home and yet not quite in the fresh air’, putting into words the sense that the coffee house exists in a unique state of limbo. And it's true, while many of today’s coffee houses are modern

and minimal, the older, more traditional ones do look and feel like you’ve wandered into someone’s living room from the late 1800s or early 1900s. Think plush armchairs, dark wood interiors, heavy curtains to keep out the winter chill, mood lighting and chandeliers.

Viennese Coffee Culture: Stay as Long as you Like Yet Viennese coffee culture expresses itself in more than just appearance, and both old and new coffee houses have one important characteristic in common: no matter who you are or where you are from, if you’ve ordered a drink, you’re welcome to stay for as long as you like. You’ll receive no disapproving looks or mutterings from the staff, nor will you be pestered and pressured you into vacating your table or purchasing that second drink. Rather you’re expected to sit back, browse the free newspapers – often from around the world – and relax as if you were at home. This easygoing, peaceful atmosphere has,

Yet apart from its creative clientele, the Kaffeehaus is also where you’ll encounter Vienna’s perhaps most quirky and unique inhabitant: ‘Herr Ober’, the waiter. Viennese waiters have a tendency to come off as rather moody when you first meet them, often seemingly ignoring you and then taking your order with apparent disinterest. “Be considerate if Herr Ober does not recognize you on your first visit,” writes Andreas Augustin, author of Das Cafe Central Treasury: The Secret of a Famous Coffee House. “The aloofness stems from the days when there was an average of one point nine Nobel Prize Winners seated at every table in a Viennese Kaffeehaus.” But give Herr Ober a chance and time and soon you’ll join everyone else in thinking their approach charming and of the Old World. And you’d do well to keep them on your side, because they are the ones who will list the day’s specialities in the absence of a menu.

Coffee Tasting: Wiener Melange & Kleiner Brauner So what can the international visitor expect? Perhaps the most common cup of coffee is Vienna’s equivalent of a cappuccino, the Wiener Melange – a cup of mild coffee with strictly equal measures of steamed milk and foam. Then there’s the Kleiner Schwarzer (literally, ‘small black one’), which delivers a sharp caffeine hit in the form of a single shot of espresso, as well as the ‘Kleiner Brauner’, an espresso made slightly milder by adding a dash of hot milk and froth. Many coffee houses also serve up their own specialties, so it’s always worth asking if you’re feeling adventurous. Uniquely, each cup of coffee is

'Sachertorte' Vienna's world-famous Sacher Torte.

For an authentic coffee house experience, head to: Hotel Sacher:


The Unique Inhabitant: Herr Ober, the Waiter

Vienna's Cafe Hawelka boasts a clientele of artists, poets and philosophers.

Cafe Demel: Cafe Hawelka: Kaffee Alt Wien: Cafe Braunerhof: Stallburggasse 2 Cafe Central: en/cafecentral.html Cafe Hummel:


over the years since coffee was first brought to Vienna in the late 17th century, attracted writers, artists, poets, musicians and philosophers, who have made the Kaffeehaus their own. None more so than Hawelka on Dorotheergasse 6, tucked away in a small alley just a short walk from Vienna’s famous St Stephen’s Cathedral in the heart of the city. Opened in 1939 and reopened after the Second World War, this cosy, inconspicuous coffee house is a Viennese institution and became a focal point among the city’s many artists, especially in the 1960s. Take a seat and you’ll find the poster-heavy interior charmingly stuck in a time warp, everything deliberately left unchanged.

also served with a glass of water (originally used to wash the spoon, but now just seen as an extra beverage), and Herr Ober will keep refilling this as many times as you like. It's another reason why the Kaffeehaus was so popular among penniless artists.

For the Sweet Tooth: Konditorei, the Patisserie No doubt you’ll also find yourself deliberating over which Austrian Mehlspeise, or dessert, to indulge in. The good news is that many coffee houses also have a Konditorei, or patisserie, attached, where you kind find beautifully crafted cakes, tortes, strudels, chocolates and sweets – all of which will test your power to

resist temptation. For the world-famous Sacher Torte, purists would perhaps insist you visit Vienna's grand Hotel Sacher, but in truth plenty of places, notably the excellent and nearby Demel bakery, serve just as good slices of this delicious chocolate and marmalade cake. In fact, there’s a long-standing dispute over who created the original Sacher Torte, but don’t let yourself be talked into taking sides – instead, just sample as many as you can and let your taste buds do the judging. Also frequently on the dessert menu are the following Austrian favourites: the apple-laden Apfelstrudel; the delightful Mohnstrudel, made with ground poppy seeds; Topfenstrudel, made with sweet soft quark cheese; thin and crispy Palatschinken pancakes traditionally filled with apricot jam and Kaiserschmarrn, a dessert first prepared for the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph. Suffice to say that there are plenty of tasty reasons to spend hours and hours in a Viennese coffee house. In a city so filled with must-see sights, the humble coffee house is not always on the visitor’s to-do list. Just remember to give it time, because one thing is for sure: in the Kaffeehaus, patience is a virtue. by HFU REISENHOFER IN VIENNA

December 2011 GO NOW




Ancient Wonders, Modern Luxuries:


The Legend of Petra Mountains It is now 200 years since this same journey was made by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, the Swiss explorer who first discovered an entire complex carved from the staggering topography of the Petra mountains. Extending from the Treasury past a Roman Theater and on to the eye-catching bank of Royal Tombs, it recently revealed 2nd century Grand Temple. Paradoxically, celebrating Petra’s rediscovery is also the ideal time to learn how much more to Jordan there is than one, albeit incomparable site. From the Roman ruins in Umm Qais, whose evocative black basalt columns overlook the peaceful waters of the Sea of Galilee in the far north of Jordan, to the fort in Aqaba on the shores of the Red Sea in the south, where the Arab Revolt of 1916 helped pave the way for the modern Middle East, two millennia of history and more is within touching distance.

Luxury in Nature’s Lap: The Dead Sea Jordan isn’t simply about yesterday, though. The here and now is equally spectacular, as a drink 14


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in the orange glow of sunset at one of the luxury hotels overlooking the Dead Sea will prove. Indeed, this is a country that takes relaxation very seriously, with an abundance of both firstclass spas and thermally powered natural ones.

Valley of the Moon: Wadi Rum Wadi Rum in Jordan’s desert south is another place virtually designed to generate adrenaline. The lunar landscape has been used in Hollywood films such as Transformers 2 and the Red Planet. More sedate viewing is available via the dawn balloon rides that set sail every morning from a Bedouin camp, or even the microlites that skip across the morning thermals. Around 50 kilometres from Rum is Aqaba, Jordan’s sole window to the oceans and an unapologetic aquatic playground. The soft corals here are some of the best in the world and are within easy reach of the shore, providing expert divers and first-time snorkelers swift access to the incredible array of marine life.

Win your Own Treasure To mark the 200th anniversary of the redis-

covery of the Petra, the Jordan Tourism Board is launching a unique Treasure Hunt competition. Taking participants on an interactive journey around the Kingdom, the competition will help shed light on all corners of the country, from the famous sites that fill the tour brochures to the historic and cultural treasures that might be less well known internationally. Along the way, contestants can win weekly prizes provided by Dolmen Dead Sea Products and, every month, specially designed and minted ounces of gold. The Grand Prize, which will be announced in August, 2012, is truly worthy of the occasion. Participants that have completed the Treasure Hunt and have travelled to Jordan will be entered into a draw to win a pound of gold – the winner being announced at the celebration ceremony for Petra’s bicentennial. So, why not sign up and play? Discovering about Jordan has always been rewarding but the prize just got a little better. Log on to and let the hunt begin.

December 2011 GO NOW





owever obsessive Singaporeans are about cleanliness, they are also amongst one of the most enthusiastic bunch that likes to live life on the fun highway – it’s a haven for the big spenders and those that like the blitzkrieg of concrete citadels offering the plushest settings of man-made wonders.

The Legend of Marina Bay Sands Adding to its already pulsating nightlife, at Clarke with its necklace of nightclubs and other stand-alone pubs in the city, Marina bay Hotels, (the integrated hi-end resort) which has emerged as a rendezvous and a complete entertainment destination for lo-

cals and a holiday getaway for travellers recently launched two spanking new nightclubs – Pangea and Avalon. Marina Bay Sands (MBS), already iconic for its 2,560 hotel rooms and suites, the rooftop Sands SkyPark with the infinity pool, celebrity chef restaurants (including the one by Jiggs Kalra), a casino, the world-famous musical, ‘The Lion King’ being presented every evening, with its latest additions has become a one-stop shop to round-the-clock entertainment. The hotel, has in many ways turned around the social topography of the city, attracting tourists and locals by the hordes and has positioned itself as the Mecca of all indulgences. There is practically little or nothing

that one could imagine and not find at MBS in terms of materialistic comforts that money could ever buy. The integrated resort offers every conceivable form of entertainment and leisure; however its excesses are certainly not for those that like a really quiet time, taking a break from the whirring of daily life. It’s for those that like company, the buzz of human existence and the thrill of material wonders.

Celebrity Style Experiences From offering seven-star comforts to a highend shopping enclosure (Louis Vuitton just launched an island at the hotel featuring some museum collections, art as well as its latest watches, bags, shoes and jewellery)


Marina Bay Sands Launches Two Nightclubs Despite the vibrant city-state having a dubious reputation of being almost clinical given its spotless environment, there is always a certain buzz to Singapore. GO NOW brings you two new round-the-clock entertainment launches.

Hundreds queue up for a fabulous time at MBS. 16


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NIGHTLIFE FEATURE now with the introduction of two international nightclubs – Pangea and Avalon, MBS brings Singapore closer to celebrity style experiences all the way from America and Europe. After a successful running of Ku de Ta (the only night club at the hotel before Pangea and Avalon came into existence) MBS is now being seen as the latest international party hot-spot. Pangea and Avalon have had the glory of hosting Hollywood celebrities such as Madonna, Leonardo Di Caprio and the Black-eyed Peas. Clearly, Singaporeans like to wallow in modern gadgetry, fashion and mega lifestyle indulgences which were visible in their eagerness seen at the opening of the clubs. If the

launch of the clubs was anything to go by, long caterpillar-esque queues before the said time of the opening were a give-away of the hotel’s fan-following amongst the locals. The two nightclubs offer two dimensions to entertainment – and although some skeptics have raised concerns about an overkill with three nightclubs, it seems, each has a purpose of its own, promising to cater to different strokes for different folks.

Avalon co-founder and club guru Steven Adelman said, “Here in Singapore, we are building the most ambitious and state-of-the art visual, sound and light system we’re aware of anywhere. The combination of Avalon’s star power and Marina Bay Sands’ iconic structure will set the stage for the biggest party in Asia.”


The Ultra Lounge Situated at the floating Crystal Pavilion, Pangaea, the ‘Ultra Lounge,’ bottle-club is a sophisticated escape from any hectic activity – the brand has a fan-following in New York City, London, Spain, and Miami. Pangaea has hosted Hollywood A-listers such as Madonna, Leonardo Di Caprio, Kate Moss and Will Smith who have frequented Pangaea and made a cult out of the brand in other countries. Spread across 6,000 square feet, at the first level of the southern Crystal Pavilion, it has a unique access from the Shoppes at the Marina Bay Sands through an underwater tunnel. For party revelers that would like finer details, the club’s bar top and upholstery fitting boast of zebra, ostrich and crocodile skin fittings and is decorated with African tribal masks, from owner Micheal Aults’ personal collection. It could potentially turn-off a few people’s interest in the brand, but for those that like the wild-side of things, it would perhaps sound exotic. The ultra-lounge is able to host up to 400 partygoers at one time or over a thousand a

Pangaea operator Michael Aults said, “When we first announced our plans to open this club, the structure was not even built. We only had our imagination and a few wild ideas. Today, piercing the waters of Marina Bay, the crystal pavilion is one of the most stunning and perhaps the best venues in Singapore. We said from day one that we will create something the world has never seen and with the formulae of great architecture and our experience in successfully operating the best clubs in leading international cities, we simply cannot wait to open our doors and put Singapore on the global party map.”

night. One of the interesting features of The Pangaea is its stylish hostesses. The girls are an exceptional group, mostly from the West -- all turned out in crisp outfits designed by Singapore-born, London-based designer Ashley Isham who has also designed for Madonna, LadyGaga, Dido, Mariah Carey, Kylie Minogue and Catherine Zeta Jones.


A New World for Night-club Revellers With the fame acquired in LA, by the visits of virtually every celebrity from The Black Eyed Peas, Ashton Kutcher, Cameron Diaz, to Drew Barrymore and Pink, to name a few, Avalon which has even hosted the Grammy after party by Justin Timberlake was long awaited in Singapore. With an international reputation that had created a buzz long before it came into existence, the brand’s arrival in Singapore was hugely anticipated. And when Avalon eventually launched at Singapore’s Marina bay across two levels built over 12,000 square feet, it opened up a new world for night club revellers. Its key location on the bay gives it the appearance of a floating pavilion, lit-up by the surrounding sky-scrapers that lend it a picturesque outside view. Guests seated inside revelling in top decibels of music belted out by the DJs can simultaneously visualize the tranquility outside. Avalon’s key attractions are its lineup of leading international DJ’s, live concerts and high profile events. Rising from the Southern crystal pavilion, Avalon is for those that are ready to exhilarate to heart-pounding music and electric moods. With a big dance area, it is the perfect getaway for all those that are looking to let their hair down. Helmed by nightlife veteran Steven Adelman, Avalon focuses on bringing the best level of musical adventure to its guests. by SANGHITA SINGH IN SINGAPORE

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DUBAI After taking a tour of the breathtaking modern wonders of Dubai, step back in time and discover the city's rich heritage and culture. You’ll be surprised to see how Dubai has transformed drastically and yet maintained its strong foundations of the past. In fact, the city’s customs are firmly rooted in Islamic traditions, providing strength and inspiration to all aspects of everyday life. Early history Records dating back to the 18th century show that Dubai was a small fishing village and in 1833, Sheikh Maktoum bin Buti began the reign of the Maktoum family as rulers of Dubai and transformed this small town into a flourishing coastal city. By the late 1870s, Dubai became the principal port on the Gulf coast, and by the turn of the century, it was reputed to have had the largest souqs in Arabia.

Arabian culture & traditional wear The famed nomadic tribes of the Bedouins travelled on camels, which were rightly called the ‘ships of the desert’. The main occupational activities that were undertaken in this era included camel herding, date farming, fishing, dhow building and pearl diving. The white ankle-length, loose-fitting



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garment worn by men is known as the kandoura. Local women, on the other hand, wear a long-sleeved, full-length, black abayah, and underneath wear a kandoura, which is skillfully embroidered in gold, silver or coloured thread.

Mosque insights

times every day. One of the largest and most beautiful mosques is the Jumeirah Mosque, which is a spectacular example of modern Islamic architecture. A special tour of the mosque is organised once a week by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

Every neighbourhood has its own mosque where the faithful gather for prayer, five

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) is a non-profit organisation established to increase awareness and understanding between the various cultures that live in Dubai. Operating under the banner of “Open Doors, Open Minds” the SMCCU strives to remove barriers between people of different nationalities and raise awareness of the local culture, customs and religion of the United Emirates.

Take a tour of the many historic buildings and sites, which will give you a stunning glimpse into the grandeur of the past.


Heritage and Diving Village As you walk through Heritage Village in Al Shindagha, observe the traditional Bedouin and coastal village life, which has been re-created, right down to the barasti homes and traditional coffee house. Try the delicious, fresh ragaag (flat, grilled bread made of flour and water) prepared by the local women. Don’t forget to buy some traditional handicrafts, Bedouin jewellery and pottery, which make excellent souvenirs. Adjacent to the Heritage Village is the Diving Village, which has remarkable displays of pearl diving and authentic models of various types of dhows and pearling boats.

restored Burj Nahar in 1992 in its picturesque gardens in Deira is popular with photographers.

Located in the rocky Hatta Mountains, you can get a glimpse of a historical village that goes back thousands of years. After intense renovation, Hatta Village now consists of 30 buildings made of mud, hay, sandalwood and palmfronds, just the way they were originally built. Each building in the area provides a unique historical look at Dubai's past. Check out old weaponry, swords and guns displayed inside the Fortress which is where village meetings were held. The Sharia Mosque includes a large prayer hall and courtroom while the Folklore House reveals traditional Folklore poetry, “nabati”, and musical instruments.

The Bastakiya A short walk from Al Fahidi Fort, it is the largest concentration of traditional courtyard houses in Dubai. At the Bastakiya, push open the old wooden doors of the traditional

Heritage House Just a few steps away from Al Ahmadiya School, stands the Heritage House. Built in the 1890s, this was once home to a wealthy Iranian merchant. Inside, find yourself in a large courtyard surrounded by more than ten large rooms and a traditional wind tower.

Majlis Um-Al Sheif Built around 1955, the Majlis Um-Al Sheif was attended by Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who was widely known as the ‘Father of Dubai’. Here he would listen to people’s complaints, grievances and ideas. The majlis also was a summer retreat and features a traditional palm tree garden with a falaj irrigation system.

Burj Nahar Built around 1870, the Burj Nahar was one of the many watchtowers that guarded the old city of Dubai. Restored in 1992 with picturesque gardens, this is truly a photographer’s delight. One of the many watchtowers that once guarded the old city, built in 1870, the

courtyard houses with wind towers to get a rare and enthralling glimpse of yesteryear. Wind towers are a traditional and unique form of air-conditioning structures whereby cool air is funnelled down into the house. The old district of Bastakiya with its narrow lanes and tall wind towers provides a hint of old Dubai.

Al Ahmadiya School & Heritage House Established in 1912, Al Ahmadiya School was the first regular school in Dubai, located in the Al-Ras area of Deira. The two-storey building was renovated in 1995 for use as a museum of education. The oldest part of the house dates back to the 1890s, with many newer parts added in later years. It is a large courtyard house with more than 10 rooms and a rectangular wind tower.

Age-old Souqs Wander through the narrow lanes of the tra-

ditional souqs situated in Bur Dubai and Deira. Take in the aromas of spices, nuts and dry fruits at Deira’s Spice Souq and then go on to the glittering Gold Souq nearby. If you are looking for quality fabrics, then the Textile Souq at Bur Dubai is the best place to stop by and complete your shopping needs.

Bur Dubai Creek Take in the splendid architecture of the old buildings lining the Bur Dubai side of the Creek. The traditional façades of these buildings have been restored to their original glory with wooden windows, decorative gypsum panels and screens. December 2011 GO NOW




The Calendar of Sporting Events Although Dubai is considered the ideal holiday spot throughout the year, the best time to visit the city is during exciting international events. Watch the city come to life as people from over 200 countries come here to be part of the excitement. Dubai has earned its reputation as the sporting capital of the Middle East. The sporting calendar is filled with international events that attract top sports personalities and avid fans from around the world.

Dubai Desert Classic A prestigious golfing tournament, the Dubai Desert Classic has been regularly attracting many of the world's leading golfers and thousands of avid spectators, year after year. In addition to playing an important role in the international sporting arena, it is universally recognised as one of the finest golf events in the Middle East. Date: February 2012. For more details, please log onto

Dubai World Cup The world's richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup is held annually at Nad Al Sheba Club. Feel the excitement rising every minute as the horses gallop towards the finish line. In this elegant and elite event, the scene-stealers are actually the women who display their finest gowns and hats as they compete for the coveted title of Best Dressed Lady and Best Hat. The Dubai World Cup has established itself not only as one of the most important horse-racing events but also a fashion rendezvous that you can’t afford to miss. Date: March (usually the last Saturday) For more details, please log onto

Dubai Tennis Open Held annually at the state-of-the-art Dubai Tennis Stadium, the Dubai Tennis Open attracts most of the world's top players including Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Marat Safin, Lindsay Davenport and the Williams sisters. In fact, Dubai made world headlines when tennis legends, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, couldn’t resist the temptation to have a friendly match on the world's highest tennis court, the helipad of Burj Al Arab, which is undoubtedly the world's most luxurious hotel. Date: February/March 2012. For more details, please log onto

UIM Class 1 World Offshore Powerboat Championship Dubai has played an important role in the development of powerboat racing in the Middle East. With contestants coming in from all over the world, this much-awaited event is packed with tremendous excitement. It is also very popular 20


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Dubai International Sailing Week Regatta because the country is home to the Victory Team, which is one of the best powerboat teams in the world. Date: December 2011. For more details, please log onto

Dubai Rugby Sevens The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens is not only the opening round of the IRB Sevens World Series, but is one of the biggest social weekends of the year. Featuring sixteen of the best Seven-playing nations in the world, the Dubai Rugby Sevens has grown into an adrenaline-packed sporting event that attracts die-hard fans from around the globe. DATE: December 2011. For more details, please log onto

Duabi Marathon The start and finish for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2012 will be in Downtown Dubai adjacent to the Burj Khalifa. The starts for the Marathon, 10km Road Race and 3km Fun Run will be from the same start gantry location just up from the Burj Khalifa outside the Pavilion. The finish area for the Marathon, 10km Road Race and 3km Fun Run will be through the same finish gantry location on the opposite side of the road from the start gantry. Date: January 2012. For more details, please log onto

Since 2000, the Dubai International Sailing Week Regatta has been making world headlines every year. With over 160 international sailors participating, this mega-event is held in the month of January and adds new life to the calm waters of the Arabian Gulf.

Dubai traditional Dhow Sailing Race Held at regular intervals from September to May, the Dhow Sailing Race is definitely the most spectacular event on Dubai's water sports calendar. The sight of majestic wooden dhows racing through the aquamarine waters, strikingly evokes the Arabian lifestyle of yesteryears.

Dubai International Kite Surfing Tournament During the month of March, kite surfing enthusiasts faithfully gather from around the world for this breathtaking event. Here, you can enjoy watching experts perform some amazing stunts. The tournament also holds a separate competition for racing and freestyle tricks.

A1 Grand Prix of Nations The Dubai Autodrome, the region's first fully-integrated motorsports facility, hosts the renowned A1 Grand Prix of Nations. Pitting driver against driver and country against country, enjoy this adrenaline-filled event that is held annually. This state-of-theart facility also holds the FIA GT Championship as well as the first 24-hour race in the Middle East. So whether you are looking for a fun-filled shopping holiday or an exciting family event, you're sure to find it all in the multifaceted city of Dubai.

For further information, please contact:

1104 Arcadia, 11th Floor, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400021 - India; Tel:+91 (22) 2282 8836/ 2282 8837; Fax: +91 (22) 2282 8835; E-mail:; Web:

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es, it’s best to go to Langkawi with your better half. And if you decide to do that, then you’ll join the legions of honeymooning couples who descend on this idyllic destination every year. 2.7 million visitors to be precise, making Langkawi one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country. On Palau Langkawi, the biggest of the 99 islands on the archipelago (and one of only three which are inhabited) you can’t really tell that Langkawi is that popular: no throngs of tourists, no bustling markets, no traffic snarls on the roads. On the contrary, Langkawi is very much what you expect it to be – a tropical paradise (clichéd but true!) replete with pristine beaches and candlelit dinners.

The hotel is popular with Indian tourists for its value-for-money proposition, even though it's best not to expect Kuala Lumpur (or Delhi) 5-star standards. But what it lacks in class, it more than makes up in service. Langkawi in general has a friendly, laidback and leisurely vibe, which permeate every part of its multicultural fabric: get off the flight, walk out of the airport and you know you're on vacation. People typically come here for the long haul - two to three weeks simply because Langkawi is not the kind of place which appeals to the frenetic, see-everything-in-two-days-and-run kind of tourist. Ironically, the composite nature of Langkawi means that it is actually possible to

Kuala Lumpur’s hubbub fades into the distance as you board a flight out of the Malaysian Capital and completely disappears by the time you walk off the tarmac, less than an hour later, at Langkawi airport. If the plan is to unwind and rejuvenate, then you couldn’t pick a better retreat in South-east Asia.

Languid in

LANGKAWI Work Hard, Party Longer

Located off the northwest coast – between Phuket in Thailand and the Malaysian city of Penang - Langkawi has historically been peopled by a community of fishermen and rice farmers who have lived off the islands for decades. Commerce has never been very high on the priority list for the locals. "It's a good life! We work hard, but make sure that life doesn’t revolve around making money,” says Irone Palani, President, Langkawi Tourism Association. I run into Palani while having a solitary dinner at his restaurant – Tulsi Garden – located in the central Tengah area (which, as the name suggests, serves authentic Indian cuisine). The Indian Tourist's notorious appetite for Indian food is well known, but Indian food restaurants in Langkawi (and Malaysia in general) cater as much to the local populace as much to tourists (Malaysia has a sizable and naturalized Indian-origin population).

Many Indians, Excellent Service by Locals Earlier in the day, I checked into Holiday Villa (on the central Cenang beach area), after a fifteen-minute drive from the airport. 22


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A view of the main harbour from the Cable-car station.

WORLD TRAVELLER DESTINATION do everything if you have a week in hand.


Ideal Retreat for Doing Nothing

The popular cable car heading up to Mt. Machinchang, Langkawi’s second-highest mountain. MALAYSIAN TOURISM

The main island covers an area of just 478 square kilometers and much of this is virgin tropical rainforest. Kuah Town is the hub for incoming ferries and for the meager shopping which you’ll find (In fact Langkawi is duty free, but more on that later). I decide to spend my three days in wine-soaked delirium roving the beaches and generally doing absolutely nothing productive – a perfectly respectable way to spend your time in Langkawi! But for those so inclined there is a wide range of activities on tap. The adventurous can hit the surf for water sports, snorkeling, diving, cruising and fishing. Couples with romance in their eyes take day cruises to any of the deserted islands to appreciate Langkawi’s unspoilt charm.

While You’re There... But even if you aren’t interested in leaving your hammock, make sure that you take the time to get a bird’s eye view of islands from the viewing stations at the popular cable car which ascends 700 metres from close to the harbour to the top of Machinchang Mountain

Getting There (and around) Malaysian Airlines has direct daily flights to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur, as does budget carrier Air Asia. There are also direct flights from Penang and Singapore. Flying in from India necessitates a transfer at Kuala Lumpur. You can also opt for a ferry if you're coming from Penang. The ferry takes two and a half hours to dock in at Langkawi. Being such a small island, Langkawi is very easy to travel around. Cars are driven on the left side of the road, making it easy for visitors from India. Taxis are readily available and usually adhere to the meter. It's a much better idea to rent a car for the time that you're on the island. A small car will set you back about MYR50 to MYR120 per day. During the high season expect to pay substantially more. Stick to a licensed operator as illegal rentals do not provide insurance. Envomarine Travel and Tours (, +604-9552988), Langkawi Discovery (, +6012-5752020) are amongst the better known rental agencies

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WORLD TRAVELLER DESTINATION (the second highest peak in Langkawi). A single trip costs MYR 30 and is well worth the money. (Langkawi Cable Car, Oriental Village, Burau Bay - +604-9594225). Somewhere or the other ( depending on the time of day or which of the 99 islands you're around), its possible to see a pod of Indo Pacific Humpback dolphins swimming, Brahminy Kites swooping down in a lagoon to pull out on anchovies, the majestic Oriental Pied Hornbills whooshing through the rainforest or water cascading on ancient limestone formations.


Riding into the sunset on a water scooter at the Centai Beach.

The Kilim Karst Geopark, on the eastern part of the main island has sea inlets in which it’s possible to see the magnificent limestone landscape and marine life. The Geopark is a paradise for hikers, trekkers and nature lovers and it's possible to go camping if you sign up with a registered operator. For kayaking, jungle walks and treks get in touch with Anne-Marie at Dev’s Adventure Tours (, +6019 4949193). The archipelago has various diving locations with the preferred one being on Palau Payar Island. Teal waters and astonishing coral formations make this a can’t miss activity. For lounging about and getting a tan, the Cenang beach / Tengah Beach strip is the most popular and yet, not teeming with people.. Palani doesn’t take kindly to my reference to Langkawi as sleepy and languorous: “It’s sleepy if you want it to be,” he interjects, adding, “If you want to go out and make a night of it, then there’s plenty to do!” And bent on making his point ushers me into a popular late-night watering hole called Eagle Rock. With a Philipino band belting out the latest pop hits and a vibrant dance floor, this joint will keep you on your feet till the wee hours of the morning.

Eating Out Langkawi’s proximity to Thailand means there is a preponderance of Thai restaurants. Visitors can try Malay, Chinese, Indian and Thai cuisines. The best place to try the local food are the night markets and stalls. For an authentic Thai food experience head to Restoran Wan Thai in the central part of Kuah town. The restaurant does not serve alcohol and a meal for two will set you back MYR30-100.Restoran Wan Thai +6012-4308014. And if it's Indian food you can't do without then look no further than Tulsi Garden run by Irone Palani-a restaurateur of Indian origin and a popular man about town. Indian food in Langkawi (and in Malaysia for that matter) is embellished by the use of local condiments and tastes better than anything you've had back home. Tulsi Garden, Pantai Tengah +604-9553011

Stay Here If you've got time on your hands then it's a good idea to rent a room for a couple of days and look around for serviced apartments. You can rent a small one-bedroom apartment for as little as MYR 500 a month. Stick to the Tengah area if you're looking for a place near the beach. Hotel rentals start from MYR 200 onwards although it's possible to get something much cheaper in the budget range Holiday Villa Langkawi Room rates: MYR270 onwards Phone: +604 9529999 Email: Website: Geopark Hotel Langkawi Room rates: MYR15 (Dorm) 400 (Hotel) onwards Phone: +604 9592300 Email: Website:

Yachts anchored in an inlet in the Kilim Geoforest Park.


Yes, it’s Duty Free



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Lastly, but importantly, Langkawi is duty free. That doesn’t mean that it’s a shopping Mecca but it implies that it’s substantially cheaper than KL when it comes to indulging in vices. Head to a superstore to buy the cheapest beer you’ve pick up you’ve had in ages. No one drinks the cheap alcohol in Langkawi though: While you’re there, you might as well shell out MYR3-5 for a pint of Guinness (or any other top-notch ale). And that just about sums it up: Langkawi is a premium experience, and it’ll leave enough in your wallet to splurge on the duty free section when you get back home. by MERAJ SHAH IN LANGKAWI




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DELHI’S HERITAGE There’s a Need to Spread Awareness about Delhi’s Rich Cultural Legacy

Delhi’s nomination for a world heritage city tag – a tag that will not just ensure better conservation of city’s monuments but also better development. ‘Dilli ke na the kuche, Auraq-e-mussavir the, Jo shakl nazar aayi, tasveer nazar aayi.’ (The lanes of Delhi were not mere lanes, they were paintings from a painter’s album, every face seen there, was a picture in itself.)


hus wrote the legendary poet, Mir Taqi Mir about Dilli, which has been a home and inspiration to many celebrated poets. The sandstones of the Qutub Minar, the cobbled streets of Old Delhi, the high ceilings of Lutyen’s bungalows and the narrow by-lanes of resettlement colonies – every pebble of the city is an eyewitness to the history. Like a jilted lover, Delhi pretended to forget its past and flirted with every newcomer, always losing heart to the new love and preserving the past in the form of ruins. Its modern lovers don’t want to build monuments to leave their trace on the city’s



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timeline. They simply want to conserve this rich heritage. With three world heritage sites, Qutub Minar, Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb, 173 protected monuments and hundreds of listed heritage structures to the city’s credit, conservationists have for years been pushing for Delhi’s nomination for a world heritage city tag – a tag that will not just ensure better conservation of city’s monuments but also better development. But a pertinent question here is that how aware are people about the city’s heritage? And it is in this light that efforts are being taken to spread awareness about the city’s glorious past. Among the many proponents of promoting Delhi’s heritage is S.Y. Quraishi, Chief Election Commissioner, who recently wrote a book, Old Delhi: Living Traditions. “It is shocking that Delhi does not find a mention in UNESCO’s list of 226 world heritage cities,”

he says, certainly with lesser rhetoric than the star studded list of Delhi’s lovers which included Ghalib, Zafar, Zauq and Mumin. He was addressing a public lecture organized by the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in association with Delhi Tourism to promote awareness about the heritage of the city.

Quraishi’s Account of Delhi In his book, he describes the city through his eyes. His family has had a long association with Delhi, settling there nearly 500 years ago. In the book, he talks about history, markets, food, culture, language, professions and mingling of cultures in the lanes and by-lanes of Old Delhi. “The most spectacular phase in the life of the city came undoubtedly after Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal King, built his city of Shahjahanabad in Old Delhi, in the 17th

CONNECT CITY century. It became the most mesmerizing place ever seen, with cacophonous markets, bustling temples and mosques, food fit for a king and always a good wrestling match to be seen." The book, he says, is not a work of history but a trip down the memory lane and an effort to acquaint people with life in Old Delhi. It talks about traditions and practices that have been preserved by the city despite the changes. “Everybody knows Delhi’s political importance, for it has been the capital of India for over half a millennium. But not everybody appreciates its importance as a cultural capital – always at the helm of advancements in music, workmanship, literature and architecture,” he writes.

Heritage Tag: Need & Significance Even as efforts are on the make Delhi a heritage city, many wonder whether the tag would signal danger for people living there and whether development around the sites should continue. To address those concerns, Delhi Government has not included the entire city in its proposal for the world heritage status. The plan is to focus on four important heritage zones: Mehrauli, Shahjahanabad, New Delhi and Nizamuddin. “Things will change dramatically once the heritage status is conferred,” says


Everybody knows Delhi’s political importance, for it has been the capital of India for over half a millennium. But not everybody appreciates its importance as a cultural capital – always at the helm of advancements in music, workmanship, literature and architecture

Quraishi. “There is enough being done but a lot more needs to be done. We need more efforts to spread awareness about the rich heritage we have. Preservation of buildings of historical and cultural significance is extremely important,” he added. For instance, Mirza Ghalib’s haveli in Gali Qasimjan in the Ballimaran area, where Ghalib died about 140 years ago, is today a favourite spot for holding wedding receptions. This is despite the house being taken over by the Delhi Government.

Role of Tourism “The city has a great potential for tourism. When foreign tourists come to Delhi, they are not really interested in seeing just New Delhi. The real Delhi which the tourist wants to see is Old Delhi because of its old world charm. The good news is that things are changing now. A lot has changed with the Metro coming in,” he averred. “I remember there was a time when we used to go to Karim’s around 10 pm because it was less crowded then. Today, however, there is a queue even till 11:30 pm. That’s a sign of how things are changing. However, a lot more needs to be done,” he said. It’s not as if steps are not being taken to attract tourists. INTACH has taken up the task to make the citizens aware of the importance of their cultural and historical environment. In association with the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC), MCD Heritage Society and DDA, it conducts walks in various areas of Delhi. The objective is to create awareness among citizens about historic areas, draw residents and tourists into areas of rich cultural and architectural significance which are not yet on the tourist itinerary and initiate community-based conservation efforts. Also, DTTDC has started HoHo (Hop on Hop Off) bus service covering important tourist destinations including historic monuments, museums and markets. However, the response to both the initiatives hasn’t been very impressive. The total number of buses, having a capacity of 650 people and covering 13 monuments, see only 100 people coming in. The insignificant number speaks volumes about the need to spread awareness and generate interest. Till then, Mir’s and Ghalib’s Delhi awaits its due recognition even as it completes 100 years as India’s capital. by PURVA BHATIA

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CONNECT STATES Bimla Pradhan, Tourism Minister Jharkhand, inaugurates a seminar in Dellhi to promote the state

JHARKHAND Steps Out to Showcase its Diversified Product The state is wooing the tourist by opening up the undiscovered aspects of its distinct identity – culture and tribal tourism. It is building partnerships, conducting familiarization trips and holding roadshows to attract the domestic and the foreign traveller.


harkhand is using tourism as a tool to come out of the wilderness. For a state whose name means the land of forests, it is on an overdrive to tap deep into its special tourism products like rural tourism; vernacular architecture; dozens of tribes, each with its own distinct culture and language; a fossil park, oral folklore and sacred ritual traditions of painting and many more. The state that gets 2.4 crore domestic tourists and 17,000 foreign tourists is keen on harnessing elements that are exclusive to it. Speaking at a seminar in Delhi, ‘Destination Jharkhand: Rhythms of the Earth’, S. Tripathi, MD, Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC) and Director Tourism, Government of Jharkhand, said that the state gets a 10-12 per cent increase in tourists per year. He added that nearly 70 per cent of the domestic tourists come only for religious and spiritual tourism because of the presence of well-established ashrams and yoga centres. Tripathi said: “The only yoga university in the world that studies the scien-



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tific aspect of yoga has its headquarters here.” Jharkhand is building up tourism through the concept of Information Communication and Tourism. It even held a survey among domestic and foreign tourists and found that the maximum number of tourists came after reading about it in the various media, followed by the state’s website. “It is surprising but tour and travel operators get us only three per cent of the tourists,” Tripathi said. He added that the youngest state of the country, that came into being in November 2000, has an astonishing growth rate of 10.5 per cent which is next only to that of Gujarat. The state’s per capita income too is increasing at a fast pace, Tripathi added. Some of the issues that the state is still grappling with are the last-mile connectivity to tourist spots, inadequate public amenities, lack of sanitation and cleanliness and also a perception problem with law and order due to the Maoist insurgency. Tripathi said: “Four tourist places – Hundru, Jonka, Jagganath Mandir and Hati Dam – are spotlessly clean. We have taken the help of local people and

are mobilizing the community regarding tourism and its potential.” “We have formed Village Tourism Development Communities in places that have tourism potential. We provide training to the local people, apart from 15 per cent profit from tourism initiatives. This also keeps the Maoists away. We have seen that the insurgents do not harm tourists and also keep away from areas where the local people are involved,” says Tripathi. The state is looking at giving a fillip to its tourism potential by roping in organisations and experts who can help harness the tourism potential of the state. The state has tied-up with Delhi-based organisation INTACH to help identify and develop various tourism aspects which are exclusive to the state. The state is also in talks with IRCTC of the Indian Railways to promote the state as a tourist destination. Talking about the partnership, MemberSecretary of INTACH, Chuden Tshering Misra, said: “INTACH will do a cultural mapping and identify heritage villages for the state’s tourism development plans. We will also do capacity building and provide training in heritage and hospitality. Once we identify a particular village, we will help develop their festivals and culture for tourism purposes. The state has Anglo-Indian settle-

Jharkhand can provide a different experience


INTACH will do a cultural mapping and identify heritage villages for the state’s tourism development plans. We will help develop their festivals and culture for tourism purposes. The state has Anglo-Indian settlements as well as those of the zamindars from Bengal.

ments as well as those of the zamindars from Bengal. We would like to help Jharkhand in the conservation of these buildings as well.” Noted adventure sports expert Ajeet Bajaj, from Snow Leopard Adventures, said that the state has immense adventure tourism potential but still has to map it. “Some of the soft adventure sports can be rock climbing, paragliding, mountain biking, ballooning, repelling, river rafting, kayaking and canoeing.” Bajaj also said that Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni can be made the state’s brand ambassador for promoting it as an adventure destination. Ricky Surie, a corporate investor, said that rail connectivity to the state is good, though air connectivity is still to come up properly and that the national highway 33 still needs substantial repairs. Jharkhand is now seeking more tourists through partnerships, by conducting roadshows and doing familiarization trips. For a state that has prehistoric rock art, Buddhist sites and is known for its tribal wall art and murals, it is time to step out of the woods. by RAHUL KUMAR

December 2011 GO NOW






Ayurveda, houseboat, experiential tourism and the entrepreneurial dynamism all unfolded themselves slowly over the past 15 odd years for the Kerala magic to happen.


hat is the Kerala experience? It seems everyone wants to go to Kerala for a holiday. The brand is such that it encourages people, the well-travelled educated Indian, to come to Kerala. It is the wholesomeness of the state, which you can call the Kerala experience, that enthralls people. The remarkable thing is that Kerala does not offer one-single thing; a particular iconic experience; or a tourism product that bring tourists here. It is the totality of the experience that makes it tick.

A houseboat experience has turned the waterways into a tourism highway. 30


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One aspect of the Kerala experience is that there is a deeper aspect of the destination. The Kerala experience is not one that is enclave-based; on the contrary, all of Kerala is looked upon as a tourist place. If there is nothing particular, a heritage site or an iconic destination, then what makes the state tick with tourists? It is one place that offers a visitor the feeling of comfort and safety. Kerala encourages you to open up. You can take a bus or a taxi and you will not feel out of place and you will not be stared at. The state has slowly unfolded

Dr Venu V., Joint Secretary, Culture, Government of India has spent nearly 14 years in various capacities in Kerala Tourism, including four years and eight months as its Secretary. He was in the state at a time when the state sold itself to the world under the taglines ‘God’s Own Country’ and ‘Your Moment is Waiting’, and more importantly, delivered what it promised. Kerala made a mark on the national and the international scene walking away with dozens of awards, even as it accessed new destinations, created new experiences, discovered new markets and strengthened new partnerships. Go Now speaks to Dr Venu on how the state walked the talk.

CONNECT STATES itself to a visitor over the years and it is not a part of the state it is the whole state. There is this philosophical thing between the visitor and the visited that has happened in Kerala over the years.


Can you take us on a journey related to the unfolding of Kerala? The opening up of Kerala began around 1995-96 when charters discovered Kovalam. Approximately at the same time, the Taj opened up its hotels in Cochin and Kumarakom and these two places were made accessible to visitors. There two were the initial steps in the discovery of Kerala as a tourist place but the interaction between tourists and the locals was still limited. The second milestone was the CGH Earth company. That was a local but a very forward-looking group. It created iconic resorts and gave its guests an authentic Kerala experience. With its experiential concepts like the Spice Village and Coconut Lagoon, the company changed the hospitality industry in Kerala. A home-grown hotelier made people sit-up and take notice. It converted common people into entrepreneurs. Individual enterprise has contributed widely to the tourism experience in Kerala. People started opening up their houses to tourists anywhere, whether it was a village, or the


A strong partnership is emerging between the government, private organizations and the local community. Kerala is now moving towards responsible tourism. backwaters or along a river. The third thing, that took place in the mid90s, was the rediscovery of the backwaters and the introduction of the houseboat experience. Mind you, houseboats in Kerala are unique for these are not the stationery ones but those that travel across the state. Mainstreaming of the houseboat experience led to a totally different phenomenon – the exploration of the countryside through a nice mobile way. The waterways of Kerala became the highways of tourism. It was during 1998-2000 that there was a re-invention of ayurveda as a tourist experience. Ayurveda was present all over India but Kerala was one place which had an unbroken continuity of practicing ayurveda for over 200 years. Ayurveda always had two things about it – the preventive and also the curative aspect. The preventive aspect and the rejuvinative therapies were presented to the tourists in a good, clean, scientific way and this changed things in tourism. Actually, it was tourism that found ayurveda. So, it were these events that steadily led to the unfolding of Kerala as a holistic tourism destination to the world. But surely there would be other factors to this as well? Yes there have been. High levels of literacy

and awareness have played an important role in the discovery of Kerala. This has led to tourists feeling safe and comfortable in the entire state. They are not stared at for being tourists. Moreover, the marketing of Kerala has been done through a highly successful PPP mode between the government and the private sector. It is one of the most successful and highly quoted models in the country. Also, we have to salute the dynamism of the Kerala entrepreneur and that is why you see these little guest houses, the ayurveda centres and so many other tourist attractions that depict a Kerala way of life, which tourists find so fascinating and want to live. So, have you reached an end to the marketing of Kerala as a tourist destination? Not really. We are already working on the concept of responsible tourism. There is a strong partnership that is emerging between the government, private organizations and the local community. Kerala is moving towards responsible tourism as people in the industry are aware that more and more tourists are going to ask us about the impact of tourism on the local people and communities. by RAHUL KUMAR

December 2011 GO NOW




Basmati is India’s Newest Brand Ambassador India steps up efforts to integrate Basmati into global and local cuisines with help from international chefs who rustle up delicacies other than the Indian kheer, biryani and pulao.


ndia is using its fine long-grain aromatic rice Basmati to make its presence felt among the local cuisines of the world. The Government of India held a two-day long international festival in Delhi, on promoting basmati rice in “unconventional countries,” with dozens of international chefs and journalists in attendance. Ten chefs from countries including Russia, France, Mexico, the UK and Italy were in Delhi to make recipes of their own countries with the Indian Basmati. India hopes that chefs will use the rice in mainstream cuisines like Chinese, Thai, Italian and Mexican foods, thus creating new 32


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Unless you know about a certain delicacy, read about it and then taste it, you will not know about its finer qualities. Therefore, we have to promote the uniqueness of Basmati, otherwise it will not matter how unique this rice is.

markets where the rice can be exported. Speaking on the occasion, Union Commerce Secretary, Rahul Khullar said that he had sampled cuisines from all over the world during his various travels and he had the opportunity to taste many of these after having read about them. “But unless you know about a certain delicacy, read about it and then taste it, you will not know about its finer qualities. So, we have to promote the uniqueness of Basmati, otherwise it does not matter how unique this rice is,” Khullar said. He added that the special, long grain, aromatic rice is cultivated in a delineated geographical area in India and occupies a unique space as premium rice among the food and restaurant industry. Appealing to countries which have erected barriers to prevent the imports of Basmati, Khullar said: “Instead of blocking it, you should tell your citizens ‘see we are importing a real good product’.” He said that the country has identified 12 new markets of Latin America, 22 new markets of Africa and seven new markets of Central Asia where Basmati promotion has been taken up. President of the All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA), Vijay Setia, said that rice is an intrinsic part of the Indian culture and is used during pooja as well as marriages. He added: “There was a time when the Basmati fields were kept under guard by the kings. Basmati was a delicacy that was meant only for royals but now this rice is for everybody to relish.” Setia also released a coffee table book Basmati that has been put together by Shipli Gupta, the chef of The Grand hotel, Delhi. The book has historical information about the rice and also contains selected recipes. Speaking about the book, Gupta said: “It is so interesting to see how the foreign chefs have integrated Basmati into their cuisines.” The two-day culinary extravaganza had a live Basmati kitchen where Indian and global chefs created, displayed and served their dishes made from Basmati rice. The event was organized by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority of India (APEDA), the Ministry of Commerce and Industry along with AIREA. With exports of more than 2 million mt of Basmati to over 100 countries across the globe, it becomes the single largest agro product to be exported with a value of US $2.5 billion and is expected to touch the $3 billion mark soon. by RAHUL KUMAR

International chefs at the meet

Chef Edgar Navarro, Mexico

Lionel Levy, the Michelin Star chef from France

A preparation made from Basmati December 2011 GO NOW





ill India’s travel and tourism sector be the next sunrise in dustry and create ripples the way the IT sector has done? A recent report says that the sector is expected to be the second largest employer in the world by 2019. The Union Ministry of Tourism has set an ambitious target of creating 24.9 million jobs during the 12th Five Year Plan to increase the sector’s growth from 9% to 12%. It has sought an amount of Rs 21,500 crores for the sector, which is nearly 4 times the allocation for the 11th Five Year Plan. However, to achieve the targets, the industry says that there’s a dire need to bridge the gap between demand and supply in terms of trained manpower, develop re-

The country faces a major crunch of skilled manpower in the sector due to a short fall in quality educational institutions as well as attrition of people to service industries like retail, banking, insurance amongst others.

SUNRISE SECTOR Travel and Tourism Expected to Lead Employment Generation in India

quired infrastructure and have a policy framework to support the sector. These concerns and some of the probable solutions were discussed earlier this month in a dialogue by World Travel & Tourism Council India Initiative (WTTCII) at The Leela Hotel, Chanakyapuri. Speaking on the occasion, Sitaram Yechury, Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport Tourism & Culture, highlighted the key issues and concerns that the sector is grappling with. “I don’t like to use the phrase ‘selling our country’. Tourism is not merely an economic activity. The whole issue should be looked at in a holistic way. It’s a shame that we only have 0.6% of tourist arrivals in the world,” he said. Echoing the sentiments, Nawang Rigzin Jora, Minister for Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir said that despite being a large country, India sees about 5 million foreign tourist arrivals which is nothing as compared to smaller destinations like Singapore and Hawaii that see many more tourists. “Given the multiplicity of languages, culture, heritage, nature and coastline available, the numbers should be far more,” he said. However, the good news is that the Gov34


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ernment has acknowledged the potential the sector has. “For the first time there are four pages dedicated to tourism sector in the 12th Five Year Plan,” said Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai.

Shortage of Skilled Manpower Of all the issues and concerns the sector is

dealing with shortage of skilled manpower requires immediate attention. According to certain estimates there is a short fall of 2.3 lakh skilled manpower annually. The major reason for such a shortfall is due to the shortage of quality hotel education institutions in India. With the addition of new hospitality prod-

CONNECT EMPLOYMENT ucts and attrition to other service industries such as retail, banking, insurance, travel, the demand gap is only widening. The available pool of manpower just the reverse of the demand in the sector. “At present, of the total manpower available, 78% are managerial level and 22% are skilled workers trained for low and mid level positions. The demand, however, is 34% at managerial level and 65% skilled workers. So that is the kind of gap that the industry is dealing with,” said Amitabh Kant, CEO & MD, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC). The tourism ministry is gearing up to increase the annual output of skilled manpower through its Hunar Se Rozgar programme. The objective is to take this initiative to remote and economically backward regions of the country so that educated youth of these regions get employment opportunities in this expanding sector. “The Government has been actively trying to bridge the skilled manpower shortage by setting up more government sponsored institutes. However, much of the efforts would have to come from within the industry,” said Sahai. Sunil Jain, Opinion Editor, Financial Express suggested linking up with National Skill Development Corporation and following in the footsteps of the retail industry.

Infrastructure Development Tourism sector cannot take off unless there is sound infrastructure throughout the country. In the words of Yechury, it’s a good idea to spend heavily on advertisements but it is futile if the tourists have to wait in long queues to get visas. One state that is working towards getting proper infrastructure in place to attract tourists is the North-East. Talking about infrastructure in the region, Jayati Chandra, Secretary, DONER (Development of North East Region) said that the train connectivity in the region is very good. “The entry is largely through railways and not airways. We are trying to make it an experience to cherish so that the journey and not just destination is more enjoyable. We will invite aviation heads to tell the requirements to bring in chartered and other flights,” she said. The tourism ministry is taking initiatives to provide the required support. Sharing the plans, RH Khwaja, Secretary, Union Ministry of Tourism said, “In the 12th five-year plan, we have acknowledged that wherever feasible, airstrips will be funded by the Ministry of

Tourism. We expect good response on our suggestion to facilitate heliports.” The Government needs to look at taxation structure in the sector as well. “GST once implemented should not be more than 8% for tourism; luxury tax on hotel rooms should be limited to 4% to make India’s accommodation globally competitive. Also, there should be rationalization of tax structure on air fares and ATF charges and the multiplicity of taxes on aviation sector must reduce,” suggested Vivek Nair, Outgoing Chairman, WTTCII.

Public-Private Partnership “The future relies on concerted efforts, both by the relevant government bodies and the private sector players,” said Sahai. However, there are several issues that obstruct the smooth flow. Sample this: The Lalit Group has been trying to set up a hospitality school in Haryana for the past four years. However, they have been unsuccessful in getting the required permissions to get the work started. “We still haven’t got the permission. The institute will train people not just for the Lalit Group but for the whole industry. It is not easy to get things started,” said Jyotsna Suri, CMD, The Lalit Suri Hotel Group. In another example, Aman Nath, cochairman, Neemrana Hotels narrated his experience. “While everyone talks about the PPP model, I think it is not properly defined… more than partnership, the P stands for policing. It is very difficult to work with the government. According to us, the sector has great potential for inclusive growth given the great opportunity for employment that the sector offers. It is unfortunate that the Government doesn’t see it like that. We bid for the tender offering us land only to be told later that we don’t have access to the land and we have to buy it from the Forest Department,” he said.

Conclusion According to Vikram Madhok, (newly appointed) Chairman, WTTCII, minimizing the negative and maximizing the positive impacts of all forms and activities of tourism is essential for sustainable, safe and honourable tourism in the country. This requires a concerted effort by the Government and the private sector. “Everybody has to work together. It is easy to talk and difficult to deliver but we should try to strive to achieve it. We need to work as one family, one mission and one vision,” concluded Khwaja. by PURVA BHATIA


December 2011 GO NOW




TOURISM AND EMPLOYMENT WTTC India Initiative Makes a Pitch that Tourism must Get its Due Priority

dia has proposed to increase India's share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) to 1% of International Arrivals by end of 12th Five Year Plan from the current 0.60% (from the current 5.58 million to 11.24 million FTA’s in 2017) ■ Provide adequate facilities for domestic tourism and to increase the number of domestic tourist visits from 740 million in 2010 to 1451.46 million in 2017 ■ To achieve this, the air passage capacity, airport infrastructure, road connectivity and accommodation units in the classified category of 1.81 lakhs is to be added from the present available 1.28 lakh rooms by 2017 ■ A huge investment of approximately Rs 60,000 crores is required to add these accommodation units ■ There is a huge shortage of person power – skill requirements and skill gaps exist in Airlines, Travel and Tour Operators, Hotels and Restaurants, Multiplier Effect Employment segments

Strategy: Skill Development Opening new IHMs/FCIs, Indian Culinary Institutes (ICI), Teachers Training Institutes, a new Hospitality University ■ Augmenting the capacity of existing IHMs/ FCIs and facilitating private sector investments ■ Hospitality education to be broad based to cover Universities/Colleges, Polytechnics, Industrial Training Institutes , Vocational Education at +2 level through CBSE and other State Level Boards ■ Skill development through Hunar Se Rozgar through educational/ training institutions as well as classified Star category hotels ■ Convergence with Planning Commission, Ministries of HRD, Labour & Rural Development and National Skill Development Corporation ■

Union Minister for Tourism Subodh Kant Sahai (right), Nawang Rigzin Jora, Minister for Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir (centre) and Vivek Nair, outgoing chairman, WTTCI at the conclave.


TTC India is the Indian arm of the London-headquartered international organisation, World Travel & Tourism Council, with over 100 captains of private industries worldwide in the travel and tourism sector, coming together to campaign for the industry. Every year, the India Initiative holds a conclave where the objective is to reach out to a wider audience beyond its own confines – to bring about a better understanding for travel and tourism as an important economic activity. This year, at The Leela Kempinski Chanakyapuri, Vivek Nair, the outgoing chairman of WTTC India Initiative and Vice Chairman, Leela Group of Hotels, put together a presentation on the present state of tourism in the national economic framework, and advocated a policy of convergence. Below are the highlights of this presentation: The Tourism Sector received a tremendous fillip this year – A presentation on the Economic Imperative of Tourism was made to the ■



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Hon’ble Prime Minister by Shri Subodh Kant Sahai, Hon'ble Minister for Tourism in June 2011 on the sector and its immense potential ■ The Hon’ble Prime Minister has acknowledged the sector's contribution and an inter-ministerial committee headed by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister has been formed to look into the sectoral issues ■ The Hon’ble Prime Minister has also requested the Planning Commission to give priority status to the sector given its huge employment potential ■ Tourism currently provides employment to over 53 million people in India and is the single largest employment generator in the country. The sector is set to create additional 24.9 million jobs during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017) ■ For the development of tourism, an amount of Rs 21,500 Crores has been sought as allocation for the sector in the 12th Five Year Plan, by the Ministry of Tourism - this is nearly 4 times the allocation for the 11th Five Year Plan ■ The Ministry of Tourism, Government of In-

Strategy: Infrastructure Development Identify 35 major Circuits/Destinations in Phase I and 89 in Phase II – having potential to attract large number of visitors – for development in Mission Mode ■ Facilitate 20 Tourism Parks in developed/ underdeveloped/unexplored areas of tourist interest ■ Effective utilization of allocation of funds under the Large Scale Revenue Generating scheme which covers Convention and Exhibition Centers, Last Mile Connectivity (air and road), Health and Wellness facilities, Tourist trains, Cruise vessels/Terminals, Golf Courses. The scheme has now been extended to budget hotels and theme parks/ amusement parks ■

CONNECT EMPLOYMENT Identify clusters of villages having unique craft, ethnic art form for development as Tourism Products ■ Appointing National Level and State Level Consultants for the sanctioning of various tourism projects as well as their monitoring for 5 years ■ Government intervention in non-commercial activities and Commercial activities by private sector- through SPV/PPP ■


Strategy: Marketing, Branding & Promotion To undertake widespread and aggressive promotional activities – Incredible India Version 2.0 ■ Developing new markets – CIS, China, ASEAN, Middle East and African countries, opening new representative offices overseas for wider reach ■ Developing and promoting niche tourism products – Golf, Polo, Wellness & Medical, MICE, Caravan, Cruise, Film, Adventure and Wildlife tourism ■ ‘India Festivals’ in important overseas markets to showcase and promote the tourism destinations, culture, cuisine, handicrafts, textiles and costumes, etc. of the country ■ Social Awareness Campaigns, under the Atithi Devo Bhava initiative for good behaviour towards tourists, civic responsibilities ■ Organize “Global Travel Mart, India” – a annual National Travel Mart on the lines of ITB/ WTM starting from the year 2012/13


Strategy: Sustainable, Safe and Honourable Tourism Minimizing the negative and maximizing the positive impacts (social, cultural, economic, environmental and governance related) of all forms and activities of tourism ■ Conceptualize a scheme of Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India (STCI) for hotels, tour operators, rural tourism/home-stays etc. ■ Implementation of the Code of Conduct for “Safe & Honourable Tourism” which has been voluntarily adopted by all stakeholders ■ Facilitate and constitute Tourist Facilitation and Security Organization (TFSO) in States/UT ■

Strategy: Taxation and Incentives GST once implemented should not be more than 8% for tourism ■ Taxes levied on Tourism Industry should be unified, rationalized and made globally competitive ■ Luxury tax on hotel rooms should be limited to 4% to make India’s accommodation globally competitive and road taxes for tour■

Each of the critical central and state ministries that combine to create the diversified travel and tourism product need to come together and contribute their bit and thereby giving a concerted push for the industry as a national effort. ist vehicles should be one time and uniform across India ■ Rationalization of tax structure on air fares and ATF charges and reduction of multiplicity of taxes on Aviation Sector ■ Incentives available to hotels need to be extended to all tourism service providers under Sec 35 AD of Income Tax Act, 1961 ■ The foreign exchange earned by hotels and inbound tour operators may be considered as ‘deemed’ exports and full service tax exemption be provided to them at par with other exporters ■ Hotels to be included in the Infrastructure Lending List of RBI

Strategy: Convergence Required both at the Central and State Government Level ■ Ministry of Finance – Rationalization of Taxes, providing a better fiscal operating environment for the Sector to thrive ■ Ministry of Civil Aviation – Improving Air Connectivity at Key Destinations, Rationalization of ATF ■ Ministry of Environment & Forest – Assessment of carrying capacity of Eco Sensitive Zone for sustainable tourism and consequent rationalization of CRZ Rules to encourage Beach Tourism ■ Ministry of Defence

– Utilization and opening up of Defence Airport/Strips, unused airstrips for Tourist Access. ■ Ministry of External Affairs – VISA regulations & Service Delivery ■ Ministry of Home Affairs – Extension of VISA on Arrival to more countries and more airports, facilitation of a simpler process for VISA issuance ■ Ministry of Human Resources – Short Courses, Vocational Courses and Skill development programmes ■ Ministry of Culture – Upkeep and better facilities at heritage sites and national monuments ■ Ministry of Railways – Up-gradation of Railway Stations, improving Rail Connectivity, rationalization of haulage charges levied by Ministry of Railways on Luxury Trains, using of Land Banks for setting up accommodation units ■ Ministry of Rural Development – Convergence with Anti-poverty & Self Employment Programmes ■ Ministry of Road, Transport & Highways – Improving connectivity of key destinations through National Highways and ensuring Last Mile Connectivity through CRF ■ Ministry of Shipping – An effective rollout of the Cruise Tourism Policy to kick start the segment presentation by VIVEK NAIR

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THE HERITAGE ZONE Tourism Revolves Around Our Culture

There is a growing need for a convergence on promoting heritage tourism for creating more employment and attracting larger numbers of foreign tourists.

Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai inaugurates the heritage tourism conclave in Delhi.


nion Minister for Tourism Subodh Kant Sahai has said that the country has everything in terms of heritage and civilization but has not been able to market it. “Tourism moves around heritage but to market it, we have to take the private sector along. We cannot do so without involving the private sector,” Sahai said. Focussing on the importance of tourism, Sahai said that the tourism ministry was formed during Jawaharlal Nehru’s time. “This is a sector that creates the largest employment. When we develop heritage sites, it boosts employment in rural areas. We can select children from rural areas and train them. The ministry will bear the expenses if the corporates can provide training to young people from rural areas,” Sahai said. The minister added that even the Planning Commission of India says that tourism will be one of the biggest employment generators. Highlighting what falls within Indian heritage, Sahai said: “Ayurveda, yoga, culture, cuisines are all part of our heritage. But we have to develop the cuisines of India. We also want to develop the North-East as one tourism circuit. We had held an interaction



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with the ministers from the North-East which also included the states of Bengal and Orissa. We will create infrastructure in the region to harness its potential.” The minister spoke at the First India Heritage Tourism Conclave 2011 organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PHDCCI) in November in Delhi. The speakers included experts from the heritage hospitality sectors, culture, the folk arts, state tourism bodies and NGOs. Navneet Dhawan, Co-chairman of the Tourism Committee of the PHDCCI said heritage tourism has emerged as a niche sector. “India is a repository of history and heritage which we have to preserve. We need a professional touch which can be done through public private partnerships,” Dhawan said. The conclave put a spotlight on the NorthEast as P.P. Shrivastav, Member, North-Eastern Planning Council said that the North-East is now eight states from the earlier seven. “It is eight per cent of India with 4.5 crore people. They have preserved their culture while in our most advanced areas our culture is diminishing due to a wave of modernism,” Shrivastav said. Speakers from the arts, heritage and the

folk arts and crafts fields spoke about promoting Indian culture and the fact that the young people in the country are closely looking at their cultural identities. Dance exponent Pratibha Prahlad made a presentation on the recently held arts festival, Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF) and said that if Delhi has to be world class city, then it has to have a cultural focus as well. Francis Wacziarg from the Neemrana Hotels said that buildings are like human beings and they too have to be cared for. He made a presentation on the restoration of buildings that he has done across the country ranging from British architecture to Portuguese as well as Indian buildings to Danish settlements. On the other side of the fence was Jaya Jaitley, who spoke passionately about respecting and reviving monuments. Talking about a calligraphy project that she is working on, she said: “India has so many official languages but people prefer to speak in English. We are teaching calligraphy in many languages so that people value their own language as well as feel proud of their heritage. This project teaches them a new design vocabulary, helps them in getting work and makes them feel proud of their language.” Yaaminey Mubayi from the National Culture Fund (NCF) said that the Union Ministry of Culture is trying to make culture a part of people’s lives. She focused on the fact that the NCF is has a partnership with the private sector and has collaborated in preserving diverse monuments and sites of heritage in the country. Speaking on the falling state of the havelis in Rajasthan, Susmita Shekhar, Deputy Secretary General PHDCCI, said the state plans to list its havelis so that people can take up the initiative to preserve them. After getting various stakeholders on the Heritage Tourism Conclave, PHDCCI now plans to replicate it in the states of northern and central India every year. by RAHUL KUMAR


travel and discover a sub-continent



Chittoor Kottaram: Royal Life in the Backwaters of Kerala Chittoor Kottaram, an exclusive, private heritage resort located on the banks of Lake Vembanad. Originally built in 1898 by the Rajah of Kochi, the resort, a homestead with three bedrooms and comes with a staff dedicated to your every whim. Plush in facilities, it is an ideal destination for romantic getaways in your very own backwaters.

Luxury Camps by Aman Rajasthan is one of the largest states in India and is endowed with exceptional natural beauty and a fascinating history. Experience the true Rajasthan, with a 3-night stay at Amani-Khás, a luxury tented camp on the outskirts of Ranthambore National Park and a 3-night stay at Amanbagh, set on an historic garden estate, it was once the Maharajah of Alwar’s hunting grounds. Rates are based on double occupancy for six nights and include a 3 night stay at Amanbagh, one transfer to/from Delhi, one transfer to/from Aman-i-Khás and either a Camel Ride, Tour of Bhangarh or Cow Dust tour. The second part of the packages includes 3 nights in a luxury tent in Aman-I-Khas, one transfer to/from Delhi and one safari tour. Valid till 30 April 2012, the price range starts from US$ 6,375 to US$ 8,175 without taxes. For more information, Amanbagh, Ajabgarh, Rajasthan, India. Tel: (91) 1465 223 333 E-mail: Aman-I-Khas, Ranthambore, Rajasthan, India. Tel: (91) 7462 252 052. E-mail:

Ready to host, their introductory package (with minimum duration of 2 nights) including accommodation, all meals, a boat for transfers and sightseeing and taxes is for Rs 45,000. For more: Tel: 00 91 484 3011 711. Email: Website:

Festive Bonanza at Four Points by Sheraton, Jaipur

De-tox at SwaSwara, Gokarna A rejuvenating break at SwaSwara, in Gokarna, is about offering yourself to a new world and rediscovering your inner core. Lose yourself in the 26 acres of rolling hills and gardens adorned by flowers, shrubs and spices, sprawling lawns lined with serene coconut palms, vegetable gardens bursting with the greens of the season and paddy fields that nourish those who stay at SwaSwara. Relax in self-contained villas built in the local Konkan style, featuring most mod cons you’d expect. A weeklong stay at SwaSwara will include the basics of Yoga and indulging in Ayurvedic massages and therapies designed to refresh your body. De-toxifying also includes discovering a holistic cuisine, harvesting vegetables and cooking them, along with the chefs in the interactive kitchen gallery. The Lifestyle Holiday package for 7 nights for two including all meals, yoga sessions, transfers and all taxes are available for INR 1, 36,500. Package valid till 30th April, 2012 For more information and reservation, call - 00 91 484 3011 711 Email: Website:

This winter season head to the Pink city - Jaipur, a royal city with its fairy-tale palaces, rugged fortresses display remarkable harmony in architectural splendor. You can opt for the Christmas package – a special 2 nights 3 day package priced at Rs. 14,999. The package is inclusive of daily buffet breakfast complimentary usage of Fitness Center, Steam and Swimming Pool and an additional 20% discount on Food and Beverages and spa services. The package is valid from 23rd Dec’11 - 25th Dec’11. The New Years Eve package is priced at 16,999 plus taxes. The package includes 2 nights’ accommodation, daily buffet breakfast complimentary, usage of Fitness Center, Steam and Swimming Pool and an additional 20% discount on Food and Beverages and spa services. The package is valid from 30th Dec’11 - 01st Jan’11 For more, log onto: compiled by MANAVI SIDDHANTI



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December 2011 GO NOW




Surrounded by the oldest mountain ranges the Aravallis, the city derives from its man-made lakes, heritage sites and locals with a flair for hospitality. A city unspoilt by commercialisation, the flavour of ethnicity enjoys a quotient of luxury courtesy the biggest hospitality chains. Go Now’s Manavi Siddhanti goes to the Lake City to revel in the colours, splendour and sights of Udaipur.

India’s Best Kept Secret

ou’d be surprised to know that after staying in Delhi for 25 years, I haven’t been to Udaipur. I have done what other families do and have gone exploring parts of Rajasthan as a teen but why we didn’t we go to Udaipur is still a question to me. The reason could partly be the lack of connectivity since except Kingfisher Airlines (which has daily as well direct flights), the only other way to get to Udaipur is through Delhi or Mumbai (not even Jaipur). So I predictably never hear my friends from South India ever talking about this famed city of lakes.

Maharana Pratap Airport not Ready for Globetrotters: Having arrived on a Friday afternoon in the peak tourism season, I was taken aback by seeing our plane at the hangar of Maharana Pratap Airport. With a decent structure, the airport can’t be compared to the likes of metropolitans but was definitely small enough to spark conversations amongst strangers about upgrading the existing facil-

The City Palace, Udaipur overlooks Lake Pichola. 42


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ity. The airport was earlier in the news as the runway was extended 1500 feet for bigger planes to land, only to find a tube well underneath the structure.

A City True to its Colours Located over 24 kilometres away from the city, a drive away from Maharana Pratap Airport helps builds an impression in what to expect from the city. Majestic Aravallis’ give way to the city with sights like the never ending walls from yore, which kept Udaipur from getting conquered, while huge zinc factories cough smoke out into the clouds. As soon as I entered the city, old constructions and a lack of brands reassured me that the city has retained its soul. Be it the low rise structures, high ceilings, beautifully crafted gokhras (arches) or jharokhas (windows) – every nook and corner pays homage to the authenticity of being in Rajasthan. With that said, congested streets full of SUV’s and a few elephants provide a realistic assumption that Udaipur has not been changed to accommodate tourists streaming from around the world.

It’s all About the View After living a hectic life a minute into the boat ride to my hotel, The Leela Palace Udaipur on Lake Pichola, made me forget about the city so much that I didn’t look at my cell phone for the next two days. It seemed to me that people in Udaipur are always so happy and hospitable because they get their inspiration by surrounded picturesque lakes and scenic views of city and not a motivational guru. While there are some parts of Udaipur inaccessible through lakes but while you’re there, make it a point to not opt for a taxi or a tuk-tuk. In fact, a ride in Lake Pichola and Lake Fateh Sagar are a must for rejuvenate without a visit to the spa.

Things to See: City Palace, Sajjangarh If you want to soak in the details of flawless architecture and detail, I suggest a short trip in the morning to City Palace. Set on the banks of Lake Pichola, a boat ride is ideal from your hotel – even a car ride doesn’t last for more than 20 minutes. Like my boat man




DESTINATION UDAIPUR put it “Udaipur mein kuch door nahi hai.” Open only till 4:30 pm, the palace’s must see list includes ‘Toranas’ where not-so-humble kings weighed themselves against gold, ‘Krishna Vilas’ known for the intricate miniature paintings of royal processions, an in-house art gallery by the name of ‘Laxmi Vilas’ and highest point of this palace, ‘Amar Villas’, plush in terrace gardens, towers and a splendid view of the city. For those looking for a miracle or thank god for a beautiful holiday, ‘Jagdish Temple’ inside the City Palace complex is the direction to step to. Other attractions include a vintage car museum which houses the car used for Bond film ‘Octopussy’, ‘Saheliyon Ki Bari’ (a garden made for the womenfolk of the court) and Sajjangarh’s ‘Monsoon Palace’. While the ride can be bumpy, a trip to the Monsoon Palace offers a spectacular sunrise and sunset view.

Heirlooms of Heritage: HRH Hotels Shiv Niwas Palace, Jagmandir Island Palace and Fateh Prakash Palace in Udaipur are classified Grand Heritage Palaces whereas The Shikarbadi hotel and Garden Hotel in Udaipur are known as ‘Royal Retreats’ by the group. Shiv Niwas Palace enjoyed the reign of Maharana Fateh Singh till 1930 was maintained and restored for those who love to indulge like royalty. Back then, the palace was used by Maharana’s guests and now its been revived keeping in mind the global standards of hospitality. Shiv Niwas Palace is in the City Palace complex and comprises of 19 Palace Rooms and 36 suites divided in 3 categories. Besides this, is Fateh Prakash Palace- an exclusive venue for stay as well as royal functions and important events. Here, what you see is a Palace soaked in history even as period furniture, original paintings and architecture from yore. Besides that, The Durbaar Hall and The Crystal Gallery are popular for being a connect to an authentic heritage of Udaipur. The recent venue for KP Singh’s birthday and Shakira’s perfornmance, Jagmandir Island Palace has managed to be one of wanted palaces in Udaipur on demand. Along with many others who weren’t attending the galore which was an everyday occurrence at Jagmandir, I enjoyed watching the colours, bustle and a plethora of events that took place during my 2 day stay in Udaipur. The 17th century palace consists of a heritage museum while serving as the perfect venue for any milestone you’d want to celebrate. HRH Hotels, The City Palace Complex, Udaipur 313001 Phone: +91 294 2528008. Email:

What Udaipur is Famous for: Bandini Saris, Thekri Work, Miniature Paintings Udaipur is really popular its textile work such as ‘bandini’, ‘leheriya’ and block prints, the city is full of options to shop from. If you’re looking to bargain, the right place to go is a government emporium, ‘Rajasthali’ with a wide variety of textiles, jewellery and artefacts. Due to its location, silver is slightly priced lesser than the metros so if you’re looking to take back some silver, silver plated items for your home, this is a good destination with plenty of options. Miniature paintings of idols as well as depicting royal life are found easily MANAVI SIDDHANTI

Leheriya sari at Rajasthali Emporium.

while artists use natural colours. The works of ‘thekri’ in which shards of molten glass are used on plaster of Paris and an integral part of Rajasthani architecture. While Udaipur has made its mark in the country’s art scene, options like Mewar Art Gallery and Crystal Art Gallery are good for those can appreciate it. Infact, the upcoming Shilpagram Fair held in the city attracts art lovers from around the world for this 10 day long fair showcasing urban and rural artists. While local options such as Mohini Arts, Ganesham Art & Crafts were good for me, and other options include Complete Arts and India Art Decor. Others specialities such as jewellery, gems and stones and ‘mojris’ can be found in shopping areas like Chandpole and Jethiyo ka akhara(outside Chandpole).

Back to Bustle at Departure Time After a memorable two day stay at the The Leela Palace Udaipur, it is time to depart. But there is no time to reminisce at the airport, which is swarming with tourists of different nationalities standing in a slow queue. Inside, a coffee shop, jewellery and artefacts’ shop and an art gallery are themed after Udaipur’s fame quotient. Hospitality is found in the form of a small food counter which makes live sandwiches and tea (not from a vending machine), serving its customers in the waiting lounge. Despite the lack of connectivity, Udaipur manages to leave an impression on your mind, nodding your head to those heading into the flight as an acknowledgement of a wonderful experience. December 2011 GO NOW




UDAIPUR Renowned Hospitality Chains Conquer City of Lakes

Global tourists love Udaipur as it is home to some of the finest properties and remains uncluttered due to the absence of retail brands. House to Taj Lake Palace, Leela Kempinski, Oberoi Udaivillas, Lalit Laxmi Villas and Sheraton Udaipur Resort, the city has most major names in the hospitality sector.

A Memorable Experience at Taj Lake Palace

For Unsolicited Luxury: Oberoi Udaivillas

A two hundred and fifty year old structure in the middle of Lake Pichola, Taj Lake Palace pays homage to heritage and exclusivity. A warm welcome later, I ask my guide to this classic set up. Mr. Sumukh Mishra, Sales Manager, if other hotels have taken up the market share “Since it’s a price driven market, we have been affected by other properties, but is imperative that each guest who comes to Taj Lake Palace knows its heritage and royalty.” Made by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1746, Taj Hotel Resorts took over its second property in 1971, which went on to become synonymous to India. Away from large conferences and weddings, the intention is to keep it solely for leisure travellers. “We have a huge responsibility to provide a memorable experience” says Mishra “to those who are staying with us, and we ensure that we remain an exclusive, boutique palace.” We tend to see more Indians during the months of summers when many have summer vacations” says Mishra when the average rate is 18,000 per night where months of October to March see a peak of Rs. 25,000 per night. Room categories include luxury rooms, palace rooms, royal suites, grand royal suites and the grand presidential suite which was occupied at the time of my visit. Unique dining options at Mewar terrace, Lily Pond and restaurant Bhairo. Web: Tel: +91 294 2428800

Making most of the scenic beauty of Lake Pichola, The Oberoi Udaivillas was conceived in 1990 but opened for its guests in 2002. Based on Mughal and Mewar architecture, The Oberoi Udaivillas looked splendid in white. During my show around, I realised that this property is home to landscaped gardens, water cascades, frescoes, arches and domes, niches and alcoves- all of which, I am told by Nisha Lohat, Assistant Manager, Front Office, were a collaborative effort by Bill Bensley and LM Limb. My favourite parts were the entrance dome made of gold leaves which according to Lohat, took 45 days. The middle of the hotel also occupies a candle room which took 35 days to complete and used 1, 75,000 mirror pieces for ‘thekri’ work. Even today, the candle room is lit up every evening with the use of natural light. The Oberoi Udaivillas is also home to an award winning spa, a wildlife conservatory and some unique dining options to make the most of its location. Room categories include premier rooms, premier rooms with a lake view, and luxury suites with a private pool and renowned Kohinoor Suite. As far as marriage & conferences are concerned, Lohat says “we don’t allow any marriages inside the premises; the priority is to not disturb the guests staying with us.” Web: Tel: +91 294 2433300



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Enjoy Heritage at Lalit Laxmi Villas

Ideal for Destination Weddings: Sheraton Udaipur Palace Resort & Spa As I pulled into the driveway of Sheraton Udaipur Palace, I saw flocks of families and friends and two of their huge gardens tented for functions. A walk inside and a conversation later with Arjun Channa, General Manager, I am informed that one wedding party is departing, another one is checking in as we speak. With the largest inventory in Udaipur of 228 rooms, the property provides a scenic view of Lake Fateh Sagar with a huge ballroom as well as outdoor areas. Room categories include Superior Rooms with a view of the pool, Deluxe rooms sharing scenes of Fateh Sagar or Aravallis’, club rooms and suites enmeshed with more personalised services. With a certain sense of monopoly maintained by renowned perch for weddings, Jagmandir “Our rates are not as high and we are more about providing value for money” says Channa. With their biggest clients being from Gujarat, a lot of Indian tourists as well as those celebrating milestones are seen in Sheraton. “Around 60% come in groups” says Channa “whereas 40% are individual and business travellers.” While connectivity and the lakes drying up from time to time can be of due concern, the concern is to promote Sheraton Udaipur “as a lifestyle in itself. That said, we definitely want more and more people to come to Udaipur.” Web: Tel:+91 294 3050000

An original palace by Maharana Bhopal Singh was built in 1911 for his guests and meetings. With long arches and checked marble, “the property has been revived and upgraded” tells Mr. Varun Sahani, General Manager “by The Lalit for those coming to us from all parts of the world”. Perched slightly higher than other properties, the Lalit Laxmi Villas enjoys picturesque views of Fateh Sagar, the city and the Aravallis’. “This property is for those who understand and appreciate heritage and our clientele is such that we only cater to the same. Price wars are at their place but our brand matters more.” Divided into the Heritage wing and Sreenathji wing, the room categories are deluxe rooms with a lake/valley view and 14 suites, each different from the other. Enjoyed by the locals and others, the Lalit Laxmi Villas has been home to royalty as well as bureaucracy “All of India’s Prime Ministers and Presidents have come and stayed with us” tells Sahani, showing me the property. While the GM agreed a lot had to be done in terms of connectivity, those who come to Lalit Laxmi Villas are taken care of with great hospitality, in-room spa. To cater to the rising number of families look to host functions and weddings, “we plan on adding 55 more rooms as well as a banquet hall to seat 1500 people.” Web: Tel: +91-294-2529711

Go Now’s Favourite, Unprecedented Luxury at The Leela Palace Udaipur Set on the blue waters of Lake Pichola, The Leela Palace Udaipur managed to leave a lasting impression on me. Be it in the majestic set up of a palace, the regal accommodation which includes 72 rooms and 8 suites, the heritage architecture or the warmth of those who work there, the Leela Palace Udaipur stands unparrelled in Udaipur’s skyline. For a detailed review, please turn to Page 64.


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DESTINATION OOTY Pine cones for sale in the Ooty market

Calm and Cool

OOTY The drive from Coimbatore to Ooty is pleasant and serene.

Queen of the Hills, Snooty Ooty, Ootacamund, Udhagamandalam or simply Ooty, this small hill station in the Nilgiris, is known by many names. If you are longing for a break, you are looking at the right destination. Ooty offers you a mix of peace, adventure and luxury, says Rahul Kumar from Go Now. 46


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Tea estates are a major attraction for tourists.


o, you have seen it all and done it as well. Not only that, you have experienced it many times over – the Botanical Gardens and the Rose Garden, the lakes, boating, the tallest hills and the weird looking-ones, picking up the pinecones; jumping on the spongy dried-out moss and feeling the bashful touch-me-nots. Someone said not to believe the weather in the hills and the trails in jungles as both are misleading. But we will take you on a lazy leisurely trek in the forests of Ooty where you have the liberty to disregard your guide’s advice (at your own risk) if he says that a leopard was seen in the pine forest that he wanted to take you to and hence skips it.

Trekking Through Ooty The trail we take is one of adventure and discovery. Patches of luxury with spots of everyday living and tea-breaks that take your mind gently back to the good old tension-free days. The approximately 100-km road journey from Coimbatore to Ooty is exhilarating. The cool air, verdant hills, ample waterfalls along the way, steep slopes and balls of clouds playing hide and seek with the hills. Not to miss the sign boards highlighting the routes that the elephants take. And don’t be

surprised if on your journey you come across Tibetans in and around the hills. A half-day, 10-13 kms trek of Ooty takes you past colonial buildings and lands gifted by the King of Mysore to the Government of Karnataka. One walks through manicured tea gardens with women plucking the leaves which you will soon consume as a wake-up drink on lazy mornings. The trek will take you through vegetable patches, pine and eucalyptus woods, workers harvesting carrots and a mechanized cleaning set-up for carrots; roadside tea shops manned by women and hectic construction activity as well. Don’t jump out of your skin if the guide tells you that the entire row of flats in front of you was a hill about six years back. There are sign boards inviting you to buy them and, mind you, these are all over the city.

Golf Course Ooty, much like its Himalayan counterparts, has a golf course and it is no mean one. With over a 100-year old history and 18 holes to boot, the course has patches of eucalyptus trees dotting its highly undulating landscape. Little bits of thorny bushes with yellow flowers mark the course. The course came into being in 1896 as the Gymkhana Golf club

with 9 holes. Located at a height of about 7,400 feet with a par of 70 over 6,207 yards, it is one of the sought after greens for its scenic beauty and breathtaking views. But the first impression was an interesting one. “Where is the course,” I said to myself in a disappointing tone as I looked around a small patch of grass to my left and to my right. The course was all around me hidden in the tall woods, down below, to the left and the right and also behind the next little hillock. The Gymkhana Club Golf Course’s topography is much like a terrace farm, cut into the sides of a hill slope and a little putting can actually get you a good exercise.

Eucalyptus Oil Stopped at a small black hut where the Moorthy family was making eucalyptus oil. It was an experience in itself. All those looking for success stories on climate change, sustainable livelihoods and being eco-friendly can stop here for a demo. Only the fallen leaves are picked up from the ground, stuffed into bags and brought to the eucalyptus oil factory. Should it be called a factory at all? The eucalyptus oil producing hut. It has no light. Is small and dark and can become extremely hot when the process of getting oil is on. December 2011 GO NOW



factfile REACHING OOTY: The nearest airport is Coimbatore, which is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chenai. Through train, it is connected to Mettupalayam through the narrow gauge railway. Well connected by road, it is 535 km from Chennai, 96 km from Coimbatore, 18 km from Coonoor, 155 km from Mysore, 290 km from Bangalore and 281 km from Kochi.

The Tibetan market is a big draw for Malayalee tourists

A Tibetan shopkeeper

So, we had the young farmer, P. Moorthy clad in a worn-out T-shirt, who demonstrated the process of making eucalyptus oil. The leaves are stuffed in an earthen pot and boiled. The firewood consists of those eucalyptus leaves that have already been boiled for their oil. They have been used as a roofing material for the hut and naturally dried. So, the steam from the leaves is collected into another pot and that gives the oil. What can be more eco-friend – running the entire manufacturing cycle on just the leaves and using the dried ones as walls and the roof of the factory. Fantastic isn’t it!

The Thread Garden The name – The thread garden – is intriguing. Once you step in with an inquisitive twinkle in your eyes, you wonder – why has this laborious work done in God’s Own Country been transplanted all the way to the hills of Tamil Nadu? This interesting indoor 48


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display of flowers made by embroidery thread without the use of machines has taken the effort of 50 women artists over 12 years. The women did not weave, stitch or sew; instead they laboriously wound by hand more than six crore metre of colourful threads on to wires to turn them into stems, leaves, flowers and petals. The flowers that they have designed look exactly like the real ones. With the artificially created ambience with flowing water, mud and rocks, the set-up may be a bit cluttered but fairly real. Another big surprise that the natural-looking artificial garden throws up is the question posed to you as you take the first step into the shaded man-made set-up. “What language please? Asks the guide of the thread garden Prem.” The man knows as many as seven languages including English, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu. This is the beauty of Ooty – many people are versed in a number of languages including Hindi which puts a traveler from northern India at ease.

A Tibetan Market If you were wondering about a casual mention of the Tibetans in the initial paragraphs, here is the explanation. There is a small Tibetan market which is a favourite with tourists, particularly Malayalee tourists. An interesting thing about the market is that it is a ‘no-bargain’ market. The prices of goods, mostly readymade garments and woollens, are fixed by the Tibetan Welfare Association and buyers are told in no uncertain but polite tones that haggling is not possible. Whether a buyer may pay heed or not, all clothes carry a tag with

PLACES TO SEE: Buses ply regularly to the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, the Doddabeta peak and the two hill stations of Kotagiri and Coonoor. Ooty Lake: The artificial lake was created in 1824 by the first District Collector. Botanical Gardens: Over 160 years old, the gardens have exotic and ornamental plants. It has steep slopes, undulating lawns, flower beds and ponds. Rose Garden: It has more than 2,000 varieties of roses and is a charming places because of flower beds and terraces. Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary: About 45 kms from Ooty, the sanctuary has elephants, tigers, bisons, jungle cats, leopard, sambar, various deer species and diverse fauna. Pykara Falls: About 25 kms from Ooty, it has a dam and a hydro-electrical plant. Boating facilities, grassy meadows and wildlife habitats are the major attraction. Doddabeta Peak: The name means the big mountain. The highest peak in the Nilgiris it also has a telescope house.

slogans – “Long Live Indo-Tibet Friendship” and “Save Tibet”. If you choose to dig out more, you will find a Delhi University graduate selling woolens as also those who have relocated from Orissa and Karnataka.

The World Heritage Train Nothing beats the heritage train experience – that too with prices that are a steal. From Rs 73 to Rs 3 for a 20 km ride from Ooty to another marvelous hill station Coonoor. What else does a tourist want? Sitting in a train that chugs throwing up clouds of smoke as it snakes through tunnels, bridges, waterfalls and the lush greens of tea gardens and pine forests. On the way down, the engine goes in reverse pulling the coaches. Constructed by Swiss engineers over a 100 years ago it was granted the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. In short, Ooty is destination to go for, for its history, tranquility and also if you want to tailor-make your holiday. text & photographs by RAHUL KUMAR IN OOTY

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GOA: MULTIPLE OPPORTUNITIES BEYOND LEISURE Goa has been synonymous with holidays for decades. Even as it continues to top the list of vacationers, there’s much more that it offers…


ince the Tourism Industry started in Goa during the 1970s, Goa has primarily been known as a leisure destination. During the 70s and 80s it was largely foreign tourists travelling to Goa but since the 90s Indians have been increasingly visiting. Over the past 5 years in particular Indian tourist numbers have been growing exponentially. However, it is incorrect to say that Goa is solely a leisure travel destination. The past 15 years have seen the emergence of the corporate group segment and this now represents a very significant number of visitors. While there are many hotels which have excellent facilities to service the requirements of these guests the group sizes have been capped at around 400 due to lack of very large venue space. This will change with the opening of the Grand Hyatt Goa in Bambolim in August which will have space for groups of up to 1500. At Goa Marriott Resort and Spa, groups of different types represent approximately 30% of our room nights sold in a year. The increasing trend towards destination weddings has been another relative newcomer to the Goa tourism picture. Each year now several hundred couples choose to “tie the knot” in Goa with their families and friends present. The movie industry has been a great contributor to tourism in Goa. Every year dozens of moviemakers shoot several major portions of their films here. Some seek the beach scenery but Goa’s townscapes and forests are also common backdrops for the silver screen. There are several interesting initiatives to further develop the movie industry here in Goa and I see potential for even more growth in this segment. Perhaps the most recent entry to the list of demand drivers in Goa is the casino market. As the only significant casino destination in India, large numbers of visitors are coming to play on a regular basis. 50


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The past 15 years have seen the emergence of the corporate group segment and this now represents a significant number of visitors. Increasing trend towards destination weddings has been another relative newcomer to the Goa tourism picture. The movie industry has been a great contributor to tourism in Goa.

There is a fundamental challenge to the growth of tourism in any destination and in Goa we face the same. The demand for travel to Goa is heavily skewed towards weekends. Like most hotels we are fully booked or close to it every weekend of the year. We all face much lower demand during the week. In the peak season, from October to March, this discrepancy is much less, and Goa will be busy throughout the week. From April to September is when this difference becomes apparent. There is opportunity for visitors, be they holiday-makers or group bookings, to enjoy significant savings if they can consider shifting their trip to week days. It is simply a case of supply and demand and a traveller’s bargaining power will be much greater during the week. There is so much going on in Goa which is of interest to travelers and I am sure that we are going to see an increase in the diversity of products and experiences available over the coming years. Beyond the beaches, Goa has an incredible history, several unique culinary cultures, a vibrant arts scene, interesting architecture and great natural beauty in the mountainous hinterland. More and more people are discovering these aspects of Goa and I am sure that we will see the diversification of the tourism market over the coming years. As is the case throughout India in almost all industries, the potential is colossal; as are the challenges. Just as with most industries, we face challenges of infrastructure and of finding skilled, trained people. As we overcome these challenges I have no doubt that we will see the Tourism Industry in Goa continue to grow. It is an exciting time to be here. The author is the General Manager, Goa Marriott Resort & Spa

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In down town Goa, sitting atop the Miramar area, the Marriott offers all that you will need from a hotel in Goa. Its location is superb, considering that Old Goa is close-by, and across the Mandovi River is the ‘happening’ north.


hoosing a hotel in any city can be a challenge, if you don’t know the city well. Often, the hotel is an anchor for your explorations in the city, and seldom an end in itself, unless it is a deliberate complete resort in itself. Goa is no different – however good the hotel, Goa beckons you in all directions – its history, its beaches, its nightlife and its scenic vistas. In Goa, you are always haunted by the nightmare of distances. Almost all the deluxe hotels and resorts are in the south, infact some in the deep south. The happening pubs and shacks are in the north, ironically a few in the deep up north! Commuting can therefore, take a few hours. Inevitably, where you stay makes a vital difference; it will dictate how often you will travel to experience the legendary attractions of Goa, both that belong to the categories of sightseeing and time out. Panaji sits in the middle, virtually, between the north and south. Panaji is also the home to the state government, it is also the thoroughfare to old Goa. Panaji is also adjacent to two of Goa’s most premium residential colonies, if one can use that description, Dona Paula and Miramar. The latter is also home to the old quarters that now host IFFI, the annual film festival. Miramar is also home to the Goa Marriott, sitting 52


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virtually between the north and the south. Almost ten years old, the Goa Marriott looks and feels almost new, with its recent refurbishing programme where all the 180 rooms and suites have been redone, its public areas washed afresh, and its spa is both opulent as well as refreshing. The rooms are well appointed, offering either garden views or sea views. Those on the ground floor have an additional patio that provides extra room to laze around. All rooms have spectacular views – those on the sea side overlook the vast expanse of the ocean. The pool has infinity views across this ocean, and much of the activity in the hotel is centred around this panorama. Through the day, and even later in the night, it is common to see trawlers glide softly across, humming their own music as they ferry iron ore to the port. In the evening hours, the silence is intermittently broken with music and dancing on the passing-by entertainment boats carrying revellers and tourists, on multi decks, from the close-by harbour where they start from and finish. The pool has predictably a sunken bar, but this one is warm and inviting, almost hugging the sea, frequented till past ten in the night. Adjoining, is the exclusive Simply Grills, where you choose your fish and give it the sauce you like; its a mix and match that

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GO NOW December 2011

offers endless variety. Perched virtually on the sea, the service is excellent, most personalised and the staff even remembers what wine you had the previous evening. Like every resort, Goa Marriott also thrives on lavish spreads for its breakfast as well as lunch and dinner. The food choice is varied, catering to different palates. The service is again prompt and courteous. Marriott Hotels, I would tend to reflect, also ensure a certain crispness in delivery, the styling comes with a straight back combining courtesy and alertness. This hotel, too, does the same. The shopping arcade is coming back to life after the renovation. A Mont Blanc shop has opened and so has Snips, the local Goa beauty spa. There is a cake shop on the premises, a full day bar and also a casino that offers the usual on-shore package as other hotels do. The owning family has an off-shore casino, Casino Carnival, both offering some what similar adventures except that in the hotel these are electronically driven. So what has the change meant for the hotel? Just ten years ago, the hotel owned by the Salgoankar family had opened its doors to what was the first Marriott Hotel in India?

Primarily, it was the recognition of the big change in the incoming tourism profile into Goa. 15 years ago, the city was predominated by foreigners; today, much of Goa’s tourists are domestic. So much so, we gather that some 95% of Marriott premium clients are Indians, those who book suites, devour Scotch whiskey and order lobsters. Some 80% of the guest profile is Indian! In the renovation, much thought was given to the changing guests’ needs – a new emphasis on weddings and big events; more contemporary rooms with a great sense of space; a brand new gym, much larger than what a 180 room hotel would demand; a great new spa, the signature brand from the Marriott stable, Quam, with its emphasis on water based therapies; and more than anything else, becoming responsive to the young set of holiday makers looking for a more intensive but shorter holidays. Given its location, its compact size, its ball room size (430 sqm), its spa and services, the hotel is attracting all segments of the incoming visitors to Goa. From the corporate sector, from standalone businessmen, MICE market, honeymooners and holidaymakers. text & photographs by NAVIN BERRY


Address: Miramar Beach, PO Box No 64 Panaji - Goa, 403001 India GETTING THERE From Airport: Drive towards North Goa from the airport. From the Panaji bus terminus proceed towards Miramar. Once on the Miramar - Dona-Paula highway follow the signage to Goa Marriott Resort & Spa. Distance: 18.6 miles Nearest Railway Station: Karmali Number of Rooms: 172 and 8 suites For Reservations: 91-832-2463333 CURRENT OFFERS: Personalized Getaways at the Goa Marriott Resort Rates: Rs 6,750 – Rs 15,000 Valid Through: December 21, 2011 Spa Package Rates: Rs 7,800 - 27,000 Valid Through: December 21, 2011

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BINSAR with MARY BUDDEN A Luxury Homestay Hidden inside A Luxury Homestay Hidden inside the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Rhododendron Cottage at dusk



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Nestled away in the Binsar wildlife sanctuary is a mesmerizing view and the Mary Budden estate. Owned by Serena Chopra, the property is a must for those who enjoy being tucked away from city life and everyday bustle. Mary Budden Cottage


ary Budden estate is a luxury homestay hidden away inside the Binsar wildlife sanctuary. To reach there, I left Delhi at five a.m. in the comfort of my car. It's best to leave early to beat the traffic. In about five hours I had reached the foothills and after four hours of driving through the mountains I was in Binsar.

Exhilarating Drive to Binsar The last thirty minutes before arriving in Binsar are a terrific tease. The mountains become more lush, the air becomes more crisp, the environs more silent, and the incline more steep. The road literally ends in a clearing at the top of the mountain from where there is nowhere else to go. I’m surrounded by dense vegetation, through which the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayan mountains peek at me. The peak that catches my eye is the trident shaped Trishul, mystic and stoic. I feel like I’m standing at the top of the world, surrounded by clouds that float below this personal heaven I have discovered. I walk down the cobbled path to the entrance of Mary Budden Estate and I feel at peace. I have already forgotten my worries.

Meet the Owners I’m greeted by the genial caretaker, Ganesh Dutt and soon thereafter by the owner Serena Chopra who’s name mirrors the ambience of the property. I tell her this and she laughs. We sit outside and enjoy warm tea and savory snacks, looking over the vast valley than lies invitingly beneath us. I feel like

strapping myself to a handglider and soaring over this inviting cradle of the earth. Serena tells me that her husband and her bought Mary Budden estate about twenty years ago. It sits on five acres of land but I'd ever know the size of the estate because I felt like I had the mountainside to myself. Not a soul in sight, just the sounds of the breeze through the trees and the occasional chirping of birds. The property is named after Mary Budden, a British missionary who had lived here in the 19th century and carried out charitable and educational works. Her original home still stands. “It’s more than 150 years old,” Serena tells me. As I walk through it, I can see that Serena has painstakingly restored the home. The original structure stands but it’s been lavishly redecorated and refurbished. It looks like a luxuriousvilla from the inside, one that might have been occupied by a Lord during the British Raj. It was simultaneously opulent and rustic.

Original Structure, Refurbished Interiors The tranquility of the outside travels inside the house, which is bereft of phones, televisions or the other contrivances of modern living. Still it feels luxurious. “Yes you can get on the net,” Serena smiles and tells me. For the firmly tethered, Serena has provided a single TV, the option to connect to the internet and yes you can use your mobile phone… but it isn’t advised. Serena shows me to a second cottage, called Rhododendron after the scarlet flower that adorns the mountainside in December 2011 GO NOW



Patio outside dining room, Mary Budden Cottage.

Dining area, Rhododendron Cottage.

Binsar. The cottage was recently purpose built to house another four bedrooms. It’s more modern than Mary Budden Cottage but still in keeping with the bucolic charm of the property. I notice the attention to detail and the luxuriousness with which Serena has decorated both the cottages. I wash up in the bathroom. Yes, there is running water but it’s rain water, harvested by catchment tanks fed from the roof so I'm judicious with its use. The bathrooms are as luxurious as the rest of the property, fitted with modern amenities and signature cosmetics.

Best View at Zero Point I join Serena for a walk up to “Zero Point,” 58


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Living room, Rhododendron Cottage.

factfile Open from September to June Mary Budden Estate The Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary P.O. Ayarpani District Almora, Uttarakhand INDIA Mobile: +91 98101 85101 Email: GETTING THERE By Rail: The nearest railway station is at Kathgodam, 120 km away from Binsar. And you can hire a taxi for the 4 hour drive through the hills to Binsar. By Air: Kingfisher flies from Delhi to Pantnagar four times a week. Pantnagar, near Kathgodam is the closest airport. It is 155 km from the estate.

from where I’m treated to a three hundred and sixty degree view of my environs. It’s breathtaking and I feast my eyes of the mountain range that had greeted me when I first arrived. The forest has barking deer, langurs, the occasional bear and even leopards. Ganesh Dutt shows us pug marks from earlier in the day. We return home (yes, it felt like returning home), my appetite whetted from the brisk walk. We sit by a crackling bonfire under a large tree that seems to exist just to protect us from the elements. The food is delicious and as I look at the valley below my feet, I don’t want to leave this beautiful place. by RASIK CHOPRA



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Festive Offers from One&Only Resorts What better way to celebrate your Christmas and New Year than at these world-renowned resorts. As we usher in the holiday season, One&Only Resorts presents stylish revelries to suit every merry-making.

One&Only Le Saint Geran, Mauritius One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives Surrounded by the wonders of the crystal blue Indian Ocean, this all villa resort is perfect for family getaways over the festive season. Duplex Beach Villas are ideal for those travelling with children while the Water Villas are more suited to couples. Guests residing at the resort over festive season can look forward to Culinary Classes by the resort’s Master Chefs, Wine and Champagne tasting hosted by our Chief Sommelier, Lobster, Champagne & Sax night at Rah Bar beach and a spa retreat at One&Only Spa. This package at One&Only Reethi Rah is starting from US$ 2000.

Nestled peacefully in the silver sands of its own private peninsula, One&Only Le Saint Géran is the perfect place to spend private, quality time with loved ones over Christmas and New Year. Guests residing at the resort between 23rd December and 2nd January can look forward to a range of culinary treats by Michelin-starred Chef Vineet Bhatia, Catamaran cruises in the lagoon, Buffets on the beach and under the stars, Daily outdoor activities with the Recreation team, Nature & Fitness Kayak Tours and a full Moon Party. Christmas Eve celebrations

include evening cocktails and dinner buffet followed by Christmas Day celebrations include a champagne breakfast buffet, a visit from Santa and a Jazz lunch buffet. New Year’s week celebrations include a lavish buffet including vodka and

Spanish caviar station, foie gras, truffles and a champagne breakfast buffet to ring in the New Year. Tariffs for One&Only Le Saint Geran are starting from USD 1,176. For reservations:

One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai Guests are invited to enjoy the magical moments and all the mythic charms of old Arabia with a stay at One&Only Royal Mirage this festive season. The stylish décor, intricate arches, domes, towers and lush green gardens make this an ideal escape for a festive holiday with a difference. For Christmas Eve, festive buffet at Olives Restaurant starting from AED 270 per person



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and a festive Set Dinner Menu at Celebrities is starting from AED 380 per person at the Palace. Similar options are available at the Arabian Court starting from AED 270 per person. For New Year’s Eve, the package at Celebrities, Tagine or at Grand Courtyard including a festive set menu and wine selection costs AED 1,700 per person. For reservations:

For an afternoon at “Stay”, One&Only The Palm Following the opening of STAY by Yannick Alléno at One&Only The Palm, comes an “Afternoon Thé Gourmand”; a unique variety of hand-picked premium teas, full bodied, high quality, organic and fair trade single origin coffee beans from South America and sweets featuring the much appreciated French pastry selection; Paris-brest, traditional Saint-Honoré, Canelé, and vanilla mille-feuille, homemade ice-creams and sorbets with classics such as Café Liégeois, Pêche Melba and Poire bele Hélène as well as lolli-pops, macaroons and many more. “Afternoon Thé Gourmand” is priced at AED 220 per person. Additionally, guests can opt for the Ultimate indulgence which includes “Afternoon Thé Gourmand” and a mini hamper of the chef’s speciality treats for further enjoyment at home, priced at AED 350 per person. Log onto or call 0091 22 6638726


Celebrate Christmas and New Year at The Venetian, Macao Christmas at the Venetian Macao not only means Santa Clause, it means a Christmas parade, a performance by Streetmosphere- a large cast group of talented singers, jugglers, dancers, a snowman, Christmas Tree, singers of Rat Pack singing

the top hits of the Christmas festive and carolers singing carols in the best festive attire. Firmly established as a duty free shopping hotspot, The Grand Canal Shops and The Shops at Four Seasons, one can explore more than 400

luxury retail outlets. Venetian Macao comes with a Shop and Pamper Package which starts from Rs. 12,160 per night for couples. The package includes one in all of the important elements of a holiday tour – accommodation, meals, transportation,

shopping, entertainment, and sightseeing. Accommodations for two are provided with a lavish Royale Suite at The Venetian Macao. For dining, guests can choose breakfast for two at Café Deco or Fogo Samba; or enjoy a buffet lunch at Bambu. The package also includes choosing between complimentary one-way CotaiJet™ Cotai Class ferry tickets for two from Macao to Hong Kong or Gondola Ride for two at The Grand Canal Shoppes. Guests will enjoy receiving MOP 200 worth of Rewards Dollars to help them gets started with shopping, dining and entertainment. For a two night stay, guests will receive an additional reward of MOP 200 1-hour massage for one person at Spa MALO Clinic, 40-minute

foot massage for two persons at MALO Clinic Spa or two B-reserve tickets for ZA ATM by Cirque du Soleil®. A third night stay gets you more exciting by receiving an additional MOP200 Rewards Dollars and upgrade to a spectacular Cotai View suite.

Bookings can be made via travel agent or by contacting The Venetian Macao – by phone at 000800 100 7951(India)/ +853 2882 8843 (Macao), or by emailing to

New Year’s Eve at Six Senses Soneva Fushi, Maldives The beginning of the festivities will start on our sandbank with all of the guests invited for a sunset cocktail reception, free flowing champagne, live cooking stations serving fun canapés, a live local Maldivian bodu beru (local drums) band playing a forty five minute set. Once the sun has set, the guests will be cruised back to the island by boats and dropped off at our beautiful outdoor Cinema Paradiso under the stars. Again the guests will find more nibbles and drinks; the cinema area will be lit with candles and torches allowing everyone to star gaze the real stars and not just the ones from tinsel town. From here you can pick-up your bicycle and slowly make your way along the winding jungle paths that will of course be lit with torches. There will be themed pit stops along the way, four in total and each one set in a very special place. One can find a Thai style street market at a cross roads handing out a feast of Thai delicacies and a fun bar serving funky cocktails and a live band playing and a little further down follow the lights into a clearing and there under the banyan tree find a few local island men playing their drums, and some local island ladies cooking Maldivian specialties and handing out young king coconut water. A little further away, some more music and a Japanese street theme with

New style live sushi and sashimi, yakitori, noodles and tepanyaki, a sake and beer bar and a little flamenco guitar to fit the scene. At the end of the journey arriving at “Mehiree Mithaa” (over here in Dhivehi) are the desserts, more champagne and the grand finale of live music with Gwyn Jay Allen starting to play and

bringing in the New Year. Offers for the season differ in room categories and for a duration of 4 to 7 nights from USD 5,845 to USD 15,265. Tel: +960 660 0304. E-mail: compiled by MANAVI SIDDHANTI

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LUFTHANSA Upgrades First Class Cabin in India A deluxe premium seat and a separate full length flat bed is the definition of Lufthansa’s new first class cabin available from Delhi and Mumbai to Frankfurt.


t seems that Lufthansa brought out all stops to make the most of this holiday season. Bringing a new twist to luxury travel, the leading airline introduced a new first class cabin on board Boeing 747-400. As one of the first destinations in Asia to enjoy this facet, Delhi and Mumbai are enjoying this since October 31 this year.

8 Seats: 1 Deluxe Seat & a Flat Bed

length. As a result, each passenger in the new First Class cabin will enjoy a separate bed in addition to a seat. This reduces the number of First Class seats to eight. Following a 1:1 seat configuration, the new first class which consists of a deluxe seat and a separate bed is available on a daily basis. The new First Class seating concept provides a separate bed in addition to a seat, ensuring a quieter and more exclusive atmo-

Lufthansa is entering new territory with this First Class seating concept where the window seats have been converted into full-length, lie-flat beds over two meters in

sphere for customers flying on Lufthansa’s first. The deluxe seat is 20.5 inches wide with a pitch of 83.9 inches accompanied by a flat bed stretching over 2 meters in length.

Sound Proofing, Top Quality Mattresses Top-of-the-range materials such as mattbrushed metal and scarred leather have been used throughout the cabin. Top-quality mattresses 2/2 with temperature-regulated blankets and pillows ensure unprecedented sleeping comfort. In addition, sound-absorbing curtains and sound-deadening insulation beneath the carpet provide peace and quiet 62


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for premium passengers. An individual inflight entertainment program on 17-inch monitors provides soothing relaxation. The amenity kits from Porsche Design contain cosmetic articles from La mer. “Whether on the ground or on board, Lufthansa First Class passengers can always count on exceptional service. The introduction of our new premium product assures Indian First Class guests never-before luxury”, comments Axel Hilgers, South Asia Director, Lufthansa. “This latest innovation underscores Lufthansa’s commitment to continuous investment for the benefit of Indian customers.”

Additional Space in Economy Class The Economy Class cabin on board Lufthansa’s B747-400s has also gone through a makeover. New seats now provide a full five to seven centimeters of additional personal space and legroom for passengers. The increased comfort results from an innovative back rest design and further optimized seat ergonomics. Passengers can also customize their own, personal entertainment program on individual monitors by choosing from a wide range of feature films, popular TV series and fascinating documentaries in eight languages.

The first class passengers have the flexibility to choose the time when they want to have their meals. Dining options include special cuisine designed by renowned chefs in India and Europe under the Star Chef programme. Infact, the Caviar served in Lufthansa’s First Class is known extremely popular with the airline’s premium customers. Once they arrive in Frankfurt, they are escorted to a separate first Class terminal where they can take a comfortable break. Fare: Approx Rs 3 lakhs return on both routes. compiled by MANAVI SIDDHANTI

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A blend of heritage and modern India, The Leela Palace Udaipur comes as a luxurious haven in the city. Be it the right location, a gaping view, culinary excellence or a spa treatment, the hotel has all the elements of luxury for a long weekend.

Adding to Udaipur’s Opulence



e all know that a delightful stay at a hotel doesn’t just come from a gorgeous location, its impeccable interiors and spotless rooms. I say this because one can find many haute brands that have made their mark in an image-driven industry. But then comes a point when you figure out you want more than looks. Sometimes a hotel becomes too intimidating. “We fuse tradi64


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tional elements and modern day luxuries” says Graham Grant, General Manager, The Leela Palace Udaipur “making sure that the ambience doesn’t get intimidating or uncomfortable.” A delightful cocktail of Rajasthani traditions is combined with Leela’s hospitality when the chauffer drives an environmentally conscious car and offers you a genre specific music list to suit your mood. De-

lighted by these choices, I stick to folk while my driver, Devender, a local become a quasi guide to the city steeped in history. After a while he slows down, telling me that the rest of the journey will be done by boat, dropping me at a Leela motorboat. A dozen courtesies and a lifejacket later, I am in the middle of Lake Pichola, taken in by its effect. The boatman gently traipses through the water, letting me feast my eyes on the

waters and the heritage that it surrounds. “In a city which is romantic by nature” says Graham “The Leela Palace Udaipur is a heritage hotel, subtly placed in a beautiful landscape.”

ury” she said “while ensuring that the hotels retain the soul of India.”

Gracious Welcome, Distinguished Hospitality

I am escorted to the first floor, the heritage wing which overlooks the City Palace and Jagmandir. After a welcome by the floor butler, a beautiful spa therapist gives me a much needed foot rub. A spacious room, its setting is unlike other hotels. The bed is not against a wall but overlooks a private pool. “We have an incredible position” says Grant “where all of our 80 rooms come with a view”. The pool is available in this wing which is 4 feet deep and consists of a small pond and a sitting area-ideal for a sunset. The middle of the room is occupied by a lavish vanity area, separate bath tub area, a shower cubicle and a walk in wardrobe. Be it in assisting, in unpacking or the concept of a 24-hour floor butler available at the touch of a button, I personally felt that the staff is warm and friendly.

As we progress towards the dock for The Leela Palace Udaipur, I am escorted to the entrance where a rose petal rain, local music and a flurry of Leela’s finest, are present to greet me. “That’s what we try and do here” Graham Grant, General Manager tells me in our meeting later “we try and add as many personal touches we can, to leave a lasting impression on each and every one of our guests.” A new construction, the architecture has been done by Bill Bensley and the interiors is a collaborative effort by Jeffrey Wilkes and Mrs. Madhu Nair, wife of Dinesh Nair, the son of group chairman Captain CPK Nair. “My job is to create international standards in lux-

Mesmering View, Carefully Decorated Rooms

Themed wallpaper, miniature and thekri paintings, embellished mirrors and handpicked artefacts- even silk linens are worth admiring. “For this, the whole credit goes to Mrs. Madhu Nair” says Grant, General Manager “who was involved at every step of interior decor and style.” The hotel boasts of state of the art technology in the form of a movable flat screen, a surround sound BOSE system and mood lighting which helps accentuate the experience. Docks for your IPAD/IPOD as well as a DVD player with a genre specific collection of DVD’s are also available.

Suite Options at The Leela Palace Udaipur The Leela Palace Udaipur’s sub categories of luxury suites, duplex suites, royal suites and the Maharaja suite, offer luxurious comfort and practical space. The Luxury Suite has a finely appointed living room that leads on to an elegantly done up bedroom and a huge December 2011 GO NOW



bath area. While the Duplex Suite is splits levels of haven with an open air plunge pool and Jacuzzi, the Royal Suite suits anybody with the taste for heritage luxury. The grand dome appeals to your senses as also the four poster bed that underlines period decor. My favourite was the palatial Maharaja Suite for its separate living room, dining area, huge bath area and Jacuzzi, a massage parlour, infinity pool and a sprawling courtyard overlooking Lake Pichola.

Dining Options: Sheesh Mahal, the Dining Room “Even the food & beverage aspect has a motive” tells Abhishek Dhar, Assistant F&B Manager “which to make guests feel like royalty while enjoying Indian traditions.” Dinner at Sheesh Mahal, that overlooks the majestic sights of the city is an exciting yet serene experience. “We use elements to bring out the essence of Indian traditions” explains Dhar such as naming tables after spices, tying maulis wishing guests to come back. What I noticed was how the staff is committed to do all they can when some guests who wanted a display of fireworks were rather disappointed by legal obligations. In a bid to makeup, the restaurant came up with theme of light66


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ing Thai Lanterns, instantly bringing smiles to its patrons. Keeping in mind the diversity of their guests is all day dining restaurant, The Dining Room where cold and hot selections (although a larger collection would do better) for breakfast and Oriental cuisine for lunch as well al fresco continental options for dinner are available. “We never say no to guests from other hotels to come and dine with us. Those staying with us, any dietary restrictions or requests are mostly fulfilled by us.” tells Dhar.

Unique Dining Options, Ideal for Weddings & Conferences Be it Amrut Mahal for a traditional sit down meal, Rangmansh (their outside area overlooking Lake Pichola) an ideal venue for weddings, the Guava gardens or Gym Lawns for a larger function, The Leela Palace Udaipur is ready to adapt to your concept and palate. Be it MICE in a city meant for leisure, it is done with a quotient of luxury and comfort. “We have attracted and tapped into new business potential” said Graham Grant, General Manager “with top of the line weddings, executive meets or personal milestones.”


Wellness Factors: Luxury Tents for ESPA ESPA is majestically located in the courtyard gardens with views of the lake. The aroma steam rooms feature amethyst crystals and anthracite glass tiles as the beginning of a calming experience to begin. Apart from a yoga studio, treatments are performed in the privacy of the impressive Spa tents. For those who wish to share their time at ESPA, Udaipur, the Couples and Palace Suites each offer a private swimming pool and relaxation areas set within their own walled gardens with stunning views of the lake. After filling an elaborate form ranging from your skin type to allergies/conditions or medicines you’re currently on, the spa therapist discusses the ritual which suits your need and skin type. Apart from various massage options, an extensive menu of body treatments, hot stone massages and signature treatments are also available. Once done with your treatment, guests can spend time sun bathing, swimming or indulging in a health conscious menu at the spa.

The Salon, Leela Udaipur Palace Equipped with makeup and hair experts, Andy and his team are very thorough with

their techniques and can entertain a flurry of guests getting ready for a function or a nervous bride on her special day. One of my two favourite parts of the hotel are the inner courtyard-lit up with natural light where a performance is scheduled every night, drinks and appetisers can be enjoyed here. The second is the Library Bara luxurious lounge done in dark wood, comfortable couches, a collection of books and a selection of cognacs, malts and wines. Altogether, The Leela Palace Udaipur has all facets to make for a good stay in a city where sightseeing can be done within a day. On the contrary, the beautiful setting almost makes sure that while all guests have assistance at anytime of the day, we also enjoy privacy and a soulful experience.� text by MANAVI SIDDHANTI photo courtesy THE LEELA PALACE UDAIPUR

factfile The Leela Palace Udaipur Lake Pichola,P O Box No. 125, Udaipur -313-001. Tel:294-6701234. Email: Accessible by Maharana Pratap Airport 72 rooms and 8 suites

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GLENFARCLAS is the New Flavour in Single Malts


eorge Grant is 45 years old, carries the unassuming title of Director of Sales, and is literally travelling around the globe as a dedicated salesman for the group, or indeed his own passion, passed down for 175 years as a distillery, and over the last 150 years as family owned and family managed. There are other distilleries that are family owned but not managed. In this regard too, the Grants and Glenfarclas remain unique among major Scotch whiskey brands. As a distillery, they employ a handful of experts, just 30 people. They produce three

Last month Go Now met up with George Grant, the 6th generation owner of the world famous Glenfarclas Distillery in Scotland. His is the story of a single family, the Grants, who since 1885 have pursued with passion and single minded dedication, the dream of creating that perfect Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky and in many ways, an expression of the unique taste of Scotland.

George Grant at his estate in Scotland 68


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LUXURY SPIRITS million litres of alcohol, that translates into 10 million bottles per year. This year, they have recorded their best ever sales in India; they have grown 60% this year over last year. In India, Glenfarclas is available selectively, across hotels and restaurants and also in retail, primarily in the malls. Glenfarclas, ‘Glen of the Green Grassland’, nestles at the foot of Ben Rinnes. Purple in autumn and snow clad in winter, this majestic Speyside mountain rises up behind the distillery. High up on its nether covered slopes and fed by the melting snows of winter, crystal clear spring water bubbles up from the granite below, providing Glenfarclas with the purest water; to be transformed into the ‘water of life’. The distillery employs traditional methods and its secret is to be found in the spring water, in the finest malted barley, in the great Glenfarclas copper pot stills, in the indefinable magic of the Highland air. It is also said that Glenfarclas takes on its unique character during the long years maturing in the finest oak casks. Once the new spirit is collected, two thirds is filled into the finest Spanish Sherry oak casks and one third into plain oak casks, to be matured into the distinctive taste of Glenfarclas. We tasted the 12-year-old and the 105 Cask Strength. This single malt is rich in colour, has a thick body and is delightful to taste. The 105 Cask Strength, with 60% volume is not for the faint hearted. Whether it be the unique 105 Cask Strength, the 10, 12, 15, 21, 25, 30 or 40 Years Old, remember each dram is a celebration of the unique combination of location and history; the achievement of a family’s dream.

12 Years Old

40 Years Old

43% Vol.

46% Vol.

Colour: Vibrant amber-gold. Nose: Fresh and beautifully light, sherried fruit combined with a tempting spicy sweetness and a hint of sappy oak. Flavour: Full-bodied, delightful sherried fruit, with oak, a hint of peat and delicious sweet sensations. Finish: Long and flavoursome, with a lingering spiciness. Comment: An excellent introduction to the distillery style. Glen/farclas means Gen of Green Grassland, and the freshness on the nose reminds me of grassland in spring. So for me, this is the ‘farclas’ croma. In 2010 this won Gold at the International Wine and Spritis Competition and was named Best in Class.

Colour: Rich dark mysterious gold. Nose: Antique leather, walnuts and chocolate covered raisings. Flavour: A sweet initial taste, orange segments, chocolate. Then a lovely flavour of burnt brown sugar. Finish: The dry finish oozes big tannins and more rich dark cocoa beans. Let the whisky breathe a little or add a drop or two of water to fully open up the dram. Comment: This new Glenfarclas 40 years old, first bottled in March 2010, has been awarded a score of 95/ 100 by the Mall Advocate magazine.

105 Cask Strength 60% Vol.

Colour: Deep peaty-gold. Nose: Complex, oaky, apples and pears, and a tempting dark toffee sweetness. Flavour: Dry and assertive, develops quickly to reveal a rich spiciness, combined with a hint of oak and sherried fruit. Finish: Amazingly smooth for the strength; wonderful warming with a lingering smokiness, yet very rounded. Comment: A great whisky holding all the flavours of all the Glenfarclas in one glass. Don’t be afraid of the strength and order a 210, if you dare! The smoothness makes the 105 drinkable at cask strength, but I suggest add a little water to explore its great depth.

This unique family’s motto has also been to ensure that while making the best, they remain affordable. Therefore, comparatively, Glenfarclas is around 20% more affordable when compared to other brands in its class and maturity. Even though its Sherry casks cost around US$1,000 each compared to the bourbon casks that cost a mere US$50 each. Each generation of the Grants have contributed their own measure. His grandfather considered it blasphemous to mix water with the alcohol and created the 60% volume drink. George matured his 40-year-old (see box). And, malt lovers in India have begun to discover Glenfarclas; it is time to taste the difference. by NAVIN BERRY December 2011 GO NOW





DAY 1: Arrive in Rome You will be met at Rome Fiumicino International Airport and transferred by Mercedes S-Class to Hotel De Russie, at Piazza del Popolo. Located in the heart of Rome, the luxury five-star hotel is within walking distance of Rome’s key attractions, fashion houses and Via Condotti amongst more beautiful sights. Dinner options include Il Pagliaccio (2 Michelin stars), Agata e Romeo (1 Michelin star) and Il Convivio-Troiani.

DAY 2: La Dolce Vita in Rome

Breathtaking scenery, sumptuous gourmet food and unique arrangements at exorbitant hotels with your very own stallion, Ferrari. On a road trip to Italy, Go Now presents an ultimate luxury, eight day itinerary.

In the morning, a private car and guide will be at your disposal should you wish to take a guided tour of Rome’s most beautiful sights, the Coliseum, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican. Restaurant recommended – La Pergola (3 Michelin stars).


DAY 3: Test Drive Your Ferrari and Speed to Tuscany

onsidering a Ferrari tour of Italy? Taking in the splendour of Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio and the North ern lakes and cities such as Milan, Rome, Florence, Venice and Naples are a must. The journey includes choosing a Ferrari accompanied by a Ferrari tour director as your personal guide on an 8 day tour tailored to suit your every need.

Choose Your Stallion, No Parking Woes Once you choose from the from the latest Ferrari models that includes Ferrari 458



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Italia, Ferrari California, Ferrari F430 Scuderia F1, Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano F1, Ferrari F430 Spider F1 and Ferrari 612 Scaglietti F1, each day you will find your Ferrari filled up and carefully handwashed, ready to carry out your astonishing luxury tour. Amazingly, you will be the only guest allowed to leave your Ferrari just in front of the hall (and not in the common parking lot) of Italy’s most prestigious five or seven star luxury hotels and your luggage bags will be transferred directly to the hotel in the supporting car (Tour Director’s vehicle).

A Mercedes S-Class will transfer you from your hotel to Civitavecchia’s “Riva di Traiano” tourist harbour on the Roman coast. Here you will be welcomed with an aperitif in the exclusive Sporting Yacht Club followed by a dedicated Ferrari briefing, with your Ferrari scenically displayed in front of the yachts. It’s time then for a briefing about the controls of your chosen Ferrari model and following a short practice-drive, you will depart for Bolsena, along the panoramic and enchanting roads of the mythical Mille

LUXURY DESTINATION Miglia, passing Tarquinia, Viterbo, Bolsena, Acquapendente and Radicofani. The tour director will lead the way and you will be able to communicate with him through the mobile radio system. After lunch in Bolsena (Restaurant – La Pineta), the tour departs to San Casciano dei Bagni, stopping en-route to see the Pienza and Palazzo Borgia before you head to the Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort. Set in the hills of the Val d’Orcia, features richly decorated rooms with breathtaking terraces. An experience of the spa with natural warm spring water that boasts multiple therapeutic benefits along with the thermal pool or the bioaquam circuit are a must. Dinner options in San Casciano dei Bagni: Ferdinando I at Hotel Fonteverde.

DAY 4: En-route Siena and Florence Depart for Siena, an unspoiled medieval city that houses the famous Palio, a horse race around the city’s shell-shaped Piazza del Campo. Restaurant recommended: Al Mangia in Piazza del Campo, Siena’s main square. Next milestones include the famous Mille Miglia: Monteriggioni, Poggibonsi, San Casciano Val di Pesa, and Florence, passing through the famous Chianti region vineyards. Following an overnight stay at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, you can explore the city

that holds sanctuary to an art-filled Renaissance palazzo and the wonders of the Uffizi and Duomo are a stroll away. Restaurant suggestions: Enoteca Pinchiorri (3 Michelin stars) and Borgo San Jacopo.

DAY 5: Florence and Bologna In the morning, you have time for a guided walking tour of Florence or shopping. The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is a jewel in Italy’s crown with architectural treasures literally around every corner. The capital of Tuscany plays host to some of the world’s most beautiful museums and galleries housing works of art by da Vinci, Michelangelo, Giotto and Botticelli. Depart for Bologna in the afternoon, the route a mix of countryside roads and highway. You will arrive at the Grand Hotel Majestic (ex Baglioni), in the heart of Bologna’s historic centres. This most prestigious hotel in the city features elegant rooms combined with impeccable service. Restaurant suggestions: Enoteca Morandi at Grand Hotel Majestic, Bistrot Marco Fadiga.

DAY 6: Unravel the Legends of Ferrari and Maranello You depart for Maranello with stops at Mugello (home to the Moto GP Grand Prix of Italy) and Passo della Futa, stage of the famous Mille Miglia race that took place in the 50’s.

On route, visit a traditional balsamic vinegar producer, Villa San Donnino, followed by a balsamic vinegar tasting. After arrival in Maranello, visit the Ferrari Gallery and the Ferrari store, and Maranello complex. Post lunch at Il Cavallino, opposite the Ferrari factory, you will depart for Milan to stay at the Four Seasons Hotel. A dramatically reborn 15th-century convent with a mere 118 rooms and suites, the intimate hotel is steps from Milan’s couture houses on the exclusive Via Gesù between Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga. Restaurant options: Cracco, Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia (2 Michelin stars).

DAY 7: Art and Indulgence in Milan Shopping in Milan, the capital of fashion; else a guided tour. Milan, the financial heart of the country, has an energetic pace that matches its skyscraper counterparts in the rest of the world. Not only a hub of fashion and business, Milan is also home to the Renaissance and the finest works of our times. Restaurant suggestions: El Brellin, Gold Restaurant by Dolce & Gabbana.

DAY 8: Return to Milan Following a checkout at noon, you will be transferred by Mercedes S-Class to Milan Malpensa (or Linate) International Airport for your return flight. compiled by MANAVI SIDDHANTI

factfile FERRARI PORTFOLIO • Ferrari 458 Italia • Ferrari California • Ferrari F430 Spider F1 • Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 E-Gear HOTEL ACCOMODATION • Hotel De Russie 5*, Rome • Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort 5*, Siena • Four Seasons Hotel Firenze 5*, Florence • Grand Hotel Majestic 5*, Bologna • Four Seasons Hotel 5*, Milan ON REQUEST Tailor-made programmes with alternative itineraries and activities (golf, yachting, hot air ballooning, shopping tour, cooking lesson, wine tasting tour, private guided tour, etc.) Prices: Range from 1,700 (1 day) to 12,000 (8 days) per person and tours are conceived for 2 participants sharing 1 car and 1 double junior suite. For reservations: Phone: +91-98118-71888. December 2011 GO NOW





anthambore National Park, Rajasthan: We’re waiting with bated breaths for the Big One in our Gypsy Canter car at the crack of dawn. But His Majesty has been eluding us for over two hours now.

Waiting for Royalty This is no ordinary safari. We’re at one of finest game reserves in the world in India’s desert state of Rajasthan. The vehicle skims sl-o-w-l-y along the thick foliage on the dirt track so that the ten of us can keep our peepers peeled for the tiger. Cameras/handycams positioned in our by-now aching hands, we’re

ready to snap photos. But so far, no show. After what seems like eternity, our naturalist suddenly gestures to us with a finger on his lips. He’s heard a deer’s call in the distance, followed by a frantic chirping of the birds on the trees. This could mean only one thing – the tiger was lurking nearby! Hearts pounding, we hold our collective breaths as the vehicle cruises forward slowly for THE encounter. “He’s there, he’s there! Look!” our friends at the back of the packed-out jeep let out a collective whisper. Indeed He’s there in all his glory – moving clandestinely behind the foliage, his iridescent fur glowing against the dun-colored grass. The tiger moves languid-

ly, just like royalty, sniffing at the ground, eyes glinting like speckled marbles a few feet away from our vehicle. He looks around speculatively for a few minutes, running his sweeping gaze over swathes of the countryside. And then locks his gaze with ours. I stop breathing for a nano second. And then – in a trice – he’s off into the bushes! But we’ve had our Eureka moment. And there’s an impromptu celebration in the vehicle!

The Legend of Ranthambore We laugh and hug each other while the children jump with joy. Our ‘victory’ seems




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DESTINATION RANTHAMBORE especially sweet as for the last several days, we’re told, no safari tourist had gotten lucky with the tiger. Come to think of it, how could we not have got lucky? The Ranthambore National Park and sanctuary is home to a whopping 40 tigers. It enjoys the unique distinction of recording more frequent tiger sightings than any other tiger reserve in the world. As a bonus, it also hosts more than 300 varieties of birds and about 35 species of animals and hundreds of varieties of flora. Peafowls, parakeets, magpies and doves – we saw them all perched on treetops. Ditto partridges, storks and egrets. During the winter months, migratory birds like greylag, goose, ruddy shelduck, black eagle and pintails also make the park their home. Deeper in the jungle, chitals, sambars, the blue bull and the chinkara crossed our path. Apparently, there’s no other park in Asia where sambars – the largest of all Asiatic deer – can be seen as abundantly as at Ranthambore. Wild boars, langurs (monkeys) and jungle hare too, are commonly sighted along with leopards, caracal, jungle cat, ratel and a large population of sloth bears. Due to the Park’s plummeting tiger population, the Indian government’s flagship initiative for tiger protection – Project Tiger – is also active in this park. The idea is to preserve the legacy of this historic park. Renowned as India’s ‘Tiger District’, Ranthambore was founded back in the 11th century. The provenance of its name originates from the mighty Ranthambore Fort that sits atop a massive hill smack dab in the middle of the forest. Unsurprisingly, by the turn of the century, the Ranthambore forest had become the private hunting reserve of the Maharajas of Jaipur. It was declared the Sawai Madhopur Wildlife Sanctuary in 1955. The 300-square km Ranthambore National Park & Sanctuary came into existence in 1980.

The Oberoi Vanyavilas Mission accomplished, we head back to The Oberoi Vanyavilas, our abode for four days. The staggering property has been anointed as the world’s best hotel by a Travel & Leisure magazine readers’ survey. It has also won a cachet of popular hospitality wards. And it’s not tough to see why. The 20-acre resort offers 25 über luxurious tents right next to the jungle. However, the word ‘tent’ appears to be a complete misnomer here as I soak in the spiffy accoutrements of my own space – December 2011 GO NOW





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DESTINATION RANTHAMBORE gleaming teakwood floor, colonial style furniture, bathrooms with claw foot tubs, a king-sized four-poster bed flanked by bedside tables, fruit baskets and a private deck! I step out onto the sun-kissed deck and am engulfed by the Zen-like stillness of nature. A meandering water body, fragrant mango and lime trees and chirruping birds complete the idyll. The incandescent Aravalli and Vindhya mountain ranges are glinting in the distance.

Rejuvenation at Oberoi Spa After the adrenaline-charged morning, the Oberoi Spa seems the perfect place to unwind and de-stress. The therapist gets down to business and after about an hour of her pummeling and pounding, I feel reborn. My skin is glowing, my mind fresh. In addition to a Balinese massage, the spa also offers the therapeutic sound and vibrations of Tibetan singing bowls (supposedly to cleanse and enhance one’s chakra energy centers), a smorgasbord of Ayurvedic massages, heated lava shell treatment, facials and body wraps.

Eye Pleasing Architecture Recharged, I prepare for a tour of the Vanyavilas. The first thing that strikes one about it is its eye-pleasing architecture. A ceremonial gatehouse provides a dramatic entry to the resort’s main building, fashioned in the style of a traditional haveli (Indian mansion). Reflection pools, brilliantly painted frescoes and richly detailed interiors recreate the splendor of a bygone royal era. Overlooking a mango grove, The Bar offers a panoply of wines, spirits and cigars even as its library offers a repertoire of books. A heated outdoor swimming pool, a jogging track, a billiards room, fruit orchards, an organic vegetable garden and a multi-cuisine restaurant are the resort’s other offerings. “We also offer well-appointed meeting and conference facilities that can accommodate up to 50 guests,” informs the resort’s general manager Tapan Piplani.

Dining Options at Oberoi Vanyavilas The resort’s kitchen – helmed by award-winning executive chef Deep Mohan Singh Arneja – rustles up meals worthy of three Michelin stars. Interestingly, the Vanyavilas kitchen offers no set menu. “A fresh menu is

The Oberoi Vanyavilas


ow much luxury can you imagine inside a tent? Comfortable beds and en suite bathrooms, yes. But a king-size, four-poster bed flanked by gleaming bedside tables, a writing desk with a chair, en suite bathrooms with a bathtub, walk-in closets, fruit baskets, a mini bar and a private deck?! The Oberoi Vanyavilas – set in 22 acres of landscaped gardens – offers all this and more. It is punctuated with a meandering water body and more than a thousand fruit trees against a backdrop of the spectacular Aravalli cliffs. Reflection pools, brilliantly painted frescoes and richly detailed interiors recreate the splendor of a royal era. The elegantly appointed air-conditioned tents are located discreetly across the property. With teakwood floors, luxurious bathrooms, private decks and walled gardens, the tents ensure that neither privacy nor luxury is compromised. What makes the tents so special? Apart from the fact that they have hosted the who’s who of the celebrity world, they measure a decadent 73 sq m (each and comprise a permanent wall with a timber floor and a roof made of three-layered canvas. The inner-most canopy that has been custom-made for the resort is printed with motifs of tigers and trees. The tiger’s form – a recurring leitmotif across the property – is handcrafted and delineated by fine gold threadwork. The canopy is dotted with innumerable shimmering golden specks that twinkle at night. The colors and prints of the furnishings are also inspired by the hues of the jungle. The color palette consisting predominantly of earthly tones such as beige, brown, white and black is complemented by upholstery and rugs in tiger print!

crafted every day to incorporate individual tastes and the homegrown organic seasonal vegetables and fruits at our farm,” informs Singh. One has the option to eat al fresco – under the sunlit sky on plump psychedelic cushions – or in the cozy interiors.

Wildlife Experts Available In the evenings, as a bonfire crackles under a star-spangled sky, we enjoy interactive sessions with eminent wildlife experts. For those with a penchant for pachyderms, there are elephant rides.

Shopping & Dastakar Our thrilling, 45-minute elephant ride takes us into the scenic Ranthambore countryside

helping us to soak in local flavors. “Madamji, please come for beautiful carpets here.” An integral part of the rural landscape in Ranthambore is Dastakar, a non-profit workshop run by the local women of Ranthambore. Women artisans work on ancient rural art forms, stitching vibrant patchwork quilts, jackets, pillow covers and cloth toys. Their work is then showcased at the Dastakar retail store and the profits recycled back for their empowerment and uplift. Time has gone by in a blur and before we know it our four-day trip is over. However, we feel so recharged and rejuvenated that the prospect of returning to the chaotic city suddenly doesn’t seem all that daunting any more! by NEETA LAL IN RANTHAMBORE

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VIETNAM With Six Senses Con Dao Resort In keeping with Six Senses’ philosophy of redefining experiences, comes this tropical paradise offering uncompromising standard of luxury and personalised service


ocated on Con Son, the largest island of the Con Dao archipelago, off the south-east coast of mainland Vietnam, Six Senses Con Dao Resort is around 230 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City, served by Co Ong Airport. A commercial aircraft or a chartered private plane can take you there in 45 minutes from Ho Chi Minh City.

50 villas with Infinity Pools and Sundecks Six Senses Con Dao comprises of 50 villas with private infinity pools. Styles range from single-level to duplex and offer one, three and four bedrooms, many with indoor-outdoor bathrooms. The efficient design style reduces air conditioned spaces whilst providing additional natural ventilation. The bathroom and the living area are therefore open-air and the bedroom air-conditioned to provide comfort. Each villa is carefully designed using timber frames and is located sensitively within the natural slope of the 76


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onoffer Book one of their luxurious villa 14 days prior to arrival now and save 20% off including welcome amenities and daily breakfast for 2 adults. Rates start from Rs 23,500 per night, exclusive of 15.5% applicable taxes and service charge. Valid till 15 December 2011.

dunes to ensure fantastic views to the ocean. Butterfly-style roofs provide light and openness, creating a shaded area where the infinity pool and sundeck are located.

Food & Beverage Facilities The main guest area of Six Senses Con Dao recreates a fishing village and local market. The Restaurant is located close to the beach, perched on top of the sand dunes between the ocean and the river. The large decking area provides calming views across the stream to the surrounding islands and

offers a variety of vistas and seating experiences ranging from daybeds and sofas to dining tables. Other dining options include a traditional Vietnamese open kitchen, and a Deli where guests have the option to grab a delicious bite to go. The wine cellar and Chef's Table situated next to the beach provide additional unique dining experiences. Villa dining also provides secluded and romantic dining options on the villa terrace or beach.

Six Senses Spa The Holistic Six Senses Spa is designed with pampering and healing therapies focusing on health, relaxation, beauty, stress reduction and recuperation from the everyday pressures of your hectic world. The Six Senses Spa offers an unrivalled range of treatments from which to choose, with the consultancy of trained therapists. compiled by MANAVI SIDDHANTI



A L L A B O U T H O T E L S & H O S P I TA L I T Y




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here are 4 sub-brands with brand Fortune. How does one distinguish between these as a consumer? What are the USPs of these sub-brands? The Fortune Hotels chain operates across a wide spectrum of brand extensions, thereby creating specialized products designed to suit the specific needs of various segments. The ‘Fortune Select’ are upscale hotels offering contemporary product and services, located at business locations in metros, mini metros and also in key locations like Gurgaon, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, etc. These hotels offer the best services in the mid-market to upscale category. Located in city centres and key commercial hubs of a city, these hotels

allow guests to conduct their business activities seamlessly. The ‘Fortune Park’ hotels are business hotels located in metro/ non-metro cities. These are mid-scale hotels. The ‘Fortune Inn’ comprises full service business hotels with 30 to 50 rooms. The ‘Fortune Resort’ properties are located at popular holiday and leisure destinations like Mussoorie, Darjeeling, Port Blair and Ooty, offer excellent holiday getaways for families and cater to both the mid-market and upscale segment of travellers. ‘My’ a Fortune Hotel is the latest addition to the bouquet of brands offered by the chain with its first hotel flagged off in Chennai. The hotels under the new brand are stylish lifestyle hotels, providing convenience & comfort of home with warm and efficient

Fortune Hotels Bets on

A wholly-owned subsidiary of ITC Ltd, Fortune Hotels claims to distinguish itself with its ‘first-class, fullservice business hotels’. Though the brand came into existence in 1995, the last five years have seen aggressive growth, propelled by a change in leadership. Go Now catches up with CEO, Suresh Kumar to find out what his future plans are.



A Fortune in every 180 kms – that’s the vision of our group. At present, Fortune has 40 hotels operational in 31 cities. There are 26 hotels under various stages of construction. 80


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Fortune Select Regina, Goa

Fortune Select Excalibur, Sohna Road, Gurgaon

service, catering to the upscale to upper upscale market segment. Hence, ‘My’ is positioned at the top of the Fortune Hotels brand pyramid. Who is a typical visitor at Fortune Hotel? What is the target audience? Fortune Hotels is a leading player in the ‘First Class Full Service Business Hotel’ segment servicing the growing and newly prosperous upper middle class population, many of whom are traveling for the first time. While business travel accounts for much of its revenue; convenient locations, excellence of cuisine, attentive service and competitive pricing has made it popular with travellers in all categories, both domestic and international. What can a guest expect at a typical Fortune hotel? What is the USP of Fortune Hotels? What makes Fortune Hotels stand out is its distinctive flair which is complemented by warm and personalized service, superior technology, insightful comforts, fine dining and a genuine feel for the authenticity of the destination. The hotels offer comfortable, pleasantly furnished accommodation that is in harmony with the environment and guest needs. The Fortune chain is known for its distinctive branding and its unique value driven philosophy and contemporary product/service positioning. What are your expansion plans? We have always emphasized on the virtue of leveraging on the power of a spread as ‘the length of the chain is the strength of the chain’. We plan to work towards taking further our vision of unfurling a Fortune at every 180 km by concentrating on metros, mini-metros, tier I & tier II cities across India. The chain has an extensive expansion plan of augmenting the number of rooms from the present 5,074 to 5,400 over the next two years. By 2015, all the properties under various stages of devel-

opment are also expected to be completed and should be fully operational. What is the strategy to be ahead of the competition? The brand draws its strength from a proud lineage-ITC Ltd., which is a pioneer in the hospitality industry in India. As it continues its sweeping growth across a number of brands, the focus of Fortune Hotels is holistic in its development, setting up properties in major metros, mini metros, state capitals and business towns. As each property takes root, it opens up possibilities at another level in a neighboring hub of development. Since each hotel is created to suit the business needs of a particular environment, it leads to a perfect economic fit. Fortune plans to maintain this position by following a balanced approach towards growth, expansion, brand extensions and providing the same assured quality of product and service across all extension brands. Thus, we believe that we are appropriately placed to keep pace with the development story of the country. The mid-market segment in the hotel industry in India is seeing a boom. What are the factors contributing and how do you see the growth in future? While traditionally the Indian hotel industry comprised of luxury hotels, there has been a gradual change in the last few years. Now, we have seen branded hotel chains venturing into the mid-market to upscale segments. This segment of hotels has become popular as it appeals to both – the investor as well as to the customer. For an investor the investment required is 40 to 45% lower than that of its luxury counterpart. Also, these hotels can be created on smaller parcels of land, which is an added advantage in today’s market scenario where the land prices have become unrealistic and in cases unaffordable thus making the projects unviable. as told to PURVA BHATIA

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HOW TO PAIR YOUR CHRISTMAS CUISINE AND WINE? What’s a Christmas meal without a complementing glass of wine? Read on to know all about wine pairing


ith festivity in the air, the ambiance, decorations and gaiety, the preferred way to begin a meal would be to pop a bubbly. Many a time we are unsure of which one to pick and what to pair our bubbly and wines with, to give our guests that ultimate gastronomical experience. To make your task simpler this Christmas, we have given below some suggestions of ingredients that can be paired alongside a certain wine varietal both sparkling and still to host that much talked about party in town this season. A Bouvet Rosé or a Bouvet Brut which are sparkling wines or bubbly would be a great way to say let the festivities begin. Pair it alongside starters such as smoked salmon or shellfish and you have the perfect start to a scrumptious meal. If you want to strictly follow a continental menu, a foie gras is a must as a starter on the table during Christmas lunches. Traditionally a sweet wine is served with this course and a Chenin Blanc with its fruity aroma and sweetness on the palate will complement it well. For salads course with lots of greens and cheeses and for shellfish as well, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc is like a marriage made in heaven. Pairing wine with Indian food is a difficult concept, but not impossible! The age old mantra of “red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat” does not hold true with Indian cuisine with its array of flavours and spices. Dishes straight from the Tandoor will fare best



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Pairing wine with Indian food is a difficult concept, but not impossible! The age old mantra of “red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat” does not hold true with Indian cuisine.

with a boldly flavoured heavy bodied wine. Spices accentuate heavy tannins and excess oaky flavours in a wine, causing the wine to overpower the food. Grape varieties like a Four Seasons Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Merlot with their complex aromas, zesty acidity, texture and body can complement the flavourful Indian cuisine with great ease. At the end of it all, pairing wine with Indian food requires some experimentation and very often ends up being a subjective choice based on individual preferences. Around the world as well as in India, the main course on Christmas meal, lunch or dinner, always revolves around roasted meat. Turkey, goose, duck, ham and chicken, find a place on the dining table. Various stuffing, sauces and accompaniments go with these roasted meats and a choice of wine would largely depend on these combinations. A traditional roasted turkey stuffed with sausage meat, Brussels sprouts, raisins and corn bread served with reduced roasting juices, spruced up with wine and spiced with pepper is perfect to pair with Four Seasons Barrique Reserve Shiraz. If the same roasted turkey or goose is served with cranberry sauce/apple sauce or any sweetish sauce with accompaniments like roasted potatoes, I would recommend a Four Seasons Viognier. A classic recipe for suckling pig roasted whole with skin made into crackling with the traditional stuffing, you really need a Red Wine with lot of fruity notes and supple/ soft tannins. A Four Seasons Merlot will be an ideal pairing. A Christmas pudding or plum pudding which are normally steamed and have raisins and nuts will definitely need a wine with sweetish palate and the acidity to cut through. I would choose a Bouvet RosÈ with its salmon pink colour to add to the glamour signaling a closure to the festive meal. The author is the Director UB wines and the Chief wine maker of Four Seasons wine



Serviced Apartments: India is a Key Market The Ascott brings international-class serviced residences to India, catering to longstaying expatriates, NRIs, international as well as inter-city business or leisure travellers who are travelling on their own or with their families.


hose travelling to India and plan ning to stay for a long duration now have one more option in The Ascott Limited. The world’s largest international owner-operator of serviced residences launched Citadines Richmond Bangalore, their first property in India, on August 1. The group, with over 28,000 apartment units in over 70 cities across 20 countries, also soft-launched Somerset Greenways Chennai on August 29. Five more serviced residences are expected in Bangalore (two properties), Chennai, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad by 2015. India is catching up in the group’s scheme of things. The current low occupancy does not deter Ascott. Ronald Tay, Chief Investment Officer, says that it hopes to achieve 75% occupancy over the next year. With regard to customer feedback, he says that over the last month guests at Citadines Richmond Bangalore have welcomed the new management and the changes it has brought about within the property and its services. The Ascott Limited,

a wholly-owned serviced residence business unit of CapitaLand, pioneered Asia Pacific’s first international-class serviced residence 27 years ago when they opened their first property in Singapore in 1984.

Catering to different lifestyle needs Ascott caters mainly to long-staying expatriates, NRIs, intern ational as well as intercity business

Ascott’s Global Portfolio ● The Ascott currently operates in 75 cities across 21 countries. ● Total of operational and under development: 28587 units in 211 properties. ● Operational: 22252 units in 178 properties ● Under development: 6335 units in 33 properties ● Latest addition to the portfolio is the newly managed property Somerset Panorama Muscat (220 units), scheduled to open in 2014.

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NEW DEVELOPMENT or leisure travellers who are travelling on their own or with their families. “Our serviced residences combine prime location, space, comfort and privacy with excellent amenities and personalised services,” says Tay. Ascott has three globally recognised award-winning brands which cater to different lifestyle needs: the flagship Ascott serviced residences cater to top business executives and industry leaders, offering efficient support services in a luxurious and exclusive environment; Somerset serviced residences are ideal for executives and their families looking for work-life balance and offer more recreational facilities such as playgrounds, tennis courts, and barbeque areas; and Citadines Apart, hotels caters to independent travellers and offer a flexible service menu, so guests can customise their stay experience.

The Ascott Promise “At Ascott’s serviced residences, our residents do not just come back to an accommodation; they come home to familiar faces, welcoming surroundings and the assurance that their needs will be taken care



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At Ascott’s serviced residences, our residents do not just come back to an accommodation; they come home to familiar faces, welcoming surroundings and the assurance that their needs will be taken care of.

of. Guests appreciate that we understand their concerns,” Tay says. It is natural for guests visiting a city for the first time to be concerned about getting around; also, longstay guests have to adjust to the local community. The staff, therefore, helps residents settle in quickly through residents programmes which include city tours and workshops on local culture, etc. Evidently, such programmes also enable guests to make friends with other travellers. Unsurprisingly, staff training is an important concern, Tay says, adding that Ascott invests heavily in enhancing the capabilities of their staff and developing their potential. “This helps ensure that we deliver the high service standards that have defined our award-winning brands.” Ascott, he says, is the only serviced residence company to have a dedicated training centre of its kind, the Ascott Centre for Excellence, in Singapore.

Aggressive marketing strategy Besides Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Chennai, and Hyderabad, Ascott will be looking at extending its footprint to other cities across India, including Mumbai, Pune, and New Delhi. About the growth trajectory, Tay says that in India, there is a limited supply of international standard serviced residences, while the demand is expected to grow as foreign investment into India increases and the IT, auto, and manufacturing industries grow. “We are mainly targeting the Tier 1 and key Tier 2 cities in India, which are primary targets for foreign direct investment and where there is a strong demand for internationalclass serviced residence from foreign expatriates and business travellers including interstate domestic travellers,” he explains. Outlining the marketing strategy, Tay says.

“We will market our brands and properties aggressively in India and internationally through multiple channels.” Being the world’s largest international owner-operator of serviced residences, it can leverage its global network to cross-market the property to its clients. Marketing efforts will include joint promotions and trade shows with global and local partners, tours for travel agents, mass media campaigns as well as promoting the property on their corporate website with access to reservation function. “We are the first international serviced residence owner-operator to launch a ‘Best Rate Guarantee’ initiative which ensures that our customers get the best available Internet rate when they book through any of the Ascott’s websites,” he adds. Furthermore, the group intends to promote its properties to its online members via electronic direct mailers and social media channels, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Currently, it has over 20,000 fans across their four Facebook pages, with more than 12,000 page views per month. Tay believes that providing consistent quality services and memorable experiences to its residents will result in good word of mouth, encouraging their families and friends to choose Ascott whenever they think of an ac-

Properties in India City

Name of Property


Somerset Greenways Chennai (Opened Aug 2011) Citadines OMR Chennai Citadines Richmond Bangalore (Opened Aug 2011) Somerset Whitefield Bangalore Citadines Galleria Bangalore Citadines Hitec City Hyderabad Citadines Parimal Garden Ahmedabad

Chennai Bangalore Bangalore Bangalore Hyderabad Ahmedabad TOTAL UNITS

No. of Units 187

Type of Ownership

300 96

Joint venture with Rattha Group. Ascott has a majority stake 100% owned by Ascott Leased

230 203 218 220

100% owned by Ascott 50-50 joint venture with RMZ Group 100% owned by Ascott 100% owned by Ascott


commodation away from home.

Why India is a key market for Ascott? Among the many reasons for India being a key market are: the country’s growing economy with its GDP expected to increase by around 8% in FY 2011-12; robust FDI growth, with inflows expected to reach $35 billion in FY 2011-12, up from $23.4 billion in FY 2010-11, according to the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council. While India’s economic growth is led by its services sector, particularly information technology, IT-enabled services and business process outsourcing, the country is also emerging as a manufacturing hub. Moreover, with increasing FDI and more multinational companies setting up operations in India, demand for quality accommodation is expected to grow from the influx of foreign expatriates and business travellers (both foreign and domestic). Added to this, according to the Ministry of Tourism, India saw 5.58 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2010, an increase of 9.5% over the previous year; while the Ministry’s latest available statistics show domestic arrivals also increasing handsomely. “The demand for accommodation far outstrips supply, with the demand-supply gap estimated at approximately 150,000 rooms, according to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry,” Tay says. Ascott currently has invested in seven properties across four cities in India, bringing their portfolio to more than 1,400 apartments units in India. “We continue to seek opportunities for investments, management contracts or lease agreements and target to grow our network in the country to 4,000 units by 2015,” adds Tay. As for its premier Ascott brand, it hopes to bring it to cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru when suitable opportunities arise. by ESTHER WILLIAMS

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Royal Orchid Gurgaon

DEBUTS IN NCR Located in the heart of the commercial district of Gurgaon and easily accessible from the international and national corporate house, the hotel targets business travellers…


n the burgeoning hospitality market in Gurgaon, there is a new entrant in the form of Hotel Central Blue Stone under the Royal Orchid brand. The chain has an impressive range of properties in Southern and Western India and this property marks their debut in the NCR region. The property offers 50 guestrooms and facilities like business centre, free Wi-Fi, a conference cum banquet hall with a seating capacity up to 150 guests and boardroom for corporate meetings. “The Delhi NCR region is reputed for its consistent economical operations. Hence it is an extremely important market for the booming hospitality sector. The upbeat business environment and exceptional growth of Gurgaon is a choice of space to launch new operations, hence we had to establish here for our foray in North India”, explains Chender Baljee, Chairman & Managing Director, Royal Orchid Hotels.

USP of the hotel Located minutes away from the HUDA City Centre metro station, the property hopes to create its niche through services provided. “With so many brands coming up and the amenities almost identical, the only point of divergence is services on offer”, says Baljee. The chain affirms that the services provided by the Gurgaon hotel will match what is being offered by other Royal Orchid properties in the country. Located in the heart of commercial and hospitality district of Gurgaon, the hotel in Sector-29 is just a stone’s throw away from Kingdom of Dreams, MG Road malls, and Damadama lake where guests can unwind. Also, it is conveniently accessible from all the major business and financial centers.

Guest profile A typical guest expected at this property is 86


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HOTEL CHECK OUT someone who after a long day's work would like to put his legs up. “These days, business travelers after a hectic schedule would like to eat well and have a sound sleep and we are offering just that”, informs Baljee. The property is positioned as a business hotel and is easily accessible from the best known international and national corporate houses.

F&B The hotel offers gastronomic delights with varied options to their guests. Pinxx, a multicuisine restaurant offers tempting delicacies indulging travelers to take culinary delights throughout their stay. For the hip crowd, lounge bar Mix offers the right mix of cocktails to pep up their spirits.


“What differentiates us from other brands is our presence in different segments like 5 star, 4 star, resorts, heritage and extended stays and we are also present in different cities.”

Business model Interestingly, the business model of the chain encompasses as many opportunities available. Properties under the Royal Orchid brand include owned hotels to lease and joint ventures. Revenue sharing and management contracted hotels are also under their purview. The new hotel is under management contract. “We want to be flexible to suit the needs of our customer” says Baljee and he claims that in terms of operation and management there is uniformity across all business spokes.

Competition On a query as to how the chain views

competition from others, Baljee is of the view that competition helps to maintain quality standards. “As hoteliers we always strive to make available quality accommodation at reasonable prices which helps stimulate demand while maintaining quality service and standards”. The other reason he points out that

“what differentiates us from other brands is our presence in different segments like 5 star, 4 star, resorts, heritage and extended stays and we are also present in different cities”.

Expansion plans The chain is actively targeting heritage and holiday sites. On a chance encounter with travel agents, Baljee learned that a good number of people going to Goa were taking side trips to Hampi, a UNESCO world heritage site. Other than few nondescript guest houses, Hampi is bare in terms of hospitality address. During the second half of last year, the group launched Royal Orchid Central Kireeti near Hampi in Hospet and the chain plans to target more leisure destinations. Baljee informed that they are planning to launch another property in Delhi. by JUSTIN THOMAS

Facilities at the hotel • 24 Hour Front Desk & Room Service • 24 Hour Security • Doctor on Call • Valet/ Car Hire Service • Lounge cum coffee shop • Free Outdoor Parking/Bus Parking • Currency Exchange • Fitness Centre • Wheel Chair Access • Unparalleled banquet and conference facilities • Golf course nearby

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Courtyard by Marriott Ahmedabad


Not only because it entered the city recently, but also with regards to its appeal Courtyard by Marriott Ahmedabad, is one of the youngest hotels in the city. 88


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t has the largest banqueting space in the city. Its design features are impressive. The rooms are spacious. And it offers a good selection of cuisines. It is young in its appeal. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Courtyard by Marriott is one of the best hotels the city has. Little wonder that it is a celebrities’ darling. The property is the first by Marriott group in the city. Known for its chic and contemporary style, the hotel matches the expectations that Courtyard loyalists would have. Being a business hotel it takes care of all the required necessities of corporate travellers that the city gets in large numbers. And with that it offers plenty for leisure tourists as well as the local residents.

Interiors: Chic & Contemporary There are several design elements in the hotel that catch your attention. Those which hold my mind are the use of colours and light. There’s a cocktail of colours spread all across the hotel.’Local art and artifacts have been beautifully given a modern twist so that they blend with the hotel’s overall contemporary design. There’s enough room for natural light that brightens the major part of the lobby area. While I shall talk about the food later, I recommend dinner at the vegetarian Indian restaurant, Shakahari because of the ambience and design features. The tone of the restaurant is pink while earthy red, brown, and black are noticeable in the furnishings and the teak wall paneling. One look at the ceiling and you are likely to imagine a star lit night with the effects created with lights. Taking cue from the lobby area, I expect lights to create magic in the guest rooms too. Needless to say, it exceeds my expectations. The creamy tones, in 164 rooms including 12 suites, make for a comfortable atmosphere in a room that’s spacious and well equipped with all the necessary amenities.

Scrumptious Food Options The hotel has three eating out options – Shakahari, MoMo Café and MoMo 2 Go. Shakahari, as the name suggests is a pure vegetarian specialty restaurant open only for dinner. A must try are Dahi Pudine ke Kebab and Gulab ki Kheer. The other two are the signature restaurants at all Courtyard hotels. MoMo Café is relaxing all-day dining restaurant that offers a scrumptious buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition to á-la-carte

The hotel boasts unmatched banqueting space in the city.

The design element is chic & sleek to given the rooms a cozy feel.

menu. Using fresh ingredients to create a menu of light, vibrant dishes, the food is tasteful yet simple. The latter is more of a ‘grab and go store’ where you can enjoy sandwiches, pastries, pies, light appetizers and a refreshing cup of coffee/tea through out the day. Much like in other Courtyard hotels, the Sunday Brunch is quite popular and worth a visit.

The Facilities There is a lot to do in this hotel. My favourite is swimming in the beautiful pool that they have or sitting in the seating area near the poolside. For the fitness freaks there’s a gym where you can overlook the buzzing lobby and a little bit of the city as you work out. Also, there’s O2 spa where you must stop by

for at least a foot massage to unwind after a tiring day. In all, it is a great choice for both travellers and city dwellers looking to experience something new. by PURVA BHATIA

factfile Address: Courtyard Ahmedabad Ramdev Nagar Cross Road, Satellite Road Ahmedabad, 380015 India Phone: 91 79 66185000 Room Rates: Rs 8,500 per night onwards (as mentioned on the website) Nearby Attractions: Sabarmati Ashram, Jama Masjid, Bhadra Fort & Teen Darwaja, Sidi Sayeed Mosque, Kankaria Lake and Nalsoravar

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Let Let Your Your Creative Creative Juices Juices Flow Flow with with



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The hotel makes waves with its focus on art, creativity and a blend of local flavours with contemporary international designs and ideas. Feel inspired by the chirping of birds in the elevators and the smell of old books.

L–R: Dilip Puri; Eva Ziegler; Palani G. Periasamy and Sanjay Gupta at the inauguration of Le Meridien Coimbatore.


oimbatore had not seen a hotel launch like this before. The 100th Le Meridien (LM) was inaugurated on the auspicious day of November 11, 2011 with firecrackers, the beat of local drums, live music bands and gala dinner parties at all the restaurants of the hotel. Going by modest South Indian standards, the grand launch of the hotel, called First Night Coimbatore, was a classy show. The guest of honour was Consul General Jennifer A. McIntyre from the US Consulate, Chennai. It was a landmark for Starwood Hotels and Resorts also because it was the first newly built Le Meridien since 2003. As Eva Ziegler, Global Brand Leader, Le Meridien and W Hotels Worldwide, said: “We really wanted to showcase the new direction for the LM brand. The Le Meridien vision is one of a design-led contemporary lifestyle hotel. The brand has undergone a comprehensive brand transformation in the past six years since it was acquired by Starwood.” She add-

ed that through the LM brand, the group is targeting creative and curious minds.

Expansion and Growth Since acquiring the LM brand in 2005, Starwood has undergone a hotel consolidation. It exited 44 hotels since 2005 and opened up 22 new hotels around the world including at Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Taipei and Shanghai. There are another more than 20 hotels which are under renovation or are to be opened up soon. Highlighting the company strategy in India, Dilip Puri, Managing Director, India and Regional Vice President South Asia, Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts, said, “most of our future development is happening with those people who are existing owners. Though we are based in the US, we are an international company and up to 80 per cent of our growth is coming from outside the US.” Underlining Starwood’s commitment to India, Puri said, “We are not here for the December 2011 GO NOW



The rooms are modern and spacious.

The all day dining restaurant Latest Recipe.



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NEWSMAKER LE MERIDIEN COIMBATORE next few years. We are here for the next few decades. We are putting in millions of dollars for the brands and are not asking the owners for money. We have established a call centre in India for Indian customers and created a new sales organization in India.” The company is developing 19 new hotels under 9 brands in India. Of these, three new W Hotels are coming up in Delhi, Goa and Mumbai and a St. Regis is coming up in Delhi. Puri said that the various LM owners are making investments of nearly $2billion in the country and the approximate cost per key is working out between Rs 80 lakh and one crore. It is not just India. Starwood is bullish about the Asia Pacific region as a whole. Puri added that India is the fourth largest market after the US, China and Canada and Starwood will have at least 100 hotels by 2015. “We have opened more hotels in India than Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott combined.” Rajan Bahadur, Regional Director Sales & Marketing, South Asia, also emphasized upon the company’s strategy in India. He said: “Our team has gone up from 4-6 people in 2005 to 75 now. The sales force has tripled as we realize that we need more feet on the street. Out of the nine global call centres, four are in in the Asia Pacific region.”

For the Arty Types Ziegler stresses on the inspiration aspect of the LM brand. She says: “Air France had launched Le Meridien in 1972 in Paris around the same time as the first Concorde was launched. Paris remains an inspiration as a global cultural capital. As LM is from Paris, we wanted to focus on the arts. We want to use the arts to stimulate minds and hold dialogue. We have created an environment that is artistically authentic and artists are now interested in the brand. They see in LM a global platform to showcase their creativity.” The art at Le Meridien is seen in the lobby in the form of murals, the 28-metre chandelier that has a glass table underneath it, a discovery table with pockets for books and the hotel’s tie-up with local art gallery – Contemplate. Reema Diwan, Manager Design – South Asia, Starwood Hotels & Resorts says: “It was a challenge for us to tie-up the LM chic with the local culture. We managed to incorporate the local Coimbatore flavor through cotton, art, artefacts and writings on hospitality in the local language. The local


From opening up minds to welcoming guests, that is the career path taken up by Dr Palani G. Periasamy, the owner of the Le Meridien Coimbatore. He already owns the Le Royal Meridien Chennai and has now signed up with Starwood to open up yet another Le Meridien in Tamil Nadu. A professor of economics and international finance, he taught the subjects for 25 years in Indian and American universities. Periasamy first stepped into hospitality in 1984 with his first hotel Ramada Inn at Florida. A leading NRI and a strong advocate of globalization, his first hotel in India was the Le Royal Meridien Chennai in 2000, which was one of the 12 Royal Meridiens in the world. Based in Chennai, he is also into education, sugar factories, property development, construction, financial services and rental cars. “We spent Rs 400 crore, including the land, on the Le Meridien Coimbatore and it took five years to build. It is the most luxurious, biggest property in South India at seven lakh sq feet and has the biggest banquet facility in Tamil Nadu. We hope to break even in two years as we already have the market in Coimbatore. We just have to tap it.” On competition, Periasamy says: “I do not really consider any competition in the town. This is the first five-star deluxe hotel outside Chennai. If the guests are looking for luxury, they have to come here. We are so modern that we can avoid competition for the next 10 years.” culture has been successfully blended with LM's modern designs.”

Rooms and Facilities The hotel has been positioned as a MICE and business hotel and is close to the Coimbatore Airport. It offers 254 rooms and suites including a presidential suite. Following the current LM focus on cuisines, it has half-a-dozen dining options which include an all-day dining restaurant with an open kitchen design; an Indian restaurant; a Pan Asian restaurant serving Mongolian, Chinese, Thai and Japanese dishes; an Italian restaurant; a café to attract the creative people and a bar for wine

or signature cocktails. The hotel also boasts of a cigar lounge. Highlighting innovative features of the hotel, general manager Le Meridien Coimbatore Sanjay Gupta said: “We have Coimbatore’s first night club in this hotel. We also have an inhouse temple on the premises for innovative and traditional weddings. Another exclusive feature that we have added is a mini-theatre that can house up to 100 people for viewing movies, video conferencing and and even business conference calls.” It is clear that Coimbatore’s nightlife, eating habits and conferencing will change with the advent of the arty LM. text and photographs by RAHUL KUMAR

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Savoury Season at QBA


eeping the holiday season in mind, QBA has launched its own patisserie to appeal to the sweet tooth of all the Delhites. The bakery will be open from 1 pm to 10 pm every day, till the end of 31st December. “You are really taking home the flavours of QBA.” Says Rachit Kapoor Media & Marketing Manager “Our bakery is excellent and are products are made with the best of ingredients. Now as Christmas is around the corner, the aroma of freshly made breads & muffins at the entrance of QBA, is going to make people smell the celebration & probably share the QBA warmth with their family & friends.” Ready for egg-less & sugar-free cakes, you can also make your order on our Facebook page too QBAOutlets.

Win-Win for QBA at HT City Crystal Awards


t was that time of the year when QBA ended up winning the Best Multi-Cuisine restaurant award for QBA, for 2 years in a row while Spice, won last year- also got nominated among best South Asian restaurants in Delhi & NCR. According to Rachit Kapoor, Media & Marketing Manager “The vote for QBA & Spice contest was an important event for us, so we thought about a special gift, & the response was amazing.” For Mr. Bhasin, one of the regulars who voted for QBA, the restaurant awarded him an Olive Pad for all his support. “The experience is great, Mr. Bhasin got chosen via a lucky draw from over 5000 votes” said Kapoor “for QBA & Spice in the HT City Crystals Awards." 94


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Winner Mr. Sandeep Bhasin receiving the Olive Pad from Mrs. Arora (one of our regulars) & Mr. Sunil Tikoo (GM, WG Hospitality)

2 Mrs. & Mr. Sandeep Bhasin. 3 Rachit Kapoor (Media & Marketing Manager, WG Hospitality) with Mr. Sandeep Bhasin.



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THERE’S A CHANGE BREWING IN THE CAFÉ CULTURE It’s not about just a cup of coffee anymore! Coffee shops are now offering a lot more...


decade back, a good cup of coffee was definitely a luxury as it would be avail able only in a five star hotel coffee shop but over a period of time with the expansion of home grown cafés and a lot of international players coming in this market, it is now more affordable and definitely more accessible. Coffee in India has evolved a lot and has become more flavourful. It is not only limited to cappuccinos and lattes, cafés have innovated a lot on the beverages and unconventional beverages like the Ice Blended drinks have become very popular. People are open to experimenting and trying out new beverages and that has encouraged cafés to constantly innovate. Teas are no more ‘a regular cup of tea’ but tea lattes, tea cappuccinos and tea ice blended are making their entry in the Indian market. Apart from offering a good cup of coffee, cafés are now offering a lifestyle to the customers. Interestingly, tea and coffee are no more ‘a beverage for the elderly’, the younger generation in India have found their flavor in this wide offering available today. With more and more people getting health conscious various coffee chains and outlets are keeping themselves current with this trend. Coffees are now available in Decaf options as well. Even for people who like their beverages flavoured, CBTL has options of NSA (non sugar added) flavours. Herbal teas are being consumed more than ever before, more and more customers are moving towards fruit infusions. Even food is 96


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Apart from offering a good cup of coffee, cafés are now offering a lifestyle to the customers.

taking a change in route from pure indulgence to a healthier indulgence, all cafés are offering diet alternatives in terms of food and desserts. From the feedback we have received from the customers, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has recently introduced frozen yogurts at our key outlets as an healthier alternate to ice creams. With the emergence of more and more options the consumer expectations are also on the rise. To meet the expectation the cafés are constantly working on their food offerings and bringing in a variety of international and local preparations on to their menus. Coffee chains today are tying to offer more than just a cup of coffee. You will see a lot of people working at cafes these days. A well designed store and comfortable ambience are among the main reasons for this trend. Keeping customer needs in mind, today almost all cafés have started offering free wi-fi facilities to their customers. In this era of social networking a lot of youngsters use their devices in the cafés for networking and a free wi-fi is always welcomed by them. Today cafés have started paying a lot of attention on the store design to ensure their customers get a comfortable environment and an enjoyable experience. In this dynamic environment the key to success for the cafés is their ability to keep themselves current with the changing trends and to keep innovating constantly to satisfy the ever growing expectations of the customers. The author is General Manager, Coffee Beans and Tea Leaf

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