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Vineyards of Hua Hin Experience Hua Hin Hills’ new latitude wines

this issue editors’ page

Dear Readers,


Vineyards of Hua Hin Experience Hua Hin Hills’ new latitude wines

December is that month of the year which brings with it plentiful reasons to rejoice – plum cakes and wines add to the air of festivity, as you commence your journey to ring in the New Year. Staying in tune with the festivities, we bring to you our latest discovery, the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, three hours away from bustling Bangkok, a largely ignorant industry in the exotic Thailand. While you are relaxing in the country’s exquisite beaches or indulging in some retail therapy in its floating markets, walk a little ahead to explore this expansive vineyard and indulge in the gamut of activities that it offers. Moving further with the wine legacy, we acquaint you with some fine wine regions of the world and take you vineyard trotting across the globe. Also, while planning a holiday to Europe, consider visiting Seville, the cross cultural city of Spain, the most friendly and well known country of the continent. Closer home, snuggled near Mumbai and Pune, is the planned city of Lavasa where one can bask in nature at its unexplored best. Those looking for a lesser known pilgrimage site can head to Paonta Sahib, a small town in the hilly Himachal. While New Delhi/NCR could be the golf hub of India, there are a number of golf courses in the South of the country visited regularly by the clientele that goes there for business. Our guide to the famous golf courses of South India could definitely come handy. We take you to the sets of ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ shot in our very own Rajasthan and let you tour through the royal refuge which the cities of Jaipur and Udaipur provide for the movie. Culture enthusiasts will enjoy the piece on the Royal Barge Procession of Thailand which not only showcases a spectacle of the Thai tradition but also gives an insight into its culture rich society. Metro Travel features some unique Sunday brunches of Mumbai and dining options in Gurgaon and Pune. Tapping the Indian market for tourism, we have Portugal and Monaco who recently toured the country inviting both leisure and MICE travelers to explore their picturesque locations. Also, our Travel Buzz comes with a sprawling addition of hotel packages to let you plan your Christmas and New Year vacation at some lavish resorts, both in India and abroad. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Happy reading!

readers write in Cinema Coverage

I particularly liked your coverage on Cinema Tourism and the event Cinemascapes. It was great to see behind the scenes of some brilliant national/international movies and how newer destinations like Sarawak, Zagreb want to venture into the film industry and make their beautiful landscape more ‘Cinemascape’.

Business in Ahmedabad

Shivika Bisen, Mumbai

I was amazed to see the way you caught the pace of the city, Ahmedabad. Being from the city, I see development on a daily basis and can proudly proclaim how it is becoming the next important business destination of the country. The article spoke about that and covered all the important MICE aspects of the city too.

Discover Sri Lanka

Karen Shah, Ahmedabad

Sri Lanka could be one of the least known yet the most exotic destinations of the world. Your feature on the road trip of Sri Lanka gave a different perspective of travelling through this island country. I can’t wait to go there and discover more for myself!

Rejuvenate in Germany

Vasantha Rajaram, Chennai

The story on the therapeutic spas and health resorts of Germany was a rejuvenating read, if I may say so. Apart from the colonial and old town architecture, it was amazing to see the number of health facilities that the country has. The article well established Germany’s position as a leisure destination to look out for.

Pankhuri Tandon, New Delhi

Editor: Navin Berry Assistant Editor: Avni Mehrotra Marketing & Sales: Vimal Talwar Advertising: Saurabh Shukla Design: Ashok Saxena, Neelam Aswani Go Now is printed and published by Navin Berry, on behalf of Cross Section Media Pvt. Ltd. Printed at Rakesh Press A-7, Naraina, Phase II, New Delhi. Go Now is 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 88 pages plus 4 pages cover

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 2012 go now


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Destination Leisure

20 Seville: The cross cultural city of the friendly and undemanding Spain 24 Krakow: Poland’s oldest and most atmospheric city 28 Lavasa City: With lakes, waterfall and beautiful scenery, Lavasa is an ideal destination to let loose and unwind



34 Paonta Sahib: The beautiful holy city of Himachal



38 Ladakh: Discover the destination of love, life and landscape

Niche Travel

76 66

Wine Tourism


66 The French hospitality major Sofitel embodies the true essence of Bora Bora


68 Bangkok: The customary Royal Barge Procession of Thailand

Metro Travel Accommodation

72 Chennai: Rooms and suites of the fresh and homely Lemon Tree Hotel

Eating Out

74 Gurgaon: Experience authentic Chinese fare at Oriental Blossom, Optus Sarovar Premiere

Brunch Time


Tourism Connect

Cinema Tourism

82 Sarawak: A must see destination for Indians 84 Monaco: Showing Europe at its exquisite best 86 Portugal: Destination sellers visit India to promote tourism

60 On location in India with the internatinal movie ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

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64 NOIDA: F1 - a great tourism stimulant for Delhi-NCR

40 Thailand: Experience Hua Hin Hills Vineyard and Thailand’s expansive wine market 46 A tour through the vineyards across the globe 52 New Zealand: Interviewing consultant winemaker Matt Thomson of the Saint Clair Family Estate 54 China: China’s southeast golf haven, Mission Hills Golf Resort 56 South India: A guide to select golf courses in the south of the country


Motor Sports

76 Mumbai: Look out for the sensational Sunday spreads at the city’s leading hotels

After Hours

80 Pune: The recently renovated Mix@36 Lounge, Westin

On the Cover Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, Thailand

Where to? Over 110 destinations in North America. Let the Best International Airline in North America take you there. Call us at 0091-11-47172900 or 1 800-102-8182, or visit

We offer daily codeshare service to Canada from Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore via key European gateways with Star Alliance members SWISS, Lufthansa and our partner Jet Airways. The survey was conducted by independent research firm Skytrax on over 18.8 million global travellers, using over 38 different aspects of passenger satisfaction to rank airlines’ product and service standards. This annual survey is regarded in the air transportation industry as a primary benchmarking tool for passenger satisfaction levels of airlines throughout the world. Details at

December 2012 go now


travel buzz: AIRLINES & AIRPORts

Soon you can also be travelling on Dreamliners with Qatar

Qatar Airways has taken delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner making it the first airline from the Middle East region to take delivery of the same. With a 1–2–1 configuration in Business Class, the layout is more typical of a First Class cabin where each passenger is assured of direct aisle access. The Economy seats are fitted with 10.6-inch seat back TV monitors offering passengers optimum viewing of a wide array of in-flight entertainment options. Each seat has touch screen Android technology control units, on which passengers can navigate through a truly interactive system, offering more than 1,000 entertainment options. The airline ensures Passengers will also be fully connected through WI-FI and GSM telephony and have a great new in-flight dining experience with an all-star team of culinary ambassadors, including Chef Ramzi Choueiri, Chef Vineet Bhatia, Chef Tom Aikens etc. Upon entering service, Qatar Airways’ first 787 will initially operate with commercial passengers on flights to Dubai to familiarise crew of the aircraft before making its maiden long-haul commercial flight between Doha and London next month. As more Dreamliners join the fleet, they will be deployed on other key routes, including Zurich, Delhi and Frankfurt. For more information about the new Boeing 787 and Qatar Air ways visit

Emirates adds easyJet as Skywards’ newest airline partner Now Skywards members can redeem Miles for easyJet flights online with the company’s bid to facilitate travel around Europe. Skywards, Emirates award-winning frequent flyer programme, and easyJet, announced the launch of a redemption agreement of Skywards Miles for flights on easyJet; connecting Emirates’ 31 destination strong European network with all of easyJet destinations. Members will be able be use their Skywards Miles to fly with easyJet to over 30 countries across Europe and North Africa. Used in conjunction with an Emirates flight or for separate travel itineraries, Skywards members will have the choice to expand their travel options across Europe. The functionality will be available to Skywards members in every tier and the flights are bookable online. The agreement applies to redemption of Skywards Miles on easyJet flights only and will apply to all destinations across the easyJet network. All redemptions for flights can be made online through the Skywards website and will include applicable charges and taxes. Skywards members will be able to add on optional extras, such as additional baggage allowance, using either Skywards Miles or cash payment. For more information on the redemption partnership with easyJet and Skywards, plus terms and conditions, visit the easyJet page in the Airline section on 4

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travel buzz: AIRLINES & AIRPORts

Fashionable travelling by British Airways

London’s City Airport was treated to an impromptu fashion show as British catwalk model, Jade Parfitt, showcased the hottest winter-sun looks for short haul travel demonstrating to women everywhere that they don’t have to forgo their fashion credentials when travelling for work or leisure. This was following a research which revealed that a third of women in the UK re-pack their suitcases a minimum of three times before reaching the airport wasting more than 12 hours and are still unable to carry half their luggage. Standard luggage allowance at British Airways is 23 kg with two pieces of hand luggage at no extra cost providing fashion focused women with more outfit options when they travel. Working with style-passport, the online home of fashion and beauty for every holiday destination, British Airways has created 34 must-have looks that women can recreate when they fly short haul with BA this season. The collection showcases essential basics which offer style solutions to ensure you are prepared for any journey irrespective of the destination and includes designer pieces from Sophie Hulme, IRO, Mara Hoffman and Anya Hindmarch among others. Style-passport suggests that top-10 winter sun essentials for your short haul trip should include Ray-ban aviators, BECCA beach tint, Havainas flip flops, your best holiday dress, nail varnish among other essentials. For further information about British Airways visit To purchase the collection visit

Spice Jet introduces Spice Jet MAX The airline Spice Jet has launched a special service Spice Jet Max which gives its fliers three exclusive benefits. Firstly, guests can avoid the long queues for check-in and speed up the entire process with ‘Priority Check in’. Secondly, with the option of pre-seat selection guests can select their preferred seat at the time of booking their ticket. Everyone wants to enjoy a hearty meal on-board, especially in a long-haul flight. With Spice Jet MAX guests also get a complimentary meal with the ticket with vegetarian and nonvegetarian options to choose from the available ones on-board. This service can be availed of simply choosing SpiceJet MAX at the time of booking your ticket on www.spicejet. com or calling their customer care number 1800 180 3333 or 0987 180 3333. December 2012 go now


traVel buzz: AIRLINES & AIRPORts


reasons to fly with IndiGo!

One of the fastest growing fleets of the country, Indigo is now introducing new features, interactive packages and increased safety measures to ensure you have a comfortable and hassle free flight. About new partnerships and existing service experiences, we here catch up with the President of the company, Aditya Ghosh on what makes IndiGo the youngest yet coolest airline of the country.


IndiGo keeps a sharp focus of our three founding principles – flying the planes on time; keeping the whole experience from booking the ticket to collecting the bags, courteous and hassle free; and finally sticking to our religion of offering low fares. Our endeavour is to provide the best-in-class ex-


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perience to all our customers. Hence, from ensuring an absolute efficiency in achieving “On Time Performance”, to offer a courteous and hassle free travel experience and offering consistently low fares – IndiGo believes in keeping things simple yet cool.


For instance, to achieve the best “On Time Performance” for all our flights – everyday, IndiGo uses a technology called

ACARS i.e. Aircraft communications addressing and reporting system (ACARS). ACARS is a digital data-link system for transmission of short, relatively simple messages between aircraft and ground stations via radio or satellite. Our entire fleet of 60 aircraft is fitted with this technology. Before departure of every IndiGo flight, an automatic message is trigged from the aircraft via ACARS to our operations control centre (OCC) – and immediately the same departure time gets recorded in the software. Likewise, the moment an aircraft lands at the destination- an automatic message is trigged from the aircraft to the OCC. These timings are recorded ‘real time’, automatically through ACARS i.e. without a human intervention. Hence, our On Time Performance is diligently monitored for every flight – real time.


At IndiGo we are committed to passenger comfort and safety, and above all, a hassle free experience. With the introduction of step less stairs and Q-busters, IndiGo today is the only Indian airline with a ‘boarding ramp’,

traVel buzz: AIRLINES & AIRPORts seats with extra leg room. (18 seats with extra leg room). IndiGo Plus also includes prebooked meals on board at compelling price.


resonating the airline’s uncompromising character on customer comfort where low cost never means low quality. The former allows passengers, including wheel chairs and stretchers to board into the aircraft effortlessly, and the latter helps in providing the boarding pass to passengers anywhere within the airport premises. The airline has “auto step bus” to assist passengers especially those with reduced mobility and senior citizens. Further enhancing its courteous and hassle free travel experience – 6E introduced a new initiative called “Braille guide”. This is one of its own kind in Indian skies and this guide has illustrations designed for keeping in mind the visual, sound and speech impaired passengers, who find it difficult to communicate. This guide helps such passengers to communicate with the crew on board in case they require anything. The guide has illustrations of different objects designed that may be required by the passenger in the flight. Importantly the guide at the same time has the Braille letters engraved (on the later pages) corresponding to their English texts signifying the illustrations designed.


As mentioned above, IndiGo believes in keeping things simple yet cool. Every aspect of the IndiGo experience is designed to maximize customer satisfaction. Hence, IndiGo last year launched an innovative holiday package called “Get Packing”. Through these affordable holiday packages, we aim to provide an end to end travel services including flight booking, hotel accommodation, airport transfers, local conveyance to entertainment etc. Get Packing’s holiday destinations include: Kashmir, Goa and Kerala, and is available on our international destina-

6E recently partnered with TATA AIG to offer Tata AIG Domestic TravInsure. The insurance is being provided in association with Tata AIG at Rs 129/- to the passengers of IndiGo. Tata AIG Domestic TravInsure is designed to provide complete ‘emergency accidental medical reimbursement’ to passengers in case of any unforeseen incident and also includes other covers that help take care of routine worries associated with air travel. The USP of this product is that it includes travel by all modes of transport within a validity period of 30 days from the date of travel. So, with this unique policy the customer is not only insured during the travel with IndiGo but during the entire trip.

7 Aditya Ghosh

President, IndiGo Airlines As India’s coolest and fastest growing airline, IndiGo has constantly re-defined the standards in the airline business. Associated with crisp advertising campaigns, widest range of food items on board, fun packaging, irresistible in-flight merchandise, and innovations such as Q busters and boarding ramps, IndiGo has constantly focused on new initiatives to make travel a memorable experience for its travellers. As country’s youngest, yet fastest growing airline, IndiGo has flown over 45 million passengers since its inception in 2005. tions like Singapore, Bangkok, Muscat, Dubai and Kathmandu. To view Get Packing’s exclusive holiday packages, please visit our website:


IndiGo Plus: Offers unique features like: 6E passengers have the liberty to pre-assign seats of their choice at a nominal charge. This allows passengers to choose from a bunch of

Adding another wow to its customer experience, IndiGo in partnership with Carzonrent Company is now offering a hassle-free cab pick-up and drop facilities at a compelling price. 6E customers will also have an option to choose from a wide array of vehicles for their travel. The online search engine will allow them to make prior reservation and make payments with Cards or Cash on Service. IndiGo customers can avail these services while booking for 6E flights through


IndiGo in partnership with ITC Green Lounge offers added benefits to 6E passengers at Delhi’s T3 lounge.


For Rs 950, 6E passengers can now avail the benefits of a piping hot breakfast and dinner buffet, fresh snacks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, access to Wi-fi and international/national newspapers & magazines.


IndiGo also teamed up with Cox & Kings Marhaba Dubai Visa (C&KMDV) Services. Marhaba services offer a variety of Meet and Greet services ranging from receiving near the aircraft, buggy service, personal escorts through passport control, baggage assistance at the conveyor belt, customs and hand over at the pick-up point besides providing exclusive departure and transit services through security, transfer desk with Marhaba lounge service along with buggy car assistance. December 2012 go now


travel buzz: Hotels & Resorts

New Honeymoon Registry and Romantic Getaway Package at Atlantis, The Palm Dubai Atlantis, The Palm has launched its new online honeymoon and wedding registry which lets couples have their dream honeymoon with a little help from their friends and family with packages starting from AED1,670++ per room, per night. Offering a completely customized experience, the registry allows to register for every dream and desire, including accommodation or an upgrade to an opulent suite; unparalleled culinary experiences; rejuvenating spa treatments or once in a life time experiences. Whatever the dreams are, the newlyweds can make a lasting memory and their loves ones can share in this celebration by contributing to create their trip. Couples who are looking to say their ‘I do’s’ at the resort can also invite guests to pay towards the wedding itself, whether it

is an opulent affair in the Atlantis Ballroom or a more intimate gathering in the Palm Grove. The Honeymoon Registry is made possible through a partnership with HoneymoonWishes.Com. Another new Romantic Getaway package lets couples and honeymooners stay in a beautiful deluxe room designed with subtle oceanic and Arabic influences. See over 65,000 marine mammals and learn about the lost city of Atlantis at The Lost Chamber Aquarium and enjoy the thrill of Aquaventure waterpark with unlimited complimentary access to both. This package filled with romance is priced at AED1,670++ per couple, per night and is valid for stays before 24 December 2012. For more details visit www.

Avail exquisite lodging facilities in Goa with Rated Apartments With more than 2 million visitors jostling for space in the idyllic land of Goa, the demand for unconventional accommodation becomes necessary. Hence skip the hotel route and log on to to opt for the homely comfort of rented apartments on your next vacation to Goa. Villa Tina in Siolim is available at INR 2,448 onwards per night for 4 people with internet facilities. Dona Paula Apartment in Nagalli Hills comes at INR 14,620 onwards per night and has 4 bedrooms with attached bathrooms to

Enchanting Christmas at the Avari Dubai Hotel Avari Dubai Hotel invites you to be a part of their holiday celebration with its Christmas Package – a fulfilling enjoyable experience this holiday season. Valid from 16th Dec 2012 to 7th Jan 2013, the Christmas package by Avari Hotels is for a minimum stay of 2 nights and 3 days at Dhs. 549+taxes per night for single occupancy and Dhs. 599+taxes per night for double occupancy. Plus a complimentary daily buffet breakfast in the Olive Tree restaurant, complimentary pick & drop to the beach & shopping malls, free airport transfers, free WI FI; attractive discounts on food, soft beverages, laundry, salon, spa and, telephone calls, faxes, emails and a late checkout facility are just some of the many privileges that await you. Also enjoy a complimentary dinner once during your stay at the Olive Tree restaurant PLUS a complimentary Christmas Day lunch! To be a part of this pleasant celebration contact Avari Dubai Hotel at +971 4295 6666 or mail at: for reservations and terms and conditions.


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accommodate upto 10 people. At Calangute beach head for a couple’s retreat in their One Bedroom Serviced Apartment at INR 1,632 per night or stay with your family in the Two Bedroom Serviced Apartments at INR 2,448 per night. Around 8 people can nestle in the 3 bedrooms of the Villa in Vegator Beach, North Goa at a price of INR 14,280 per night. To book a rented apartment and for more information, log on to www.

travel buzz: Hotels & Resorts

Give your Christmas a French touch in Puducherry Christmas and New Year are celebrated with great pomp and at Puducherry, the French Riviera of the East. To get a slice of France this vacation, avail the special packages at Le Dupleix and The Promenade by Sarovar Hotels. The package at Le Dupleix for 2N/3D is for Rs 22, 999 (plus taxes) and is valid from December 20, 2012 to January 03, 2013. Guests will be accommodated in a luxury penthouse and treated to a complementary dinner. The hotel is located in the French quarter in close proximity to the shimmering waters of the Indian Ocean. Enjoy the sunset and breeze from the sea while having a European feast at the Light House – a rooftop restaurant with your loved one at the hotel Promenade. The Christmas & New Year package at The Promenade for 2N/3D is for Rs 18, 999/- (plus taxes)and is valid from Decem-

ber 20, 2012 to January 03, 2013. Get a spectacular view of the Bay of Bengal with at your sea facing room and enjoy a complimentary breakfast at this luxury boutique hotel.

For more information and room reservations call (0413) 2226 001 at Le Dupleix, (0413) 2227 141 at The Promenade or e-mail at ledupleix@

Festive Packages at The Imperial, New Delhi Bring in this holiday season at the nippy atmosphere of The Imperial Hotel in New Delhi which introduces its Christmas Package in the Heritage room priced at Rs 19,999 including taxes. The package includes stay for one night for a couple (December 24, 2012), one Imperial Release Massage for 30 minutes, late check-out on December 25th, and free gifts for children on Christmas Eve. The couple can also enjoy an elaborate Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Buffet Breakfast at ‘1911 Restaurant & Bar’ on December 24th and 25th 2012. The New Year package is priced at

Rs 21,999 and includes the couple stay in Heritage Room, Imperial Massage, late check out and extra bedroom for children below 12 years at Rs 9,999.Guests can further enjoy the New Year Buffet Breakfast for two at ‘1911 Restaurant & Bar’ on January 1, 2013.For New Year’s eve, there will be an elaborate Eve dinner for two at ‘1911 Restaurant & Bar’. Extra supplement for dinner at restaurants can also be availed at a special price. For more information and terms and conditions, contact or call on +91 11 4111-6303/04/05

Stay & Dine at Fairmont Jaipur with the The Fairmont Family Special From 1st November, enjoy the ‘Family Stay and Dine’ package starting from Rs 16,000 at Fairmont Jaipur. Stay in a Fairmont room on this package and get breakfast & dinner buffet for two adults, complimentary airport or railway transfers (Jaipur) and late checkout till 16:00 hrs. The package also includes a complimentary room for children (upto 18 years of age) for a maximum of two children in one room and a host of fun activities for them at the hotel. Apart from the Stay & Dine offer at Fairmont Jaipur, guests can enjoy a spectacular lighting ceremony in the evenings against the backdrop of the Aravalli hills or explore hot air ballooning, adventurous mountaineering, elephant picnics, antique local shopping, tours to world famous ancient forts & palaces and customized visits to an Indian village nearby. The package is exclusive of taxes and is valid starting from 1st November to end March 2013. For reservations please mail or call 0142 642 0000 December 2012 go now


travel buzz: hotels and resorts

Winter package at Royal Orchid Fort Resort, Mussoorie

To enjoy this winter season with dazzling pinnacles of snow-covered ranges, the Royal Orchid Fort Resort, Mussoorie, is offering an exciting & exclusive “Winter Package” for 2 nights and 3 days. The package is valid from December 22, 2012 to January 02, 2012 and ranges from Rs 17,000 to Rs 34,000 (plus taxes) under the various bedroom categories. It includes accommodation for couple, Welcome Drinks (Non-Alcoholic) on arrival, fruits, cookies & chocolates in room on the day of arrival, buffet breakfast & buffet dinner, Good Night Chocolates, 2 children complimentary stay (up to the age of 7), discount on F&B and Laundry. For ter ms and conditions and reser vations contact: Tel.: 91-1141501101-02, Fax: 91-11-23746343 or 09350874333, 0-9811007575

Festive Stay Packages at Claridges Surajkund

Honeymoon Package at Park Plaza, Jodhpur The wedding season is up in full swing and so are a lot of honeymoon voyages. In the princely city of Jodhpur, avail of park Plaza’s romantic interlude with their special Honeymoon package. The 2 nights/3 days Honeymoon package starts at Rs 10,499 (plus taxes) and is valid till 31st March 2013. (excl. 31st Dec ’2012 & 1st Jan-2013). This includes accommodation in superior room, one way transfer from railway station/ airport, welcome drink, special cake upon arrival with fruit platter, half day sightseeing, discount on spa & laundry and use of gymnasium and swimming pool. During the day visit the magnificent palaces and forts each narrating their glorious past through the museums, gardens, galleries and temples and in the evening enjoy a romance filled poolside dinner to complete your romantic escapade. For more information and reservations call (0291) 5105 000 or E-mail at 10

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With all the major festivals round the corner, Claridges Surajkund has introduced some unique stay packages for their customers. Their Christmas Stay Package is for Rs 12,999 and includes accommodation in deluxe room, welcome drink, Christmas carols, kids activities – cookie making, Santa painting, treasure hunt, Wine Tasting sessions, Christmas Eve Dinner and Sparkling Wine Festive Brunch on Christmas Day. Another Package Christmas Champagne Stay Package is at Rs 16,999 which includes all the benefits of the above package and upgrades it with unlimited Champagne at the Christmas Eve Dinner & Brunch. For New Year’s, the New Year Stay Package is priced at Rs 20,999 which apart from having an accommodation in Deluxe room with welcome drink includes live performance by Black Slade, DJ, Surjeet Sirji’s dance troupe, Sparkling wine New Year’s Eve buffet at ballroom on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day Brunch on 1st January at ballroom. Similar to the Christmas Champagne Stay Package the New Year Champagne Stay Package comes for Rs 25,999 and also includes unlimited Champagne and beverages along with the mentioned inclusions in New Year’s Eve buffet and Brunch. For bookings call +91 129 419 0000

travel buzz: hotels and resorts

Lemon Tree Hotels announces the 10+2 offer on their 10th anniversary

On the occasion of their 10th anniversary, Lemon Tree Hotels has announced a special offer by giving guests a complimentary stay of two nights on every ten nights spent at any hotel under the Lemon Tree Premier and Lemon Tree Hotels brands from now until the year end. The two complimentary nights can be redeemed any time between April and September 2013. Valid from 1st November to 31st December 2012, the 10+2 offer allows guests to design their own itinerary when they stay at any of the 14 participating Lemon Tree properties. The offer can be used to build trips around any Lemon Tree property. You can also book into multiple LTH properties on any leg of your trip and build a comfortable itinerary across regions exploring popular places of interest using Lemon Tree Hotels as a base. Further it allows you to go on day long excursions around the area and return to the ‘close to home’ comfort of your room by night. This offer can be availed at Lemon Tree properties in Ahmedabad, Aurangabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Goa, Hyderabad, Indore, Muhamma (Kerala), Mumbai, Pune and Shimla. For bookings and terms and conditions log on to

Welcome 2013 at Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel

New Business Centre opens at Vivanta by Taj President, Mumbai Enjoy world-class conference facilities in the heart of Mumbai at Taj Vivanta. Their business centre ‘Oval’ has recently been renovated with sleek interiors and smart conference facilities keeping in mind the style of Vivanta by Taj that appeals to contemporary business travellers. ‘Oval’, with its new business facilities consists of four meeting rooms – Agenda I& II and Strategy I & II. Sharp interiors and soothing ambience, prerequisites for business meetings grace its décor. Facilities

like world-wide courier service, hispeed broadband connection,Wi-Fi, office equipments like computers, laptops, cell phones, dictaphones, projectors and audio-visual facilities are just a request away. The business center is open 24 hours a day and provides assistance and expertise through trained secretaries for various documentation purposes easing every bit of your business conference.

Bring in the New Year with your loved ones at the Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel slated against the calm Powai Lake as it offers special discounts on room rates and food and beverages to make your New Year a memorable one. Take part in the various activities organized at the hotel for the celebrations to start the 2013 on a new high. Guests can now book a room for Rs 6500 plus taxes inclusive of breakfast. One can get also get the room upgraded to a Lake View Room at an additional cost of INR 1000. Guests booking a stay before December 1st, 2012 can avail an additional 15% discount. Also guests booking 5 rooms get 1 room complimentary as a part of the offer. This package can be availed from December 30th - 31st, 2012 & January 1st, 2013. Stay for children below the age of 12 is complimentary while extra charge of Rs 1000/-will apply for children’s above 12 years of age. For reservations, call: 91 22 66927054/7176/7174

For bookings, contact Vivanta by Taj at 91 22 6665 0808 December 2012 go now


travel buzz: hotels and resorts

Celebrate the seasons’ festivities in the lap of nature at Lakshman Sagar Sprawling over 32 acres, Lakshman Sagar is perched haughtily amongst the softly undulating landscapes of the Raipur district of Rajasthan. Imbibe in the cheerful vibe of the local villages, romantic lake side dinners and lazy afternoons next to the pool with their special Christmas & New year package for 2 nights & 3 days for Rs 33,999 only. The package includes a Traditional welcome with a welcome drink on arrival, meals in Customized Private Dining & Lounging, candle light dinner accompanied with bon fire and live music 12

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performances by the local artists, sun-deck on dam for sunbathing & leisure, culinary classes on local delicacies. The package also includes sightseeing options like village trips, visit to local market of Raipur, jeep safaris to Todgarh-Rawali Wildlife Sanctuary, Fatehgarh Trek and Picnic among other important sites. Another interesting option to look out for would be a gala cocktail dinner on Christmas & New Year Eve along with music and fireworks. For bookings, contact reservations at or 011-26494531.

travel buzz: hotels and resorts

Leela Hotels announce their Winter Packages Located in two of the most exotic locations of the country, the Leela Hotel Goa and Leela Hotel Udaipur announce their special packages for this season to let you celebrate a Christmas full of vigor and zest!

The Leela Palace Udaipur


he Getaways at The Leela Palace Udaipur ranges from Rs 28,000 to 30,000 per night and includes daily breakfast for two, airport transports among other amenities. The Romance at The Leela Palace Udaipur ranges from Rs 30,000 to Rs 32,000 per night and includes romantic boat rides, one destination dinner, Swedish Massage and Aromatherapy session for the couple with a bottle of wine and chocolate in the room, among other amenities. The Wellness Package ranges from Rs 29,000 to 31,000 per night and includes an hour long aromatherapy session for a couple along with discounts on spa and a range of wellness treatments like body scrubbing, Yoga session, training session, breakfast and airport transfers. The accommodation for all the above packages is in the Lake View room or the Heritage Room. All packages and rates are valid till April 15, 2013 and not applicable between 23rd December – 4th January. For bookings and terms and conditions for both the hotels, Call 1 800 1031 444 (India Toll Free) / +91 124 4425 444 or email


he Winter Package of this colonial property ranges from Rs 19,500 to Rs 27,000 per night and includes all meals, airport transfers, signature welcome drink on arrival, complimentary usage of steam bath/sauna and swimming pool, and more. The minimum length of stay should be 2 nights. Another Exclusive Indulgence Package for Couples ranges from Rs 72,000 to Rs 99,000 for a minimum length of 3 nights and includes breakfast for two, Indian wine & cake on day of arrival, one private candle light dinner, lover’s bath and Indian magic couple massage and more. T he Touch of Ay ur veda Packa ge r a nge s f rom Rs 73,000 to Rs 1,00,000 for a minimum period of 3 nights. Apart from basic amenities it includes Ayurvedic and Wellness consultations, Abyanga body massage for a couple, 1 Shirodhara treatment, 1 Synchronized Abyanga treatment, Personalized Yoga session along with airport transfers and inclusive meals. The Sights and Culture package ranges from Rs 68,000 to Rs 95,000 for 3 nights and includes breakfast for two, Rs 3,000 meal credit per night, and one full day sight-seeing to North or South Goa by private car. Minimum length of stay should be 3 nights. All the rates are valid till 31st March 2013, except from 21st December 2012 till 14th January 2013.

The Leela Goa

December 2012 go now


travel buzz: adventure

Hot-Air Balloon Festival at Karnataka by If the magic of flight excites you, consider taking one in a hot air balloon that uses simple principles from physics to create the serene sense of natural flight. To let you enjoy a fun-filled year-end, Karnataka tourism is all set to unleash its first initiative to organize a Hot Air Ballooning Festival starting from December 2012 to January 2013. The festival will take place in three different regionsMysore, Hampi and Bidar. About 30 hot-air balloon enthusiasts from India and abroad will participate in this four-day event. So rise up high to experience the ceaseless beauty below and see the world go by from a bird’s eye view by taking a hot air balloon flight during the festival. For further information on above destinations, including accommodation options and other details log on to


go now December 2012

December 2012 go now


travel buzz: destinations

Celebrate your honeymoon in the romantic and luxurious Monaco

Discover a new side to Europe with one of their most serene honeymoon destinations, Monaco. Located on the Mediterranean Sea coast of France, Monaco has an excellent climate and picturesque landscapes making it a perfect romantic getaway for honeymooners. You may be amazed to know that it is the second smallest country in the world but still surprises us with its legendary reputation as the home to royalty, luxury suites and multimillion dollar penthouses. Receiving more than 4 million visitors every year, it regularly invites many a honeymooners from around the world. Monaco adds more memorable moments to your romantic getaway by offering several sightseeing attractions and panoramic views like the oceanographic museum and aquarium, the jardin exotique, avenue saint-martin, the palais princier, and the Japanese garden. Those hoping to try their luck can do so at the world famous casino Monte Carlo. And how can a romantic journey ever be complete without adding some endearing music? The couple can enjoy the classic ballet and opera concerts which are organized round the year at this amorous wonderland. Or take a romantic evening stroll admiring the opulent yachts and boats lined up at the harbor. If you are in mood for indulgencies, extravagance and opulence, your destination is Monaco. On offer are outstanding accommodations, gastronomy delights, historical museums & attractions, shopping retreats and adventure options too. Monaco is well connected via flights, helicopters, trains and road and enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year and mild temperatures. It celebrates with enthusiasm the arts, culture, sumptuous cuisine, spas, beautiful surroundings, spectacular landscapes and highadrenaline activities. Also with amazing hospitality, you can have a fulfilling romantic experience with the world class spas, set in gorgeous surroundings and offering a variety of therapies and treatments from around the world. 16

go now December 2012

travel buzz: destinations

‘Singapore – The Holiday You Take Home With You’ Singapore Tourism Board (STB) announces phase two of marketing campaign‘Singapore – The Holiday You Take Home With You’, throwing the spotlight on the latest tourism offerings and to entice visitors to rediscover Singapore. Some of these attractions would be: Gardens by the Bay: premier tropical Garden City of Singapore, Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore: a seamless travel experience for cruise passengers. The soon to open Marine Life Park: the world’s largest oceanarium and The River Safari, which after inaugurating in the first quarter of 2013 will be Asia’s first river-themed park. STB is partnering four travel agents, namely Thomas Cook, Mercury Travels, Kuoni India and MakeMytrip with pan-India presence to promote Singapore’s leisure offerings on print, digital and social media. The focus of this phase will be on ‘Family Fun’ and ‘Romance’ offering the promise of a more engaging experience through learning and bonding activities. On the digital front, the revamped campaign website will highlight the key experiential pillars and a separate tab will feature the “Top Ten Must Visits” for Indian travellers. For more information, please visit or

Indian food on Glacier Express in Switzerland If you missed your authentic Chicken Tikka Masala or Kashmiri Pulao on a trip to Europe, breathe a sigh of relief! Enjoy the scenic beauty of Switzerland on the Glacier Express train and accompanied by authentic and delectable Indian cuisine on-board. Recognizing the growing number of Indian tourist on these popular trains, RhB took this decision as a key strategy to attract more Indian guests for whom food is an important factor on an international holiday. Glacier Express is the slowest express train in the world which encompasses a journey of 291 bridges, 91 tunnels and crosses the 2,000 meter high Oberalp Pass. The Rhaetian Railway serves a number of major tourist centres including St Moritz and Davos. The network contains 55 tunnels plus 196 bridges. For more information about Rhaetian Railways visit.

New York city’s Christmas shows and events The glitzy city of new York brings in the festive season with a bang as there are a host of events lined up for locals and tourists both. Radio City Christmas Spectacular from November 9 to December 3 is song-and-dance extravaganza which transforms Radio City Music Hall’s interior into a giant canvas. One of the most popular holiday attractions, “Holiday Under the Stars” at Time Warner Center features twelve 14-foot stars that “dance” to holiday music in the Great Room with 150-foot ceilings from November 15 to January 3. Relive the favorite Christmas movie on Broadway in A Christmas Story, The Musical! on November 19 with a holiday engagement running through December 30. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be offering a variety of Christmas concerts, presented in front of the museum’s Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche, on display from November 20 to January 6. Discover the magic of Dr. Seuss’ beloved holiday story as it comes to life on stage in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Theater of Madison Square Garden. From December 13 to December 30, audiences will have the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with this classic tale that will entertain the whole family. December 2012 go now


travel buzz: destinations

Expereince wildlife at Laikipia, Kenya To discover the more expansive and exhilarating side of Kenya, Laikipia is the place to be. One of the world’s most exciting wildlife tourism destinations, it is situated near the Mount Kenya offering the combination of abundant wildlife, spectacular scenery and extraordinary culture. One can indulge in experiences of night game drives, guided nature walks, bike tours, horse-riding and camel treks. Moreover, local population and the inherent culture of Kenya also form an integral part of the overall Laikipia experience. Doing their bit towards eco-tourism, Laikipia houses an eco-tourism infrastructure juxtaposed with high levels of community involvement giving visitors a privileged access to the cultures of the region’s Mukogodo Maasai, Samburu, Pokot etc. You can either indulge in late night walks along the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River or camp there the entire day with your family. Once in Laikipia, one cannot afford to miss going to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.The landscape offers a splendid view of the mountainous regions, open grasslands and river valleys coupled with an extremely diverse range of soil, plant and animal life. Lewa is home to more than 350 species of birds and around 70 mammal species. The ranches and sanctuaries offer an interesting range of accommodation options like the special private camps, guesthouses, home-stays and luxury tented camps. Ol Sabuk, Ol Malu, Loisaba Lodge, Sanctuary Ol Lentille, are few of them. One can directly fly from India to Kenya with 14 direct flights available. Wilson Airport in Nairobi just 40 minutes away from the international Airport provides seamless air connectivity to the Air strips of Loishba, Lewa and Nanyuki. Many ranches and sanctuaries have their own airstrips, which can be used by charter aircraft. For more information contact Kenya Tourist Board at


go now December 2012

travel buzz: destinations

A journey through middle earth in New Zealand Tourism campaign

Tourism New Zealand unveiled the latest evolution of its 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand campaign. New creative and an interactive Middle-earth feature have been introduced to, Tourism New Zealand’s website for engaging with potential visitors. Exclusive new illustrations have been created for the campaign which take scenes from Tourism New Zealand’s television and cinema advertisement and transform them into the world of Middle-earth. Execution of the campaign shows the illustrations that feature the characters and cultures of Middle-earth, and transform them into real New Zealand scenes and experiences, to illustrate the reality of a New Zealand holiday. The pages of also invite viewers to take a journey though the cinematic Middle-earth via a new feature that showcases key filming regions, Middle-earththemed holiday itineraries and exclusive content. The new creative and content will appear across a range of marketing campaign executions including newzealand. com, online advertising and real-world displays – the most prominent of which is an installation at Auckland International Airport due for completion on November 22, 2012. For more information, log on to

Compiled by Avni mehrotra December 2012 go now


Traditional horse-drawn carriages like the Victorias of Mumbai


hese perceptions struck us first in the beautiful old city of Seville. The body-language of the Spanish people is oddly Indian and every Spanish restaurant we ate in seemed to have everyone speaking at once. Also like us, they dine late and snack enthusiastically! Perhaps all this is because Spain is the most tropical of the large western European countries. Then there’s the fact that, for many generations, Spain was an Islamic nation. Those centuries have left a lasting imprint on Spanish mores including the fact that Christopher Columbus prayed facing Mecca before he discovered America. For 150 years Seville was referred to as the city where ‘the heart


go now December 2012

of Europe beats’: opulent and glittering with riches. Gold had been ‘liberated’ from the kingdoms of Central and South America by Spanish conquistadors, literally, the conquerors. The man who initiated this great inflow of wealth was the famed navigator Christopher Columbus. He and his crew had prayed in the massive Cathedral of Seville, which had been a mosque. In fact the altar of the holy chapel, where those discovers of America had asked for the blessings of Mother Mary, was the virtually intact but reassigned mihrab of the old mezquita. Columbus’ tomb, in this cathedral, is an ornate coffin carried by royal pall-bearers representing the rulers of the four constituent kingdoms of Spain: Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarre. The original mosque was built in the 12th century by Arabs from

destination: leisure

the town that discovered america


Spain is the friendliest, most undemanding, and most familiar country in Western Europe The Cathedral with its Giralda belfry once a mosque’s minar

North Africa who had conquered, and ruled, Spain till they were ousted by a Christian resurgence. The mosque was adapted for Christian worship in December 1243. When this 12th century Islamic structure began to collapse in the 15th century, it was re-built as a cathedral. Even so, many of the features of the old mosque remained. Apart from the mihrab, we saw the impressive main entrance of the mosque with its typical Moorish arch, now the Doorway of Forgiveness, craned our necks to take in the top of the Giralda belfry, once the minar, which still retains its Moorish architecture, and we sat in the dappled shadows of the Orange Tree Courtyard where Muslim devotees had performed their ritual ablutions and rested after their prayers. And this is another reason why we felt an affinity with the people

of Spain. Unlike the endlessly hurrying people of northern Europe, the Spanish are far more relaxed. They like their siesta and are quite prepared to allow others make a fast buck at their expense. They love the perfume of the flowers of their orange trees but spurn the bitterness of their oranges. The British buy them, convert them into bitter, breakfast, marmalade, and sell them back to the Spanish. There were also other intriguing oddities in Seville. In the democratic kingdom of Spain we stayed in a four-star poorhouse. The aromatic poor, ‘The Great Unwashed’, couldn’t possibly share a church with the perfumed grandees. So they had to congregate in the atrium of their Spartan asylum where their aromas were carried up to heaven along with the clouds of disinfecting incense. The December 2012 go now


destination: Leisure hospice is now an elegant luxury hotel: Hotel Hospes Casa del Rey de Baeza. Clearly, medieval Spain had its own rigid caste-class system! All through our visit to Seville we kept getting such glimpses of déjà vu. When we crossed the plaza in front of the enormous cathedral we saw a surprising line up of horse-drawn carriages like spruced-up Victorias spirited in from Mumbai. We also walked across to the royal fortress of the Reales Alcazares and its gardens. It was re-designed by a Catholic king but the Arabic inscription still remains atop an arch with its mirror image

Seville’s shops offer attractive buys.

The courtyard of the Reales Alcazares.


go now December 2012

in reverse calligraphy opposite it. Before Columbus discovered America, towering rocks called the Pillars of Hercules, at the mouth of the Mediterranean, were believed to mark the edge of the world. The words ne plus ultra, expressed the prohibition ‘no further’. Ancient scholars believed that anyone who dared to defy this ban would fall off the edge of the world into some bottomless pit! When Columbus, in his search for the spices of India, sailed through this seemingly ultimate boundary, and returned with wondrous tales of the lands that lay beyond, the motto was changed by dropping the negative ne.. A depiction of his feat was incorporated into a crest, installed in the formal gardens of the Alcazar. This and the stylized Plus Ultra emblem eventually became the sign of a powerful currency. The emblem of the Pillars of Hercules with the spiral of Columbus’ discovery winding around is the now-familiar $ . Then, because Columbus mistook America for India, the Native Americans were called Red Indians! We found another Indian connection in Seville. There is a research centre, here, devoted to that very Spanish dance, the Flamenco. While dedicated students tapped their heels and clapped their hands, under an instructor, we spoke to a Director of the Institute to learn that though the Flamenco has been embraced by the Gypsies of Spain, it is not essentially a Gypsy dance form. In spite of what he said, it is fairly well established that the Gypsies are descendants of a race of migrants from northern India. The Flamenco guitar is called a bejani, their word for hair is bal, hunger is bukh, and the dress of both the men and women dancers seem to have been evolved from those of

The gardens of the Reales Alcazares designed by Spain’s Arab rulers.

Jat and Rajasthani nomadic tribes. Many scholars have accepted the fact that these people had migrated from India but they don’t know when, or why. Perhaps the legendary wealth of Spain, particularly that of Seville, had attracted them over the centuries. Seville has always been a rich city. Spanish galleons, laden with the gold of the Middle-and-South American empires, sailed in from the Atlantic and up the Guadalquivir River to Seville. The river’s name is a corruption of the Arabic: Wadi al Kabir or ‘Large River’. Such cross-cultural bridges continued to strike us, even in the shops. The clothes, jewellery, bags, shoes and ceramics showed the continuing influence of the mujedars, the Muslim converts from Christianity who opted to stay back after the Moors had left. Their silver work resembled that of Hyderabad, Lucfactfile know and Kashmir. On a more contemGetting There From India by Lufthansa to Munich or Frankfurt porar y note were and then by Span Air to Madrid. Domestic flight close-fitting Spanish to Seville but a better option is the fast AVE train. gowns, lace mantilAccommodation las, hand-fans, and We stayed in Hotel Hospes Casas del Rey de Baeza – part of the Hospes chain. at Santiago, statuettes including 2 Plaza Jesus de la Redencion, 41003 Seville – those of matadors Tel:+34 954 561 496 swirling their chalSome other hotels • Hotel Las Casas de la Juderia, Callejon de lenging capes. Heermanas 7, Plaza de Santa Maria la Blanca, T he i r c u i s i ne , 41004 Seville. too, draws from mul• Casa Romana Hotel Boutique, Trajano 15, 41002 Seville. ti-cultural sources. It Getting Around is essentially MediTaxis and a Metro terranean fare, rich

The serene courtyard of Hotel Hospes Casas del Rey de Baeza.

in seafood; salads with tomatoes, corn, and potatoes ascribed to the New World; olive oil introduced by the Romans; and wine brought in by the Phoenicians: great for the heart. For dinner we went to a delightful Spanish dhaba: Antigua Abaceria de San Lorenzo. Here we were privileged to sit in the kitchen where the owner, the women of his family, and a smiling wizard named Antonio, plied us with Pate with Apple and Pistacho, Iberian salt Pork, Tiger tomatoes with pomegranates fried with vinegar, Heart of artichokes with Montilla wine, Andalusian cheese, accompanied by a medium-sweet white wine, and orange and coffee liqueurs. As we said, earlier, Spain is, for us, very friendly, warm and comfortingly familiar. Text & photographs by Hugh & Colleen gantzer

December 2012 go now


destination: leisure


KRAKOW Poland’s oldest city is also its most atmospheric

Krakow Old Town


go now December 2012

destination: Leisure


sit here at this nineteenth century baroque café in Krakow, Poland’s cultural capital, quaffing my appletini and soaking in the kaleidoscopic images this bewitching city unspools for visitors like me. Like a quintessential Bollywood offering, the concoction has drama, emotion, action and well, amusement too. The book I’m planning to read never makes it out of my bag. For at every stage of the intra-city sojourn, I’m confronted with

endless opportunities to savor an engaging slice of life. Monumental cathedrals, larger-than-life festival halls, chic boutiques, atmospheric cafes, street performers and of course the city’s leitmotif – Vistula river – that shimmies its way through town like a nubile item girl. A stroll around the city brings one face to face with so much architectural beauty, even art aficionados will be gobsmacked. I take a spin through Kazimierz, the city’s old Jewish

part time to finance his academic pursuits. He has become proficient in the Polish language in the two years that he’s been here, “fitting in nicely” with the local ethos. This unconditional acceptance of strangers, I reckon, has as much to do with the Poles’ large-heartedness as it does with their country’s geography. Sitting smack dab in the middle of Europe, Poland is known as the “Heart of Europe”. Its southern contours hug Germany, the Czech Republic (Prague) and

Street performer

quarter. Derelict for decades, the district has now acquired a glossy patina thanks to a municipal makeover. The hub of this redevelopment of course being Plac Nowy, a lively spot bustling with bars and pubs. After a stroll through Kazimierz’s cobbled streets, you may relax over a frothy cappuccino, enjoy a kosher vodka, sweetmeat treats, toothsome borscht or pop in some Jewish caviar at its sundry cafes. Pretty much like the rest of Europe, Krakow likes to do its living outdoors, especially when the sun is shining in plenitude. Retail therapy anyone? The city’s charming boutiques showcase everything from cheese to chocolates, garments to footwear and handbags to household paraphernalia. Krakow has also embraced external influences with vigor, I notice. It hosts three quarters of a million people on 327 square kilometers, my effervescent guide Christopher tells me, and is home to several world-class universities. Its sizeable academic demographic is what gives Krakow its near-tangible youthful and energizing vibe. We bump into young Arif, a Pakistani, at a local Indian eatery. He studies computers at the Krakow University, he tells us, and works

Slovakia; the eastern ones kiss Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine while the Baltic Sea and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad embrace its northern swathes. Ergo, multi-ethnic influences dominate Krakow’s larger social narrative. This ceaseless and seamless assimilation of a myriad cultures over the years has resulted in a fascinating alchemy. There’s inventive art and architecture everywhere. In fact one doesn’t even need to visit a museum to view art in Krakow. The city is itself one big arty crucible, showcasing everything from palaces to monuments to religious buildings to baroque masterpieces. With early settlements in the region dating back to prehistoric Stone Age times, Krakow is also one of Poland’s oldest cities. For many years, it was also Poland’s political capital until Warsaw replaced it in 1596. It survived the Second World War largely unscathed and today, its 40,000-square meter Old Town is the largest main market square in Europe. It was also one of the first sites to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978, and was European City of Culture in 2000, Chris tells me. A strange kind of magic envelops the Old Town. Scores of shops, arranged in tight rows mimic the feel of markets from the MidDecember 2012 go now


Street performers

Jewish Cafes


go now December 2012

destination: Leisure Zakopane ski resort

dle Ages. You can see a blacksmith at work here, complete with anvil and hand-bellows. Traditional Polish ceramics, wooden figures and simple toys, lacework, textiles, trinkets and handmade curios jostle for space alongside lacey clothes, scarves, shoes and all manner of arts and crafts. The square is indeed the hub of incredible history. St Mary’s Basilica, an imposing church on the main square’s eastern side, dominates its skyline. On the hour, a bugle player comes to the watchtower window to play a mellifluous number. This is a tradition, Chris informs me, dating back to the 1920s and was only briefly interrupted during the Nazi occupation in WWII. Be that as it may, the superstar in Krakow’s constellation of attractions is doubtless the Wieliczka Salt Mine. As well as being over 700 years old, and a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, the mine was also the location for the world’s first underground balloon flight. We begin our two-hour mine tour with a giddying descent down 380 wooden steps to a cavernous depth of 135m (Thankfully, there’s a lift to whisk us up to the top at the end). The netherworld contains a labyrinthine series of chambers along with a breathtaking collection of stalactites and stalagmites.

With years of erosion, the rock formations have been sculpted into fascinating shapes. Many look like shivlings (Lord Shiva’s phallic symbol) while the others seem to have taken on varied avatars of a pantheon of other Indian gods and goddesses including Lord Ganesha, complete with his trunk and protruding belly! Indeed this stunning stony amphitheater offers a thriving visual culture. The showstopper here is the ornate Chapel of the Blessed Kings, a staggering piece of work with its tiled floors, statuary, reliefs and a humungous chandelier all carved out of salt. The complex apparently took 30 years to create and is still used as a venue for occasional religious services and concerts. The tour concludes with an astounding display of mining artifacts, the inevitable souvenir stalls and an eatery where we partake of a sumptuous lunch. An hour’s drive out of Krakow and the landscape opens out to fields and the enchanting Tatra mountains, part of the Carpathian chain which divides Poland from Slovakia. The mountains are apparently a hit with skiers and mountaineers. We spotted many carrying their skies atop cars, all set to indulge in some fanciful weekend sports. The principal town in the area is the ski resort of Zakopane, the venue where the Aamir Khan-

factfile How to get there New Delhi (Delhi) to Krakow distance is 6592 km and a direct flight takes about 12 hours. Many international airlines fly to Krakow and fares start from INR 63,842. Weather Krakow’s a great place, if you love cold weather that is. Winter (Nov-Feb) weather ranges from sub-zero to about 6˚C. It is advisable to travel between March & September when the temperature averages between 10˚C–25˚C. Places to see Being Poland’s cultural capital, the city boasts of the one of the fines art collections in the world. Atmospheric cafes, spiffy boutiques for shopping and a pulsating night life make Krakow a complete holiday package.

Kajol Bollywood starrer ‘Fanaa’ was shot. However, even if you don’t head out of the city, the possibilities that Krakow offers are endless. You may walk the brightly-lit Royal Route and listen to the haunting Hejnal trumpet call from St Mary’s Church…..Or check into one of Krakow’s many fine eateries for a hearty meal and reflect on how fine life can be. Even better would be to hop into a horse-drawn carriage – one of the many that crowd Old Town – and go for a whirl around this seductive city that’s bound to leave you asking for more! by Neeta lal

December 2012 go now


destination: leisure

View from the nature trail of Lavasa


go now December 2012

destination: leisure

Lavasa City Serene lakes,plentiful greenery,gushing waterfalls,dewy mornings,all this makes Lavasa an ideal destination to let loose and unwind.

December 2012 go now


destination: Leisure


or those traveling from Pune, Lavasa is a short one hour drive. We took the road to Mulshi from Chandni Chowk, drove down two km to the Paud-Pirangut toll naaka and then straight down 13 km to Gothawde village. At this point one has to take a left turn to Lavasa which is 27 km away. The road to Lavasa passes through Temghar dam, and then it winds up over two ghaats, complete with sharp twists and turns. Those who travel from Mumbai have two options after driving down from the Express highway; they can either choose the PanvelLonavala-Chandi Chowk road or the Hinjewadi exit, the drive from Mumbai takes a good three to four hours depending on the traffic. Pune Railway Station is the closest for those who wish to travel by rail (65 km away from Lavasa). Lohegaon Air-

Promenade at Dasve 30

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port, Pune (International) is 72 km away from this city and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai is 220 km away. Lavasa enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year however monsoons are the best time to visit. Visually Lavasa is a treat, with a beautiful lake in a picturesque valley surrounded by seven hills and 18,000 acres of forested land, at nearly 3,000 feet above the plains. What makes this city even more exciting is the recreational activities that one can be a part of here or simply do nothing in peaceful surroundings and just relax in the lap of nature. After a tour of the city, we headed to Lakeshore Water sports to enjoy kayaking, water volleyball, jet skiing, trampolines, pontoon rides, pedal boats, water scooters and bumper boat rides. For adventure enthusiasts, there is the Academy-X thrill, Lavasa’s adventure camp which is about 9 km from the town centre. While conducting rock-climbing, zip-line and rappelling, this academy holds team-building activities

like raft building, treasure hunt and paintball. Dense jungle treks, waterfall rappelling, valley crossing on a cable and riding all terrain bikes are some other activities that one can indulge in. Local artisans display and sell their artifacts and finely crafted furniture made from bamboos at Bamboosa. Then there is the Neo Spark Games Arcade which provides a variety of entertaining and engaging games such as bowling, game consoles, a NEOS wall and electronic darts. The Nature Trail opposite Ekaant is perfect for long walks amidst natural surroundings. Lavasa has all the ingredients to create perfect one day picnics and off shore corporate workshops especially for those who live in Pune and Mumbai. We couldn’t help but admire the bright and colorful Goan and Mediterranean themed villas and apartments that exude outwards from the cosmopolitan town centre all along the lakefront. A lively promenade which stretches for almost 2 km along the Warasgaon Lake lined by cafÊs,

Ekaant – the retreat

boutiques and open-air eateries under umbrella canopies is perfect for an evening stroll. This beautiful hill city is well equipped with various facilities whether it is for events, education or therapeutic care. Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) has set up a college in Dasve called Ecole Hôtelière de Lavasa (EHL). Apollo Hospital and Apollo Pharmacy are already operational in Dasve, offering long-term and short-term therapeutic care and R&D facilities. The Lavasa International Convention Centre (LICC) is a multipurpose and professionally managed venue for both business and leisure. Fitted with state-ofthe-art facilities, the convention centre is an ideal venue to host meetings, conventions, congresses, launches, seminars, theme weddings and other events for a capacity of up to 1,500 people. So far the city has hosted various high profile events such as the Lavasa Women’s Drive which is held each year and is attended by various celebrities. Lavasa encourages philanthropy by way of various initiatives such as Christel House Lavasa. This school has taken the unique initiative of educating underprivileged children and providing them with nutritious meals, free uniforms, pick ups and drops in a school bus, regular healthcare, life skills training, character development and work study opportunities. Lavasa houses four hotels in all as of now. Mercure Hotel which has about 120 well appointed rooms, Fortune Select Dasve which has 60 rooms and the third option is Ekaant, Lavasa Corporation’s own construction with 20 rooms. The accommodations at The Waterfront Shaw Apartment Hotel range from studio to 1 and 2 bedroom apartments with basic necessities. The food available at Lavasa ranges from a gourmet’s delight to local delicacies. Asian Opera (Oriental), Celebrations (Multi Cuisine), Chor

Lavasa nature trail December 2012 go now


Fortune Hotel

Mercure Hotel


The Waterfront Shaw Hotel


go now December 2012

how to get there Those who travel from Mumbai have two options after driving down from the Express highway; they can either choose the Panvel-Lonavala-Chandi Chowk road or the Hinjewadi exit, the drive from Mumbai takes a good three to four hours depending on the traffic. Pune Railway Station is the closest for those who wish to travel by rail (65 km away from Lavasa). Lohegaon Airport, Pune (International) is 72 km away from this city and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai is 220 km away. Best time to visit Lavasa-Monsoons Where to stay: 1. Fortune Select Dasve 2. Mercure Hotel 3. Ekaant-the retreat 4. The Waterfront Shaw Apartment Hotel

Bizarre (North Indian), Earthen Oven (Indian), Oriental Octopus (Oriental), Tabakh (Lebanese), Vyanjan (Multi Cuisine), The Deck (Multi Cuisine) and Zodiac(Multi Cuisine) are various restaurants where one can dine at Lavasa. Equipped with various facilities, Lavasa is a popular holiday destination as well as a great option for those looking to set up a permanent base. A visit to Lavasa city definitely leaves a lasting impression! by Jyoti Balani

December 2012 go now


destination: pilgrimage

the pilgrimage of

Paonta Sahib the destination has much more to offer

Many a times, for our share of tranquillity, we rush to popular hill stations like Simla, Mussoorie, Nainital, among others. But India has a gamut of places which are less visited and waiting to be explored. Go Now recently went for an excursion to Paonta Sahib, which turned out to be a perfect humdrum breaker for us. Tie on your laces and get ready for an adventure with your cameras on. This place will just not let you sit and rest!

Gurudwara Shri Paonta Sahib 34

go now December 2012

Sikh devotees during Gurupurab


istorical Peep

Surrounded with Shivalik range, located on the banks of river Yamuna, enriched with history and wildlife sanctuaries as neighbouring locales stands Paonta Sahib, a beautiful town in the state of Himachal Pradesh plush with greenery and beauty. History traces the town’s roots to the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh whose horse stopped there on its own making him spend few days there. As the feet of the tenth guru touched the ground, a new town came into being originally as, Paontika, “Paon” (Feet) “Tika” (to become stable) and later transformed as Paonta Sahib. Here Guru Gobind Singh wrote many Sikh religious books, which can be found today inside the museum of the gurudwara along with antiques and weapons used by him during his stay.

Paonta at Present Today Paonta Sahib is a pilgrimage to the Sikh believers and a calm touring spot for those who are looking for an escapade from the hustle and bustle of big towns. Wil-

liam Wordsworth who finds solace in the lap of nature and considers nature as his mother couldn’t agree with us more. Keeping his faith alive we invite you to indulge in this historically beautiful town, somewhat similar to Wordsworth’s idol town. The place is beautiful in every festival and in all the weathers. But the charm and attraction of the town lies with the Guru Purabs. In November the festivity is at its brink. It’s the month when the first Guru of Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev was born. The processions done by students performing various dances, the excitement and the décor around the town are enthralling. Even if you pass by this town, the zest in the air won’t go unnoticed especially during the festivities. Such exhilaration is seen during all the Guru Purabs around the year. Holamohalla, a Sikh Olympics

Renukaji Temple

event is another time of huge fiesta among the locales and also among the tourists. The town is not over inhabited, so people enjoy calm nights. Blessed with sub-tropical climatic conditions you experience the best morning walks and fresh evening strolls, perhaps of the country. The bazaar of the town can be seen brimming with red-cheeked locals breathing the essence of a small pahari region. The town has enough number of restaurants, hotels, parks, schools,

Darbar Sahib Sahib Darbar December 2012 go now


Zoo at Renukaji

Town Trivia

Renukaji hotel

Renukaji lake 36

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Paonta is separated with just a kilometre long bridge from Uttrakhandand with just a check post from Haryana. Located on highway 72, connecting Chandigarh and Dehradun, this town is a link and approachable to some of the best touring spots and cities of the country.

degree colleges and hyper markets. Well, good enough to keep the residents happy. Infact they get the bonus of river sides and view of snow coveredhills which no metropolitan can ever get. Lately many industries have been set up around the town but that does not seem to damage its exquisiteness. In fact, their location is planned intelligently without hampering the town’s progress and damaging the heritage.

Exploring jaunts nearby Suketi Fossil Park, which is not more than 20 km from the main town, displays life size fiberglass model of pre-historic animals whose fossil skeletons were unearthed there. So those inclined to the pre-historic era can very well enjoy and discover here. Having talked about fossil parks, let us introduce you to another heritage of this place, the Kalesar National Park. Those interested in wildlife and bird watching, can surely give their eyes a treat with the view of enormous flora and fauna. A national highway running parallel to the national Park maintains its approachability too. Simbalwara Wildlife Sanctuary; another must-visit around this town too is just 12 km away. Moving further, we reach Renuka Ji which is 60 km away from the town and is a great blend of beauty and nature. It is one of the most visited tourist spot of Himachal.

destination: pilgrimage

factfile How to get there? Paonta Sahib can be approached by road. The nearest airport and railway station is at Dehradun which is 50 km approx and also at Chandigarh which is about 130 km approx from the town.

The Religious Capital of India

Where to stay? Hotel Grand Riviera, nestled on the banks of River Bata and the Yamuna hotel, on the bank of river Yamuna let you enjoy a magnificent view of the rivers. Also PWD rest houses gives all the amenities at a much affordable price. Best time to visit As temperatures are pleasant in the winters, October to March is an ideal time to hit this religious town.

This place is famous for its magnificent lake, which is largest in the state and is shaped like the profile of a reclining woman. Renuka Ji is surrounded with slopes and thick woods which gives shelter to many a wildlife species. The place is also famous for its temple, built in 19th century which incidentally is one of the most ancient ones in the state and attracts devotees in large numbers. One can simply lounge around the pristine waters or indulge in boating on its serene waters. Or if you simply wish to lie back and enjoy a panoramic view of the lake, lodge a room at Hotel Renuka which directly overlooks the lake.

Religious Refuge Wait, these were just the options for wanderers. We have taken equal care for the devotees as well. Apart from the Main Gurudwara of the town itself, Paonta Sahib gives option to devotees for exploring more religious places like Gurudwara and temples nearby. Some of the famous ones would be Gurudwara Bhangani Sahib, Gurudwara Tirgarhi Sahib, Gurudwara Shegarh Sahib all at a distance of 20 Km from the town. Paonta is also thronged by visitors throughout the year for various temples in an around the city like Shiva Temple, Katasan Devi Temple and Balasundari temple. With lakes and temples, wildlife sanctuaries, National parks and gurudwaras, striking a perfect harmony between nature and religion, we wonder if there is anything which this small town is devoid of! Reasons aplenty to rush to Himachal and catch a glimpse of this idyllic town of Paonta Sahib. We recommend, Go Now! text by anupriya bishnoi photographs by viveck Tewari


aranasi was the most photographic locations I have visited until now. For people it can be the city of temples, the city of lights or the oldest living city on earth but for me it was a step further. It has been a journey that has given me some of the best pictures, each depicting a story in itself; stories of forgiveness, sagas of love, narratives of dedication and tales of inspiration. We usually live life for attaining happiness and freedom; which are virtues that are attained mostly after life but being in Varanasi provided me to gain these variables while I was living. Words, phrases are less to describe the serenity of the city; the peace you find within yourself when you are in the religious capital of India is exceptional. The sound of the river, the fresh air mixed with the fragrance of the scented incense sticks, the ringing of the bells, the chanting of prayers touches your soul and leads you to a contrasting world. A world that is untouched by the unruly mannerisms of the city life coupled with an atmosphere that is calm and peaceful. Varanasi is a city situated on the banks of the River Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is regarded as a holy city by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. It is one of the oldest in India. The name Varanasi has its origin possibly from the names of the two rivers Varuna and Assi, for the old city lies in the north shores of the Ganges bounded by its two tributaries, the Varuna and the Assi, with the Ganges being to its south. While walking the not so clean streets of the city, I met some of the most memorable people I will never encounter in my life again. Speaking to them about their lives, their cultures, their devotion was enchanting and educating. And the thrill on their faces with the idea of them being photographed was wonderful. The icing on the cake has to be the Ganga Aarti performed at the Meer Ghat. It is a sight which is remarkably divine and ethereal. They told me about the various Ghats the city boasts about. Varanasi has nearly 100

Ghats. Many of the Ghats were built when the city was under Maratha control. Most of the Ghats are bathing Ghats, while others are used as cremation sites or for washing purposes popularly known as “Dhobi Ghats”, The city has many lives revolving around it; the lives of the 1000’s of boatmen, who take Rs 50 to take you around the river, the lives of the sadhus who preach their religion, the lives of the small children who aim to be like their role models and the lives of the many people who come each day in the city to attain purity of soul and pay tribute to their god. Each day I had many fascinating experiences and places to visit which made my journey more exciting and perfect. There are some times when you don’t want your journey to end, and this was one of those rare experiences of my life. I don’t know if I am an ardent follower of god really, but being in the city I certainly felt the feeling of a supreme power. It made me realize that in today’s fast moving world, we need to stop and get the peace that we are looking for. And for me the peace was here, amongst the crowd of 100’s of people, each of us have a purpose of being in the city. A mere photographic assignment became an experience that I will cherish for a lifetime. The glances in the cultures and the rituals of the city have not only broadened my knowledge but have given me a scope of seeing the city in a different light. The compositions, the symmetrical lines, the colours, the portraits, the landscapes, the ghastly waters and the unique adjustments of the place were amazing. For exploring the beauty and the serenity of Varanasi even a lifetime is less. As a photographer I visit many beautiful places, many interesting sights but the amount of scope this place has in terms of photographs I am yet to find something similar. The pictures taken here talk for themselves and what more achievement can be for me when my pictures speak to you. Text & photos by Aman Chotani

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destination: adventure

Love, life and landscape!


Most of the Indians prefer international destinations for vacation, but I think India in itself is a very beautiful country with so many places where you can experience amazing locations with different cultures. To take a break from the summer heat of June, I visited Ladakh and want to share my memorable experience there. by anirudh dhoot


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adakh – The Little Tibet

To say it simply yet flamboyantly, visiting Ladakh was completely a refreshing trip. The place is adorned with roaring mountains, hills, lakes, valleys, monasteries and a lot more, all in one abode. Ladakh is renowned for its beauty and culture. It has strong cultural and geographical similarities with Tibet. Basing ourselves in Leh, we visited key places like Nubra Valley, Pangong Lake, Sangam and various Monastries.

In and around Nubra Valley is one of the most beautiful places of the world situated at an average

altitude of about 10,000 sq ft. above sea level and is known for its mountains and monastery of Maitreya Buddha. The fun element was camel ride in the sand dunes. To take the unconventional route for accommodation, we opted to stay in a camp. We had two days and 1 wanted to explore the valley. On our way to Nubra Valley, we experienced and passed through the Khardungla Pass – the world’s highest motorable road, almost at a height of 18,500 sq ft. above sea level. The journey to the valley was an amazing experience in itself because of the spectacular view of the natural untouched beauty filled with heavenly feeling. Our next destination was Pangong Lake. It is the most beautiful lake in the world and makes you feel good that it’s in India. It was almost five hours from Leh and the road is typically hilly, bit risky and full of adventure. The drive gave the awesome sceneries of mountains capped with snow, sand, and awesome color shades because of clouds. Next day we headed towards ‘Sangam’, the lesser known Sangam of India. It is a meeting point of two rivers Indus and Zanskar, both with different water colours. On the way towards Sangam we experienced the Magnetic Hill. It’s a zero gravity, 4 km metallic road where a vehicle when parked on neutral gear starts to slide up by itself. Being in zero gravity was another experience in its own! On reaching Sangam we see the exotic painting which the amalgamation of two rivers paints upon the mixing of colors. For the first time, I experienced the river rafting at Sangam as which I can proudly proclaim was one the most life and amazing experiences of my life!

The beauty of Zankar range made me fall in love with nature all over again!

Monasteries in Ladakh It was my lifetime wish to spend some time in monasteries and to explore Buddhism. The very first monastery which I visited was Shanti Stupa which is completely made with Whitestone. To experience the Stupa in its full grandeur, do visit it in full moonlight. The sunrise and sunset views were completely spectacular as well.  Our next monastery destination was Hemis monastery, around 45 km from Leh. The monastery was beautiful with extremely peaceful environment. After that we visited Thiksey Monastery, around 17 kns from Leh. If you were to take my opinion, I would surely crown it as the best of all monasteries in Ladakh. (The writer is one of the youngest entrepreneurs of India and the Director of the Videocon Group. A travel enthusiast, he loves to explore new places within India and abroad. The article is sourced from a personal trip the writer took to Ladakh this summer.) December 2012 go now


leisure: destination

Elephants taking guests past the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard signage – The Home of Monsoon Valley Wine.

The Sala Wine Bar & Bistro crowned by a traditional three-tiered, curvilinear Thai roof.


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Monsoon Valley Shiraz. The mystical Naga emblem is the secret of Monsoon Valley.

niche travel: wine tourism

Experience the vineyard on the back of an elephant.

The 40-minute drive along a flat, tarred road from the Hua Hin Wine Cellar in downtown Hua Hin doesn’t prepare you for your ultimate destination, the 560 acres vineyard encircled by mountains.

Experience Hua Hin Hills’ New Latitude Wines at the Lucky 13th Panoramic view of the vineyard shot from a helicopter showing New Latitude wines growing on 13°.

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niche travel: wine tourism


was blissfully ignorant of Thailand’s wine industry till a friend, Nicola Chilton, Director, PR, Asia-Pacific at Four Seasons’ Hotels, Thailand, told me about the food festival they had paired with New Latitude’s Monsoon Wines to celebrate its upcoming 10th anniversary. To break the humdrum of the drive, I did some en-route signboard spotting, sighting

Thai sparkling. Monsoon Valley Brut Blanc de Blancs.


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directions to attractions which tourists could take in as well – artists’ village; elephant country; PaLa U waterfalls and caves; floating market; Tibetan Buddhist Centre and Black Sheep Adventure Farm. The last two kilometres of the road narrows and undulates past young rubber trees and pineapple plantations, leading up to a neatly manicured hedge and floral shrubs announcing the entrance to the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard. Nestled in a valley and fringed by emerald hills, this could be a vineyard anywhere in the world, and your experience here second to none. The giveaway of its country is a structure on a hilltop – the Sala – crowned by a traditional shingle-clad, three-tiered curvilinear Thai roof. Greeted by Hanna Oberauer, Vineyard & Wine Cellar-cum-Assistant Marketing Manager, at the Sala Wine Bar and Bistro, we are shown to our table on one of the terraces offering a stunning view of neat rows of rolling vineyards. Blessed by a Mediterranean-like sea breeze and a soil which contains loam,

niche travel: wine tourism

Monsoon Valley's flagship range: Cuvée de Siam Rouge launched in the Year of the Tiger (2010) while vintage of grapes was 2008.

Sunrise above Hua Hin Hills Vineyard. At right is the contemporary Sala, inspired by Thai architecture.

thailand’s wine market

Thailand has recently entered the wine market just over two decades ago and it has grown very steadily since then. One of the earliest wineries is Siam Winery (established in 1986) by Chalerm Yoovidhya, owner of Hua Hin Hills Vineyard and Monsoon Wine. The legacy was continued by the late Dr. Chaijudh Karnasuta who is considered the father of Thailand’s grape wine industry. He had a vision of growing classic varietal wine grapes in Thailand to produce wine, and planted these at Chateau de Loei in 1991, in a cool mountain valley in Northern Thailand. Chateau de Loei enjoyed its first commercial harvest in 1995. This wa s followed by t he planting of the P.B. Valley vineyards in 1992, Chateau des Brumes in 1997, and GranMonte in 1999. Thailand has three main distinguished winemaking regions which produces quality wine: North East Thailand, Khao Yai and South of Bangkok. Thai winery is accompanied by resort accommodations for the traveler, with spas, lush gardens, and impeccable restaurants, all meant to welcome the visitor on a wine trail tour. Thailand produces different types of wine including: Shiraz, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Chardonnay and Merlot depending on the region where the grapes are grown. Besides producing regular wine varieties, Thailand also specializes in herbal and fruit wine such as Lychee Wine, Mangosteen Wine and Black Ginseng wine. These fruit and herb wines are regionally produced and heavily promoted as OTOP products (“One Village, One Product”, a program developed to promote agr icultural products from smaller areas). Even though, wine tourism in Thailand is a new concept for Indian tourists, Thailand has been getting visitors from Singapore, China, Vietnam and Taiwan for wine tours and we hope the trend will catch up in India. TAT is now actively promoting their wineries and vineyards through print media as well as Familiarization trips. Print media is one of the most effective ways to promote wine tourism because of the vast circulations of newspapers across all regions of India.

Wine tasting tours

•  Wine Tour Thailand •   K h a o Ya i W i n e r y : h t t p : / / w w w. •  For something really unique, bike tour company Spice Roads Asia (www. offers a two-day tour of Khao Yai’s wine trails that includes the national park and other surrounding attractions and wine tasting.

Wine Trail at leisure with just 1 Horse Power at PB Valley, Khao Yai

PB Valley Khao Yai Winery has introduced a new exciting activity which promises to be fun for the whole family. Besides the well-established Wine Tasting Tours v isitors can now also enjoy touring around the vineyards and gardens in a horse carriage. The new tours start daily from 9:00am to 4:00pm and last about 30 minutes per trip. Each horse cart can accommodate 2 adults and 1 child and the cost is baht 300 net per tour. The tour by horse carriage can be requested at the customer service counter at the Great Hornbill Grill at PB Valley.

Wineries in Thailand

Samut Sakhorn Siam Winery: Pattaya Silverlake Winery Wang Nam Keow Village Farm & Winery Pranburi Hua Hin Hills: Khao Yai •  GranMonte Vineyard •  PB Valley: http://www.khaoyaiwinery. com/ Chiang Rai •  Mae Chan Winery •  Chiang Rai Winery Loei Chateau De Loei http://www.chateaudeloei. com

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niche travel: wine tourism


Optional activities at Vineyard

Retail shop where Hua Hin Hills offers several homemade grape products.


The Sala offers a fusion of Thai and Western cuisine to guests on one of the terraces above the vines.


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Vineyard tours on elephant back: Children below 7 years not allowed. THB300 for 15 min or THB500 for 30min/person Complimentary guided vineyard jeep tours daily at 1pm and 4pm. Petanque: A traditional French game played with metal balls. Free Mountain Biking: THB100 for 30 min or THB150 for 60 min / per person Painting: Create your own unique wine label and take the finished bottle back as a souvenir. THB300/bottle Special menu for kids With advance notice, dietary restrictions can be catered for, including for vegetarians.

Daily jeep tours to experience the New Latitude vineyard at 1pm and 4pm.

sand and slate, both beneficial for growing grapes, the annual harvest period is between mid-February and late-March. Simultaneously, a Wine Harvest Festival is held in early-March. The mid-week lunch hour is packed with visitors from various countries. “We get 500600 visitors daily towards the end of the year, when Europeans want to get away from their winters,” says Hanna. The Sala, a blend of traditional Thai architecture in a contemporary setting, designed by Norman Foster architect’s Sylvia Soh has received numerous recognitions from world architectural bodies. From the entrance a long curved brick wall visually links the openair gallery, retail area, restaurant terraces and finally the wine tasting room. Wine is stored in a sunken cellar to achieve a naturally cooling effect. To be environmentally responsible, local materials are used ranging from handmade bricks to locally grown bamboo. A passive cooling strategy is adopted through large terraces allowing natural ventilation. Owned by Khun Chalerm Yoovidhya, Siam Winery (estab. 1986) began celebrations earlier this year for its forthcoming 25th anniversary in 2013, which will also mark the 10th anniversary of the Monsoon Valley Wines. Khun Chalerm’s vision is to build a Thai wine culture, which he considers a “healthier alcohol”. His idea became a reality when he planted the first grapes at Hua Hin Hills vineyard for the Monsoon Valley wines in 2003. The state-of-the-art Siam Winery www. is the largest in Southeast

factfile Getting there From Bangkok’s Suvarabhumi International Airport the best way is by car, a 3 to 3½ hrs drive. Your hotel in Hua Hin could recommend a limousine (BHT5000-6000). Or hire a private taxi. A reliable driver we used (and been used by friends) is Mr. Tee (Sorntachat). Tel:/What’s App: +66 8 4695 5620 Email: tc.taxiservice@ Faebook TC Thai Taxi Service Meets you upon arrival and drives you to your hotel in Hua Hin. Charges between BHT 2000-2500 each trip. You can confirm return to Bangkok with him as well. If you are already in Bangkok, and want to visit Hua Hin, similar service is available. Hua Hin Hills Vineyard Tel: +66 (0) 81 701 0222/0444/0555 email: Opening hours Daily 10am to 6pm Daily round trip shuttle van leaves Hua Hin Market Village from Hua Hin Wine Cellar at 10.30am and 3pm. Leaves the vineyard at 2pm and 6pm. Reservations mandatory. THB200/person. Children under 4 years free Tel: +66 (0) 32 526 351 Mobile: +66 (0) 81 904 5777 & +66 (0) 81 904 3888

Asia. Located in Samut Sakorn (45km from Bangkok) it is open to visitors twice daily, 10am and 2pm, Monday through Saturday. The wine making team is led by German winemaker Katrin Puff backed by years of experience in her native Germany, Italy and New Zealand. She defines New Latitude Wines (NLW) as, “a combination of the Old (cradle of winemaking and viticulture) and New (a more

juvenile approach to winemaking and viticulture as in Chile and Australia) World Wines. While the 30th to 50th latitudes are the wine growing country belt, countries like Thailand and India now prove this to be wrong. The Hua Hin Hills are on the 13th latitude. Our lunch arrives and the mingling of Thai and Italian cuisine is paired with Monsoon Valley wines. Our hostess has suggested a menu of Tamarind Nam Prik – smoked duck breast on crispy wanton and dried prawn with a Shiraz, Pad Kee Mao – spaghetti with seafood served with Cuvee de Siam Blanc; and a vegetarian version of the same flavoured with Thai herbs and chillies with a chilled glass of fresh grape juice laced with vanilla syrup and basil for me. The delicious meal is topped by a homemade chocolate fondant oozing with molten chocolate paired with a Muscat. The bright morning sunshine has given way to dark clouds tumbling down the hills and a light drizzle falls as we take a brief ride atop 45-year old Honey. “This area was once an elephant reserve,” says her mahout Tuer. As we get ready to leave, with the rain coming down heavier, my husband and I affirm our NLW vineyard experience compares favourably with some of the high-grade New World vineyards. In this case 13 – referring to its latitude – has certainly been a lucky number for Hua Hin Hills. Text by Amita Sarwal Photos courtesy hua hin hills vineyard

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niche travel: wine tourism

fine wine and vineyard tales... Quaffing and celebrating with some of the world’s finest premium wines at five exclusive regions give us sunshine highs across some of the world’s glorious vineyards, cellars and venues.


ne of life’s cherished and exclusive pleasures is celebrating the good times in memorable, unforgettable ways. We’ve hand-picked five of some of the most delightfully endearing wine regions and vineyard sojourns across the globe where the romance of fine wines in enchanting surrounds is guaranteed to uplift and elate your youthful zest.



The scenic Cantons de L’Est or the Eastern Townships is Quebec’s prized wine region a forty minutes drive from Montreal. Boutique wineries here have made a significant mark with indigenous grape varietals, especially Canada’s pride – the ice wine. We drove to the tasting cellars and sunshine acres of the gloriously green vineyards and gardens of the oldest operational winery in Quebec, ‘Domaine des Cotes D’Ardoise Vignoble’ in tiny Dunham. Their crisp and light, Riesling with a flirtatious spring nose brought a smile. The 2009 floral notes of petunia and jasmine edged by freshly squeezed lime was characteristic of the mellow summers here. Another super white from the local varietal ‘Seyval’ a cold climate grape with prominent citrus elements surprised us. The lingering well rounded taste was akin to lychee and very light fennel! This was the Domaine des cotes D’Ardoise ‘Seyval Carte D’Or’ 2007, exceptional and exhilarating. The award winning ‘2009 Cotes d’Ardoise’ cuvee – in peppery and spicy communion had aromas of pine and lingering roast chestnut. C’est magnifique! Their teasing red ‘Haut Combe’ 2007 displayed a light peppery palate of well balanced tannins, lightly acidic but 46

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ripe with dry, smoky burntwood and tobacco and apple winery in Richford, Frelighsburg, flavors. All nature’s magic on our tongues! creates his prized ‘Domaine Pinnacle’ the Their award-winning honey dew-scented world’s finest, platinum quality still and spar2008 ‘L’Or D’Automne dessert wines offered kling apple wines. The mystical aromas of unbeatable bouquets and flavors guaranteed juicy apples had lingering flavors of fresh lily, to magnetize our back palates. Wine enthusi- jasmine and light honeysuckle. The awardasts chilling out on the ‘Domaine des Cotes winning ‘Domaine Pinnacle Ice Apple Wine’ D’Ardoise’ lawns and vineyards raised merry picked during the freezing winters of Quegoblets to our appreciative and genuinely bec, spoke a thrilling language of six apple impressed expressions! varieties with clean, crisp long finish. The vineyard magic of the sprawling ‘ViCharles Crawford’s ‘Reserve 1859 Dognoble D’Orpailleur’, at Dunham beckoned us. maine Pinnacle’ is a distinguished aperitif Overlooking rolling meadows we settled on the radiating bouquet and palate sophistication grass to watch a wedding being solemnized of apple ice wine and apple brandy in reon the green, the harp and violin creating an markable proportions. on-site, vineyard romance. The fragrances of Quebecois apricot, honey, nectarine and mango elated in their magnificent award winning 100% Vidal ‘Vin de Glace’ - Ice wine, a signature offering with Blue cheese. A must taste is the remarkable 2009 ‘Orpailleur Rose’ a celebrative blush with outstanding bouquets of white rose and lily and strawberry. We got along to the 100% white 2009 Seyval ‘Orpailleur Classic’ in light straw tones, with a palate of fresh olives, honey, grass, lemon and summer fruit. The vineyard experience is unique with tastings of the 2008 ‘L’Orpailleur’ red . This cheery wine displayed an uncharacteristic nose of peony, black currant and snuff (!) added with a kaleidoscope of flavors beginning with an immediate burnt tobacco and well rounded after taste of mushrooms. We raised our Riedls to an appreciative ‘Sante’. Orchadeur Charle s Crawford’s family-owned lush apple orchards Fine dessert wine-domaine des cotes D’ardoise-Canada

Couple enjoying wines in Vineyards of Domaine Des Cotes D’ardoise-Quebec December 2012 go now


Glory of the Vineyards-Hunter Valley-Australia



Historic Coolangatta Estate winery at Shoalhaven Heads in the rolling Southern Highlands in New South Wales overlooks stunning land and seascpaes! At this onceconvict-hideaway-now-wine estate we were truly overwhelmed by some exceptional wines. A 2001 vintage Alexander Berry Semillon white, perfect with deep citrus and


Choicest personal label limited edition Dievole Chianti Wines-Dievole-Toscana


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A unique Bohemian romance comes alive in Toscana’s contrasting landscapes and the wide frames of lush vineyards. Unique boutique, signature Tuscan wines and their fascinating aromas and intrinsic flavors bring alive the mystical charms of super grapes. At the vast, sprawling hill-hugging vineyards of the scenic Dievole Agricola Winery we sampled superlative red and white wines in different cellar locales. Their fine Dievole IGT Rosato di Sangiovese 2010-Rose-pink wine had a cheery bouquet of wild fruits, raspberry flavors, citrus, bamboo and lily. On the other hand a distinguished Dievole Broccato IGT Toscana 2008 red wine with deeply ruby, -purple tinge is intense with tobacco and

grapefruit aromas came alive with unusual flavors while the splendidly rare red 2006 Tannat – a French varietal overtook our perception with hay and wood palate. The limited vintage 2008 Chambourcin red with sprightly aromas of bamboo, snuff and pepper corn overtones is another remarkable marvel. We were enraptured by the flavors so distinct and diverse from any Australian varietal ever! In Australia’s oldest wine region Hunter Valley, the impressive Brokenback range borders the picturesque Audrey Wilkinson Vineyards. Here on bougainvilleasprinkled gardens we tasted grand vintages like their superb 2005 Shiraz Cabernet reds and the unique sparkling Malbec 2006 with mushroom, driftwood and velvet palate. That afternoon we drove up the lush green vineyards leading to ace restaurateur and chef Robert Molines’ boutique restaurant for a gourmet treat paired with fine wines like a 2009 Tempus Tempranillo, 2006 Esca Bimbadgen vintage Shiraz and Tower Wines’ 2008 Reserve sparkling Shiraz. Ole!

peppery plum flavors with dry cinnamon, cigar overtones. In the skittish winter nip, the grand ‘Dievole La Vendemmia DOCG 2009 Chianti Classico’ with 90% ‘Sangiovese’ grapes presented superlative cherry and plum confiture, lightly spicy with black pepper, cinnamon notes, light smoked tobacco flavors. ‘Sangiovese’ the local grape wonder adapts remarkably to different bouquets and flavors that add to its quaffing enjoyment. On the leafy terrace of the gardens, tasting the magnificent Dievole Novecento Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007 red wine is a stunning experience with vintage finesse. On the nose you have chocolate and coffee, aromas in assertion, while the flavors come alive with full-bodied, persistent tobacco and leather flavors.

Fabulous wine and cheese tastings over Taubertal Valley-Franconia-Germany



The scenic Romantic Route leads on to neatly furrowed vineyards and protected woodlands, and a hill farm hut with spectacular panoramas of the valleys. Franconia is one of Germany’s premium wine regions growing and nurturing truly unique grape varietals is quite unknown to most outside Europe. Tauberhase vineyards cultivate some of Bavaria’s leit-motif grape varietals which set them apart with their intrinsic attributes. A liberal platter of Bergkase (fresh Bavarian mountain cheese) and grilled vegetables off hot skewers accompanied our wine tastings. The outstanding 2008 Weingut Stoerlein & Krenig Silvaner ‘Tradition’ trocken (dry) white wine was exceptional deep floral notes of juniper, light lily, grapefruit flavors going onto to a soft citrus back palate. Another bouquet, a unique 2008 Taub-

erschwarz Franken Trocken (dry) number, exhibiting fresh floral notes of grapefruit, berry and green bamboo was persistently thrilling, the bouquet of snipped rose petals. This fascinating wine country boasting exemplary grape stocks packs in sunshine flavors with sensory appeal for all seasons. The label pronounced promising tastes as the Weingut Rudolf Furst 2008 Silvaner ‘Pur Mineral’ dry white exhibited a rose, heather and water lily nose, the natural light, going onto drier, light lemon and pear flavors. The smooth drive to Castell, a tiny hilltop village in Franconia brought down a whoosh of seasonal showers soaking up the inclined vineyards into a brilliance of greens as we pulled up at the world famous Castell Winery of the well known global brand ‘Faber & Castell’. These pioneers offered us a summery, light white -2008 Schloss Casteller Bausch Mueller Thurgau - Kabinett Trocken (dry), the

2009 Casteller Silvaner Kabinett (premium), both truly, outstandingly dry and aromatic. Known globally for their award-winning ‘Good Growth’ - GG Schlossberg Silvaner, it offered grand floral notes matched with lingering grapefruit and light melon flavors. The superlative 2009 ‘Apriles’ Silvaner (in celebration of spring in April) was literally nectar to our tongues with fresh jasmine, lily, and white rose bouquets. But the bespoke Castell finesse in fine vintage were their grand reds, - the 2007 Spaetburgunder Trocken, their 2008 Reitsteig and the innovative 2008 Castell Cuvee blend. Worthy of appreciation were their striking leather, tannin-powered nose, pine aromas with the peppery finish of Pinot Noir and wafting velvety back palates. We saluted our Castell sojourn with an outstanding ‘Casteller Kugelspiel Silvaner 2007 Eiswein (Ice wine) with vanilla, honey notes, mesmerizing nectarine, chocolate and lemon rind hints. December 2012 go now


niche travel: wine tourism

Kitzbuehel wine festival celebrations-Tyrol-Austria


Kitzbuehel in Tirol is the very heart and soul of Austria’s and the world’s most enchanting Alpine wonderland. Tucked away in the Alpine valleys around the Hanhnenkamm Ranges, enveloped by undulating viridian green pastures, offered us some out-of-thebox oenophilic experiences. At the quaint Hinterstadt Square we caught the mirthful mood of people quaffing goblets as swinging tunes of a band filled the air. This highly rated Kitzbuehel Wine Festival is a two-day celebration of the finest varietals and blends from Austria’s fabled wine regions. The most celebrated young winemaker Erich Scheiblhofer whose Scheiblhofer has been consistently rated ‘Winery of The Year’ since 2004, offered his outstanding ‘The Legend’, a fine blend of 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The bouquet of spice, moist pine and leather was complemented by distinct flavors of mushrooms, mild tobacco, clove and black currant. Unassuming winemaker Manfred Gruber’s suave and floral 2009 Riesling Auf Der Setz from Kamptal had a surprising nectar finish and the 2009 Gelber Muskateller Kreuzerberg from Niederosterreich and the deeply 50

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Choicest Austrian wines-Kitzbuehel-Austria

fruity and stoutly woody 2008 St. Laurent also from Niederosterreich were classy. Two other boutique wine creators – Ewald Diem and his wife offered an imploring 2006 RedBlauberger Exklusiv from Niederosterreich with a fine nose of heather and moist wood with a lingering palate of oak and truffles. Rounding up our memerable wine tasting evening, we concluded with winemaker

Gertrude Seidl’s 2009 Riesling Ried Kalkofen from Spitz in Wachau. Provoking aromas of lime and light jasmine while flavors spelt honest honeysuckle and melon. The talkative Gertrude offered us her well-blended 2008 Cuvee from Spitz-Wachau wth it’s oaky, mild tannins lifted our palates further with lingering burnt wood after tastes. text and photos by Kishore and smita iyengar

December 2012 go now


niche travel: wine tourism

Saint clair family estate Here’s interviewing consultant winemaker Matt Thomson from the Saint Clair family to take us through some fine wines


aint Clair Family Estate in New Zealand is a medium sized winery but is operated like a boutique winery, with the aim of producing the finest wines. These wines have been on a winning spree right since their first vintage in 1994 and the name Saint Clair has been synonymous with quality. Involved with Saint Clair Family Estate right since its foundation in the year 1994, consultant winemaker Matt Thomson has a rich experience in the winemaking business. He has worked in various parts of Italy and Bordeaux. He makes sure quality isn’t compromised with and places little emphasis on technological gadgetry. His natural, uncluttered approach helps produce wines with distinctive characters, which are clearly appreciated by an increasingly sophisticated wine drinking community in various wine markets around the world. Matt spends most of his time in the vineyards until harvest monitoring the changing flavor of the grapes. He notes the difference in flavor between bunches and between the different vineyard areas to ensure that they are picked at the most favorable time. Blessed with a fabulous palate and incredible skill for optimizing these grape flavors at harvest, his skills and the time he spends in the vineyard are extremely important in Saint Clair’s viticulture and winemaking process and the results are


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wines of outstanding quality. Last month we met up with Matt Thomson when he (on his very first visit to India) showcased Saint Clair wines in the Park Hyatt Hyderabad. He says Indian cuisine pairs very well with his wines. “The Sauvignon will pair with prawn kebab, Daal and Dosa, Chardonnay with Korma, Chicken Tikka Masala and Tandoori Chicken. The Pinot Noir pairs excellently with Rogan Josh or any other mildly spiced lamb dish,” he says. Matt feels wines are subjective. “A good wine to one person may not be the same to another; this does not mean that a wine is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. As a winemaker it is important to be aware not of just what you like, but what diverse markets like,” he elaborates. “Saint Clair is currently listed and selling in Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Goa, Kolkata

and Rajasthan in India. Although there has been growth, India is a relatively small customer for Saint Clair,” reveals Matt. There’s a lot of debate over the fact whether screw caps should replace corks in wine bottles. Matt Thomson says, “We don’t understand, apart from market perception, why producers would persist with a closure (cork) that is clearly faulty, when there is an alternative that is not.” Matt doesn’t foresee a situation where Saint Clair will no more be a family run business in spite of the fact that there is a lot of consolidation happening in the wine industry with multinationals as well as New Zealand wineries acquiring independent producers. Matt feels wine bridges all ages and lifestyles, but one has to come across it and have at least one friend to enjoy it with. “Wine is to be shared,” he says. Most Indians today want to drink and know about wines just because it is considered trendy. “I think wine is something that might first be tried because it is trendy to do so, but I think people who then enjoy it are unlikely to not drink it because it becomes less trendy,” feels Matt. “From what I know the climates are pretty hot and usually humid. This will pose significant challenges to those trying

Celebrate Christmas in Germany at their traditional Christmas markets

photo courtesy: GNTO

destination: leisure


to produce aromatic, cool-climate styles. I would be looking at Italian varieties as they will have thicker more resistant skins. I haven’t tried any incredible wines yet from India, but I have tried some excellent examples from competent producers. It is a very good thing that Indian wines are made as it does and will continue to create interest in wine,” says Matt about domestic wines. During his trip to India Matt visited several hotels in three cities, attended 3 press conferences and organized two wine dinners. “We had a fantastic time in India. We visited a number of world class hotels that really are quite incredible in their standards in every respect. Some of them are jaw-dropping beautiful. We were impressed with the knowledge of the buyers through the three cities we visited and were also impressed with the glassware and service. It seems that there is a strong expatriate community consuming wines, but this is gradually changing from what we have heard as more Indians try this beverage. The two evening functions we attended were very well organized,” says Matt about his Indian experience. “India strikes me as a country with massive potential, but I see growth being steady rather than spectacular. It is a market that is new to wine and it will evolve over time,” he concludes.

ermany’s Christmas markets have an enchanting appeal to them with tempting aromas, the festive glow and all the wonderful sounds of the season. Some of the popular ones with visitors are The Christmas Angel in Nuremberg which has the famous Christkindlesmarkt breathing an aroma of mulled wine, almonds, and gingerbread as well as brass ensembles and children´s choirs to make your Christmas special. The Christmas market in Dresden is considered to be the oldest in Germany and the so-called “Striezelmarkt” is named after the famous Dresden Christmas cake, the “Stollen”. The market is a world of discovery on fifteen thousand square metres in heated tents with shows, entertainment, dining and shopping. There are about 60 Christmas markets in Berlin where you can wander around and enjoy their dazzling array of handcrafted goods over traditional food and drinks in grand boulevards and small streets. If you are of the opinion that Christmas should be a time of tradition, romance and celebration, then Frankfurt am Main is the place for you! During Christmas, Frankfurt’s old town centre, the time-honoured Römerberg, is transformed into a festive market where the air is filled with the scents of baked apples, nuts, gingerbread and mulled wine. If you want to wander through the narrow alleyways of the Old Town and do some Christmas shopping, experience Goslar’s unique Christmas forest and Christmas market. Get in the festive spirit and enjoy wine in the cozy Christmas forest, the only one of its kind in Germany.

For further information contact the German National Tourist office at +91 11 49371000

Rostock/Baltic Sea: Christmas market by the town hall, merrygo-round

by Jyoti Balani

December 2012 go now


niche travel: golf

China’s South East Golf Haven The new Mission Hills ten golf course resort on the island of Hainan is South-East Asia’s newest golf hub


he oldest golf course in China,” says Brian Curley and adds (after a theatrical pause), “is the newest.” He makes no secret of the fact that he has been using that line a lot these days. The Arizona-based golf course designer and better-known half of SchmidtCurley Golf Design (the firm, one of the most prolific in the world, has crafted over a 100 courses in 24 countries) can be forgiven the ironic hyperbole. The course he’s referring to, The Vintage – one of ten courses on the sprawling Mission Hills golf resort on the Southeast Asian island of Hainan – is singular, but it only takes a few rounds at the different courses here to realise that diversity is perhaps the only unifying theme at MH-Hainan. The

ten layouts are a myriad exposition of singular architectural designs from different times and places. And it is an expansive microcosm – a 5,000-acre spread roughly the size of Hong Kong Island with ten worldclass golf courses, a 522-room luxury hotel, multiple clubhouses and, to boot, a spa (a 20,000-square-metre sprawl) almost the size of a Greek amphitheatre. The Vintage has literally been crafted using shovels and bare hands. Fashioned after courses of yore, it evokes images which you’re likely to see in sepia-tinted golf albums. A natural undisturbed terrain is highlighted by small touches like wicker tee markers and baskets for pins, which add to the old-world authenticity. “Brian has created it on the lines of turn-of-the-20th century

courses. The bunkers are small and shovelled out. The mounds of the dug-up earth have become natural obstacles, just like it was done back in the day when there were no excavators,” adds Dr. Ken Chu, the vice chairman of Mission Hills. What would have easily taken five to seven years anywhere else in the world was built here within two years. “We have a lot of hands in China,” says Chu, sensing disbelief. The crown jewel is the Blackstone course which, at 7,800 yards, is the championship layout at the resort. Laid out on 350 acres of dense lava bed, the course weaves through a landscape of mature lychee, banana, papaya, ficus and acacia trees, abundant lakes and wetland. Uncapped portions of the lava bed periodically cross the line of play, requiring

And it is an expansive microcosm – a 5,000-acre spread roughly the size of Hong Kong Island with ten worldclass golf courses, a 522-room luxury hotel, multiple clubhouses and, to boot, a spa (a 20,000-square-metre sprawl) almost the size of a Greek amphitheatre.


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forced carries and creating a dramatic visual contrast to the vibrant green turf and sand. Completely different from Blackstone is Sandbelt Trails – inspired by Australia’s Sandbelt courses, it is highlighted by large, distinctive bunkers and eucalyptus trees. The Preserve, on the other hand, is a more user friendly course with a more modern feel. Playing at Lava Fields (which at 7,400 yards is no rollover), is testy, especially when the wind picks up; compared to Blackstone, there is hardly any tree cover, and the feel of being in a big open space is exaggerated. The first hole is a mammoth 585 yard par-4 which affords views of the Haikou skyline. Caddies are well trained at the resort and you can rely on them for lines on the greens, as well as club selection, although communication is difficult unless you have a Mandarin speaker in your group. After the golf, it’s a good idea to head to the expansive spa for a traditional Chinese massage, which usually lasts for a couple of hours. Curley’s comment about the oldest course in China has to be viewed in perspective – the first course in the country opened as late as 1984 and since then, another 600 or so have opened. Even though there’s a government-imposed moratorium on new course development, golf courses

are sprouting up all over the country. China already has about three million golfers, and the number is increasing. Certainly, there seems to be no dearth of visitors at the Mission Hills resorts – both the well-known one in Shenzhen and now Haikou; more than 800 golfers tee it up in Haikou every day, shelling out over ¥3,280 for three rounds which are usually booked weeks in advance.

Winter is peak season and really the only time to visit (October-March), as the tropical heat and rain make the summer months virtually unplayable. The complex in Shenzhen is still the most popular golf resort in China, but as sequels go, often being unfairly matched with the original, Mission Hills Hainan is unique in its own right and belies comparison. by Meraj Shah

factfile Hainan is a tricky destination to reach from India as there are no direct flights to the island currently. However, convenient transfers via Hong Kong, Singapore or Bangkok are available. Mission Hills Resort, Hainan, +86.898.6868.3888,

December 2012 go now


Niche travel: golf pic: ashwin rajagopalan

High Range Club, Munnar

Teeing off in the south: A guide to select courses The national capital region (NCR) might also be the unofficial golf capital of the country but the golf action in Southern India continues to hot up. A combination of old world golf clubs in the major metros and hill stations coupled with all-new world class golf courses are providing the perfect setting for the region’s growing number of golf enthusiasts. Bangalore just played host to the Indian Open, the first time this prestigious tournament is being held outside Delhi. So whether you are planning your next summer getaway or a quick round of golf during your next business trip you will find our quick guide to South India’s finest golf courses handy.


arnataka Golf Association (KGA) Bangalore

Boulder Hills, Hyderabad


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Eagleton, Bangalore

If you need any evidence of Bangalore’s status as the country’s second most popular golf hub you will find it at the KGA where long queues of golfers wait to tee off even on a weekday morning. Designed by Peter Thompson and located near the old airport and close to some of the finest hotels in the heart of the city, this 72-par course is one of the courses in India where you can watch the proceedings on the 1st and the 10th tee, as well as the 8th and 18th greens from the comfort of the impressive clubhouse.

Niche travel: golf

Golfshire, Bangalore

Bangalore Golf Club (BGC) South India’s oldest course might have handed the baton for the city’s premier golfing venue to the KGA course but for sheer history and location this course is unrivalled. Established in 1876, this course makes best use of its relatively compact 60 acre footprint. The 18-hole course features mostly long and straight fairways and very few water hazards. The biggest hazards are the ones that hover above the course! The club’s logo features a crow with a golf ball in its beak and you always have to keep one eye out for these crows that have been mistaking golf balls for eggs almost since 1876.

Eagleton Golf Village, Bangalore It takes some resolve to brave the Bangalore traffic but then golfers are used to all kinds of hazards to reach their final destination. Located off the Bangalore-Mysore expressway, Eagleton might not be as conveniently located as Bangalore’s other courses but once you are within the confines of this 500 acre course that is home to 40,000 trees you realise it was well worth the drive. Conceived by Pacific Coast Designs Australia,

Golfshire, Bangalore

the eco-sensitive design emerges from the terrain, sculptured around existing contours. Eagleton boasts of a European Country club atmosphere and has played host to international events like the Ladies European tour.

Prestige Golfshire, Bangalore Located just ten minutes away from the new

Bangalore International Airport with the picturesque Nandi hills in the background is Bangalore’s newest and probably most luxurious golf venue. Part of a large development that includes a 300-bed luxury hotel and designer residences and crafted by PGA Design consulting, Golfshire makes for the perfect golf getaway. Spread over 275 acres, December 2012 go now


Niche travel: golf this 18-hole course features stunning landscaping and includes a private lake. Aside from all the Golf, the Marriott Luxury Hotel and Convention centre, the Quan Luxury Spa and an imposing club house will vie for your attention.

Madras Gymkhana Club Golf Annexe (MGC) Chennai The Chennai-Bangalore rivalry is legendary and so is the annual playoff between this club and the Bangalore Golf Club that dates back to the 19th century making it the longest running Inter-club golf tournament in the world. One of South Asia’s legendary links courses, the MGC is located away from its parent club the Madras Gymkhana Club that was established in 1884. This challenging 70-par course looks deceptively easy and is enclosed within the 2400 metre oval of the Madras Race Course. Apart from the blazing Chennai sun also look out for racehorses on their morning drills.

Located a few kilometres away from the main Cosmopolitan club is one of Chennai’s true green lungs just off the city’s busiest thoroughfare Mount Road. It’s not easy to maintain lush green fairways and impressive greens in Chennai’s harsh summer but the Cosmo does a fabulous job. Little wonder that the home of the Tamil Nadu Golf Federation (TNGF) is the state’s premier course and boasts of world-class facilities including a well-stocked golf store. Designed by Peter Thomson and spread over 75 acres, Cosmo’s legendary 5th hole poses serious challenges to the most seasoned golfers.

Boulder Hills Hyderabad It’s easy to understand why Hyderabad’s showpiece golf course gets its unique name. Natural boulder formations encircle the city’s newest golf venue that is spread over 235 acres and located close to Hi-tech city, the city’s IT hub. The boulders not only provide breathtaking backdrops but also function as natural hazards in this par72 championship course. The course has been created by internationally acclaimed designer Peter Harradine and it shows. Elevated tees offer golfers excellent visibility while the plush clubhouse is the perfect place to unwind after a long and absorbing round of golf. 58

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pic: ashwin rajagopalan

Cosmopolitan Golf Annexe Chennai:

The Coimbatore Golf Club

The Coimbatore Golf Club There was a time when the city’s golfers made a beeline to the nearby courses in Ooty but all that changed a few decades back when Coimbatore became home to one of the finest courses in South India that was the brainchild of one of the region’s leading industrialists. Located on the outer fringes of the city at Chettipalayam, the course features lush green fairways. The course is home to a large number of exotic birds and scores of peacocks that are scattered all over the course and have been immortalised in the club’s crest.

Kodaikanal Golf Club Hill station golf clubs were an integral part of the British Raj landscape. The Gulmarg Golf Club near Srinagar and the Shillong Golf Club are all part of this hallowed list that also includes the Kodaikanal golf club that was established in 1895 as a 9-hole course. At that time tiger sightings on the course

were not uncommon; which is why the 6th hole on the course is called the Tiger hole. Even today you might spot the occasional bison or deer on the course’s well manicured fairways. The course has been redesigned recently and is one of the most picturesque 18-hole courses in the country.

High Range Club Munnar Cochin and Thiruvananthapuram have their share of golf courses but for sheer scenic beauty, the course in Munnar must rank as the finest golf venue in the state. The High range club is one of India’s oldest planter’s clubs and is located in Munnar, home to some of South India’s finest tea estates. This colonial era club transports you back to another time and space with is charming exteriors and interiors. The 9-hole golf course is attached to the club and is not busy during the weekdays making it the perfect getaway if you want a quiet game of golf or some solitude. by ashwin rajagopalan

December 2012 go now


niche travel: cinema tourism

On location in india with

‘The best exotic marigold hotel’


ouldn’t it be romantic to retire at a luxurious hotel in India? That’s the premise that sends seven British strangers packing to Rajasthan in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which debuts in theaters on May 4. With a cast of headliners like Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel and Tom Wilkinson, the film won the prestigious Cinemascapes award at its annual meet last October in Mumbai, when it was voted as the Best Foreign Film shot in India.


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niche travel: cinema tourism

If you wish to take a virtual tour of Rajasthan through the medium of cinema, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ might just do the trick! The film is extensively shot in the cities of Jaipur and Udaipur and not only takes in the highlights of the state but also captures other exquisite locations of Rajasthan with some brilliant cinematography. Ravla Khempur, an equestrian hotel about an hour and a half outside of Udaipur, was chosen as the site for the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Other scenes were shot in Kishangarh, Amer Fort, Kanota Fort

outside Jaipur and near the Lake Palace Hotel at Lake Pichola. Probably the reason for choosing Rajasthan as the film’s location was the vivid colors and the perfect terrain which the state provided for Cinemascaping. All the colors together paint a vibrant picture which weaves itself with the narration to bind the story together. “India hits you like a wave. If you resist, you will be knocked down. But if you dive into it, you will be all right”, well summarizes Judi Dench who plays narrator Evelyn Greenslade in the movie. December 2012 go now


niche travel: motor sports

F1 HAS BEEN A GREAT TOURISM STIMULANT The second edition of Formula 1 consolidated India’s position on the racing circuit. Insiders rate the Jaypee Racing Track as one of the best and fastest catalysts towards attaining a world class infrastructure for Delhi/NCR.


hen the Rs 20,000 crore Jaypee group decided to build India’s first Formula One track about 40 kilometres south east of New Delhi, not many believed it would work, considering the lack of infrastructure in these parts. After two successful renderings of the event, though, there is no doubt that Noida and Greater Noida, which have been plagued by perceptions of crime and political interference and are usually looked down upon compared to another of Delhi’s satellite cit-


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ies Gurgaon, have managed to change that perception and are ready for a turnaround. The brand new Yamuna Expressway adds to the infrastructure in the region and connects the area to the city of the Taj, Agra, which is a premier destination on India’s tourism map. On the route to the Taj, the area is already being touted as the new tourism district, with close to 4,200 new branded hotel rooms expected to come up on the Noida-Greater Noida expressway over the next three-four years. The tourism impact of the F1 on India

is hard to establish yet, but this year, F1 in Greater Noida got close to 70,000 visitors. It was lower than the 100,000 plus that it got in the inaugural edition but that is normal, as was explained by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. “The first year sees huge excitement, and second usually sees a dip. But it again picks from the third year,” he told reporters on his birthday, which was also the race day in the Indian leg of F1 this year. In other countries that have been hosting the F1 for sometime now, the tourism benefits are well documented.

niche travel: motor sports

In Singapore, for instance, the first ever night race in 2008 saw the city-state getting over 40,000 foreign tourists to watch the F1 race, positively impacting a large number of businesses, from hotels, retails stores, restaurants, night clubs and even spas, especially because Singapore’s is a street race. And visitors to F1 races are usually high spenders. Singapore also benefits from the race because it is held in September, which a relatively slow tourism month for the destination. Since 2009-09, things for Singapore have improved, For the 2012 night race, in its fifth year, saw a lot many more corporates bring in their clients and partners to network over the race. While the race in itself is important, the city is betting on many more attractions that are built around the F1, like concerts by performers by Maroon 5 and Katy Perry. In India, legendary guitarist Carlos Santana performed right after the F1 race this year in his maiden concert in India and the organizers, Jaypee group hopes to attract more tourists for the three day event by setting up an amusement park around the track, bring in international and local shows, shopping, more concerts, and maybe even a Bollywood movie launch where everyone with a three-day F1 ticket is invited. In Canada, the F1 race came back to Montréal in 2010 through government intervention as it weighed the tourism impact of the race and decided to pump in a $15

million annual investment over five years along with Tourism Montreal and other government bodies. The tourism minister of Québec had then said that the Grand Prix of Canada has greater impact on the tourism industry than any other sports event in Canada and that of the 300,000 spectators for the F1 race, a fourth came from outside the state of Québec. With a $15 million investment every year, the event generates upto $89 million in economic fallout each year, along with 75,000 overnight hotel stays. A study shows that in the case of F1, host countries see return on investment upwards of 500% through tourist receipts and other events. The impact of F1 on tourism is best showcased in the example of Bahrain, which had to cancel the F1 race in the wake of political unrest in the country last year. The race generates about $600 million for the Bahraini economy, which includes spends by visitors on accommodation, food, retail and other travel services that they use. The F1 week is a sold out week for hotels here, but last year, the cancellation meant loss of huge revenue and also a huge decline in foreign tourist arrivals. That F1 as an event is good for tourism is not at all in doubt. Why else would Bernie Ecclestone offer to hold a street race in London, with cars whizzing past historical monuments like the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square at speeds upwards of 250 kmph, giving a further boost to tourism in the city and bring in more jobs. “Think what it would do for tourism. It would be fantastic, good for London, good for England – a lot better than the Olympics,” Ecclestone told a London newspaper in June this year, after unveiling his grand plan for the street race where he offered to waive the $40 million that venues have to pay to host F1 races around the globe. On the other side of the globe, ever since the last F1 race in the US at Indianapolis five years back, the Americans have been trying to get the race back to their shores. Earlier this month, F1 finally got there, to the first purpose-built track for F1 in the US at Austin, Texas. The race was a sellout, and Texas authorities hope the contract with Formula One Management till 2021 will be a fruitful one for tourism, with a positive impact on the economy of Texas, local job creation and increased tourism receipts. December 2012 go now


capture the true essence of

bora bora

The French hospitality major, Sofitel, embodies the best of Bora Bora


go now December 2012

niche travel: luxury


ora Bora is often called the most beautiful island in the world. This tiny island - just 18 miles in circumference – is encircled by a protective necklace of coral. Breathtaking lush mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for the luminous turquoise, lapis and aquamarine of the sheltered lagoon. There is something truly unique about Bora Bora, with its sugary sands, rugged mountains, vivid blues, lush greens and soothing lagoon waters that make it the most romantic destination in the world and Sofitel truly captures the essence of the island. Situated on the edge of a white sandy beach in Matira Bay, just eight kilometers from the city of Vaitape, the resort looks across the bay to the Sofitel’s private ‘motu’ (island). Hotel design: Originally built by Italian movie producer Dino De Laurentis in 1977 to house movie star Mia Farrow and the cast and crew of his film Hurricane, the Sofitel has been designed to reflect the curves and forms of nature and is dotted with lily ponds, hibiscus and other exotic flowers. Featuring Polynesian architecture and utilising the forms and materials of nature, the resort’s circular central restaurant and bar provide views over the turquoise lagoon. All bungalows and public areas have been upgraded as part of a major renovation in April 2006 and the number of overwater bungalows was increased from 20 to 33. The resort also offers a unique double experience in Bora Bora with a private island (called motu) just a couple of minutes away by boat (complimentary service on demand). 20 of the bungalows are located on the ‘motu’ for a secluded experience and 13 located on the ‘beachside’ at the main resort.

Sofitel, World Class Hotels & French Elegance Sofitel is the only french luxury hotel brand with a presence on five continents with 130 addresses, in almost 40 countries (more than 30,000 rooms). Sofitel offers contemporary hotels and resorts adapted to today’s more demanding and more versatile consumers who expect and appreciate beauty, quality and excellence. Whether situated in the heart of a major city like Paris, London, New York or Beijing, or nestled away in a country landscape in Morocco, Egypt, Fiji Islands or Thailand, each Sofitel property offers a genuine experience of the French “art de vivre”. Discover Sofitel on

Discover A|Club at Sofitel, the new worldwide Accor loyalty program on

Rooms: Sofitel’s bungalows are crafted from wood and woven pandanus and provide all imaginable comforts, while remaining in harmony with the island’s natural beauty. Plasma TVs with satellite, plush daybeds with comfortable cushions, private decks, new showers with mosaic stone tiles and large raindrop showerheads are complemented by the Sofitel signatures of prestigious Roger & Gallet bathroom amenities. Overwater bungalows feature in-floor viewing platforms, illuminated at night, so guests can enjoy “Tahitian TV” as colourful fish swim by directly underneath, while on-land bungalows boast hammocks in the gardens for the ultimate in tropical

relaxation. All rooms feature Sofitel’s ultra-luxurious MyBed, which promises the ultimate rest with its patented mattress. Dining: A paradise of culinary delights, the resort offers four restaurants and bars – Latitude 16° restaurant. Diners look out over the peaceful lagoon while native sounds of drums and ukulele fill the air. Hurricane Bar, also located beachside, offers terrace seating facing the lagoon and is the perfect setting for exotic cocktails or alfresco poolside snacks. Manu Tiki, a 180 degree panoramic restaurant which is open for breakfast. Mako Bar is open for drinks from 11 am until late daily. Wellbeing: The Sofitel’s Le Spa and beauty centre offer the perfect sanctuary utilising Tahiti’s local plant life and traditional Tahitian techniques as well as Thalassa therapies to infuse an unparalleled sensation of relaxation and well being for body and soul. Activities: Guests can enjoy swimming, windsailing, surfing or jetboating, and cycles are available for touring the island.

factfile Bora Bora is just 32 kilometres around and there are plenty of secluded bays, private picnic spots and scenic hills to explore. 4WD safaris are available to the highest vantage points, used to guard the island during WWII. Rates: Luxury Lagoon front Bungalow from XFP20,000 + taxes Luxury Overwater bungalow from XFP40,000 + taxes Address: BP Box 6, Pointe Matira, Bora Bora French Polynesia, Tel: (689) 60 55 00 Fax: (689) 67 74 03 Email:

December 2012 go now



royal barge procession

on the river of kings The unique Royal Barge Procession in Bangkok not only showcases Thai pageantry but also the enduring traditions of a culture-rich society


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oyal pomp and pageantry makes for great eye candy. It also allows one a glimpse into a nation’s soul. These two seemingly contradictory facts came to the fore as I soaked in the high-octane Royal Barge Procession on the Chao Phraya river (river of kings) in Bangkok recently. The rare water-borne spectacle – that transpires on only a select few nationally auspicious occasions – has spiked the collective adrenaline of the Thais for hundreds of

years. Held during the full moon in October/ November in accordance with ancient sacred rituals, it commemorated this year the 60th anniversary of the reign of Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch. The king, I’m told, has painstakingly revived the tradition of the barge procession that attracts fans of royalty from across the world. Adulyadej also had a hand in helping restore

the royal barges after their ruinous destruction during World War II by allied bombing. It’s tough to believe though that the barges have borne the brunt of brute destruction, look incandescent as they do. The ships are also a big touristy draw with hordes of international tourists adding to its kaleidoscopic quotient. I negotiate my way through the teeming crowds at the procession’s riverside venue, the journey intensified by the heat and dust of a scorching afternoon. Smartly-attired

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Thai navy officials pepper the premises, guiding visitors and orchestrating the event efficiently. I sidle into my seat on the stands and wait for the event to unfold. It’s a long wait though. In the meantime, we’re entertained by dolorous chants on the public announcement system. But soon, a starburst of psychedelic flotillas slide into view on the glutinous river. Somnambulant visitors -- who had dozed off waiting – leapt into action to capture the procession on camera. The five-column flotillas of 52 traditionalstyle barges are based on a battle formation from ancient times, I’m told by my neighbor, an ex-Thai naval officer. Four major royal barges with unpronounceable names lead the cavalcade. The one named Suphannahongse, I’m told, is the king’s personal barge and carries him along with other members of the royal family. It is said that the master craftsman who constructed the ship junked all his tools after its completion and vowed never to work again. Crafted in 1911, the 46-metre barge resembles a mythical swan and is hewn from a single teak tree. It is swathed in intricate gilt carvings and colorful bits of glass to form a stunning mosaic. The le s ser barge s with animal figureheads surround the bigger ones in a protective frame as they flow upstream. Ten barges with animal figureheads and a raft of 38 smaller vessels bring up the procession’s rear. The flotilla stretches 1,280 metres in length and 110 across, the naval officer informs me, with 2,200 sailors from the Royal Thai Navy serving as oarsmen. The barges, he adds, are decorated with magnificently carved prows that at one time served a mili70

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How to get there All major airlines fly to Bangkok. The flight time is three-and-a-half hours. Thai Airways offers daily connections from many cities including Delhi and Mumbai Weather Thailand has sultry weather through the year, so carrying casuals (T-shirts, jeans, beachy shirts) are just fine. Don’t forget to pack in walking shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses and hats/caps as the tropical sun here is blazing Places to see Bangkok began as a small trading centre and port community on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River some 200 years ago. Today, while the city is a throbbing, vibrant metropolis, the grandeur and glory of its illustrious past is still intact. Be it dazzling temples, spectacular palaces, a world-famous floating market or colorful Chinatown, each of these famous places merit a stopover.

tary function but are now used only in State ceremonies and celebrations. “The Thai royal barges are the last of their kind in the world,” explains the official. “I haven’t missed a single one of these processions in 72 years!” I don’t blame the gent. The beautifully engraved barges are indeed a visual feast. Adding to the rich atmospherics are the smartly-attired oarsmen who row the vessels in sync with traditional chants resonating across the water. Not that navigating the ships is a cinch. Each vessel requires the collective strength of tens of oarsmen who paddle them in tune with the rhythmic beat of a drummer and a melodic chant. However, the labor behind the effort is barely evident as the tableaus glide like graceful swans on the water. The cavalcade is propelled from the Was-

ukri Royal Landing Place, past Bangkok’s iconic landmarks -- the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Grand Palace and Wat Po -- until they cover the three-kilometer stretch to reach their destination – Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn. At the temple, the king presents ceremonial robes to the monks marking the culmination of the annual procession. A barge that features the mythical bird Garuda as its head slides into view half way into procession. Up next is another one flaunting Hanuman, the monkey God. Yet another one is studded with the seven heads of Naga, the mythical serpent with white fangs, often portrayed as giving shelter to Buddha. The most recently created barge, I’m told, is the royal barge Narai Song Suban H.M Rama IX built in honor of the current King’s 50th year on the throne. Its prow has the head of the Hindu God Narayana mounted on a Garuda. Another striking one features a hamsa (swan) figurehead raised in flight with its eyes bulging prominently, nostrils flared, and fangs protruding from its grimacing mouth. The bird is holding a crystal ball and a tassel in its mouth and has a garland and a pendant flung around its neck. Its feathers, represented by gilded and mirrored ornamentation, appear to flow in the wind along the length of its body to its flame-like tail. Post event, we file out of the venue, impressed not only by Thai pageantry, but the enduring traditions of a culture-rich society that has taken care to preserve its redoubtable legacy. by Neeta Lal

inside :


page shopping catalogue on fashion, home, gadgets Volume 1. Issue 3. December 2012. Rs 50

CITYSCAN December Volume 1 | Issue 3

Your guide to


Heritage Walk

A stroll of legacy

Behind the scenes of

MAMAGOTO with Rahul Khanna & Kabir Suri TIME TO GO ALFRESCO

Dining under the stars Dress chic outdoors

PLUS Tips on buying art by Christie's Celebrity Speak: Saba Ali Khan Meet Gary Mehigan & George Calombaris from MasterChef Australia Wills Lifestyle: Flattering the Indian fashion scene

Live the premium city lifestyle with high end fashion, home and interiors, wine and dine, events and around town. We bring you a comprehensive look into Delhi’s dynamically evolving lifestyle for the well-educated and extensively travelled Delhite. The format includes exclusive interviews, features, trends, brand logic, rating & reviews and an exhaustive shopping catalogue. Contact us on adver

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metro travel: accommodation

lemon tree chennai

Inventive, Fresh and Homely With a tactical location in the centre of the city, the hotel is equidistant from the international airport, domestic airport and the railway station. Experience a pinch of refreshing lime wrapped in modern exquisiteness while on your next visit to Chennai at the Lemon Tree Hotel.


dding to the accommodation options of one the fastest growing business hubs of the countr y, Lemon Tree Chennai’s refreshing interiors and large windows are designed to bring the ‘outdoors in’ and take a delightful break from the conventional hotel architecture. Meant mainly for the business travellers, the hotel boasts of well appointed rooms and suites, spirited and friendly services and an elaborate range of amenities to ensure you have a relaxing stay whether in the city for business or leisure.

Royal Slumber The hotel has 108 rooms and suites which are segregated into Superior Rooms, Executive Rooms, Studio Rooms and Executive Suites. The Superior rooms have a mix of Princess, Queen, Twin and King beds while the latter three exclusively have the King beds. Basic entertainment amenities in each room include Wi-Fi internet access, ca72

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ble television and DVD player on request with the latest collection of DVDs. All bathrooms have a bathtub and are ar med with bathing amenities like a dental kit, shaving

Sanjay Das General Manager, Lemon Tree Hotel- Chennai

The hotel’s location primarily blows the trumpet to invite more guests. Located in the heart of Chennai on Sardar Patel Road in Guindy, the hotel is directly opposite the Raj Bhavan. The hotel is easily accessible from TIDEL Park, Anna University and Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai. This adds value to the property and helps draw in loyal customers on a regular basis.

metro travel: accommodation

kit, comb, conditioner, moisturizer, slipper, facial tissue paper, foam bath & loofah. Some rooms overlook the swimming pool while other rooms offer a city view. Also, guests can choose from amongst Indian, European, American and pan Asian cuisine from the 24x7 In Room Dining menu.

For the Sake of Nature Lemon Tree as a brand is fresh, fun and spirited which can be observed in all its properties. The design philosophy is contemporary, intelligent and refreshing. All rooms are fitted out with ergonomic furniture and orthopaedic mattressess that are

both comfortable and support your posture. Fixtures are modern and keep in mind the environment i.e. there is a focus on water conservation and recycling. Lemon Tree’s lighting is one of its strengths. Rooms and public areas are bright and well lit as far as possible. Natural light is welcomed anywhere in the hotel. Some rooms overlook the swimming pool while other rooms offer a city view. Should there be VIP guests staying, the hotel makes specific arrangements for them depending on the requirement.

Lively Lemony! All rooms with their smart design give you a

sense of being ‘close to home’. The use of vibrant colors and parquet flooring leaves you feeling energized and keeps the room fresh. Lemon Tree is primarily a brand targeted at business travellers. Also its strategic location on Sardar Patel Road in Guindy brings it in close proximity to FIS and TIDEL Park which houses Cognizant, Satyam Computers, Tata Consultancy Services and HCL Technologies. Though MICE facilities are not well-defined as the hotel has meeting rooms and not a convention center, still the hotel’s key clientele remains individual business travellers and small groups. by Avni mehrotra

December 2012 go now


metro travel: eating out

ORIENTAL BLOSSOM, optus sarovar premier, gurgaon

A GASTRONOMIC JOURNEY OVER THE CHINESE PROVINCES A conventional Chinese fare at the Optus Sarovar Premiere in Gurgaon, Oriental Blossom is one Chinese restaurant whose ambiance and menu promise to transport you to all the major provinces of China. An informative menu with careful selection of spices, make Oriental Blossom another authentic Chinese eatery to look out for.


ore often than not, Indians tend to label authentic Chinese as bland or rather devoid of the ‘spice’ which our taste buds are used to. Certainly, the food isn’t bland; the problem lies in our comprehension of its variety. One place which not only acquaints but rather celebrates the diversity in Chinese food would be Oriental Blossom at the Hotel Optus Sarovar Premiere, Gurgaon. To avoid the ambiguity of ordering a wrong Chinese dish, the restaurant recently revised its menu and segregated it into four specialty Chinese offerings. Clearly demarcating the difference between the various Chinese specialities like Cantonese, Szechwan, Shanghai and Beijing, the menu well explains the spice quotient of each cuisine to let you treat yourself to the best. Hence no longer the blunder of ordering Peppery Hot Prawn when you were in the mood for some mild Chicken Coriander! Probably you will learn all that you need to know about Chinese food with their elaborate menu as the restaurant goes that extra mile to explain the intricacies on your Chinese platter. A tr yst with China, ever ything about the restaurant, right from the interiors to the food is bespoke to provide an extraordinaire Chinese escapade. Buddha motifs, traditional chandeliers and lampshades with sombre Chinese


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music in the background enhance this voyage to the provinces of China. A lucky bamboo resides on our table for the hint of Feng Shui. Chopsticks replace the forks while the China bowl makes room for the Jasmine tea. The walls are laced with Chinese adornments and the entire ambiance maintains a uniform red and white colour

scheme. Lights are neither too dim nor too jazzy lending the interiors a sense of both a casual and an elegant fine dining eatery. You can snuggle in the cushy sofas and enjoy a quiet evening with your friends or family. We order their Purple Sensation, a grape juice based mocktail blended with vanilla icecream. Impressed by this delectable kick-start, we order the Stir fried Chicken with fresh Chilly for starters and the Crispy Vegetables in Hot Pot Sauce. While the former makes room in the must tries, the latter could be tried by guests looking for the mild chilly quotient in their food. Perhaps the specialty of the restaurant would be their Noodle and Sticky Rice Bowls which offer a wide range of gravy plus noodle/ rice combinations. Ample for a hearty appetite, we try their Stir fried noodle bowl with Exotic Vegetables in Chilly Soya Sauce and the Diced Chicken in Black Bean Sauce. Another affordable dining option would be the Set Menu ranging from Rs 799 to Rs 1,299 which offers a three course meal from a pre-decided yet assorted menu. The prices are moderate judging the authenticity of the cuisine and the

factfile Where: Plot No-43-47, Sector-29, City Centre Gurgaon, Haryana 122002. For reservations call on 0124-488 7777 Table for two: Rs 1,200 (excluding alcohol and taxes) Must Tries: Purple Sensation, Crispy Tofu in Ginger and preserved Chilly Sauce, Any of the Noodle Bowls

conventionality of the decor. The service is extremely polite and hospitable but fails to deliver quickly probably because of being majorly understaffed. Moreover, an authentic Chinese sojourn remains incomplete as the staff lags behind in being informative about the menu. Though Oriental Blossom is located in a highly frequented market of Gurgaon, other Chinese places like Yo! China and Chin Chin in the vicinity could be pegged as its nemesis. Nevertheless, the gamut of Chinese expats and business clientele thronging the restaurant speaks lengths about its genuineness and authenticity. Keeping up with their hospitality, we see the Chef attending to each and every guest and suggesting specialty dishes and other information to enhance their dining experience. So on your next visit to the Sector-29 market, go a little ahead and explore this traditional Chinese bistro. Leaving biases behind, don’t judge the restaurant by its inclusion in the hotel, as Oriental Blossom is a wholesome and approachable Chinese getaway in itself. by avni mehrotra

December 2012 go now


metro travel: brunch time

Sensational Sunday spreads to look out for in Mumbai City At Mumbai’s top luxury five star hotels sumptuous King-size temptations await you at their famed Sunday Brunches. Here’s highlighting some irresistible treats and endless bubblies.

PONDICHERY CAFÉ SOFITEL MUMBAI BKC THE VENUE : The ‘Pondichéry Café’s all-day dining accents offers guests a relaxed, luxury-market atmosphere with well-lit open spaces, a double-floor ceiling height with large decorative light hoods printed with Indian artworks. THE SUNDAY SPREAD : It’s a treat all the way! Begin with Laksa soup or Tom yum soup, proceed to delectable salads, Seared prawns with cous cous & bell pepper, German sausages with red onion, Emmental & gherkins and Chicken mushroom with celery mayonnaise. Onwards, dig into Ghost Dum Biryani, Murgh Kadha Masala and Palak Chilogoza. Match your whim with Polenta crushed trout, Caribbean lamb shanks or Parmesan and olive strata. For more adventure you have mouth-watering Soy glazed burnt chilli prawns, Vegetable Thai curry and matter Rosemary Chicken 76

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and Mustard beef steak. While the beverages uplift your mood, choose from Tandoori Aghani Murgh Tikka and Paneer Malai Tikka. From Kids Corner have Chicken burger, and Cheesy pasta. There’s Lebanese Tablouleh and Hummus and Shooters like Spicy litchi & pomegranate shooter and Mango, mint & chilli shooter to spike your verve! Live counters abound for the reeellly hungry. Eggs counter, paani puri and bhel counter, pasta counter, pork ribs, prawns and Shawarma counter, Ice Cream Sundae and chiken Schnitzel counter…hmmm! Top up the Sunday bash with Black Forest Cake, Baked apples in red wine, Yeast cake with caramelized almonds, Linzer torte, Apricot chocolate rocks, Madelineand St. Honore. How about Rajbhog or Seviya Kheer?

THE TIPPLES: Alcoholic Beverages include one glass of Champagne (Piper Heideseck), unlimited Sula Brut, unlimited Ketel One Vodka (specialty being Fresh Fruit martinis), unlimited Heinken and Kingfisher Beer. Non alcoholic Beverages include aerated beverages, fresh Fruit Juices, mocktails, smoothies/ Cold Coffee/Milkshakes, Thandai/ Chaas/ Lassi. TIMINGS: 12.30pm onwards. WALLET WOWS : Rs. 3238.50 alcoholic Sunday Brunch. Rs. 3126.50 non-alcoholic Sunday Brunch (Per person, inclusive taxes)

O22 THE TRIDENT BANDRA KURLA THE VENUE : O22 – The all-day dining restaurant is contemporary chic with soothing matted, beige ambience, open plan and lots of cheer! The rotunda design is pleasing and relaxing for hearty Sunday Brunch. THE SUNDAY SPREAD : It’s an impressive line-up of Cold cuts and salad counter, international cheese and cold cuts, including marinated bocconcini, home-cured Norwegian salmon and smoked turkey. That’s for starters. The Main course display has roast chicken from the French Rotisol oven, fresh croissants and waffles, appams with various stews, kheema pav, vegetable pulaos, gosht biryanis, kebabs and freshly baked Indian THE TIPPLES: Alcoholic breads from the at-site, piping hot drinks include Bollinger tandoors. Special features cover a Champagne, Sula Brut, unique Croque-monsieur station, Finlandia vodka, Red Label Burmese Khao Suey, Sushi bar with Whiskey, Vina Tarapaca its choice of maki rolls, sushi and Chardonnay, Rust en sashimi served with fresh wasabi, Virde, Heinkein, Signature Caiprioska’s and Mojitos live Caesar salad station. So go on, Timings: 12:30 pm- 3:30 induge in style. pm Desserts read as Soufflés, crepes WALLET WOWS: station, live waffles, cupcake disBrunch with Bollinger play, desser t s from across the Champagne- 2700 + taxes. world, fresh apple jalebis, yummy! Brunch with Sparkling Indulge in a complimentary foot wine- 2450 +taxes. Non alcohol- 2100 +taxes massage for Sunday Brunch guests!

CITRUS THE LEELA MUMBAI THE VENUE : Citrus is the refreshing contemporary all day casual dining restaurant with a relaxed, sophisticated ambience. The floorto-ceiling windows offer incredible views of the lush green outdoor and cascading waterfalls. THE SUNDAY SPREAD : A smorgasbord of international specialties cover close to 170 items spanning made-to-order pizzas, pastas, omelettes, carving stations, a salad bar, a sushi bar, a grill and BBQ station, a Shawarma station, a Thai station, a South Indian station and a variety of breads and cheese. Pick turkey, fish or lamb from the live roast station cooked to your liking. End on a sweet note with sinful desserts on the dessert buffet. Choose from Chicken roulade, salmon with bagels and cream cheese, wood roasted salmon, chicken Shawarma, smoked pork loin, Lasagna, Ratatouille, sugar free chocolate mousse, citrus Grand Marnier parfait, pink Champagne mousse with litchi jelly, lemon cheesecake white chocolate mousse and crème caramel. It’s an emperor’s feast. THE TIPPLES: Moet et Chandon is arguably the most famous name in the world of Champagne, the company holds a Royal Warrant to supply Champagne to Queen Elizabeth II. That’s served for you! On a celebrative edge, Louis Roederer Cristal is the ultimate imported French Champagne, This premium Champagne has royal connections. TIMINGS: Sundays, 12:30 pm to 4 pm WALLET WOWS: Non alcoholic Brunch Rs. 2050 plus taxes per person. Alcoholic Brunch Rs. 2450 plus taxes per person. Champagne Brunch Rs. 2950 plus taxes per person. Louis Roederer Cristal Brunch Rs. 9999 plus taxes per person

December 2012 go now


metro travel: brunch time

HORNBY’S PAVILION ITC GRAND CENTRAL MUMBAI THE VENUE : Hornby’s Pavilion is an exclusive all day dining restaurant set in elegant surroundings. Cool colours with warm tones of honey & gold has been used throughout the restaurant. A special exhibition kitchen with wood fired pizza oven is the highlight of the restaurant. THE SUNDAY FEAST: Check out this King-size spread…Salads Cuttle fish and green bean salad with Pommery mustard dressing, Steamed shrimps and pasta salad with sundried tomatoes and Tarragon, Wok charred bell peppers with red wine vinegar and anchovies. It doesn’t end there, go for diversity with the Roasted US Tom Turkey with apple and chestnut stuffing served with giblet gravy and whisky flavored cranberry sauce, the Ice Fountain’s Freshly shucked rock oysters and green lip mussels. There are live stations: Mongolian Grills, Shawarma, Falafel, Waffels, Egg station, Dosa and Kebab Station as well. You can gorge on global gourmet like Mignons of Tenderloin on a Grappa and raisin jus with cocotte vegetables and Roasted lamb on glazed vegetables in a roasted garlic and thyme sauce For sticklers to Desi fare there’s Jhinga kali mirch, Murgh Begum Bahar, Taar qorma (served with khamari roti) and Awadhi gosht Biryani! For sweet tongues it’s a riot of Chocolate “Horn of Plenty” with an array of seasonal tropical fruits, Brandy and wild berry cheese cake, Mixed nut and honey pie among many other temptations. THE TIPPLES: Wash your Sunday spirit with unlimited alcoholpremium brands of sparkling wines, vodka, white rum, whiskey. red and white wines, fresh juices and other aerated beverages. TIMINGS: 12:30-3:30 pm WALLET WOWS: Rs. 1950 per head plus applicable taxes.


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THE HILTON MUMBAI unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TIMINGS: 12 noon – 4pm. THE V ENUE : A Splashing Sunday WALLET WOWS: Brunch at The Brasserie the hotel’s Rs. 1,714 per person all-day dining restaurant features a including taxes. widespread multi-cuisine buffet and live food counters by the poolside. THE SUNDAY SPREAD : Food connoisseurs have a field noon as they enjoy a lavish spread of cold cuts, antipasti, soups, main course dishes and desserts. Cuisines from India, Middle East, Europe, Far East, coastal fare, hot-off-the-grills-items and more grace the counters. Live stations offer tongue-tingling chaat, succulent kebabs and BBQ meats as well as made-to-order pizzas and pastas among other options. Those watching their weight can relish fresh and healthy vegetarian and non-vegetarian salads. A bewildering array of desserts and ice creams have kids slurping endlessly. A Sunday privilege for guests is an enjoyable a dip in the outdoor pool, fringed by landscaped gardens. Pulsating DJ music enlivens the atmosphere, adding a fun element for families and groups.

metro travel: brunch time

SAN QI FOUR SEASONS HOTEL MUMBAI THE VENUE : The swanky restaurant’s open concept features tandoor kitchens and a wok station as an exciting feature. The upper level is dedicated to Thai and Japanese cuisine and is complete with sushi bar, Teppanyaki table and Robata grill. THE SUNDAY SPREAD: You can pick from myriad cuisines and different kitchens! On the Indian side go for Vodka Pani Puri (Tamarind flavored), Panee Puri (mint flavored), Live Kebabs like Zaffrani Tikka, Lamb Sheek and Paneer Tikka. Main Course covers Butter Chicken, Mangalore Fish Curry, Chicken Jalfrezi and Lamb Rogan Josh with Achari Paneer and Handi ki Subzi. Chinese delights include Momo Dim Sums, Laksa, Peking duck, Pot-stewed fowl duck, Roast chicken and Honey soy char siew. Hot dishes cover Garlic prawns, Black pepper pork and Mushroom pot. Thai specialties span Tom Yam Soup, Galangal & Coconut Flavour Soup Veg/ Chicken. G for it ! Appetizers are Grilled Chicken Satay, homemade peanut sauce, Thai Flavor marinated baby corn on skewer, Tod man Pla and Deep fried fish cake with Onion Cucumber relish. Main dishes are Stir fried Spicy Chicken Mince with hot basil, Stir fried chicken cashew Nut with bell peppers and Phad Thai Noodles – Stir fried Rice Noodles with Khao Pad, Pineapple Rice. Lots of traditional Thai Red & Green Curries. You just can’t miss the Japanese kitchen. Hijiki salad, Bok choy Goma-Ae, Grilled Okra Salad to fire off your tastebuds. Then its Nigiri of Norwegian salmon, Yellow fin tuna and Manali trout, TIPPLES: Celebrate with unlimited Veuve Cliquot Champagne, Absolut Vodka Martinis, Kingfisher/Budweiser beer, House Wines - Red & White. TIMINGS: 12.30pm – 4pm. WALLET WOWS: Rs. 3,200 inclusive of alcohol plus taxes. Rs. 2,400 exclusive of alcohol plus taxes. Rs. 1,000 for children below 5–12 years

Maki Roll, California Prawn Tempura, Teppanyaki Seafood & Meat Tenderloin, chicken, Pork belly, Foie Gras, Prawns, Sea bass and Squid. Okonomiyaki dishes make waves with Prawn, squid, chicken, cheese, chilli, Tempura crumb, sweet corn, spring onion, Beni Shoga, Aonori seaweed, forest mushroom. A Kid’s section, Ice cream Sundaes, Dessert layout (with truffles, fudges and mousse), a Waffle station and hot Souffle station add up to a mega Sunday deal. by KISHORE & SMITA IYENGAR

December 2012 go now


metro travel: after hours

Pineapple Hawaiian Satay

This recently renovated lounge in Pune has been grabbing a lot of eye balls owing to its completely new avtar


The all new Mix@36 Lounge – Westin, Pune

ust like the city, the number of eateries and lounges in Pune has grown enormously over the last few years. The Westin Pune in Koregaon Park has always been popular with regulars and party goers since it threw open its doors a few years ago, first it was Kue Bar- the happening nightclub and then Mix@36 the hip lounge which has now caught the fancy of many Puneites. Mix@36 recently went through a complete makeover and is currently the talk of the town; we visited to find out why. The moment one steps into Mix@36, it is obvious that this place is several notches higher than a regular lounge in Pune what


an informal chat and a snooker table too. All these factors make for a perfect evening for those looking to relax after a hard days work. For those who like to enjoy their evening drink under the stars, this venue is the ideal hangout as there is an Alfresco area as well. This outer area also known as the Riverview deck of Mix@36 is a visual delight what with LED-lit high standing tables. Live counters on the open air bar deck add to the already enthralling ambiance. The DJ belts out an eclectic, cool, Latin and international global

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with an ambiance that captivates your senses almost immediately. A sauvé, retro lounge meant to attract busy corporates, young achievers as well as the regulars, Mix@36 is a lounge that spells luxury with a capital ‘L’. Jointly conceptualized by Devesh Rawat (Director, food and beverage-The Westin Pune) and Santosh Jori (Executive Chef-The Westin Pune), this lounge is a perfect blend of retro music, oriental cuisine and muddled mixology. Pulsating music, from the classic 60’s, the hippie 70’s and the Disco 80’s only adds to the aura of the lounge. Over-looking the Mula Mutha River, Mix@36 now has long standing tables, cushy sofas to enjoy

mix of sounds. Gleaming blue lights lend a cool contemporary look to the inside section of Mix@36, providing a majestic ambiance to the lounge. This attractive lounge lives upto its name and whips up an innovative range of cocktails such as Pink Floyd, Coming Back to Life, Don’t Stop Till you Get Enough, Rigga Ding Dong, Smooth Criminal, etc priced between Rs 375-500 each. The Cocktail menu has been divided into interesting sections such as retro@36, De-vine, essential, elevate, etc. In fact it’s tough to not get really high with the exhaustive drinks menu in this place. It is obvious that the bartenders here definitely

metro travel: after hours

Embracing well-being at the Eros Spa, Hilton, Mayur Vihar

Sichuan basil chilli prawns Prik Gai

Cocktail: Coming Back to Life

know their drinks. Add to it the incredible Asian cuisine inspired from various regions such as Burmese Khow Suey, Prik Gai (marinated chicken leg meat grilled to perfection), Mongolian tostadas (light soya, oyster, chili and garlic fragrant seasonal vegetables in crusty tostada cups designed with cheese), Sichuan basil chilli prawns, and the all time favorite Chinese crispy mushrooms in black pepper sauce all priced between Rs 300-500 each. There is also a section in the menu that offers main course such as pan fried noodles with stir fried vegetables, assorted mushroom pot rice with chicken barbeque, prawns in celery sauce with vegetarian hakka noodles, chicken Thai green curry with jasmine rice and mixed seafood with shitake mushrooms. Service is all smiles with attentive and efficient staff. Mix@36 scores with innovative food and drinks, interesting music, the crowd here is definitely a notch higher than the rest of the clubs in town and so is the lounge. With an excellent ambiance combined with a backdrop of the Mula-Mutha river, Mix@36 is the right choice for an enjoyable evening with friends.


fter working relentlessly for the entire week, the body begged for some relaxation on a Saturday afternoon. Spa treatments are meant to be healing, we had heard, but experienced it for real at the Eros Spa at Hilton, Mayur Vihar, New Delhi. Spread over 10,000 square feet, the spa has dedicated levels for a state of the art fitness facility complete with a pool, heat & water facilities and 4 treatment rooms. We arrive though the spa elevator to be greeted by a water feature at the spa lobby transporting us to a world of tranquility. Our host welcomes us with a freshly infused lemon grass tea to begin our journey towards rejuvenation. The entire space breathes in a truly Indian fervor right from the scents to the interiors. Right from the reception to the treatment room, the whole area is adorned with gold and carved ornamentations emphasizing the Indian influence on its design. We look around to see 4 treatment rooms, including a Couples Suite and an Ayurvedic treatment room, another specialty of the Eros Spa. Boasting of a heated lounge pool (Jacuzzi) within the suite and a steam followed by rainforest shower, the Couple Suite lets couples rekindle their romance or friends enjoy a tranquilizing spa treatment together. On completion of every treatment experience, the guest is left to relax for 10-15 minutes in their sprawling relaxation lounge surrounded with unique water feature overlooking pool, to maintain the spirit of positivity. We go by their suggestions and try the Re-mineralizing full body experience massage. A 90 minute massage, it encompasses a head to toe relaxation journey which includes a body massage, body wrap and a cleansing facial. After attaining a state of complete relaxation, the treatment sums up with a Chinese acupressure head, face and foot massage. As

we had time on our hands, we clubbed this specialty treatment with one of their Spa journeys namely ‘Nourish the Senses’. Our treatment began with washing our feet in flower petals and water, a ritual customary to India. Following which began our 3 hour long journey which took care of our entire well-being starting with the Re-mineralizing body experience, followed by a full body Swedish massage. The treatment laid equal emphasis on our hands and legs with the anti-aging hand exfoliation treatment and concluded with reviving feet and leg exfoliation and a stimulating massage. Another specialt y treatment, suggested by our therapist was the Choornaswednam to relieve pains and treat specific area concerns. You can also club it up with the ‘Uplift the Spirit with Ayurveda’ which lasts for 3 hours and begins with herbal powder scrub along with a massage of heated oils to reduce pains and stiffness. Other packages would be ‘Balance the Energy’, ‘Wholesome Journey’, ‘Couples Connect’ and ‘Bridal’s Journey’ which pick specialties out of the menu to treat the guests with the best combination treatments. Similarly, guests can also pick up specific treatment to make a combination of their own. We are sure, with their range of Aromatherapy facials, herbal oil massages, and specialty treatments you will find it hard to pick one. To boost their specialty Salon, the hotel has also introduced a special salon winter package. On spending Rs 2000, guests get a complimentary voucher worth Rs 500 which can be redeemed on their next visit. All the more reasons to come back, we say! Where: 13 B Mayur Vihar, District Centre, New Delhi Call on 91-11-41102222 Timings: 7 am- 10 pm Range of therapies: Rs 3,500- Rs 11,000 by avni mehrotra

by jyoti balani

factfile Open on all days from 5 pm onwards. The Westin 36/3-B Koregaon Park Annexe, Mundhwa Road, Ghorpadi, Pune-411001 Phone: (91) (20) 6721 0000 E mail: December 2012 go now


tourism connect


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tourism connect



r om pr i s t ine under water marine life and untouched coral reefs to r ich her itage and from wilderness to modern city landscape, Sarawak is a potpourri of experiences appreciated by travelers from all over the world. Head into Sarawak’s interiors and your heartbeat will flutter at the fascinating and enchanting dances of the multi-ethnic tribes living harmoniously with each other. Indeed, Sarawak is home to 28 ethnic groups; each with its own distinct language, culture and lifestyle. The Ibans form the major ethnic group on this land with about 30.1 per cent of the total population for the year 2000 census. The Chinese who generally live in the cities are the second largest group at 26.7 per cent, followed by the Bidayuh, Melanau and other native tribes of Sarawak. The Malays also constitute a large portion (23 per cent) of the population as well, mainly concentrated along the coast. Sarawakians practise a variety of religions, including Islam, Christianity, Chinese folk religion (a fusion of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and

ancestor worship), Baha’i and animism. Many converts to Christianity among the Dayak people also continue to practice traditional ceremonies, particularly with dual marriage rites and during the important har vest and ancestral festivals such as Gawai Dayak and Gawai Antu. Steeped in traditional animistic beliefs and influences of world religions and its rich cultural heritage, the colourful ethnic tribes in this Land of the Hornbill celebrate a potpourri of events and festivals throughout the year. A cit y of moder nit y yet cloaked with romantic colonial charm. The cities in Sarawak, where cleanliness is a way of life. And through this garden city meanders the Sarawak River that gives life to its community. A s your s en s e be come romanced by Sarawak’s exciting culture and landscape, let your mind be inspired in their technology-friendly business surroundings. Set up for any kind of meeting, seminar, conference or convention, their par excellence service and facilities make business a pleasant and efficiently smooth experience.

Sarawak Tourism minister Hon. Datuk Amar Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Abang Haji Openg What in particular do you wish to sell to the Indian market?

Leisure tourism and MICE tourism.

What has been your success so far?

For India market, we have been receiving consistent arrivals but need to boost more efforts.

What are your promotional plans for the future? Through filming activities.

You have specially been working on film tourism from India? Tell us more about this effort, and what are you doing to attract Indian film producers to come and shoot in the Indian market?

When I mentioned about filming industry especially the Bollywood, I am not only talking about capturing the Indian market. That would be the secondary objective. But what I really want is the network and distribution of the Bollywood films itself as it spread out to all markets. This is a strong marketing tool for us as it portrays the destination. I believe other destinations are also the similar things. That is the reason why I really need to portray Sarawak best kept secret ie the natural attractions and the many beautiful scenary.

You have a forthcoming ASEAN Film Festival in March next year? What do you expect from this from India?

As this is an ASEAN affair, all the entries will be from ASEAN Countries and competing among ASEAN Countries. What we want from India are some of the professionals in the filming industry to participate in the workshops and seminars. They could also be our ambassador to increase awareness on Sarawak as a filming destination.

How does an Indian traveller go to Sarawak? What are the best connections and what kind of accommodation to expect?

Travelling into Sarawak is as convenient as any other destinations. It only takes 1hour 10minutes from Singapore, 1hour 30minutes from Kuala Lumpur. So, any flights flying into Singapore and Kuala Lumpur has the connections into Sarawak.

What can an Indian traveller expect from his visit in terms of food, shopping etc.

Sarawak offers authentic local food that may excites visitors but for the less adventurous Indian, there are a good range of Indian restaurants in the city. Sarawak is the best place to shop for antiques, local handicrafts, and other local produce.

December 2012 go now


tourism connect


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tourism connect

Showing Europe at its exquisite best in Monaco


onaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority recently toured India to give an insight into the various activities and luxuries that Indian guests can enjoy in Monaco, one of the most serene destinations in Europe. Located on the Mediterranean Sea coast of France, it is a gamut of indulgences and entertainment.

(L to R): Benoit Badufle, Director – Sales & Marketing – Asia Pacific, Monte Carlo S.B.M; Eric Marsan, Marketing Director, MGTCB; Ms. Corrine Kiabski, Press and Communication Manager, MGTCB; JeanFrancois Gourdon, Director of Communications and Public Relations, MGCTB and Rajeev Nangia, Director India, MGTCB.

Offering 300 days of sunshine, Mediterranean natural beauty and world-class infrastructure, Monaco could be the premier choice for meeting and recreation, specially keeping in focus that destination is committed to providing very special value-driven offers for MICE and customised programs. India is an important market for Monaco with a significant increase in the tourist arrivals in day-visitors, room-nights and MICE movements. Approximately 2,000 Indian tourists travel to Monaco on an annual basis and the number has been growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 20-25 per cent over the last four years. Monaco is more targeted towards high-end travellers focusing on five experiential aspects which include culture and event, spa, gastronomy, night life and casino. So be it the F1 or Jazz festival or billion dollar yacht cruise, Monaco has everything what a well informed high end Indian traveller dreams for. Everything about this exotic destination is rich, flamboyant and colourful, and is sure to leave the visitors with memories to be cherished for a lifetime! December 2012 go now


tourism connect

It’s time to say Portugal

destination sellers are here in India


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tourism connect

(From L to R): SKAL Secretary & CEO of Skyworld Tours & Travels Pvt. Ltd., Burjis Mehta; Managing Director of Charson Advisory, Ms. Sonalee Vaz; President - SKAL International Bombay & Chairman & CEO of Charson Advisory, Carl Vaz; President of Turismo de Portugal, Frederico Costa; SKAL Managing Committee Member & Head- Travel Operations of Futura Travels Limited, Jason Samuel and SKAL Managing Committee Member & Director of Cougar Resorts & Travels Pvt. Ltd., Arun Raghavan.


s part of their mandate to promote Portugal as an upmarket leisure destination, a high ranking delegation of the Government of Portugal travelled to New Delhi and Mumbai recently. The delegation comprised senior Government officials and the heads of some of Portugal’s finest hoteliers and local tour operators. Given the importance and potential of the Indian market owing to its vibrant economic status and growing number of travellers, the Secretary of State for Tourism of Portugal conducted the historic maiden B2B workshop titled ‘Portugal Experience Workshop 2012’ on 19th and 21st of November in the cities of New Delhi and Mumbai respectively. The objective of this marketing initiative aims at building cordial relationships between the two countries whilst providing an impetus to inbound tourism into Portugal. The workshops provided a platform for the Portuguese delegation to interact and establish commercial relationships with Indian travel agents, tour operators, wedding planners, corporate travel agencies and India’s burgeoning ‘Bollywood’ film industry. During the B2B workshops in India, the delegation interacted with an impressive 500 to 600 pre-selected Indian trade professionals that comprise major travel and tour operators, wedding planners, golf and cruise promotional organizations in addition to MICE operators to promote Portugal as a holistic travel destination. December 2012 go now


green travel

Green Alert In our monthly round-up of the destinations that offer sustainable tourism practises in India and elsewhere, we focus on tourism’s role in promoting climate change, an eco-tourism initiative in Kukrail and Matheran leisure development plan.

Tourism’s Role in Promoting Climate Change opportunities to inspire positive action: from implementing climatefriendly management systems and strategies to reduce carbon emissions, to engaging travellers to promote responsible choices such as the use of public transportation and environmentally-friendly tours. A lot of organizations like the Basecamp Foundation, Intrepid Travel, Rios Tropicales etc are also taking steps to mitigate climate footprint and curb tourism’s role in hampering ecology. The tourism sector can learn from related efforts in other industries that incorporate progressive ways of mitigating climate footprint like The UNEP Green Economy Initiative, The Environmental Profit and Loss (E P&L) accounting method and Sustainable Capitalism, to name a few.


Photo courtesy :

The fact that tourism industry is both a cause of and significantly impacted by climate change, was an important topic of discussion at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP18). Infrastructure required to maintain attractive tourism destinations inevitably involves energy and resource consumption, putting added pressure on the local ecosystems. Climate change also affects environmental resources like water bodies, land formations etc which serve as tourist attractions and are the driving revenue forces for the local s in the vicitnity. Nature-based tourism, therefore, is particularly sensitive to climate-induced environmental changes. But all is not dismal as the tourism industry also has tremendous

Kukrail to be promoted as an eco-tourism site of Uttar Pradesh

What ghariyals couldn’t do for Kukrail, tigers might. The forest department has proposed to provide a tiger and a deer safari in Kukrail, Uttar Pradesh by bringing in tigers through the zoo exchange programme and turning it into a tourist attraction. The area already has a sizeable count of antelopes. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has begun taking a keen interest in its makeover and thereby promoting ecotourism in the state. The new Kukrail is expected not only to promise tourism but also give ‘the look and feel of a jungle’ and much more. More than rearing and rehabilitating the critically endangered ghariyals, it will also have a zoo of its own. Given the current government’s emphasis on promoting eco-tourism, the wildlife spots and forest areas of the state will be developed to attract the visitors, Kukrail is on the priority list. Considering it no longer forms the outskirts of Lucknow and is almost in the heart of the city, the government wants to develop it as a major eco-tourism spot of the state. A detailed proposal on its development as an eco-tourism spot has already been sent to the government by the department. The department’s proposal talks about setting up a bio-diversity park, a butterfly park, a separate zoo, a tiger safari, an arboretum (with woody plants), a rescue centre for wild animals, a new toy train and a ghariyal centre (which already exists at the place). The proposal will also free Kukrail of encroachment. 88

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Matheran casino plan to be more eco-sensitive

The Maharashtra government has decided to give a more systematic approach to the plan to revive Matheran as a leisure hub by putting a tab on the uncontrolled development in the area. The Union Ministry for Environment and Forests (MoEF) has stressed the need for having a tourism master plan to assess the hill station’s capacity. Currently, the area has a population of 4,000 and 12,000 tourists visit the hill station every day during the peak season. The revival plan for Matheran includes construction of casinos, discotheques, parking arenas, wider roads, regular water supply, waste treatment plants, facilities for adventure sports, horse riding school and tourist control rooms. The construction of these facilities requires the MoEF nod as the holiday destination has been declared an eco-sensitive zone. Development has been stopped till there is a proper tourism plan in place. The plan needs to have relevance to the hill station where the infrastructure is doddering and also consider the viability of constructing casinos and discotheques. c ompiled by Avni Mehrotra

December 2012 go now


Let’s Celebrate the Festive Season in Amazing Thailand

Tourism Authority of Thailand New Delhi Office: (Areas of Responsibility: Northern and Eastern India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal), Tel: 91-11-41663567-69, 46741111, Fax: 91-11-41663570 | E-mail: | Website: Tourism Authority of Thailand Mumbai Office: (Areas of Responsibility: Western and Southern India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives), Tel: 91-22-22042727-28, Fax: 91-22-22042729 | E-mail: | Website: Visit: 90

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