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Panna & Bandhavgarh: Living on the wild side AirAsia takes flight in India New dining experiences: Bengaluru keeps its tryst

CHENNAI:

A MICE GUIDE March 2013 GO NOW

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GO NOW March 2013


THIS ISSUE EDITORS’ PAGE

Dear Readers, Any magazine needs a continuous process of evolution, feel the need for change, incorporating what is new in the domain in which it specialises. We are no different. This issue, we have introduced some new sections and we believe these will help the magazine become even more useful in your travels and in your pursuit of tourism in its various forms. Panna & Bandhavgarh: Living on the wild side AirAsia takes flight in India New dining experiences: Bengaluru keeps its tryst

In our leisure section, we bring you a less written about destination, Belgium. Discover the waffles and waterways in this fairytale hideaway. We also bring you lessor known Malawi and introduce you to the Mumbo Island Paradise. In niche travel, we continue to give you different reasons to explore different destinations – discover the wine country in Germany, discover art in hotels, spa tourism from a spa specialist, and also discover upmarket resorts in tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh.

CHENNAI:

A MICE GUIDE

Chennai, in recent months, has seen the opening of new and extremely opulent hotels including the Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, ITC Grand Chola and most recently, The Leela Palace. Suddenly, Chennai is becoming the flavour for conferences and meetings, not only from India but also from around the world. The good news for the traveller is that the room rates have become affordable, the supply chasing the demand which is yet to grow commensurate. We bring you a MICE update on the city – choose your next MICE venue in the city. If travel incites you just the way it incites us, share your experiences on /gonowlifestylemagazine /gonowmagazine

Bengaluru has always been known for its eateries. It was amongst the first cities to have a pub culture and multi-cuisine options. We bring you an update on some of the new restaurants for you to experience. In our new section on Travel and Tourism Beyond Boundaries, we bring you traces of events in India and abroad that will enhance your appreciation of your travel experience. These are happenings for you to cherish, preserve and look out for, the next time your travelling to that part of the globe. Happy reading, and keep on discovering!

/gonowmagazine

READERS WRITE IN Six Luxury Business Hotels

Reading about the luxury business hotels in the city was very interesting. I travel Pune quite frequently for work and I am always confused on which place to choose for a comfortable stay. But, the detailed write up telling about the top notch five star hotels giving a pleasurable stay for business travellers helped me a lot. So, the next time I plan my trip to Pune I know where to stay. Rakesh Gautam, Delhi

FORM-4 (See Rule 8) Cross Section Media Pvt. Ltd.

Editor: Navin Berry Managing Editor: Priyaanka Berry Marketing & Sales: Vimal Talwar Advertising: Saurabh Shukla Design: Ashok Saxena, Neelam Aswani

1. Place of Publication : New Delhi 2. Periodicity of Publication : Monthly 3. Printers’s Name : Navin S. Berry Nationality : Indian (a) Whether Citizen of India? : Yes (b) If foreigner, state the country of origin : No Address : IIIrd Floor, Rajendra Bhawan, 210, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi – 110002 4. Publisher’s Name : Navin S. Berry Nationality : Indian (a) Whether Citizen of India? : Yes (b) If foreigner, state the country of origin : No Address : IIIrd Floor, Rajendra Bhawan, 210, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi – 110 002 5. Editor’s Name : Navin S. Berry Nationality : Indian (a) Whether Citizen of India? : Yes (b) If foreigner, state the country of origin : No Address : IIIrd Floor, Rajendra Bhawan, 210, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi – 110 002 6. Name and address of individuals : Cross Section Publications Pvt. Ltd. IIIrd Floor, Rajendra Bhawan, 210, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, New Delhi – 110 002 Who own the Newspapers and Partners or Shareholders holding more than one per cent of the total capital 1. Mr. Navin S. Berry, W-11, Greater Kailash-I, New Delhi 2. Mrs. Archana Berry, W-11, Greater Kailash-I, New Delhi 3. Mr. Rajat S. Berry, W-11, Greater Kailash-I, New Delhi

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. E-mail: info@crosssectionmedia.com

I, Navin S. Berry, hereby declare that the particulars given above are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

This issue of gonow contains 80 pages plus 4 pages cover

Date: March 1, 2013

S/d Navin S. Berry (PUBLISHER)

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: info@crosssectionmedia.com Material not used will not be returned

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GO NOW MARCH 2013

CONTENTS Guest Columns

14 Deep Kalra: Make the best use of the heavy discounts in the airline market with the incredible tips from the expert advisor. 62 Ratna Chadha: Cruises on your mind?

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Developments

16 AirAsia takes Flights in India: Asia’s biggest low cost carrier planning to float new developments in the Indian aviation market...

Destination

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Leisure

18 Waffles, Waterways and Wanderers: Your guide to the fairytale hideaway and jewels of Belgium... 26 Mumbo Island Paradise, Malawi: Set across the beach, this place is a perfect getaway in the lap of nature.

Niche Travel

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30 Fabled Fairytale Franconia: Treat yourself with the picturesque wine region of perfumed wines, stunning vistas and unspoilt beauty. 34 Designer Hotels: Fashion houses are now here to pamper you with their luxurious hospitality. 40 Living on the Wild Side: Discover the tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh coupled with scenic natural beauty. 44 Art in Hotels: Hotels are giving an artistic approach to their properties to treat their guests with a different flavour. 48 Spa Specialist in Town: Tino Lerma reveals the secrets of a perfect spa therapy experience

and talks about the spa industry in India.

Experience

50 Iconic Coffee Brand Comes to India: Starbucks is foraying into the Indian market at a fast pace, the CEO, Tata Starbucks Limited speaks about its India conquest and future roadmap.

Metro Travel

54 Luxury MICE Destination in the Making: With state of the art facilities, various new hotels are all set to make Chennai a key MICE Destination. 64 New dining experiences the city keeps its tryst: With an eclectic array of cuisines and dining styles coming in with new restaurants, Bengaluru’s F&B scene is seeing a unique rush.

Travel & Tourism Beyond Boundaries 70 Keep your date with Mughal Gardens 72 It is thumbs up for Aero Show Bengaluru 74 Art scene promises much with innovation 75 Thai artistes inspire with Indian themes 76 India & France bond with genres of art 78 NYC sets its goal at 55mn visitors by 2015 79 Turkish Airlines is Pro Am Sponsor

On the Cover CHENNAI Photo: Tanmoy Das


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Go Now : Packages & Promotions

SPECIAL TREATS FOR INDIANS AT CHANGI AIRPORT Passengers travelling by Singapore Airlines and SilkAir can now avail a special treat worth Rs. 1800. The airlines are offering special Changi Dollar Vouchers worth Rs. 1800 to passengers travelling from India and transiting through Singapore Changi Airport. These vouchers can be used for accessing lounge and transit hotels, dining and shopping in the public and transit areas of the airport. The vouchers are valid for only one time use at around 450 retail, food and service outlets in the transit and public areas of 1, 2, and 3 terminals of the airport. When: Valid till 31st March 2013 For Further Information, visit: www.singaporeair.com

NEW CONNECTIONS TO PHUKET FOR INDIAN HOLIDAYMAKERS New airline services to Phuket have eased access to this Thai tropical paradise island for holidaymakers throughout India. Choices include daily Thai Airways flights from Mumbai, Delhi, Varanasi, Gaya, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai direct to Bangkok with convenient transfers to Phuket. Jet Airways, Indigo, Air India and Air Asia also have daily flights to Bangkok from the country. The new services reflect Phuket’s appeal in India as a holiday destination that offers everything from stunning beaches and spectacular offshore islands to world-class golf, luxury accommodation and vibrant nightlife. At the forefront is Laguna Phuket with its innovative attractions for both families and adventureseekers alike. Laguna Phuket is less than five hours by air from major Indian cities. Situated on 1,000 acres of tropical beachfront parkland, Laguna Phuket is a sprawling playground of nine luxury hotel and villa properties linked by fleets of water ferries and buses - complete with an 18-hole golf course, five world-class spas, boutique shopping and a unique waterfront glass-walled Wedding Chapel. More information: www.lagunaphuket.com

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NOW INDIGO FLYING TWICE DAILY TO KOCHI EXPERT CHEF TO TURN OUT INDIAN DELICACIES

Chef Kunal Kapur, the new Star Chef at Lufthansa Airlines is all set to pamper the First class and Business class passengers. Passengers travelling to and from India would be served with the Indian culinary delights prepared by Chef Kapur. He is currently the Executive Sous Chef at The Leela Kempinski, Gurgaon. The menu is changed every three months, till March 2013 the set menu consists of various delicacies like, Tandoori Firdausi, Chicken Chetinad, Curry Leaf Pongal, and many more. In the dessert section, you can relish, Rabdi, Kesar Pista Kulfi, Dal Moong, etc. The menu is different for both, first class and business class passengers.

Passengers flying from Delhi to Kochi can now be relieved as Indigo airlines have introduced a second flight at the same route. Now indigo Airlines have two flights flying down from Delhi to Kochi scheduled at 6:20 am and 1:50 pm, the latter being the new addition. The return flights from Kochi to Delhi will fly at 7:45 pm and 7:05 am. This new addition of flights will relieve the frequent passengers flying between the two destinations. So you don’t need to fret for a seat to Kochi anymore. When: Effective from 1st March 2013 Price: Delhi-Kochi: ` 4946, Kochi-Delhi: ` 4832 For Reservation, Visit: www.goindigo.com

For further information, visit: www.lufthansa.com

ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES FLIES TO NDOLA, ZAMBIA Ethiopian Airlines is soon going to connect its flights to Ndola, Zambia. The airline is planning to fly to the growing commercial hub, Ndola thrice weekly. Ethiopian airlines have been trying their best to connect all the cities of Africa to the world. With the new development, the passengers flying to and from Ndola can easily connect to the wide network of the airlines which include, places like, Mumbai, Dubai, London, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Cairo and Peking. The new service will help in easing out the hassles that people travelling from Ndola had to face earlier. When: Starting from 31st March 2013 For Further Information, visit: www.ethiopianairlines.com

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THE OBEROI ADVANTAGE

Being loyal to Oberoi Hotels can assist you with various advantages and free stays. Get complimentary stays and many more exciting offers by being a part of the Oberoi Advantage programme. If you complete three stays at The Oberoi Mumbai, The Oberoi, Gurgaon and The Oberoi, Rajvillas then you can avail one night complimentary stay at any Oberoi Hotel in India, Indonesia, Mauritius or Egypt. On the other hand, you can get two night’s complimentary stay if you complete five stays at the above mentioned participating hotels. The complimentary stays will be provided in a standard double room at the specific hotel and can be availed within a specific time period. When: Valid till 31st March 2013-02-18 For Reservations, mail: advantage@ oberoigroup.com or call: 1800 11 2030

LUXURIOUS ESCAPE AT THE PARK, GOA If you are looking for a getaway from the hustle bustle of your daily life then indulge in the calm mood of Goa at The Park Holiday Beach Resort. They are offering a three day package for their guests with some refreshing and comfortable services. The package includes a luxurious ride to and fro from the airport and accommodation in deluxe rooms. Along with this you can also avail amazing hap-

py hour discounts at the restaurant and enjoy the complimentary buffet breakfast and either lunch or dinner. The hotel is set in a picturesque environment with state of the art facilities for a comfortable stay of their guests. When: Valid till 31st March 2013 Price: ` 9666 + taxes For Reservations, Visit: www.theparkhotels.com

HOLI AT RANBANKA PALACE, JODHPUR Get drenched in the royal colours of Holi in Rajasthan with elephants at Ranbanka Palace, Jodhpur. Ranbanka Palace welcomes you in a royal and traditional way with their special package for you to relax, revive and rejuvenate. In this package they provide you with a two nights’ accommodation where you can have luxurious time with your family. You can also enjoy cultural performances that take place at the hotel in the evening and would take you through the vibrant colours of Rajasthan. With various other amenities, you can also avail exclusive discounts and services at the palace under this package. When: Valid till 31st March 2013 Price: Deluxe Room ` 19,999 per couple. Club Room: ` 21,999 per couple For Reservations, mail: reservations@ranbankahotels.com or Call: 0291-2512800

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ENJOY GOA AT TREEHOUSE BLUE Enjoy the perfect holiday with your family at Goa, with special holiday packages by Treehouse Blue, Goa. This lavish hotel provides you the services of a hotel, with the comfort and privacy of an apartment. It has a total of 24 luxurious service apartments, out of which 6 are studio apartments and the rest 18 are one bedroom apartments. You can avail this package at ` 4,265 for a couple per night, at a studio apartment and ` 5,440 for a couple per night, at a one bedroom apartment. Also, you can use all the recreational services of the hotel on complimentary basis. To add more fun to your trip, you can stroll around the beaches on the bicycles you can hire from the hotel as a part of your package. When: Valid till 31st March 2013. Where: The Treehouse Blue, Curilo Waddo, Majorda, Salcette, Goa-403713. For Reservations mail at: sales@thetreehouseblue.com, or Call: 91-9953046825

ENJOY EXTRA CREDITS WITH THE BANYAN TREE GROUP

GRAPE & WINE SPA THERAPY IN GOA Pamper yourself with this tranquilizing massage by Kenilworth Resort & Spa, Goa. The Grape scrub and Wine bath will hydrate and relax your body. The massage therapy starts with a foot bath followed by grape and cane sugar body scrub which would relax your mind and exfoliate your skin. An exotic aroma therapy massage will lead you to a further state of relaxation. The therapy is concluded with a warm wine bath. Here, the temperature of the

water used in the bath is kept close to the body temperature; hence, the sensors of the body are not agitated and keep your mind, body and soul calm and comfortable. Price: ` 9999 + tax For Reservations, Contact: Kenilworth Resort and Spa, Goa Utorda, Salcete Tel: 91 0832 6698888 www.kenilworthhotels.com kenilworthgoa@kenilworthhotels. com

The Banyan Tree Group is showing gratitude towards their customers with their offer, ‘The Credit Goes to You’. Under this offer, t he hotel is giv ing substantial add on services and benefits to their customers. The guests can enjoy credits equivalent to one night’s room rate for ever y bo ok in g of t wo ni g ht s a nd above. T his offer i s valid at Banyan Tree and Angsana, the complimentar y credits can be used for the charge s on hotel operated food and beverages, spa treatments, and gallery purchases. The offer is only valid for the bookings which are made for a minimum of two consecutive nights. When: 1st March to 31st March 2013 For Reservations, visit: www.banyantree.com or www.angsana.com

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KIWIRAIL LAUNCHES ESCAPE PACKAGE KiwiRail Scenic has launched its new Waitomo and Hobbiton Escape Package for the Northern Explorer train between Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand. The scenic Escape Package includes train fares, transfers, accommodation in Hamilton and attractions in one online transaction. This package will allow international and domestic visitors to experience the Hobbiton movie set, Waitomo Caves and Hamilton city in a unique way that has not been offered to train travellers before. More information: www.newzealand.com

THE BLISSFUL WALK

TRAVELLING TO JORDAN MADE EASY FOR INDIANS WITH ‘VISA ON ARRIVAL’

Experience the serenity of the Great Barrier Island by indulging in walks along the shoreline, digging out the hidden history of the island and much more at the Great Barrier Island Walking Festival. This festival is being organised from April 12th to April 14th 2013. The expert guides present at the festival perfectly know how to bring this magical place to life. Once you are done with your day you can relax at your tent site or your luxury eco lodge at the island. Hurry up and enrol yourself for this exciting festival as it is limited to only 100 guests this year.

Now visiting Jordan is easy for the Indian traveller as they can avail of ‘Visa on Arrival’ if they are in a group of five persons or more, with confirmed return flight tickets. Other facilities offered include uniform visa fees for all nationalities and free of charge group visas when arranged through DMC’s or TO’s. There is no visa paperwork to be done for the MICE groups and FIT groups going from India as they can avail of Visa on Arrival when they land in Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport. Jordan offers modern infrastructure, resorts, convention centres, 4 and 5-star hotels in all its important landmarks and cities to encourage the meetings and incentives sector. Jordan is also a very family-friendly destination for a holiday and is also rated as one of the top romantic countries which makes it an exotic honeymoon destination.

For Bookings and Details visit: http://www.greatbarrierwalkfest.org/

For more details, visit: www.visitjordan.com

DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF NEW YORK

New York, one of the most happening cities of the world has many untold secrets which many of the patrons would also be unaware of. The next time you visit New York, discover the little secrets to enjoy some extra special moments. Do stop by the Whispering Gallery while going through the Grand Central Terminal, this unmarked archway is located in front of the Oyster Bar & Restaurant. Also, when you visit the Frick Collection on the Upper East Side do not forget to go underground and have a look at the magnificent antique bowling alley made up with pine and maple lanes and mahogany-panelled walls. For more such exciting places, visit: www.nycgo.com

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INDIAN DINING IN NEW YORK CITY

A large amount of Indians either live in New York or visit it frequently. Also, the Indian cuisine is relished extensively by masses over there. This city has a huge number of re staurant s which serves delectable Indian cuisine. Dhaba, situated at Murray Hill in Manhattan have jars filled with Indian spices in their shelves and its décor gives a feeling of a hustle bustle chic bazaar in India. Similar to this, Ganesh Temple Canteen which is located in the basement of a Hindu temple in the residential part of Flushing is also an amazing place to be. It is operated like a fast food but serves delicious Masala Dosa, Samosa, and a lot more at a great price. For more such exciting places, visit: www.nycgo.com

PLANNING GOT EASIER

How easy can it be to plan a holiday? Make My Trip helps you to boost up the process of your travel planning with the help of their newly launched application, Route Planner. Get the best options available for travelling within your country by road, train and air. The devised options are ranked by a special algorithm known as Route Rank which ranks on the basis of price and duration involved and the level of convenience. This application helps you in viewing several routes for the same origin-destination pair at the same time. You can search for the best option from around 1 Billion combinations of routes and modes. Try this Application at: routeplanner.makemytrip.com/web/

ATLANTIS THE PALM, DUBAI

LUXURY SHUIQI SPA PACKAGE

ShuiQi Spa and Fitness is a memorable experience, awakening your senses, within awe-inspiring and serene water surroundings. It is a tranquil place of serenity, opulence and pure indulgence. The ShuiQi Spa package is priced from AED 2,255 and includes a luxury spa experience over a 2-hour treatment for two adults that includes: Body Massage, scrubs and unlimited use of Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, and fitness gym during the entire stay.

MANDARIN ORIENTAL, PARIS

CELEBRATE FASHION Mandarin Oriental has come up with a special package to invite the fashion lovers to the fashion land. They have announced a new fashion offer, ‘J’aime Chloe’ to celebrate the opening of the first Maison Chloé on 253 Rue Saint-Honoré. Under this package, you will be welcomed as a VIP and would get a luxurious night stay in a Couture Suite. The couture suites are very comfortable, glamorous and stylish with a luxurious feel added to them. Along with these, you will get complimentary breakfast for two at the appetizing Camélia. Treated as a VIP during your entire stay, you can also have a chance to own a limited edition “Alice” handbag, in exclusive “stem ginger/gold savannah from the Chloé boutique at 253 Saint-Honoré.” This whole package is available for EUR 3,300. When: From 25th February to 31st March 2013 For Further Information, visit: www.mandarinoriental.com

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Go Now : Packages & Promotions BADRUTT’S PALACE HOTEL, SWITZERLAND

TREATS FOR LADIES

Celebrate womanhood by pampering yourself with special treats for ladies at Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, Switzerland. The three night package would treat you lavishly at a Superior room of the hotel. The package includes, complimentary dinners at Le Restaurant and Chesa Vegalia. Also, you can indulge in beauty sessions like, manicure, oxygen facial and much more… adding on to this, you can pamper yourself with a complimentary body polish session at the hotel. Ski passes will also be provided for the entire region and transfers to/from ski lift for the duration of your stay.

DIVE IN AT ELBOW BEACH, BERMUDA Dive into the deep sea of Bermuda with Elbow Beach’s ‘Dive In’ package. Enjoy a four night stay in a premier room along with two days of scuba diving experience. In case you are not a certified scuba diver then you can join in the beginner level and take a few lessons with the Blue Water Divers team of instructors. This has been designed specially, so that everyone could enjoy a safe and comfortable experience of diving. Enjoy your daily breakfast on the ships, while you are on your way to the dive site.

EASTER WITH YOUR FAMILY AT ENGADIN SWITZERLAND

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Price: From ` 1,46,000 For Further Details, Visit: www.badruttspalace.com

Price: ` 1, 40,200 When: 3rd March 2013 to 15th May 2013 For Reservations, Call: +1 (441) 236-3535 or Mail: ebbda-reservations@mohg.com

HAVE FUN AT ZURICH

Grand Hotel Kronenhof has special offers in Engadin for an unforgettable Easter holiday. Situated in the middle of the old village area of Pontresina called Laret, the hotel bestows an appearance of luxurious splendour upon the village. It offers a unique view to the glaciers Bernina and pine and larch forests. The hotel offers its guests a special Easter package valid From March 24 to March 31, 2013. Other hotels offering special Easter packages include : the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains, Kulm Hotel St. Moritz.

Experience exciting leisure activities and attractions of Zurich and the surrounding regions... Zurich is hosting one of the greatest art exhibitions, Chagall at Kunsthaus, Zurich till May 12, 2013. The exhibition displays best works of the popular artists from the 20th Century. Zurich is also celebrating the 200th birth anniversary of the renowned composer Richard Wagner who has spent a considerable amount of his life in the country. You can avail exciting offers and discounts and save money with the help of Zurich CARD which is valid for 24 to 72 hours. Also, have fun with your family and friends on ice in the surrounding regions of Zurich like, Atzmannig, Amden and many more.

More information: www.engadin.stmoritz.ch

For Further Information, Visit: www.zuerich.com

GO NOW March 2013


Go Now : Packages & Promotions

CHINA’S TERRACOTTA WARRIORS AT SAN FRANCISCO

Cirque de Glace

Snowwhite on ice

AAMBY VALLEY CITY BRINGS UKWW’S BROADWAY TO INDIA

Internationally acclaimed UK Broadway productions, Cirque de Glace and Snow White on Ice are all set to perform exclusively at Aamby Valley City. A team of more than 20 Russian ice stars will present a display of physical prowess coupled with grace and beauty on ice for a period of two months at independent India’s first planned Hill City. Cirque de Glace is a magnificent vision on ice that brings to life the story of the creation of our planet, man’s evolution and a journey to the limits of technology as a stunning ice spectacular. With Snow White on Ice, world famous Russian ice stars will take you on a magical journey to the heart of the best-loved fairy-tale of all time. When: 22nd February 22 to April 17, 2013. Where: Aamby Valley City For reservations call: 022-39807444, or email: info@aambyvalley.com More information: www.aambyvalley.com

Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco is offering guests access to the prestigious new exhibition “China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy,” on view at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum from February 22 through May 27, 2013. The original tomb complex is one of the largest burial sites ever constructed with an estimated 8,000 terracotta figures including warriors, acrobats, musicians, and horses. T he unique exhibition features 120 exceptional objects from the great tomb complex of China’s First Emperor Qin Shihuang, including eight life-size terracotta warriors and two horses. To celebrate the opening, Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco is offering a “Terracotta Warriors” travel package, featuring luxurious accommodation, a keepsake about the exhibit, and special access to the exhibition at the Asian Art Museum. More information: www.mandarinoriental. com/sanfrancisco

AFTERNOON TEA WITH JIMMY CHOO

MO Bar at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong has announced its latest fashion tea in collaboration with Jimmy Choo, one of the world’s most treasured luxury brands. Jimmy Choo shoes and handbags are often worn by style icons around the world, from celebrities to royalty, and from musicians to heads of state. From April 2 to May 5, MO Bar’s Jimmy Choo afternoon tea will take inspiration from Jimmy Choo’s Spring/Summer 2013 collections, which will highlight the haute gypsy glamour of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and feature rich and vibrant colours and embossed leather, fringes and tassels, to reveal the fun-loving side of women.

MO Bar’s Jimmy Choo tea set will feature mouth-watering savoury bites such as Foie Gras High Heels on Crispy Brioche Bread, Ham Mousse Sandwiches with Savora Mustard, and Smoked Salmon Sandwiches with Cucumber and Cream Cheese. This afternoon tea is priced at HKD260 per person from Mondays to Fridays, including the three-tier tea set, a delectable cake buffet and a choice of JING tea or coffee; and HKD280 per person on Saturdays and Sundays, topped with a weekend dessert buffet. All guests will receive a special gift set from Jimmy Choo with the tea set (while stocks last).

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Go Now : Packages & Promotions ICC Durban

MIX BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE IN SOUTH AFRICA

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out h A fr ica offer s myriad experiences to make any MICE activity in the country worth remembering. South Africa is fast becoming one of the world’s favourite destinations for big events, meetings, conferences and exhibitions. Through confidently staging major events like the 2010 FIFA World Cup, DLF IPL 2009 and the United Nations’ COP 17 CliMs. Hanneli Slabber mate Change Conference, South Africa has proven its credentials to host events of any magnitude and is well-placed to play host to any local or international meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) event, with world-class business and conference facilities complemented by excellent leisure tourism attractions and hospitable, welcoming, skilled and competent people. Large convention centers in major cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban skillfully cater to events of any stature. South Africa’s capability and infrastructure for business tourism is superb. The best-in-class

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facilities provided at the convention centres have been host to varied global events and continue to be popular choice for various big ticket events. In addition, several game lodges In South Africa organize and offer facilities for smaller conferences and events from India. Along with the luxury experience, these game reserves provide corporate firms with several customized options of team building and leadership skill development and other training and development programmes and exercises. There are more than 1700 conference venues in South Africa, with International Convention Centres located in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and East London. Over the next five years South Africa has already secured over 200 international conferences, which is estimated to attract 3,00,000 delegates and provide an economic boost of more than ` 1.6 billion. The destination boasts a 40% return of all delegates as leisure tourists with 43% of all delegates bringing an accompanying traveler.

A unique experience with best in class facilities

Ms. Hanneli Slabber, Coun t r y Manager, South African Tourism, India, says: “South Africa has proven its ability to host global events with utmost finesse. The diversity of the nation, hospitable warmth of South Africans, best in class facilities and ability to customize, create a conducive atmosphere to host any MICE activity with success. Corporate firms such as HDFC, Hercules, 9X Media, ACC Cement, Siyaram Silk etc have organised their MICE trips to South Africa. It is encouraging for us as a tourism board to see such a good response in MICE tourism from a market like India which is our prime focus for the next few years. We welcome our MICE travelers to experience a unique offering in South Africa.”


Go Now : Packages & Promotions

ICC Durban

THE LEADERS IN MICE FACILITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA C a p e To w n I n t e r n a tional Convention Centre (CTICC): Located on Cape Town’s beautiful northern foreshore, the Cape Town International Convention Cent re (C T ICC ) offer s world-class facilities in one of the most breathtaking settings in South Africa with Table Mountain as its backdrop. The CTICC can cater for up to 10,000 delegates theatre-style in its exhibition centre. Among its many facilities are 2 auditoriums with seating capacities for 1,500 and 620 guests. Meet-

ing rooms of varying sizes, each accommodating up to 300 delegates, can be set up to suit a variety of functions or presentations. Thir teen distinguished Meeting Suites, varying in size, overlook the exhibition halls and are equipped to comfortably accommodate up to 24 guests each. ICC Durban: The International Convention Centre Durban (ICC Durban) in KwaZulu-Natal is one of the most advanced conference facilities in the world and the largest in Africa. It has

a raked auditorium that can seat 1,800 conference goers, or it can accommodate 6,000 delegates when chairs are placed flat on the floor. Its large indoor arena has seating capacity for 6,000 delegates or 9,000 people standing. There are 23 meeting rooms, 3 outdoor courtyard venues and a business complex with banking and foreign exchange facilities, medical services and hospitality suites. ICC Durban has consistently been voted Africa’s Leading Conference Centre in the World Travel Awards a nd ha s be en r a n ke d among the top 20 convention centres in the world by the International Association of Conference Centres. It hosted the United Nations convention on climate change. Sandton Convention Centre, Johanne sburg: Sandton Convention Centre (SCC) is a great example of the type of world-class

conferencing infrastructure that has been available in South Africa for more than a decade. It has for several years been the venue of choice for South Africa’s leading business tourism event, Meetings Africa, and 2012 was no exception. In 2010 it played host to several prestigious 2010 FIFA World Cup™ events. The SCC offers easy access to more than 5,000 hotel rooms, is adjacent to the country’s top shopping and entertainment complexes. The SCC building occupies 12 storeys and offers a range of room capacities – from a 10-seat function room to The Pavilion, which can cater for 4,500 seated patrons. The Sandton Convention Centre has played a major role in growing business tourism to South Africa and Gauteng province since it opened its doors in July 2000. Situated in the heart of Sandton, South Africa’s premier economic hub, it’s the perfect destination to host a conference, meeting,

event or exhibition. East London International Convention Centre: The East London International Convention Centre (ELICC) offers a great Eastern Cape alternative for the local and international business tourism and events sector. The flexible multifunctional East London International Convention Centre has raised the profile of the Eastern Cape as a major business events destination. Its unique geographical location has proven popular because it is easily accessible from destinations around the country. ELICC has auditoriums that caters for 1,480 delegates, cinema-style. A further 11 conference rooms are available in the ELICC Extension. For delegates seeking a game park experience, the Mpongo Private Game Reserve (30 km from the city) offers luxury accommodation in 2 lodges. Guided game drives and self-drive game-viewing experiences are offered.

Text & photo courtesy SOUTH AFRICA TOURISM

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Go Now : Guest Column

EXPERTSPEAK DEEP KALRA

Santa Claus has come with a bagful of goodies, even as airline travellers shrink in numbers. SpiceJet took the first initiative, closely followed by the others. Airline tickets were being discounted like never before.We will never know how many passengers were actually able to avail of these offers, as many complaints were heard of inaccessible airline websites.We bring you, nevertheless, expert advice from a leading mover in the business, on how to make the best of such deals in the market.

A GOOD TIME TO INDULGE THE TRAVEL BUG AGAIN

I

ndian travellers have had reason to cheer this winter. Airline fares that had literally ‘taken to the skies’ making a lot of people reconsider their short outstation breaks, suddenly became affordable again following a slew of promotional schemes initiated by major Airlines in the country. While industry experts and industry-watchers can debate over the sustainability of these low fares, or whether this is a healthy precedent, the fact is that these Discounted Fare Schemes have revitalized a sector that has had a lackluster 2012. India was the only country in the world where Airline industry shrank by 9% last year. In a growing economy, a developing nation this certainly doesn’t augur well. The market

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will no doubt respond to measures taken from within and at a Policy level, but what is clear is that this is a good time to indulge the Travel bug again. Here’s how some smart-search can help make your trip easy and affordable: Go online – This one shouldn’t even have to be stated but there are still some readers who are hesitant or wary of eCommerce. To them I say, go online to choose and purchase your travel products because that’s where the best fares are. Practice smart shopping strategies – As in the real world, so in the virtual. Websites face ‘rush hour traffic’ much as how a sale in a retail outlet would create. Accessing websites in the non-peak hours (early morning/ midnight – 2 am) gives you a better chance of accessing

discounted tickets from a limited inventory. Shop Wisely – Just because cheap fares are on offer doesn’t mean you should purchase tickets recklessly. Read the Terms & Conditions carefully. Most often, tickets sold under such discount schemes are nonrefundable. So it is a good idea to get your leaves approved before booking your ticket. Be Patient – Given the demand for these tickets it is quite possible that it’ll take longer than usual for you to make this transaction. Remain patient and do not ‘refresh’ the browser (or the entire process of ticket confirmation, purchase and payment will start from scratch) till you see the confirmation or regret message. In case the ticket is not confirmed but you have been billed for the fare, don’t panic. Online payments can easily be tracked and you will receive your money back. If the web-portal/Airline does not communicate this to you within the next 6 hours, write to them. Find them on Facebook to get a faster response! Go Mobile – Download a mobile travel app from Google Play or iTunes Store and get the best deals in the shortest time. Our website faced a five-fold increase in traffic during the recent Airfare promotion and many people found it was easier and quicker to purchase tickets using our mobile app. Disclaimer: These tips hold good for at all times – so, use them and bag the best fares, all year round. Safe Travels! The author is Founder & CEO, MakeMyTrip. com, India’s largest Online Travel Company.


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Presidential Pomp: Mumbai’s finest five star Presidential Suites Pune: Six Luxury Business Hotels Mahakumbh Allahabad: A carnival of the devout

/gonowmagazine /gonowmagazine March 2013 GO NOW

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Go Now : Developments

AIRASIA TAKES FLIGHT IN INDIA T

he alliance between the $100-billion salt-to-software Indian conglomerate Tata and AirAsia, Asia’s biggest low-cost carrier (LCC), to float a new airline is being touted as a game changer for India’s turbulence-ridden aviation sector. It is also the first foreign direct investment (FDI) after the Indian government relaxed ownership rules last September to allow foreign carriers to hold 49% stake in a domestic airline. The new airline hopes to resume operations later this year under the Air Asia brand with an initial investment of about $40 million. Through its operations based in Thailand and Malaysia, AirAsia currently flies to Chennai, Bangalore, Kochi, Tiruchirappalli and Kolkata in addition to 20 countries across Asia. For starters, the proposed airline will connect southern Chennai with Tier II and III Indian cities. As a pioneer of the LCC template in Asia, and currently Asia’s largest LCC with 118 aircraft and over 350 orders, AirAsia sees enormous long-term growth potential in Indian aviation “We have carefully evaluated developments in India over the last few years and strongly believe that the current

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environment is perfect to introduce AirAsia’s low fares,” Tony Fernandes, CEO, AirAsia said. Asked whether the entry of the new airline promoted by AirAsia would lead to the demise of some existing airlines, Fernandes replied: “Businesses put themselves out of business. It is not competition which puts them out.” “If an airline is rightly capitalized, follows the right business model and the right people are running it, there should be no problem,” he added. Interestingly, while AirAsia has succeeded in foraying into the Indian market, Etihad and Jet Airways are still scrambling to finalize a deal for the Gulf carrier to invest in Jet. AirAsia’s advent, say market watchers, will likely rejuvenate India’s airline sector, which is gasping for breath due to stifling regulations, outrageous taxes, high airport charges, volatile fuel costs, inefficient infrastructure and a rupee erosion. Industry veterans concede that AirAsia’s advent is a “big development” in India’s aviation sector. “Considering the ferocious headwinds the industry has flown into, the involvement of two established players with strong brand images will work to India’s advantage,”

conceded one. A renewed war of attrition in the market, adds the travel expert, is unlikely, since the industry has already seen its share of consolidation through mergers as well as competitive price slashing to such an extent that anything further would be untenable. Kingfisher Airlines’ (KFA) mismanagement, which accelerated its demise will also serve as a warning signal for potential entrants. India needed to beef up capacity in the aviation market and address the gap created in the wake of the beleaguered airline’s collapse. Post grounding of Kingfisher, coupled with route rationalization that took place this fiscal, the capacity addition rate for the industry declined 3.2 per cent. FDI, as signified by AirAsia’s entry, will result in an uptick in growth in the sector and also emit the right message to other global players eyeing the Indian market. Indian carriers are in the process of revamping and modifying their operation models in line with the hike in operating losses, and balance sheet weaknesses. They are also initiating contract re-negotiations to phase out their losses. The new airline, forecast analysts, will hopefully bring positive spinoffs

like competitive fares for the fliers. However, experts add that while AirAsia’s entry into a bitterly competitive market augurs well for consumers, it will surely rattle the entrenched players. The Malaysian airline’s pricing strategy and storied marketing policies will thus likely pave way for a shakeout in the industry. It is being hoped the changed industry dynamics might even order a rethink on the Indian government’s part. “Indian airlines have been subject to governmental interference for far too long,” explains a foreign travel operator. “The investment rules have been asphyxiating growth while work practices and work limitations enforced by unions with government support have nearly killed the sector. Growth has also sapped due to a deficit in infrastructure investment and an incredibly protectionist atmosphere.” India’s robust air travel demand, adds the operator, is key to drawing AirAsia and other investors to the domestic aviation story. Today, India is the 9th largest civil aviation market in the world and ranks fourth in domestic passenger volumes with a market worth US $12bn. As per AAI, passenger handling capacity has risen two-


Go Now : Developments FERNANDES CHECKS INTO INDIAN HOSPITALITY AS WELL AirAsia CEO Malaysian-Indian Anthony Francis Fernandes, better known as Tony, is the son of a Goan father and spent part of his childhood in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata. Here, he ‑attended La Martiniere School where he had as his peer fellow aviation player Vijay Mallya of Kingfisher Airlines. At the age of 12, Fernandes was packed off to a boarding school in England, where he witnessed, first hand, the entry of no-frills airlines into the market through Sir Freddie Laker’s Skytrain airline. He only had to put up 27 cents in 2001 when he bought the entity that has today morphed into Asia’s largest low-cost airline. Interetsingly, Fernandes also worked briefly with Virgin Atlantic as an auditor, subsequently becoming the financial controller for Richard Branson’s Virgin Records in London from 1987 to 1989. Aviation was not Fernandes’s first calling af t er a degr ee f r om the London School of Economics. On his return to Malaysia, Fernandes took charge of Warner Music’s South- East Asian affairs until the merger with AOL inspired him to pursue his dream. The AirAsia chief bought a failed governmentowned airline and began the task of set ting afloat the sunken ship. Within a year, he turned the organization around by aggressively undercutting the former monopoly operator Malaysian Airlines with promotional fares. Along the way, Fernandes also started a no- frills hotel chain, Tune Hotels, which eventually evolved into the Tune Group. As a double whammy, the AirAsia honcho is also bringing his hotel chain “Tune” to India, an attempt at diversifying his business interests in Asian markets. Tune has floated 60:40 joint venture with IL&FS-backed Apodis Hospitality to open 22 hotels in the first phase. The first property will come up in the western city of Ahmedabad later this year. Tune claims to offer “five-star beds at one-star prices”. In India, the group will offer room tariff at $50 a night or even lower. Interestingly, Tune will compete directly with the Tata group’s budget hotel chain Ginger which has 26 properties currently. Tune will be a part of a growing list of global as well as Indian hospitality chains that are augmenting their footprint in India where increasing disposable incomes and a growing number of domestic and international travelers are propelling demand for hotel rooms. India currently suffers from a deficit of rooms in the mid-priced rooms segment. The country’s total room inventory is estimated at about 1,20,000 which is about 30 per cent less than the current demand (and significantly less than China’s), intensifying the demand-supply inequity.

AIRASIA’S INDIAN CONNECTION AirAsia’s airline partner, the Tata group, is India’s best-known global brand and straddles operations in more than 80 countries across six continents. This will be the conglomerate’s second foray into the aviation segment after the late JRD Tata launched Tata Airlines in 1932, which was nationalized in 1953 to form Air India. The AirAsia tie-up also signifies 44-year-old Cyrus Pallonji Mistry’s first big ticket project after becoming group chairman last December after Ratan Naval Tata, 75, Chairman Emeritus of the Tata Group vacated the slot after 21 years at the group’s helm. Ironically, Ratan Tata, had recently expressed his disenchantment with the country’s aviation sector because of “destructive competition”. Though the Tata Group holds nearly 6 percent equity in SpiceJet, it considers itself as only a “financial investor” in the budget carrier. The Tatas had explored returning to the sector at least twice in the past two decades, when it joined hands with Singapore Airlines, first to float a new airline, and then, to bid for Air India. But the Indian government’s vacillation and political roadblocks scuppered its plans.

fold from 72 million in 2006 to 173 million in 2012. Indian aviation sector is likely to see investments of up to US $150bn by 2015. ICRA, a leading credit and ratings agency estimates that the Indian aviation sector is poised for 11 per cent growth this year. Increasing liberalization in aviation policies is leading to greater private sector participation. Private operators are expected to contribute more than three-fourth of total investments in the next five years, says a FICCI-KPMG report.

ICRA, a leading credit and ratings agency estimates that the Indian aviation sector is poised for 11 per cent growth this year. Over the last half decade, the sector has seen sub-10 per cent annual growth rate on a compounded basis. It is anticipating greater demand for air travel in the coming years due to a combination of factors like higher disposable incomes, exponential growth in industry and loosening of protectionist controls. by NEETA LAL

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LEISURE : DESTINATION

WAFFLES, WATERWAYS AND WANDERERS Flanders is Belgium’s very own fairytale hideaway. KRISHNARAJ IYENGAR wanders through four Flemish jewels.

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n insomniac musician on an eight-hour night flight can mean two things...boredom, or the birth of creative inspiration. For me, it was ginger ale, pretzels and a noisy Egyptian movie through the night, and as I watched the sun rise as a bright yellow streak cutting through the blue and amber stratosphere from the half-open aircraft window, the spiritually enlivening early morning Raga Ahir Bhairav by legend Pt. Bhimsen Joshi from the in-flight entertainment had my chakras revved-up for a day enriched by classicism.

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Central Station, Antwerp

ANTWERP AHOY

Busy market place, Antwerp

A smooth touch-down at Brussels and a short drive, and I was in Antwerp, a town of medieval wonders, diamonds and classical art. A quick bite of chocolate muffins and coffee readied me for a relaxing stroll through the cobbled streets of the town, occasionally bumping into Gujarati diamond merchants greeting me with the familiar ‘Aai aai bhaila!’ ( come come brother!) a melodious contrast to the sturdy Flemish spoken around town! One of Antwerp’s principle attractions is none other than the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady, a haven for the devout and for passionate lovers of classical art. Home to some of the greatest masterpieces of Biblical Art by Flemish legend Peter Paul Reubens, a visit to the Cathedral leaves both connoisseurs as well as lay people tearful and awestruck with a certain aliveness that dawns on them from the deeper realms of consciousness. Beholding the sheer grandeur of Reuben’s works reminded me of how renowned Jewish scholar Sofer Sharon Binyamin had once explained that one of the greatest ways of attaining the divine was through honing and expressing ones innate creative gifts as that brings the zenith of one’s sincerity, one of the most fundamental pillars of devotion. Few could have been as blessed as to spiritually evolve to the level on which Ruebens expressed his soul through his art. In The Raising of the Cross, Assumption of the Virgin Mary, The Descent from the Cross to name a few, each Biblical event

A clown entertaining kids

seemed alive, as if recorded on a movie camera thousands of years back, each character seemed to be breathing on canvas, like is said about every great master, ‘though he is gone, his spirit lives through his work’! Reubens’ house, known in Flemish as Reubenshuis, a sprawling mansion with a picturesque courtyard, a studio and several of his other works including a self-portrait revealed that unlike many other medieval European masters, Reubens was quite wealthy and was surrounded by ample luxury. A refreshing contrast to Antwerp’s medieval avatar are its ultramodern shopping areas where boutiques with international brands attract hoards of young Europeans with the passion to splurge. Being built on the upper estuary of the Scheldt, Antwerp boats of a port accessible to capesize ships, a thoroughfare for sailors of diverse nationalities and background. Evening strolls at the marina at Antwerp Port with its line of myriad yachts is a tranquil treat. Antwerp’s Central Station is another classic in the town’s repertoire of charming leitmotifs, endowed with an exhilarating magnetism with its grand old clock, stoneclad terminus buildings, a large dome above the waiting area and a massive iron and glass train shed. Considered to be the finest example of railway architecture in Belgium, the Central Station, built between 1895 and 1905 is a rendezvous spot for trains to and from several European destinations. A certain warmth and positivity of the place was a Buddhaesque experience as I sat and watched life go by, just observing my breath! March 2013 GO NOW

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LEISURE : DESTINATION THE VENICE OF THE NORTH The clikaticlack of a sturdy steed on a cobbled street…. sounds quite like a Robert Frost masterpiece doesn’t it? Well, I would not mind presuming that one of them was unfolding before me, a town as if designed as a depiction of the legendary poet’s imagi-

Couple on a bicycle, Bruges

nation! Known as ‘The Venice of the North’ for its innumerable scenic canals, I was , as rightly commented by a young Portuguese couple I met on a boat cruise, ‘worthy of felicitation’ for being probably the only single male around Bruges, a honeymooner’s poet’s and writer’s paradise with just a homemade single-stringed fiddle for company! Walking around Bruges reveals an Eden on earth, verdant spaces with swans r ubbing on your feet, the sound of lapping water, street musicians play ing my s t ic a l s ound s enveloping the air, wayside cafes serving mouth-watering waffle varieties and local delicacies and quaint flea markets selling some of the cutest articles

under the sun right from wooden swords, Halloween masks, out of tune guitars, ornate crockery to LP records of Elvis, Duke Ellington and exquisite wooden toys. Romantic as it can get, Bruges was as if out of a classic by legendary Persian poet Omar Khayyam: “Dar fasl e bahaar, agar boti hoor seresht Yek saaghar e mey dehad maraa, lab kesht Har chand be nazd e aameh in baashad zesht Sag beh ze man ast, agar baram naam e behesht” In springtime, if a maiden fair Brought me a goblet full in a verdant field It may sound blasphemous to the ignorant herd But even a dog is better than me, if I then think of paradise! A tour of Bruges’s famous De Haalve Maan Brewery is a fine insight into the making of the country’s favorite drink concluding in a hearty binge! A selection of sought-after black chocolates with original Ugandan and South American ingredients add a touch of class to the Belgian beer soiree.

Boat cruise, Bruges

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Fairytale land, Bruges

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LEISURE : DESTINATION

GOOD OL’GHENT Another chapter in the Belgian fairytale is the quaint university town of Ghent, effervescing with the spirit of youth round the year, home to immigrants from the world over including a few hundred Indian fami-

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lies. Summertime in Ghent calls for bicycle sojourns and like many ardent travelers say “the best way to find your way around, is to loose it”, I bike-away, disappearing into Ghent’s charming alleyways praying to loose my way! Divine eavesdropping had me practice all the languages I had possibly learnt right from Arabic, Spanish, to a smattering

of Turkish, and Swahili to finally find my way through the merry-go-round of Ghent’s scenic locales! One can often find policemen cruising on bicycles as well! Known to be a crimefree city, there is not much for them to look out for anyway! “Even walking home at the oddest hours, I’ve never felt unsafe.” smiles Freya, a young student. For a Flemish fine dining treat, Ghent’s


Boats for tourists lined up along a Cannal, Ghent

A Belgian waffles shop, Ghent

City Square, Ghent

world renowned Belga Queen offers culinary seduction with an array of seafood delights like Salmon marinated with Rodenbach (Belgian Beer) and herbs, mild mustard sauce, blintz and sour cream, the sublime Risotto with wild mushrooms and Bellie from Ghent for vegetarians paired with exotic international wine varietals. Listening to masterful renditions by international music monarchs right from Isa Sow of West Africa to the young and chirpy Asha Bhosle and Pt.Ravi Shankar in his hey days at Fnac, Ghent’s world music store was the elating icing on the cake! March 2013 GO NOW

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A square in Brussels

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The Big Ben, Mini Europe, Brussels

BONJOUR BRUSSELS The swanking swish of brand new BMWs, high heels strutting-up a fine rhythm on the smooth marble of a plush five star, the fragrance of a vintage Pinot Noir and the elegant eloquence of French whispers, I was stunned into another world! Belgium’s capital was a mind-boggling kaleidoscope of contrasts, from Flemish to cutting-edge French, but uniquely enriching. As a melodious mix of international languages fills the air around downtown every evening, I often blushed at the charming “Vous parlez vraiment bien francais monsieur” (you speak French really well sir) by blue-eyed waitresses from Southern France at local cafes, noticing an Indian being fluent in the city’s lingua franca. Spending a few hours at Mini Europe, a fascinating theme park unveils the myriad colors of the European Union of which Brussels is the capital, with realistic miniature models depicting all of its member countries. While the musical instrument museum with 3000 odd exhibits from the world over had me Alice in Wonderland, the Grand Place, Brussels’ principle landmark and city square attracts thousands from across the globe for its architectural marvels ; the town

factfile Jet Airways has direct non-stop flights to Brussels from Mumbai and Delhi. From Brussels, Antwerp is a short drive, and so is each of the above mentioned town from the other. Walking and cycling are the best ways to explore Flemish towns though trams, taxis and busses do function. Though Flemish is the language spoken in Flanders, French in Brussels, English is widely spoken and understood.

‘La Maison Des Maitres Chocolatiers’ finest Belgian chocolates, Brussels

hall, the Maison du roi ( kings house) and the guildhalls. To immerse myself in symphonic salvation, I head to the La Boite a Musique classical music store, the depth and the subtle healing touch of the compositions of Flemish composers was soul nourishing. An integral part of Brussels’ multicultural mosaic are its Jews. The formidable, old Jewish Synagogue is among the city’s most famous monuments where one can spot worshippers of all ages wearing large black hats or colorful Kippahs (skull cap) heading for prayers. En fin, a culinary journey back to India at La Porte Des Indes with the most authentic crispy Bhajiyas, Nawabi Biryanis and sumptuous Samosas had the freshness in flavors I had seldom tasted back home. Kishoreda’s “Mere Mehboob”, Rafi’s “Aaj mausam” and Asha’s “Kaali ghata Chhaai” were the icing on the desi cake! March 2013 GO NOW

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MUMBO ISLAND PARADISE, MALAWI

With the best of natural beauty this place is a perfect getaway in the lap of nature. Entirely set across the beach, here you get everything with a natural touch... Enjoy the heaven on earth. 28

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LEISURE : DESTINATION

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aradise is a tiny uninhabited island, covered in green forest, circled with clear warm turquoise water which teems with bright topical fish, and with a tiny fourteen bed camp looked after by seven delightful staff who cater to your every need. This is Mumbo Island in Lake Malawi National Park. From the moment you arrive at Kayak Africa’s thatched, lakeshore reception compound, shaded by its vast Tamarind tree, the world becomes a place devoted to your happiness. You are met by smiling faces, led to an airy lounge overlooking the sparkling blue lake. You board a delightful chugging boat and cruise off into the blue, sipping a chilled drink as you drift by the green shrouded island of Thumbi and then across

miles of water, poled by the odd fisherman in his dugout, to Mumbo, which lies ten kilometres offshore. You putt into the island’s tiny bay, with its transparent water lapping huge, rounded granite boulders and bump the rickety wooden jetty, and you are met by the smiling island staff who welcome you and show you around their island – it really feels like another world. Your tent is huge – placed on a wooden, stilted platform and shaded by a high thatched roof, it overlooks the lake and a bright hammock swings invitingly, making it hard to think about anything but lying there gazing at that incredible view. And you can do just that – or chose to be more energetic, making use of the kayaks or snorkel gear to discover more of this tiny

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Snorkelling at Mumbo island

Tent Deck

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Bathroom with all modern amenities


Romantic candlelit dinner

island’s charms. Mumbo Island is only three kilometres in circumference, and it only takes an hour to paddle around it, discovering its beautiful coves and granite outcrops. Snorkelling in the bay feels like swimming in a giant aquarium – myriad brightly coloured Chiclids dart around you as you drift along. Or you could settle yourself on one of the beach loungers dotting the little white beach, or in the shady thatched lounge and just relax. Three delicious meals are served daily in the open thatched dining room, but otherwise your time is your own.

This is a unique Malawian gem – and the owners have paid tribute to this, unlike many upmarket lodges in Africa, by keeping almost all the décor locally made and sourced: the cane, wood, reeds, grass and local cloth are stylish and comfortable. Special touches like glass bottles with wooden frog stoppers, water bottles and drinking glasses made from green wine bottles are both beautiful and “green”. Much of the fresh produce used for the delicious meals is sourced from village growers and vendors – imagine the “egg man” who cycles through the village every day with his pile of egg boxes reaching above his head – these come out on the boat to make your breakfast omelette and the famous carrot and Amarula cake for dinner’s dessert. The charm of Mumbo lies in both its abundant natural beauty and the sensitivity in which the camp is built into its surroundings without harming or affecting them. If the camp were to be removed, within one season, all traces of human habitation would be erased. For the guest, every comfort is supplied, but there is nothing excessive or unnecessary here – you tread lightly in this paradise and it feels so very good in every way.

factfile Getting There: Fly to Malawi on South African Airways, Kenya Airways or Ethiopian Airways. Then by road to Mumbo Island on Lake Malawi Bookings: letsgo@kayakafrica.com +27 (0)21 783 1955 www.mumboisland.com www.kayakafrica.com

Text & photo courtesy MALAWI TOURISM

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NICHE TRAVEL : WINE TOURISM

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ANDSCAPED BEAUTY

The panoramic Romantic Route winds and meanders just past the historic medieval fortress town of Rothenburg Ob der Tauber leading on to lush territory that pretty picture post cards are made of. Driving up the gentle slopes through neatly etched vineyards, viridian meadows and protected woodlands, we reach a hillock with a farm hut, it’s balcony looking out to stunning vistas. Franconia is one of Germany’s well nurtured secrets as a boutique wine region growing unique grape varietals is quite unknown to most outside Europe. The unique labels created in this very small, boutique

wine paradise find discreet patronage among ardent wine lovers who keenly appreciate their strikingly intrinsic bouquets and enticing flavours. On the balcony ledge we familiarized ourselves with the striking trademark stocky, curvaceous bottles of Franken (Franconian) wines that displayed remarkable floral aromas. Tauberhase vineyards nurtured by ace award-winning gourmet cuisine celebrity Christian Mittermeier cultivate some of southern Germany’s leit-motif grape varietals – Sylvaner, which set them apart with their intrinsic attributes. A liberal spread of Bergkase (fresh Bavarian mountain cheese) and piping hot grilled vegetables enhanced

FABLED FAIRYTALE FRANCONIA

In the heart of the Romantic Route in Southern Germany is this petite, picture postcard wine region of perfumed wines, stunning vistas and un-spoilt beauty. Kishore & Smita Iyengar quaff some of the finest boutique edition wines here.

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NICHE TRAVEL : WINE TOURISM our wine tastings. The perfectly chilled, outstanding 2008 Weingut Stoerlein & Krenig Silvaner ‘Tradition’ trocken (dry) white wine was exceptional deep floral notes of juniper with light lily, grapefruit flavours gong to a soft citrus back palate. Spanning the gorgeous Taubertal Valley and undulating lush green vineyards carpeting the countryside, the young wine seemed to play pastoral symphonies, almost. The cheery, fruity, floral and generously light superlative Sylvaner is in our opinion, easily the most generously opulent and flexible, delightfully dry white wine in the world with genteel acidity with it’s unmistakably pure natural flavours. Steffen our host from

Mittermeier’s Tauberhase vineyards poured us another bouquet, a unique 2008 Tauberschwarz Franken Trocken (dry) wine. Fresh floral notes of grapefruit, berry and green bamboo were persistently thrilling, the bouquet displaying notes of freshly snipped rose petals enlightened the winter noon.

VINEYARD WONDERS We were quite excited about our next Franken wine that is enjoyed with authentic Bavarian cuisine. Weingut Rudolf Furst 2008 Silvaner ‘Pur Mineral’ dry white presented a rose, heather and water lily nose, the natural light, sweetness just a bit teasing, going onto drier, light lemon and pear flavours. The

charcoal-covered mountain cheese paired rightly fine! To crown our distinguished goblet tryst that afternoon, we went along with a pleasant surprise awaiting us in a vintage, limited edition Tauberhase 2006 South African Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon. The Mittermeier family owns vineyards in South Africa’s Cape Wine Region and this jewel was an inspiration from that celebrated region. The valley seemed to call out to us in silent magnanimity, we raised a golden toast to the natural canvas.

OUTSTANDING FLAVOURS Tiny Franconia packs in unusual surprises. Select Boutique Tauberhase Wines, Franconia

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Magical Castell Vineyards, Castell, Franconia

Wine over the Valley, Tauberhase Vineyards, Tauber Valley, Franconia 34

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Our brief stopover turned out to be an extended awareness into Franconian wine tastings at Coburg’s ‘Wein Ortell’. This over the century retain outlet-cum-tasting havencum-underground ‘Weinkeller’ (wine cellar) stocks some of the finest white Franken labels. Eight white tastings later it needed a quaff of the celebrated Spaetburgunder’ (Pinot Noir) red stock to neutralize our palates! Franconia’s other varietals include Riesling, Schwarzriesling (Pinot Meunierused in Champagne), the mid-acidic Muller Thurgau, Bacchus, Kerner, Dornfelder, Weiserburgunder (white Pinot), Domina and Spaetburgunder and Blauer Portugueser (Blue Portuguesa). The very tiny Franconian hamlet of Ramsthal with it’s extra high spiraling church hardly looked the location for a modern boutique winery. But Baldauf Winery (Weingut Baldfauf) was important to our Franken thirst! Within swank interiors of their tasting room we made a sweet beginning with


NICHE TRAVEL : WINE TOURISM their honeysuckle, vanilla and peony flavored signature wine, the Baldauf Gold Medal 2008 Clees Bacchus Spaetlese – sensitively crafted, sweetly balanced, butter smooth. The superb 2009 Schwarzriesling, dry white wine was heightened with mellow tangerine, wild grass and celery palate. The nose was uplifting, -lily and lemony whiffs that lingered on. Their much awarded premium-rated red 2008 Baldauf ‘Domina trocken’ -a unique blend of Portuguesa and Spaetburgunder was a fantastic, very dry red cuvee that had earthy, burnt wood notes with striking tobacco, clove and oak wood aftertastes. Our concluding tastings had two outstanding labels, -the award-winning ‘Baldauf 2008 Clees Riesling Spaetlese with hints of peach fruit, lime with mild acidity and grassy bouquets. The Baldauf 2008 super classy Pinot Noir Dry (Spaetburgunder trocken) with mild peppery and cassis flavors complemented by dark ruby tones and wild mushroom-leather nose. We cruised past old water mills on the Tauber river, cheery beer gardens that rent the air with mirth and laughter. The Romantic Route is best enjoyed slow and easy, as the wines play magic on your senses.

Classy Limited Edition Weingut Baldauf Wines, Ramsthal, Franconia

BLUE BLOOD CLASS The drive to tiny Castell the hilltop village in Franconia was sprinkled with teasing seasonal showers soaking up the inclined vineyards into a brilliance of zillion greens. We drove into the world famous Castell Winery. The illustrious centuries-old Castell family is also reputed worldwide as pioneers in Banking, agriculture and their well known global brand ‘Faber & Castell’. A wholesome wine tasting sojourn here offered us some of the finest labels in the Franconian wine legacy. The summery light white -2008 Schloss Casteller Bausch Mueller Thurgau - Kabinett Trocken (dry), the 2009 Casteller Silvaner Kabinett (premium) were truly, outstandingly dry and aromatic numbers. Known globally for their exceptional award-winning ‘Good Growth’ – GG Schlossberg Silvaner (GG-is the official hallmark of finest certification in wines from premium grape stock) both labels offered grand floral notes matched with lingering grapefruit, passion fruit 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,

green bamboo and white rose bouquets. But the bespoke Castell finesse in fine vintage wines emerged in their grand reds, – the 2007 Spaetburgunder Trocken, their 2008 Reitsteig and the innovative 2008 Castell Cuvee blend. Worthy of scrutiny and appreciation were their striking leather, tannin-powered scent, cedar and pine aromas with the peppery finish of Pinot Noir. Our wine motivator from Castell, KarlHeinz Rebitzer maneuvered his 4WD onto hairpin vineyard slopes above the village into rolling clouds and the grassy, earthy fragrance of vine rows guarded by red and white rose stems soaking up drizzle. We saluted our Castell sojourn with an out-

standing ‘Casteller Kugelspiel Silvaner 2007 Eiswein (Ice wine) with vanilla and honey notes and mesmerizing nectarine, chocolate and lemon rind hints lingering back palate. A local blue-vein cheese from Cheesery Sennerei in the Alpine Allgau region was a perfect blend. We back to Munich for lunch and to the fabled underground medieval ‘Ratskeller’ – Town Hall cellars in the heart of the city. As we reminisced, we knew that the magical Franconian sunshine contained in the unique ‘Bocksbeutel’ (goat’s scrotum)shaped wine bottles would never cease to fascinate us. ‘Zum Wohl’ we murmured with smiles on our faces. March 2013 GO NOW

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NICHE TRAVEL : BOUTIQUE

DESIGNER HOTELS

Check in to your favourite fashion house’s hotel in some of the best destinations of the world. Fashion houses are now here to pamper you with their luxurious hospitality. From Milan to Dubai, Bali to Jamaica, the top couturiers of the world have come up with luxurious hotels under their brand names.

Bulgari Villa, Bulgari Hotel, Bali

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NICHE TRAVEL : BOUTIQUE Bulgari Hotel, Bali Located on a calm isolated plateau near the mythological cliff, Uluwatu in Bali, the Bulgari Hotels & Resorts is a luxurious treat to the eyes. It is a perfect combination of the traditions of Bali perfectly coupled with Italian style. Playing host to around 59 well appointed lavish villas with an ocean view, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts serve you with the best amenities you can think of. The reception welcomes you to the world of leisure at Bulgari Resorts in Bali. The reception is very artistically made up from

hand cut volcanic stone which gives it a very traditional touch. The location of this resort is such that you can enjoy some of the best sunrise and sunset moments. Along with this, the resort also has access to a private stretch of the beach where you can go with the help of a cable car. The furniture used in the property is exclusive and goes perfectly well with the lush setting of the place. It is the perfect place for a romantic getaway with your loved one. The villas are luxurious, elegant, spacious and very attractive, set up within the volcanic stone walls of the resort. The villas look more appealing with the scenic beauty adding on to their splendor. These private heavens are set up in an area of about 300 to 500 square meters. The bedrooms are overlooking the Indian Ocean whereas the pool and the garden of the villa look southwards to the sea. Bulgari Villa is the most expensive and luxurious of all the villas in the resort. Having an elevated position in the resort, it has the best view from all sides. It spans across 1300 square meters and covers almost two levels. To serve your appetite, Bulgari Resorts has three amazing restaurants namely, Sangkar, La Spiaggia and Il Ristorante. Set up

in a very beaufactfile tiful setting with bamboo Bulgari Hotel, Bali Jalan Goa Lempeh, cages, Sangkar Banjar Dinas Kangin serves Indone- Uluwatu, Bali 80364 – sian, Asian and Indonesia inter nat iona l Price: Starting at ` 40,486 per night cuisines with a Tel: 62 361 8471000 modern touch. www.bulgarihotels.com Whereas Il Ristorante would treat you with delectable traditional Italian cuisine served in a very creative style. Il Ristorante has a very formal ambience in comparison to Sangkar which is more casual and informal. La Spiaggia is a private sea side restaurant where you can relish grilled sea food topped up with some amazing combinations of cocktails. The Resort also has a welcoming bar added to its beautiful scenery. It is a very elegant place with a touch of style and glamour. The bar serves some of the best wines from all around the world. The essence of the rich mahogany woods and the breathtaking scenic view with luxurious furniture setting surrounded by the volcanic stones gives you a calm and warm environment to relax.

Spa, Bulgari Hotel, Bali

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Le Jardin, Lobby lounge, Palazzo Versace, Australia

Palazzo Versace, Australia Gianni Versace’s commitment to luxury and fashion has inspired the House of Versace to develop the best fashion trends all over the world. Taking it a step further, they were the first ones to develop a hotel owned by a fashion house. The hotel reflects the style and designs of the Versace House of Fashion in every corner, from the floors, to the cushions, ceilings and walls. Arranged in a luxurious style, the hotel boasts of 200 well lit and spacious rooms and suites. Catering you with the best possible option as per your need, the hotel has around seven categories of rooms and suites and also has two bedroom and three bedroom condominiums for families looking for long stays. The rooms perfectly define the style and elegance of Versace, the vibrant colors, rich textures coupled perfectly with bespoke furnishings. Bright, bold and beau-

factfile Hotel Palazzo Versace, Australia Sea World Drive (PO Box 137), Main Beach QLD 4217 Australia Price: starting at ` 22,000 per night Tel: 61 7 5509 8000 www.palazzoversace.com.au

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tiful are the perfect words to describe the Broadwater Suite. This suite is named so as it gives you a great view of the Broadwater to add to the calmness and serenity of the room. Imperial Suite/Room, Lagoon Suite/ Room, and Deluxe Suite are a few more luxurious categories of rooms for you to unwind. Dining at Palazzo Versace is another dimension added to the glorious Hotel. Having award-winning restaurants serving some of the best cuisines from all over the world, you can expect a delectable treat. The fine dining restaurant, Vanitas serves you with an amazing dining experience accompanied by great service. The décor of this restaurant describes the different phases of Gianni Versace’s life with the help of huge paintings. Le Jardin, the lobby lounge is the perfect place for your informal meetings over cocktails and high teas. Enjoy all day dining at the elegant and contemporary setting of Il Barocco. Savor the Australian cuisine with various other international flavors in the classic Versace décor of the cool and airy Il Barocco. Relish the contemporary cuisine at Vie Bar & Restaurant while relaxing and overlooking the private marina of Versace Palazzo Hotel. You can enjoy very different and unique china setting in each restaurant and dining

area of the hotel adding an essence to every gastronomic experience of yours. Aurora spa retreats, the most relaxing and world renowned spa welcomes you to loosen up your mind, body and soul in its calm surroundings. The spa treatment menu includes an extensive range of relaxing steams, body massages and facials for your perusal. The hotel also boasts of an exotic water salon, fitness and wellbeing centre along with various meeting areas for your formal and informal events.

Armani Hotel, Dubai Armani, the brand known for luxury, sophistication and elegance serves you with the same philosophy at their hotel. Promising a home-away-from-home experience, Armani Hotels would treat you the way Giorgio Armani would extend hospitality to his family and friends. Indulge in luxury at Armani Hotels, which offers 160 guest rooms and suites for their visitors. The unique hospitality concept at the hotel provides its guests with a comfortable stay and relaxed mind state. The rooms are available in various categories from Armani Deluxe room, Armani Classic room to luxurious suites like, Armani Ambassador Suite,


NICHE TRAVEL : BOUTIQUE Armani Signature Suite, Armani Dubai Suite and a lot more. Located at the level 39 of the hotel and designed personally by Giorgio Armani, the one of a kind Armani Dubai Suite is an epitome of luxury and style. Welcoming you with a unique circular entrance hall, this suite offers great services, a private pantry and amazing views of the city, the Arabian Gulf and much more. The fully equipped Armani Ambassador Suite is another treat to the eyes. These suites are located on the level 5 and 6 of the hotel, giving its guests a relaxing time to enjoy with family and friends. The lush push rooms are furnished with high class furniture, beddings and toiletries to add on to the glamour of the rooms and suites of the hotel. If you are looking for luxurious stay with your family for an extended period of time, then Armani Residences are the perfect option for you. Located in the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa they are an extension to Giorgio Armani’s world of hospitality. Giorgio Armani’s innovative approach to hospitality with a hint of luxury added to it is what is reflected at each restaurant of the ho-

tel. Savor delectable cuisines at the fine dine opulent restaurants and dining area of the Armani Hotel, Dubai. Have fun and relax over chit chat with friends, the Armani Lounge while overlooking the magnificent Dubai Fountain and relishing some light meals. Cuisines like Mediterranean, Italian, Japanese

factfile Armani Hotel, Dubai Sheikh Zayed Rd - Dubai - United Arab Emirates Price: starting at ` 36,700 per night Tel: +971 4 888 3888 www.dubai.armanihotels.com

Armani Hotel, Dubai

Armani Ristorante, Armani Hotel, Dubai

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NICHE TRAVEL : BOUTIQUE and Indian are exclusively served at the regional style restaurants of the hotel, Armani Mediterraneo, Armani Ristorante, Armani Hashi and Armani Amal respectively. Along with these, the hotel also would love to serve you with an authentic Deli experience at Armani Peck which is a paradise for foodies. Enjoy the glamour of Milan’s exclusive Armani Prive lounge in Dubai at Armani Hotel. It is the perfect party destination where you can have a rocking time with your friends over cocktails and great music. Pamper your body with a customized sensory experience at the Armani Spa. The pleasurable spa therapies and services available at the spa will relax your mind, release pain out of your body and restore internal balance. The hotel has a perfect venue for you to host your formal and informal events from a business meeting to a wedding. Also, you can take home a souvenir of the Armani lifestyle from the exclusive retail outlet of Giorgio Armani at the hotel.

Round Hill Hotel & Villas, Jamaica Get in sync with nature and enjoy the serenity of Jamaica at the Round Hill hotel & Villas. Enjoy the warm Jamaican hospitality in an idyllic setting of luxurious services with style at this hotel. The hotel is located in a very picturesque part of Jamaica. Spread over a 110 acre peninsula, this lush green resort is surrounded by pristine waters of the Caribbean Sea. The hotel boasts of various categories of accommodations for its guests to unwind at. The Pineapple House, renovated and designed by Ralph Lauren entails 36 luxurious oceanfront rooms with a serene sunset view. These rooms have been very artistically designed to induce a feeling of tropical living in the guests. Keeping in mind, the flavor of the island, the rooms have been decorated in white color with a vibrant dash of pinks and blues. The upholstered furniture used in the rooms is from the Ralph Lauren house of fashion which adds on to the beauty of the well groomed rooms.

factfile Round Hill Hotel & Villas, Jamaica Hanover Parish, Jamaica Price: starting at ` 16,119 per night Tel: 1(800) 972-2159   www.roundhill.com

If you are looking to experience the luxury of a villa but still wish to have a private space, then you can rent out a villa suite in any of the 27 plush private villas by Round Hill Hotel & Villas. It also features complete Villas for your stay. You can choose the villa as per your requirements as these extensive villas range from two to six bedrooms. Relax and enjoy your stay at the villas which has a dedicated staff working up to serve you. Along with this, most of the villas also have a magnificent villa pool for you to have fun. For dining out in a cool Jamaican style, you can relish some appetizing food at renowned restaurants and bar of the hotel. Serving the best dishes in Montego Bay, The Grill at round Hill serves you whole day long with international and Jamaican cuisine. It is an elevated restaurant where you can have a nice time overlooking the sea. Seaside Terrace Restaurant is another place to relish amazing dishes in a romantic setting. The resort also hosts special themed buffet nights for its guests to relish different flavors of Jamaica. The resort also serves you startling cocktails in their pool and beach bars which also have dinning services. Transform your mind, body and soul to the next level of relaxation by experiencing the special Spa at Round Hill. Located on 10 acres of beachfront lawn, you can feel a philosophical healing within yourself while indulging into luxury at the tropical lagoons and beach pools. To add fun to your stay at Round Hill Hotel & Villas, the resort has a number of recreational activities that you can take part in. These ranges from Aquatics, Tennis, Golf, and a lot more local excursions like Horseback riding, Dolphin coves, etc. weddings and honeymoons are the perfect moments to celebrate in Jamaica with the Round Hill Hotel & Villas.

Hotel Missoni, Edinburgh

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A landmark of luxury and style on the Royal Mile of Edinburgh, Hotel Missoni is distinctively beautiful and iconic. Located in the heart of the Scottish capital, Hotel Missoni


Room, Hotel Missoni, Edinburgh

Reception, Hotel Missoni, Edinburgh

greets you with the warmth of Rosita Missoni’s personal style of family hospitality. With the essence of designer details and artistic touch added to the hotel, it serves its guests with the perfect hospitality and glamour. Playing a perfect host to a total of 136 guest rooms and suites, Hotel Missoni has four different categories of rooms to serve you with. A perfect setting for single travelers, the hotel has Piccolo rooms which has

brilliant colors and artworks in its interiors. Complimented with luxurious amenities, Missoni robes, sheets and many more products, it adds on to the stylish room. To enjoy Missoni’s signature use of colors, try out the Missoni room which perfectly describes the true style of Missoni by its name. Overlooking the thrilling cityscape, Maggiore is another option of all rooms with a unique design and luxurious space and bed. The most fascinating room of all, the grandioso room offers an exclusive design and can accommodate up to three people comfortably. If you are looking for more luxurious stay and experience the best of all, then you can choose from the options available in the suites of the hotel. The suites are designed keeping in mind the Missoni aesthetics and the use of vibrant colors very artistically and attractively. Starting from the trademark Missoni Suite, the hotel has many more categories of these luxurious suites like Lawnmarket Suite, Rosa suite and the Suite d’ Argento. Serving you the best Italian prepared with ingredients from Italy, Cucina the heart of Hotel Missoni would cater to your gastronomic needs. Turning every meal into a memorable time, Cucina is very elegantly decorated with

factfile Hotel Missoni, Edinburgh 1 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1AD, UK Price: starting at ` 10,185 per night Tel: +44 (0)131 2206666 www.hotelmissoni.com

exclusive Missoni patterned tableware. To compliment your mood with the food, the restaurant serves you with some best wines from all over the world. A hip happening place, the bar at Hotel Missoni is perfectly set with ultra glamorous interiors and great mix of cocktails and Italian bar food. Indulge in exclusive designer spa treatments at Hotel Missoni’s Spa to restore and replenish your spirits. Experience some exclusive spa treatments from the world class menu of seasonal and effective therapies. The most talked about rituals of all is the Diamond Lifting ritual which helps you in de stressing and relaxing. Add vibrating colors to your meetings and events by hosting them at Hotel Missoni. A VIP Boardroom, banquet named as Nero Bianco, private dining room and a breakout area to relax can cover all your requirements for hosting the perfect event for your friends, family or colleagues.! by NIKITA CHOPRA

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NICHE TRAVEL : WILDLIFE

PANNA & BANDHAVGARH

E

LIVING ON THE WILD SIDE

ven so, we’re particularly enamoured of Indian game parks. With their staggering variety of flora and fauna and a taste of local culture, they offer a well-rounded wilderness experience. The thrill of spotting a rare bird, stumbling upon the Big Five, chasing the Striped One… And then rounding it all off with a robust breakfast back at the hotel with enchanting fellow travellers. What could be better? Our recent escapade to Bandhavgarh and Panna tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh – the heart of India’s tiger land – scored pretty high on the excitement meter. The weeklong

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safari also included stays at earthy lodges/ resorts in the jungle’s innards which further heightened our sense of adventure. We began with Panna Tiger Reserve, a wildlife lover’s haven. The park sprawls across 542 sq km and is home to the tiger, panther, sloth bear, spotted deer, sambhar, the four-horned antelope, hyena and over 300 species of birds. Our 5 am safaris on two consecutive days brought us up close with the jungle’s enormous wealth, unearthly timings notwithstanding. After close encounters with the animals and the exotic vegetation, we would head straight for a vantage point

Safari holidays are absolute favourites with our family. Ergo, from roughing it out in Kenya’s Masai Mara game reserve to enjoying dingo movements across the Great Australian Outbacks to savoring the lush tropical-ness of Taman Negara in Malaysia, we’ve pretty much done the whole enchilada.


NICHE TRAVEL : WILDLIFE

Bandhavgarh National Park, a sprawling 400sq km reserve set in the heart of India, is known for its abundant sightings of Bengal tigers. The density of the tiger population here is one of the highest in the world. The park was the former hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa in India’s central state of Madhya Pradesh and is a famous natural hub for white tigers. It is said that Maharaja Raman Singh shot a stupendous 111 tigers here circa 1914! W hi t e t ig e r s, no w a maj o r a t t r a c t io n around the world’s zoos, were first discovered in Rewa, not far from here. The terrain is interspersed with rocky hill ranges, running roughly east-west, interspersed with grassy swamps and forested valleys. The reserve boasts a wonderful ecosystem that supports unique flora and fauna. It is the natural habitat of a variety of wildlife including the Indian bison, sloth bear, leopard, porcupine, wild boar and spotted deer, among others.

(usually a pretty hillock) to soak in a breathtaking sunrise. Not that we really needed to undertake these excursions. Our abode – the beautiful Ken River Lodge – located on a large slice of jungle along Ken River – offered us ample opportunities “to laze with the crocodiles and roar with the tigers”, as my 12-year-old daughter put it. Crocodiles and rare birds could even be spotted from the lodge’s treetop restaurant. So even as we tucked into piping hot paranthas, flavour-charged curries and adrak chai, we would watch the chortling Ken

River ripple past. The river’s pristine water – flowing through the ravines of the Vindhya mountains – is chockfull of plump fish and assorted wildlife. An exciting river cruise brought us up close to the slothful crocs lazing in the sun, their leathery bodies barely distinguishable from the river banks!

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ext stop: Bandhavgarh National Park. The park has one of the highest tiger densities in the world. Sightings of spotted deer, sambhar, barking deer, wild boar, jackals and a variety of birds too are fairly common here. The reserve apparently

Smack dab in the midst of the park is the Bandhavgarh Hill, rising 811m above sea level, surrounding which are sloping valleys. These valleys end in small, swampy meadows. Bandhavgarh was declared a national park in 1968, and the Indian government has taken many steps to preserve its wealth of flora and fauna to attract tourism.

is also white tiger terrain though unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any. We stay at the Tree House Hideaway – winner of many top accolades including the 12 Top Jungle Tree Houses on Earth Award by Sunday Times (UK). Having only read about tree houses in books as a kid, I must admit that the thought of staying in one along with the family amidst the jungle sent my adrenaline into a rush. We arrive at the Tree House Hideaway Resort on a cool spring morning and are instantly charmed by the property. It seems to have leaped straight out of Rudyard Kipling’s March 2013 GO NOW

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NICHE TRAVEL : WILDLIFE Jungle Book. All we need now, my husband jokes, are Tarzan-style aerial roots to swing from one tree house to another! Set amidst lush sal and bamboo forests and rolling grasslands, the Tree House is adjacent to the Bandhavgarh National Park famous for its rich flora and fauna and royal Bengal tigers. The property sprawls over 8.5ha and offers five exclusive tree houses crafted out of banyan, peepal, mahua, tendu and palash trees. Another 100-year-old mahua tree has the dining hall built around it. Interestingly, each house is constructed

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not just on a tree, but under and around it as well. It rests on stilts and the interiors are a fetching fusion of traditional jungle living with contemporary design. The spacious rooms are self-contained units geared to cater to entire families with modern attached bathrooms, 24-hours of hot and cold running water, a living area, mini bar, split ACs with 100% power back up, mosquito netting, writing table and chairs, and loungers in the balconies. Could we have asked for more? As we enter our tree house (Peepal), we

are floored by its decor. The room’s elegant accessories in earth tones strike a pleasant note. They try to be judicious in using natural resources as well to minimise environmental damage. Parts of the peepal tree’s trunk, I note, have been employed as a base for the bathroom’s washbasin while the gnarled branches that have thrust their way into the room, have been morphed into pegs to hang clothes/towels/hats. Each and every intricate detail of the interior – including the fan – carries the unmistakable jungle stamp! If you are so disposed, there are open-air showers overlooking the forest. Our two children, meanwhile, are having the time of their lives jumping up and down on the comfy beds. Their second most favoured activity seems to traipsing up and down the rustic staircase just to pat the 150-year-old peepal tree’s fat trunk that supports our tree house. All tree houses, our affable host Erwin Perdok tells us, have been made by the local staff using regularised wood. The nearby hamlet has a cluster of families engaged in small-scale agriculture or are employed by the resort. “Local craft knowledge and expertise has been tapped at every stage to ensure that the tree houses blend harmoniously with nature,” adds Perdok who relocated from the Netherlands just to work at the beautiful property with his partner Mareika. My own favourite spot at our tree house is the sit-out overlooking the forest. I find the space serene and spectacular at the same time. Animals could be viewed from here while sipping the fragrant morning tea and soaking in bird song. So meditative! Each tree house faces the tiger reserve and the Bandhavgarh Fort, a majestic structure rising up hundreds of meters that embody a glorious past. One could spend hours here, admiring the beauty of the forest with nary a soul to bother. Far from the madding crowd, as Thomas Hardy eloquently put it. Privacy is assured as all the five tree houses are positioned quite far apart. Interestingly, one evening as we sit enjoying the jungle’s expanse from our balconies, a loud thud on the roof sends us scurrying for cover. Apparently, a langur couple, in a fit of playful dalliance, landed on our rooftop! Upon sighting us, one skim off the chunky ceiling in a trice. And leaps to the uppermost branches of the tree. All this in a split second,


NICHE TRAVEL : WILDLIFE

even before we can whip out our cameras. Such encounters are, apparently, par for the course at the resort, the staff tells us. Only the protagonists change. Sometimes, it could be monkeys, other times squirrels or parrots, but mostly it is langurs. Not that we mind. Our son – enamoured of the precocious langur – is eager to know if we can carry it back as a pet. The little daughter, meanwhile, is incredulous as to why we can’t check into the tree house for an entire year! Another endearing part of the resort is its dining hall, which is constructed around a large, 100-year-old mahua tree at two levels. The upper level houses a bar while the ground serves as a cosy dining hall. Here, apart from tucking into hot Indian, Continental and barbeque meals tweaked to your requirements, you can also swap your safari stories with fellow diners. Ah, the safari! Excursions into the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve are organised twice a day at the property in four-wheel drive vehicles equipped with bucket seats, a picnic hamper and bottled water. Each tour is

guided by an English-speaking professional naturalist. You can also opt for elephant safaris if you like, provided the pachyderm’s slow and rollicking pace doesn’t bother you. Even though we don’t get lucky with tigers during our safari, the wealth of flora and fauna that we encountered – elephants, wild buffaloes, sloth bear, spotted deer, bison, crocs, eagles, cockatoos, countless rare birds and plants – is simply amazing. “The resort is proactive in its wildlife conservation initiative because we are in a wildlife-sensitive zone,” informs Manav Khanduja of Pugdundee Safaris which operates the Tree House Hideaway and a chain of lodges across central India. As a responsible operator, says Khanduja, the resort has minimised construction in the 8.5ha forest by building only five tree houses and accommodating no more than 10 guests at any one time. “We believe that responsible tourism can co-exist with and support wildlife,” he says. The resort also has a watering hole frequented by wild animals. We walk across

to the hole and encounter graceful sambars lapping up the cool water. Meanwhile, the accompanying naturalist regales us with tiger stories. One British guest, the guide informs us, was so alarmed at the sight of a tiger from the machan (vantage point on a tree to spot animals) that he leapt off it to run back to his room, leaving his wife to fend for herself. Another time, a tiger startled a group of visitors by prowling in their midst with a wounded and bleeding leg. Apparently he was hurt in a fight with another predator. The poor beast was later carried on a stretcher to the local hospital. To make one’s trip even more enriching, one can also experience the many other activities offered by the Tree House – like bird watching, village visits, bamboo-weaving workshops and excursions. Unfortunately, as we are scrunched for time, we have to head back home after a couple of days. In retrospect, perhaps my daughter’s idea of checking into the Tree House for an entire year is a wise one, after all!! Text & photos by NEETA LAL

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NICHE TRAVEL: ART

ART IN HOTELS Le Méridien hotels across the world are leading the way in transforming customer touch points with their strong association with art and the LM 100, a group of cultural innovators that are guiding the hotel brand develop a unique identity. It’s part of a growing trend in Indian hotels.

W

hile the growing presence of International hotel brands in India is threatening to create a sameness about hotel experiences there is a parallel wave of hotels that are trying to curate unique experiences that differentiate their hotels in a crowded marketplace. Hotels search for unique motifs that could draw inspiration from the city or region that they are located and aim to appeal to the different sensory elements that include touch, feel and even smell. From unique signature fragrances that waft through hotel lobbies, to innovative welcome drinks to high impact art works in lobbies, hotels are working hard on experiential elements that make an emo-

Lobby, Le Meridien, Coimbatore

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tional connection with their guests. Le Méridien, the quintessential French hotel brand was acquired by the Starwood group (That also owns iconic brands like the Sheraton, St Regis and Westin) in 2005 and provided a strong European flavour to the American hotel group. It also sparked a brand re-invention for the 100 plus Le Méridien hotels located in over 40 countries and a quest for a unique brand identity that would set it apart. The LM 100 has been one of the key elements in this game plan and is a global group of cultural innovators that span different age groups and diverse artistic fields that include art, architecture, cuisine and design spearhead by Le Méri-

dien’s Cultural Curator, Jérôme Sans. This distinguished group includes contemporary Chinese artist Chen Wenbo, wine expert Linda Grabe, coffee expert Andrea Illy, French composer Henri Scars Struck and award winning photographer Ralph Gibson. This band of talents offer creative inputs and develop interactive programs for Le Méridien hotels worldwide. Last year one of India’s most talented art duos – Jitin Thukral and Sumir Tagra became part of the LM 100 and were selected to create a unique arrival artwork for the Le Méridien hotel in New Delhi. Thukral and Tagra collaborate on a wide variety of innovative media including painting, sculpture,


NICHE TRAVEL: ART

Atrium Lobby, Le Meridien, New Delhi

installation, video, graphic and product design. They work on a fascinating mix of high art and low art and integrate ornate objects with everyday products and capture the new globalised India. It’s not just local artists who work in their respective regions but Thukral and Tagra’s works could be part of a Le Méridien hotel anywhere in the world. Their new art on arrival was launched on the sidelines of the India Art fair in Delhi in February and Le Méridien was chosen as the official brand partner for the fair. “Our association with the India Art Fair underlines our vision of bringing unique and interactive art experiences to our culturally savvy guests,” said Arnaud Champenois, Brand Director Asia Pacific for Le Méridien and W Hotels Worldwide. The unique interactive art work is projected from the ceiling

and guests can interact with it as they walk on the floor and it creates a huge impact on arrival. Le Méridien’s Cultural Curator, Jérôme Sans led curated walks for some of the hotel’s gue st s and allowed them to experience some of the highlights of the India art fair, Asia’s largest modern and contemporary art fair that featured 105 exhibitors from 24 countries. Other Le Méridien hotels are in the thick of things too. Le Méridien

Ball Room corridor, Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai

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NICHE TRAVEL: ART

Transitional portal from lobby, Le Meridien, New Delhi

Coimbatore’s lobby features a dedicated area with hand painted murals by local artist Santhanam that capture the flavour of the city. For a busy corporate executive who has no time to explore a city on business trip, these vignettes offer a great connect with the city. Le Méridien Kochi and Jaipur have forged strong partnerships with local art galleries. These galleries have helped the hotels create art corridors that appeal to International tourists who are looking for a slice of India and also provide a great opportunity for local artists to connect with business travellers keen to invest on art. It’s a growing trend that is gradually seeing quite a few hotels using local motifs to create a strong and distinct identity in a crowded market. The ITC hotels have traditionally drawn inspiration from strong local dynasties. The ITC Kakatiya in Hyderabad is inspired by the Kakatiya dynasty and features strong local art influences. The group’s new flagship hotel, the ITC Grand Chola is a tribute to one of India’s maritime powers the Chola dynasty and the exteriors are modelled on some of the finest and historic Chola temples in Tamil Nadu. The hotel’s main banqueting hall is the country’s largest pillar-less luxury convention space (26,450 sq ft with a prefunction area of 17,000 sq ft) and is named after one of the greatest Chola emperors 48

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Art work at the Taj Land’s End, Mumbai

– Rajendra Chola. The Park Hotel in Chennai that is located where the city’s iconic Gemini studios once stood pays tribute to the city’s thriving film industry and features a fascinating collection of rare movie posters and kitsch almost throughout the hotel’s public areas. The Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai is not just one of the city’s best known landmarks but a treasure trove of art. The hotel’s

unique architectural style that combines Moorish, Oriental and Florentine influences makes it one of the country’s most unique hotels and has a collection of 4000 artworks that range from Belgian chandeliers to Goan Christian artefacts. The hotel also features masterpieces from illustrious artists like Jehangir Sabavala and Anjolie Ela Menon. The hotel has started organising curated art walks of art galleries in South Mumbai that have become very popular with International and local guests alike. Ms Birgit Zorniger the General Manager of the Taj Land’s End in Bandra initiated the Mumbai Gallery Weekend last year where nine contemporary art galleries showcased their finest art works. The success of this initiative has ensured that this will now be an annual feature. The hotel also has a fine collection of paintings from artists like Rasik Raval and Ram Kumar that are ‘on loan’ from the Taj Mahal Palace. As hotels try to create unique experiences to create a strong connection and loyalty with their guests, art has become a key differentiator. So whether you are a serious connoisseur of art or just seeking a new experience at every hotel that becomes your temporary home there’s a good chance that you will discover an engaging experience waiting for you. by ASHWIN RAJAGOPALAN


Planning a vacation for the whole family is never easy. Let us do it for you. Some fun for everyone. Book the package now at www.countryinns.com/family-apac Toll Free: 1800 1800 456 Terms and conditions apply.

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NICHE TRAVEL: SPAS & WELLNESS

SPA SPECIALIST IN TOWN

Tino Lerma is a founding member of The International Medical Spa Association and has over 17 years of experience in clinical protocol development and in technical skills testing for the clinical, medical aesthetic, spa, and medical wellness industries. In a recent meeting with GoNow, he revealed some of the secrets of ensuring the right experience for customers during spa therapy.

What do you think of the Spa Industry in Delhi? I think it is definitely growing in Delhi. As a matter of fact, according to international statistics India is among the fastest growing of the world’s spa industries but there are still areas that the country can improve upon. It could become much more truly clinical and that will come from those with a more scientific background. That’s probably where Delhi still has room for growth.

Where do you think Delhi ranks in terms of product use/ expertise of the therapists? It is quite on par because brands and their products are the same globally and there is so much international marketing behind the brands. I don’t consider beauty therapists in Delhi any more or less educated than others. The potential for medical spas, the potential for result oriented luxury beauty therapies, that is definitely there. We have done all of that through many years in the US – I might be going through a second decade of that process myself.

What do you suggest to enhance the experience for customers? One of the things that count the most for customers is the spa atmosphere. Spas do well if they specifically take care of this. It’s also about how to hold or shake hands with your customers. It’s also about being humble while greeting someone with a ‘Namaste’. These are the things that work well in Delhi and in the entire land. It starts with the ambience, the lighting and the music. Also there is a protocol for creating that energetic spa ambience which is done with aromas. For that matter I even help my clients put on their shoes. They don’t have to ask for tea, it’s already there for them in my hand. All these tiny little things create the perfect atmosphere. I have seen in the 85 countries where I have taught that spas across the globe have started to look alike – like very brown and tan. But what can still inspire your spirit is something different, like some50

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Vyoma Spa, Radisson Blu hotel New Delhi Paschim Vihar


NICHE TRAVEL: SPAS & WELLNESS

Spa Lavanya, The Leela Kempinski Gurgaon

thing in blue or purple. So I tell my students not to do what is just normal or neutral. Now that the spa has become a trend worldwide, everyone is copying each other but customers only look forward to what is different. Suppose you are getting an anti-ageing treatment that has papaya, pineapple and pomegranate and imagine that is your spa’s lunch too – a pomegranate smoothie, with pineapple and papaya salad. Now that will set your spa experience apart.

What are your comments on traditional Indian therapies? India has an extensive background in therapy. I am a Tibetan medical student myself. The west has just beautified the therapies but the roots lie with India alone. Their genesis was in this country. India needs to remember that its roots are beautiful. What we tend to do in west with advanced cosmetic chemistry is that we extract the rawness of the ingredients used. The treatments will remain spiritually beautiful but from a medical aesthetics point of view we have to find a way to make them penetrate into the skin better, work without irritating the skin and make it a comfortable regime. It should not have to be messy or stain a sheet.

Any specific skin care that you recommend for different age groups? There are four ageing levels that we talk about. There are different ways that we access wrinkles for different ageing levels. I try to teach people how we can do anti-ageing treatments for each of those levels. There are specific treatments or therapies for different age groups. But of course our skin type and colour has everything to do with what we should use on our skin. by ANUPRIYA BISHNOI

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EXPERIENCE: BRANDED COFFEE

ICONIC COFFEE BRAND COMES TO INDIA

Avani Saglani Davda, CEO, Tata Starbucks Limited

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hat took you so long to enter the Indian market? Your first outlet opened in Mumbai only last year in October, how has the Mumbai experience been? We believe this is the right time to be entering the India market. Entering a new market is always a very important step and we continually take time to study the market carefully, evaluate it and enter when the time is right. Given the diverse and dynamic market, we wished to proceed with utmost respect as we entered India and take our time to open the right locations at the right time. We are excited about our arrival in this market and look forward to sharing our unique Starbucks Experience with consum52

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Global coffee giant Starbucks had forayed into the Indian market in October 2012 as Tata Starbucks, a 50: 50 joint venture between Starbucks Corporation and Tata Global Beverages with the launch of three stores in Mumbai. It is now beginning an aggressive drive to expand its India footprint and reach out to more Indian customers in the market. Last month, the company launched two more outlets at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport followed by another one in the commercial hub of Connaught Place this month. Avani Saglani Davda, CEO, Tata Starbucks Limited speaks about the company’s India conquest and its future roadmap for the subcontinent. ers here. We have received an overwhelming response to each of our stores, since our entry in Mumbai in October 2012, and are thrilled to be in Delhi. We look forward to extending our high-quality coffee, handcrafted beverages, locally relevant food, legendary service and the unique Starbucks Experience to consumers here.

Why did Starbucks choose the Tatas as their India partner? We’re very pleased to have found the best partner for Starbucks in Tata. We firmly believe that Starbucks and Tata share many of the same values for conducting business in a way that is responsible and earns the trust and respect of our customers. Just as the


EXPERIENCE: BRANDED COFFEE

L-R: Harish Bhatt, Managing Director, Tata Global Beverages; Cyrus Mistry, Chairman, Tata Sons; Avani Saglani Davda, CEO, Tata Starbucks Limited and John Culver, president, Starbucks Coffee China & Asia Pacific

Starbucks brand is known for its quality and experience, and trusted by consumers all over the world, Tata is a known leader with a proven track record in delivering quality and value to customers. Tata Starbucks Limited is a partnership between two global beverage companies that are committed to building a strong presence in India and delivering the unique Starbucks Experience to customers here. This joint venture relationship enables us to leverage the combined strengths of two leading beverage companies to build a strong presence in India. We are pleased to come together and open our doors to customers here, sharing the uncompromised quality of the Starbucks product portfolio, while providing a community gathering place to connect with family and friends.

India is essentially a tea-drinking nation. What gave you confidence to launch coffee here? Each market is unique and the focus must be on smart, locally relevant, thoughtful growth. We believe that India offers tremendous opportunity for Starbucks growth, and we are committed to delivering a locally relevant Starbucks Experience to our customers here. India is witnessing a growing trend in out of home coffee consumption, consumers appreciate a quality experience, and we intend to provide just that – a unique, values-based Starbucks Experience that is respectful of India’s strong culinary heritage and of local tastes and preferences. Over the years, one of the strongest elements of the Starbucks Experience has been the value that people associate with the product and the experience. We provide more than high-quality coffee, but a Third Place experience, between work and home, and opportunities to connect with others over handcrafted beverages prepared by passionate partners that make Starbucks unique and a destination for our customers. Our pursuit of quality and excellence across all markets and the emotional bond we have formed with our customers has earned us their trust, and we will work to earn the same trust with our customers here.

Starbucks, Delhi

In a price-sensitive market like India, how have you gone about pricing your products as Starbucks is known for its high price points? A critical focus of our market entry was enMarch 2013 GO NOW

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EXPERIENCE: BRANDED COFFEE suring that the brand is priced appropriately in India. We know the importance of offering high-quality products and an uncompromised experience to our customers here at a value that reflects the quality of the experience. We have adopted a comprehensive approach to delivering value, implementing several filters and studying operating costs, customer insights, competition and other factors. Our offerings are appropriately priced to ensure that our customers here receive the premium Starbucks Experience at a comparable cost.

relaxed atmosphere to enjoy the legendary Starbucks Experience while in transit. The menu includes a host of new vegetarian and non-vegetarian sandwiches such a s Mediter r anean Foccasia with Roast Vegetables, Wild Mushroom Pockets and Chicken Ham & Roasted Peppers Ciabata, in addition to a wide range of cakes, muffins, pastries, breads, wraps and savouries. Additionally, the stores will offer an extensive beverage portfolio that includes a wide range of Starbucks® signature beverages, Tata® | Tazo®tea and Himalayan mineral water.

Are you introducing any Indian element in your offerings like McDonalds, Dominos & Pizza Hut example, who have tweaked their international products to suit the country’s requirements and satiate individual taste buds? Please give product examples. India has a diverse and dynamic culture and we wanted to ensure that we provide a unique values-based Starbucks Experience that is respectful of India’s strong culinary heritage and of local tastes and preferences. We believe great coffee deserves great food and we are therefore very selective in the food items we offer to ensure they complement our coffee and the third place. We have developed many locally relevant food items that will appeal to diverse customer tastes in India. Starbucks stores in Mumbai offer an extensive range of food offerings that boasts a wide selection of 42 items; western favorites, as well as locally relevant flavors such as Elaichi Mawa Croissant, Murg Tikka Panini, Tandoori Paneer Roll, and the signature Star Club. At our flagship store in New Delhi, we have introduced exclusive food offerings to cater to customers in the city. These include exciting additions like Murg Makhani Pie, Mutton Seekh in Roomali Roti, Salmon and Cheese Stuffed 54

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How do you intend localizing the Starbucks experience for an average customer? For instance, you mentioned involving local craftsmen in designing the outlets in India that will have a distinct Indian imprimatur in ambience and offerings. How has this been implemented?

Croissant, Lal Achari Mirch Turnover and Chat Pata Prantha Wrap. Our two stores at the New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport offer a differentiated breakfast menu that is carefully selected to cater to travelers, and includes a host of new vegetarian and non-vegetarian sandwiches such as Mediterranean Foccasia with Roast Vegetables, Wild Mushroom Pockets and Chicken Ham & Roasted Peppers Ciabata, in addition to a wide range of cakes, muffins, pastries, breads, wraps and savories. Starbucks stores will offer a Starbucks offers a differentiated breakfast menu at the two stores opened at the domestic and International terminals of Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi that is carefully selected to cater to travelers, while providing an inviting and

Starbucks locations are community gathering places where people come together to connect over coffee and enjoy the unique third place. Our flagship stores are uniquely designed to reflect the culture and history of the country, while providing customers new opportunities for discovery, a high level of engagement with Starbucks partners (employees), and a deep connection to Starbucks coffee heritage. The Delhi flagship store is unique in its contemporary design that celebrates concrete in its natural form and embraces the Indian craft of weaving. Inspired by revealing the honest aspects of the building, this distinct design uses only what is needed - simple material selection, steel, rope, wood and concrete. The woven rope chandeliers create shadows and patterns that set the stage for storytelling, connections and discovery. Similarly, the Mumbai flagship store design


EXPERIENCE: BRANDED COFFEE is Indian Eclectic Chic reflecting Starbucks coffee heritage and embracing the local culture. The artifacts, Indian teakwood furniture, floor design and interiors have been created by local craftsmen and artists, and the color theme of the store is inspired by the richness of Indian spices. Several décor items have been repurposed for use and sourced locally to capture the rich Indian heritage.

What is your roadmap for the Indian market in terms of the number of outlets you’ll open and the cities you’ll tap? Are you only looking at metros or tier-two/three towns as well? Why/ why not? The launch of our first flagship store in October 2012 was the beginning of our aggressive, smart, and locally relevant growth. In addition to the flagship store at Horniman Circle, Starbucks has launched three more stores at Oberoi Mall, Taj Mahal Palace Annexe and Hiranandani Gardens, Powai in Mumbai, two stores at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi and most recently,our flagship city store at Connaught Place, New Delhi. We want to make sure that we penetrate and build out a good footprint in both of these cities and then look to quickly expand to other cities as part of our growth strategy. We are looking at other major cities and tier-2 cities as part of our long-term expansion plans. We are committed to India for the long-term and will work thoughtfully to open stores quickly to ensure we are exceeding expectations of our customers and building a strong presence in the market.

Your CEO John Culver has spoken of the company’s activities regarding working with the coffee growing communities of India “with a specific focus on agronomy and sustainable farming practices, along with its community investment initiatives and employment generation activities”. How are you doing that? Starbucks and Tata are committed to the communities where we operate, from the

neighborhoods where our stores are located to the farms where our coffee is grown. Wefirmly believe in doing business responsibly and conducting ourselves in ways that earn the trust and respect of our customers and neighbors. We are committed toward making significant investments in community initiatives in India to not only support local communities, but also rural and farming communities because we believe we have a responsibility to give back to the communities we work with and serve. Taking forward our deep commitment to community, Starbucks and Tata will work together to improve the lives of coffee growing communities in the State of Karnataka.

Who do you perceive as your competition in India? India is a very diverse market and we believe there is room in the marketplace for several players that meet different customers’ needs. Starbucks locations are a community gathering place where people come together to connect over coffee and enjoy the unique third place. One of our strengths is the passion that our partners have for our coffee and the stores.

Do you think India provides a robust investment environment, which is now being recognized by the global investors? Each market is unique and offers distinct opportunities. India is one of the most exciting markets in the world with a very diverse and dynamic culture, and we believe it offers tremendous potential for our growth here. Given the size of the Indian economy, the rising spending power and the rate of growth of the café sector and the café business, we think India can become a very large market for Starbucks over the long term.

You’ve also expanded your repertoire to include a breakfast menu? Please tell us about that & what more additions you’re doing to your offerings in India?

Through an initial financial commitment, Starbucks is workingwith Tata to support ‘Swastha’, a school for children with special needs (in partnership with the Coorg Foundation) and aim to increase its capacity and outreach into the rural communities in the coffee growing region of Karnataka. Additionally, Starbucks and Tata are working together on initiatives including but not limited to, the promotion of responsible agronomy practices and the provision of training to local farmers, technicians and agronomists to improve their coffee-growing and milling skills, along with exploring social projects which could positively impact the communities in the coffee growing regions where Tata Global Beverages is active.

The launch of two Starbucks stores at New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport marks the entry of Starbucks in a new market segment. With this entry, Starbucks is offering a differentiated breakfast menu that is carefully selected to cater to travelers, while providing an inviting and relaxed atmosphere to enjoy the legendary Starbucks Experience while in transit. With the opening of our flagship store in New Delhi, we have launched a specially designed India-specific Starbucks Card to celebrate the rich heritage of this dynamic market. Furthermore, we have a variety of merchandize available at the store for our customers, in addition to Starbucks mug created specifically for India, as part our popular country mug series. We also offer free Wi-Fi at our stores. Additionally, our store offers packaged VIA and Reserve Coffee that customers can take home or gift to family and friends. by NEETA LAL

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METRO TRAVEL: CHENNAI

Luxury MICE destination in the making It’s testimony to the city’s growing influence as one of South Asia’s key cities for business. With state of the art facilities, these new hotels are all set to make Chennai a key MICE destination.

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lot of key urban agglomerations have grown rapidly in the last two decades powered by India’s dizzy post-liberalisation growth rates. Chennai the gateway to South India has been in the thick of the action and has grown at a steady pace that might be less frenetic than some of India’s other urban centres. Change thankfully is never drastic in Chennai and the city’s strong fundamentals and port have all played a part in its emergence as an important regional business powerhouse. The city has been buoyed by Tamil Nadu’s strong

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growth rates and has seen major action in the IT, Healthcare and Manufacturing sectors and is well on its way to becoming the world’s biggest Automobile manufacturing hub in the next decade. The city’s hotels have hitherto not been able to keep pace with the city’s growth but all that has changed since the beginning of this decade with a clutch of world class hotels that will add a significant inventory of rooms and change the city’s ‘hotel scape’ forever and make it a major hub for the Conferences, Incentives and exhibitions segment.


METRO TRAVEL: CHENNAI

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Rajendra – The banquet hall, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai

ITC GRAND CHOLA Spread over 8 acres and with a built of area of 1.6 million sq ft, ITC’s flagship hotel is also India’s largest luxury city hotel and is unrivalled for sheer size and grandeur. Inspired by the architecture of Chola temples that were created by one of India’s most powerful kingdoms, this 600-room hotel is full of wow elements that include cutLobby, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai ITC Grand Chola, Chennai ting edge in-room technology powered by iPads. ITC’s F&B strengths come to the fore in the hotel’s culinary diversions that WESTIN CHENNAI include Ottimo a pan Italian restaurant, Madras Pavilion a buffets Chennai’s first Westin (Part of the Starwood Group) is expected to join the only restaurant and the evergreen Peshawari. city’s exclusive list of International luxury hotels during the first half of 2013. The hotel’s large inventory and banqueting facilities are likely to Located in Velachery and just 20 minutes from the airport, the hotel is just see it play a major part in driving MICE business into Chennai. The 5 kms away from the Chennai Trade Centre and close to the IT corridor hotel features India’s largest ‘pillar less’ hotel banqueting facility and the Phoenix Mall. The hotel will embody Westin’s brand philosophy – the Rajendra Chola hall is spread over a staggering 26,450 sq ft. – “For a better you” and will showcase a stunning 35 feet cascading water This architectural marvel can accommodate over 3000 guests and body in the Central courtyard. All of the hotel’s well-appointed 216 rooms boasts of a special private entrance for VIPs. It is equipped with feature Westin’s patented beds – the Heavenly Westin bed. The hotel state-of-the-art features and sound proof partitions that allow the will also be home to the large hall to be split into multiple venues. The hall also features Westin Heavenly Spa a special automobile elevator making it the perfect venue for car and expose Chennai to launches and expos. For smaller meetings the Kaveri (1-4) makes Westin’s International the perfect venue and features four halls (658 sq ft each) that can signature dining expehandle board meetings for 12 people comfortably. There’s also the riences like the all-day high-tech Tanjore Boardroom (980 diner Seasonal Tastes. sq ft) that is the perfect setting for a factfile high power board meeting up to 24 Address: 63 Mount Road, persons. Kalai spread over 2625 sq Guindy, Chennai 32 factfile ft is the hotel’s private auditorium Tel: (044) 2220-0000 Address: #154, Velachery that has been specially designed Website: www.itchotels.in Main road. Chennai 42. for film screenings and cultural Email: reservations. itcgrandchola@itchotels.in Tel: (044) 2255-3366 shows for exclusive audiences (Up Room Tariff: From ` 9,000 Website: Westin Chennai Suite, Hilton Chennai to 45 people). (Excl. taxes) onwards www.starwoodhotels.com 58

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Hotel Leela Palace Chennai

Rooms & Suites, Hotel Leela Palace Chennai

HOTEL LEELA PALACE CHENNAI One of Chennai’s most anticipated hotels finally opened its doors. The city is home to the second longest urban beach and the Leela Palace becomes the first luxury hotel in Chennai with stunning views of the Bay of Bengal. Almost all the hotel’s F&B outlets overlook the sea and so do a large number of the rooms. The hotel features some of the city’s largest rooms. Set on 6 acres of land with 11 floors, this 326-room luxury abode has been designed by Jeffrey Wilkes and lives up to all the high standards Leela has set with its hotels across India. The hotel is also home to the ESPA spa and the design has been inspired by palaces from the Chettinad dynasty in Tamil Nadu. Leela’s opulent standards are also reflected in its plush banqueting facilities that inspire creative ideas and also make for the perfect celebration venues. The Grand Ballroom factfile is one of the city’s largest banqueting hotels and is well equipped for both corporate events and Address: Adyar weddings; it is spread over 11,600 sq ft (excluding Seaface, MRC Nagar, Chennai: 600028. the large pre-function area). The Royal Ballroom Tel: (044) 3366-1234 is another compelling option; this exquisite facilWebsite: www. ity is spread over 6,120 sq ft. The hotel features theleela.com Email: reservations@ two meeting rooms and a choice of seven board theleela.com rooms that can handle 10 to 1,500 people. The Inaugural offer: Rooms hotel’s ocean views offer the perfect setting for a start at ` 9,000 (Plus romantic wedding. taxes)

Rooms & Suites, Hotel Leela Palace Chennai

HILTON CHENNAI Located close to the airport and in the new centre of the city with proximity to the city’s IT Corridors and Auto hub, the Hilton is a harmonious blend of the traditional and contemporary and features 204 well-appointed rooms and state-of-the-art banqueting facilities that can comfortably accommodate over 700 people. The hotel’s rooftop Q bar has become one of the city’s most vibrant nightspots while signature dining options like Ayna, the hotel’s exquisite Pan-Indian restaurant and Vintage Bank, the exclusive Wine and Cheese Bar have quickly joined the city’s list of preferred F&B outlets.

factfile Address:124/1, Jawarhalal Nehru Salai, Guindy, Chennai 32. Tel: (044) 2225-5555 Website: www.hilton. com/chennai Room tariff: From ` 9,000 (Excl taxes) onwards

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Banquet hall, Hyatt Regency Chennai

HYATT REGENCY It has been a little over a year since the Hyatt Regency added a welcome International dimension to the Chennai landscape. Location is one of the hotel’s strengths; it is located in the heart of the arterial Mount Road. The 327 luxury hotel has a sun-filled atrium lobby that is complemented by soothing water Hyatt Regency Chennai features and extensive art work created by some of India’s finest contemporary artists. The hotel’s Siddh Spa features signature treatments that have roots in the ancient South Indian tradition of Siddha. Signature dining options include Chinese and Southern Italian fine dining restaurants. The hotel features over 20,000 sq ft of banqueting space including the 5,400 sq ft pillar-less Regency Ballroom with an 18-feet ceiling that can be bifurcated into two soundproof sections. The residential style meeting facilities on the hotel’s fourth floor include a Junior Ballroom (4600 sq ft), three meeting rooms (approximately 900 sq ft each) with a large common area factfile for food and beverage service. Address: 365, Anna Salai, Hyatt’s Business Centre facilities Teynampet, Chennai-600018 include two boardrooms that Tel: (044) 6100-1234 are ideal for meetings for 8-10 Website: www.chennai. regency.hyatt.com persons. The hotel’s events team Email: chennai.regency@hyatt. offers bespoke wedding services com and innovative ideas to personalTariffs: ` 8,000 (Plus taxes) ise events. onwards 60

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Pre function area, Hyatt Regency Chennai

RADISSON BLU HOTEL CITY CENTRE Chennai’s second Radisson Blu and the 51st hotel in Indian under the Carlson Rezidor Group umbrella in India, is located in Egmore. It’s in the heart of the city’s shopping and commercial district and close to major malls like the Express Avenue Mall and offices in Mount Road and Nungambakkam. This 162 room hotel meets all the expectations of a global business traveller and includes a state-of-the-art business Radisson Blu Hotel City Centre, Chennai centre. The hotel features 9700 sq ft of Banqueting space factfile and dining options include Address: #2, Ethiraj Salai, Commander in Chief Radisson’s popular Indian Road, Chennai 8. Tel: (044) 3040-4444 signature brand - The Great Website: www.radissonblu.com Kebab Factory. Room tariff: From ` 7,000 (Excl taxes) onwards


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begin your journey to complete wellness.

Relax with a complimentary massage every day. * Welcome to Siddh spa, where the wisdom of one of the oldest traditional systems of medicine will guide you on your path of self-awakening. Enhance your personal wellness experience with the services of our fitness centre and swimming pool and rejuvenate your mind, body and senses. For reservations, fitness centre and spa memberships, call+91 44 6100 1234. Siddh Spa and Fitness Centre Hyatt Regency Chennai, 365 Anna Salai, Teynampet, Chennai 600018

The trademark HYATT and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation. Š2013 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved. *Conditions apply.

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The Apartment, Park Hyatt Chennai

Lobby, Park Hyatt Chennai

PARK HYATT CHENNAI The 30th Park Hyatt hotel in the world opened towards the end of 2012 and joined the brand’s successful hotels in Goa and Hyderabad. Located next to the large estates of the Governor’s Residence, the Park Hyatt is at the entrance to Velachery, one of Chennai’s emerging residential districts and also close to the city’s IT corridor. The hotel reflects understated Chennai luxury and is full of flowing landscapes and relaxing interiors accentuated by a graceful Lily Pond that occupies the heart of the inner courtyard of the hotel. The 201 room hotel features elegant and chic interiors and includes 20 plush suites. Park Hyatt features a truly unique residential space that it proudly calls the Apartment that is luxurious, sophisticated and yet very intimate for niche corporate events and functions. Spread over 8000 sq ft and with the ability to comfortably handle over 350 guests, the Apartment is a melange of spaces that include four rooms (111-114), the drawing room area and also a private terrace. The Library and Veranda spaces are the exquisite pre-function areas that factfile can be personalised with the host’s Address: 39, Velachery road, personal effects like photographs Chennai 32 etc. Event and conference organisTel: (044) 7177-1234 Website: www.chennai.park. ers have the option of sharing the hyatt.com dining spaces with other hosts for Email: chennai.park@hyatt.com the day or can opt for a secluded Room tariff: From ` 8,000 dining space. (Excl taxes) onwards 62

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Le Royal Méridien Chennai

LE ROYAL MERIDIEN Once a tiny fishing village, Chennai (formerly Madras) is now a lively metropolis and the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. Situated on 3.5 acres of exquisitely landscaped gardens, the architectural wonder of Le Royal Méridien Chennai inspires guests to explore the city’s allegiance to ancient traditions, no matter how modernised it has become. Located between the international airport and the business district, Le Royal Méridien Chennai features meeting and banquet space for up to 1,500 guests, five restaurants and bars including a fun pub, and a splendid outdoor swimming pool with whirlpool. The hotel gives the leisure guests an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city by providing a fitness centre overlooking the swimming pool and gardens. A travel desk is in the hotel’s lobby which assists guests as they experience the sights of Chennai, factfile including the Marina Beach, temple architecture, a vibrant theatre Address: 1 GST Road, St Thomas Mount, Chennai 16 scene, and a five week-long Music Tel: (91) (44) 2231 4343 Season, one of the world’s largest Email: reservation@leroyalmeridiencultural events. chennai.com Website: www.starwoodhotels.com Room Tariff: ` 8,000 per night

by ASHWIN RAJAGOPALAN


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NICHE TRAVEL: CRUISES

CRUISES ON YOUR MIND?

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NICHE TRAVEL: CRUISES

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ith summer approaching, almost everyone is dreaming of their annual summer getaway. For those who like to get a head start, do thorough research and book their vacations in advance, we bring you a guide to the very best luxury cruises --- and perhaps one of the best and most convenient ways to explore a range of countries within a short span of time, save yourself the hassle of catching various flights and the need to pack and unpack, and of course to escape the monotonous drudgery of airport drills. On a cruise you check in once, disembark at beautiful ports in different countries (or one, your choice), and spend the day travelling with only your essentials in your handbag to return to your personal suite on the ship at the end of the day. Not only do you pick your destinations and the number of days at sea but also the ship itself. Cruise liners offer impressive options in entertainment to make your stay aboard an exciting and busy one. Activities are planned for guests of every age. Enthralling performances, shopping streets, sports, health and wellness, fine dining, pubs and cafes: everything one may need is available on the ship. The list is endless. Most ships feature a 24 hour casino, a night club (even one exclusively for teens), art auctions, and lounges with the best of drinks. For the younger lot, there are plenty of activities in sports and gaming arcades. Your ship is a floating self-contained city with everything just a few steps away. If you have never been on a cruise, you must go on one to truly understand the comprehensive fun filled experience awaiting you on board. And in case you are a frequent traveller, you could get hooked by the concept of travelling extensively in extreme luxury without having to lift a finger since every city arrives at your doorstep.

EXPERTSPEAK RATNA CHADHA Chief Executive, TIRUN Travel Marketing With the world’s top-rated fleet and the most modern ships in Alaska and Europe, Celebrity Cruises provides experiences that are a distinctive statement of style and elegance.This premium cruise line has constantly bagged key international awards and is the epitome of unique intimate ships and guest-inspired service.

MY PICK OF THE TOP 3

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he recently launched Celebrity Reflection has taken modern luxury to even higher levels by introducing glass bathrooms and showers in suites cantilevered beyond the ordinary. Commended for their epicurean delights, the Solstice class vessels house some of the best-rated restaurants on the high seas. Guests sailing on these ships will experience a series of branddefining, first-in-the-industry features onboard, including a half-acre Lawn Club with real grass. They can choose from an exceptional range of bespoke services, amenities and widely varied entertainment. Celebrity cruises is for those who appreciate the nuances of luxury and desire unequivocal unique experiences. If you desire a luxury cruise with your family and friends there is nothing that rivals the expanse of Royal Carib-

bean International. Choose from 22

of the most innovative ships including the world’s largest cruise vessels and sail to any continent of your choice. Royal Caribbean International operates some of the largest ships in North Europe, Mediterranean, Alaska and the largest in Asia. There is more than enough to keep you and your loved ones occupied on these floating cities including dedicated programs, supervised activities and separate sections or lounges for children of all ages. A seemingly never ending list of unique first-at-sea innovations await you so be prepared to be bowled over by facilities like a surf simulator, zip line, carousel, rock climbing wall, ice skating rink, sports courts and more. You can enjoy hit Broadway musicals, spectacular ice shows, performances at the aqua theatre, 3D movies and partake in the DreamWorks experience that lets you dine and dance with popular animated characters. This cruise brand provides a unique mix of luxury and innovative activities – providing a holistic value proposition for the whole family. Mature cruise travellers seeking a luxury experience that lets them explore exotic or offbeat cruise destinations prefer Azamara Club Cruises. With more overnights at individual ports and events exclusive to Azamara passengers this cruise line is applauded for destination immersion. It sails to ports that cannot be accessed by larger ships and introduces out-of-the-ordinary experiences. Guests can choose from a vast array of all-inclusive offerings and longer duration cruises. March 2013 GO NOW

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METRO TRAVEL: BENGALURU

NEW DINING EXPERIENCES: THE CITY KEEPS ITS TRYST Bengaluru’s F&B scene is seeing an unprecedented rush of new restaurants and diners and visitors to the city can now choose from an eclectic array of cuisines and dining styles. We pick five all-new Food and Beverage outlets that have hit bull’s eye over the past few months.

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ARAVALLI, Gateway Hotel on Residency Road

factfile Price: ` 2,500 for two (Without alcohol) Open: 11:30 am to 3:00 pm (Lunch) / 6:30 to 11:00 pm (Dinner) Address: Karavalli is at The Gateway Hotel, 66 Residency Road, Bengaluru-560 025, Tel: 080-6660 4545.

Driven by the Executive Chef of The Gateway Hotel, Naren Thimmiah, Karavalli has long been Bengaluru’s premier South West coastal cuisine restaurant. The restaurant has recently returned from a complete makeover that doesn’t just include the interiors but also an-all new menu that has sourced the finest cuisine from across Karnataka, Kerala and Goa. The interiors are reminiscent of a tiled Manglorean house and the restaurant is under the shade of two giant tamarind trees. Chef Thimmiah and his team have deep dived into the culinary regions of these three states and it shows. The Manglorean style Patrade – pan roasted Lentil paste smeared Colcassia leaf rolls and the very Goan Camaro Con Cilantro are the highlights of the starters section. The Malabar style Pothi Choru – ghee rice with Moplah chicken curry wrapped and steamed in banana leaf is an absolute must try. The restaurant also serves the ultra thin Ramasseri idlis that are only available at one small town near Palakkad in Kerala. The restaurant’s signature desserts include the Elaneer (Tender coconut) payasam and the tangy Tamarind ice cream.

Karavalli

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Karavalli

Karavalli


METRO TRAVEL: BENGALURU

Karavalli, Gateway Hotel March 2013 GO NOW

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METRO TRAVEL: BENGALURU

Monkey Bar

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ONKEY BAR

Monkey Bar

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Positioned as India’s gastro pub and located in one of the areas where ‘old Bengaluru’ still lives on, Monkey Bar is a high energy space with an irreverent attitude. Whether it’s the ‘no table reservations’ policy or the lack of a valet parking option it’s just the kind of place to hang loose after a long day at the office or on the weekend with your bunch of buddies. The interiors have a strong New York vibe with exposed brick and unique soft wood floors with an array of mismatched fixtures and lots of wall art on the busy walls. The beverage menu intentionally excludes draught beer but there’s a host of potent cocktails like the aam panna caipiroska and the pear and mint Slim Jim. Monkey Bar has already acquired a reputation for its juicy burgers including its signature Mobar burger that combines a 250 gms patty, factfile lettuce, Swiss cheese, baPrice: ` 1,500–2,000 for con, onions, tomato, mayo two (With alcohol) and burger dust. Other must Open: 11:30 am to 11:30 pm try items on this innovative Address: 14/1 (Krishna menu include the Tikki of Manere), Wood Street, Joy, their brilliant tribute to Richmond Road, Ashok Calcutta’s Bekti fry, the ViNagar, Bengaluru-560025. etnamese Bahn Mi and the Tel: (080) 4111-6878 squidgy chocolate cake.


METRO TRAVEL: BENGALURU

Like That Only

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IKE THAT ONLY

Sake Poached Pear Salad

Tucked away behind Forum Value Mall in Whitefield is one of Bengaluru’s most promising new restaurants with quirky interiors and a menu that doesn’t fall under any water tight cuisine type. The brainchild of seasoned restaurateurs AD Singh and Chetan Rampal and master chef Manu Chandra this restaurant is spread over 7500 sq ft. Fashion designer Anshu Arora and painter Murali Nagapuzha have collaborated in crafting this space that is full of peculiar touches that include lights inspired by the foliage to a bold clawed bath tub at the entrance. The restaurant is a mix of spaces that include a quiet lounge bar style space to a bright al-fresco dining area. It’s not just the interiors that live up to the restaurant’s cheeky ‘Like that Only’ credo it’s also the spunky cuisine that is inspired by Pan Asian flavours. Try the Kimchi baby Potato served on a bed of Kimchi salad or the stuffed calamari roulade – diced prawns wrapped in calamari and steamed in betel leaf. Other signature dishes include the Duck Bao, Vegetable Murtabak and the five Spice chocolate cake. There’s a host of innovative cocktails that includes the restaurant’s re-interpretation of a Bloody Mary served in a pickled jar and encased with hickory smoke.

Kaffir Lime Cräme Brulee with Lemongrass Crumble

factfile Price: ` 2,500 for two (Without alcohol) Open: 12 noon to 11:30 pm Address: #14/31A Hagadur Road (Behind Forum Value Mall) Whitefield, Bengaluru- 560066. Tel: (080) 6547-5610

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PHOTO: ASHWIN RAJAGOPALAN

PHOTO: ASHWIN RAJAGOPALAN

The Tower Kitchen

factfile Located on the same level as one of Bangalore’s most Price: ` 2,500 for two popular nightspots – Skyye (Without alcohol). Open: 12 noon to 3:30 Bar and on the top floor pm (Lunch) 7 pm to 11 of the UB City mall is one pm (Dinner) of Bengaluru’s newest fine Address: 16th Floor, UB City, Vittal Mallya Road, dining restaurants. Elegant Bengaluru: 560001 yet not too formal with dark Tel: 080-4939-9999. floors and generous doses of coffee brown, red and green, the Tower Kitchen is the perfect venue for a business lunch or a relaxed family outing. It’s actually a collection of spaces that include a private dining room, a chef’s table with a small live kitchen, a cigar lounge and two large indoor and outdoor dining areas. The restaurant’s kitchen complements the plush interiors and churns out delectable cuisine like the brilliant mushroom cappuccino with a hint of coffee that is the perfect start to your meal. There’s an impressive wines and spirits list that includes rare premium whiskies and new world wines. Tower Kitchen is probably the only restaurant in the city that uses the sous-vide method (a painstaking process of evenly cooking food in sealed plastic bags in a water bath sometimes even up to 72 hours at low temperatures) that impacts the texture of the meat. The beef cheeks here are terrific and so are the Pizzocheri bucked wheat pasta baked with greens and potatoes .and the baked ricotta served with a mix of raspberry coulis. The Tower Kitchen

La Cristaal

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La Cristaal Located in one of Bengaluru’s most happening high streets where Lavelle Road and Vittal Mallya road meet and just a few blocks away from the Uber Luxe UB City Mall. Pitched as an all-day diner and a European Deli, this restaurant features a mix of indoor and al-fresco seating options. The design language is an odd yet fascinating blend of distress chic and classical European elements. There are a lot of distinctive features like a stripped down ceiling and wallpainted chandeliers that complement the striking red floor. We loved their Foam cocktails that make the perfect accompaniment for a multiple course meal. The menu is the perfect blend of the exotic and standard International fare. The wild mushroom soup and the rocket, pear, bocconcini and walnut with strawberry vinaigrette salad are the pick of the soup and starters section. The grilled sea bass with caper sauce and the pork belly with prunes are compelling main course options. The restaurants baked yoghurts are the perfect way to end your meal here. La Cristaal is factfile open for breakfast and offers Price: ` 1,500 for two a wide selection of breakfast (Without alcohol) favourites like waffles and Open: 9:00 am to 11:30 pm you can also buy breads and Address: 36, Vittal fine cheese and meats from Mallya Road, Bengaluru 560001 the Delicatessen. Tel: 080-4089-4999

by ASHWIN RAJAGOPALAN


BUSINESS TRAVEL MADE EASY It’s business as usual for smart travelers on the go. Stay connected wherever, whenever. Leave the rest to us. Book the package now at www.radissonblu.com/business-apac Toll Free: 1800 1800 333 Terms and conditions apply.

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Travel & Tourism Beyond Boundaries

KEEP YOUR DATE WITH MUGHAL GARDENS

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n February 15th, Pranab M u k h e rj e e o p e n e d t h e blooming flower festival of Mughal Garden for the general public. This budding festival is open till March 17th 2013. This year the gardens are decorated in a synchronized theme of whites and yellows. Dahlias are the most prominent flower this season, with an eight feet tall wall being created around the circular garden in the same flower. The preparations for this beautiful event start from August and take six months to develop the themes and exact colour schemes. Different gardens are designed as per their themes, like the Bonsai Garden showcases around 250 different varieties of bonsai plants, the Herbal Garden displays around 3 3 dif ferent varieties of medicinal and aromatic plants. An experience to cherish for the flower buff!

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Name of event UDYANOTSAV Venue MUGHAL GARDENS, DELHI Date OPEN TILL 17-03-2013


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Travel & Tourism Beyond Boundaries

IT IS THUMBS UP FOR AERO SHOW BENGALURU A

viation enthusiasts had a great time with the metallic birds at the Aero India 2013. Held at IAF’s Yelahanka Air Force base, Bengaluru, it showcased the latest international technology in military and civil aircrafts. There were many enthralling performances and other attractions at the event like, Dassault Rafale, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, HAL Rudra, HAL Tejas, and the Russian Knights aerobatic team. The world’s leading aerobatic display team from the Czech Republic, Flying Bulls performed at the air show. Bengaluru played host to around 607 companies at the air show with 352 foreign and 78 official national delegations. There were major foreign companies from all over the world, namely, 67 companies from the United States, 49 from France, 33 from United Kingdom, 29 from Russia and 22 from Germany. Defence Minister AK Antony at the cockpit of weaponised Dhruv Helicopter (Rudra) at static display of Rudra at Aero India

Name of event AERO INDIA 2013 Venue YELAHANKA AIR FORCE BASE, BENGALURU Date 6 to 10-02-2013

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Pilatus PC-7 Mark-III Trainer aircraft

Sarang Helicopters

1930’s vintage Tiger Moth aircraft showing its aerobatic skills


Travel & Tourism Beyond Boundaries Flying bulls of Czech Republic showing their aerobatic skills

Marshal of The Indian Air Force Arjan Singh

Flying Bulls presenting formation aerobatics

Pilot Squadron Leader Sushant Mitra of IAF and Test Pilot captain Stefan Group of Switzerland also seen with Pilatus Aircraft

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Travel & Tourism Beyond Boundaries

ART SCENE PROMISES MUCH WITH INNOVATION

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ll the art aficionados came together to appreciate art from all around the world. The Art Fair brought together 105 exhibition galleries from 24 different countries. The exhibition involved some enthusiastic speakers, critics, art curators from around the world engaging in discussions and seminars at the Speakers forum. Started in 2008, this exhibition is one of the most attended art exhibitions all over the world. The India Art Fair 2013 also hosts as the perfect platform for some great art book launches, interesting art projects and much more. It is the perfect platform for the students of art to study different forms of art on display and get to know about the history of art from a closer look. The gift shops had magnificent items for the visitors to take along, like cushion covers with Husain’s paintings, fascinating clocks with artworks by S.H. Raza, coasters, paper bags and many more such beautiful items. New international partners coming over to this fair brought in great deals for Indian artists and art galleries.

Art display

Visitors admiring an art work

Name of event INDIA ART FAIR Venue NSIC EXHIBITION GROUNDS, NEW DELHI

‘Still life’ an art work by Artist Subodh Gupta

Date

31-01 to 3-02-2013

Visitors admiring an art work Kids at India Art Fair 76

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Travel & Tourism Beyond Boundaries

THAI ARTISTES INSPIRE WITH INDIAN THEMES

Art work by Songdej Thipthong

Name of event THE PATH – A JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE Venue

Ambassador of Thailand H.E. Pisan Manawapat with wife Wanchana

METROPOLITAN HOTEL & SPA, DELHI

Date 22-02-2013

?????????? Geeti Bhagat with Babita Gupta Art work by Songdej Thipthong

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spiritual form of art was presented by leading artists at the Art Spice Gallery at The Metropolitan Hotel & Spa. The exhibition was titled as ‘The Path – A journey through life’. Some very magnificent work of 8 eminent artists was presented at the glorious exhibition. The exhibition depicted the Buddhism way of life with art works talking about religious philosophy and symbolism to belief and faith. This was the maiden exhibition when Thai artists from the southern part of Thailand showcased their collection in Delhi. The exhibition was inaugurated by Ambassador of Thailand to India, HE Pisan Manawapat. The evening was filled with Thai fervour having an essence of Thai food, beverages and music too. The opening ceremony of the exhibition was attended by some eminent personalities and the proceeds of the sales of this exhibition will go to the Thai Temple, New Delhi.

Babita Gupta, Director of Art Spice gallery with Kaveen Gupta, Director, The Metropolitan Hotel & Spa

Monisha Gupta, owner of Craft House with Vipul Gupta Executive Director, The Metropolitan Hotel & Spa

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Travel & Tourism Beyond Boundaries

INDIA & FRANCE BOND WITH GENRES OF ART Performance by Patrick Rimoux and Lecoanet&Hemant

Name of event BONJOUR INDIA 2013 Venue JANTAR MANTAR, NEW DELHI Date 14-02-2013

Visitors bedazzled with light effects

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uminocity was a unique project, especially conceived for Bonjour India and set the tone to the vastly interdisciplinary festival. The French Minister for Culture and Communication, Mme Aurelie Filippetti inaugurated the celebration. Speaking about Luminocity she said that the historical and galaxy theme-relevant Jantar Mantar was an ideal venue and that, “the Indo-French touch will take us closer to the stars”. The festival thanks its patrons Reliance Industries Ltd and The Park Hotel for their constant support. Even time and space are quantified by the structures of the Jantar Mantar, but on February 14th they transcended into the ineffable world of art. Nandita Palchoudhuri and Patrick Rimoux reputed for their sculptural light work created original installations especially for Luminocity. Like the secrets of the galaxies, Nandita’s work inspired by the notion of time and astronomy shone from the dark crevices along the parameter of the Jantar Mantar. Her light installations had simple symbols of time like a Sand clock, digital time display, a grandfather’s clock etc. The more abstract representation was a 3D light installation with the sun and curious looking planets flowing out on a mat of light. Nandita’s installations had been created in collaboration with traditional artisans from Chandanagar, Bengal. This particular style of wrapping small light bulbs in coloured paper is an art that


Travel & Tourism Beyond Boundaries The art works of light

has evolved with the decorations especially made for the Puja pandals (cloth tents that are used as make shift temples) and this style of light installation has now become an integral part of festivities like in the Durga Puja, Diwali, Weddings etc in Bengal. Patrick Rimoux who has already lit up several major monuments in France and the Nelson Mandela bridge in South Africa bathed the various structures of the Jantar Mantar with projected star light. His work took us through mythological perception of Astrology seen by several ancient cultures to more modern calculations and study of space. The essence of his work was not just the ephemeral images he put together but also the use of space – the way these images were projected onto the structures. In a more innovative style, the Indo-French couture Duo Lecoanet Hemant put forth their mobile light installations. Trained dancers wore these installations that evoked man made satellites, planets and light creatures which could have been intergalactic aliens or post modern fairies. This creation once again pushes the use of light in different disciplines. The music was set and orchestrated by electro band Scratch Bandits Crew with the soprano Sunanda Rao-Erdem from India. After three hours of celebrations the music wound down, the lights went far away but the 4300 people who were present carried away with them the light, music and art that celebrated the long and rich diversity of Indo French friendship.

Illuminated Jantar Mantar

– Contributed by Atout France

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Travel & Tourism Beyond Boundaries

NYC SETS ITS GOAL AT 55 MN VISITORS BY 2015

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YC & Company has met with more than 2,000 influential tourism industry partners and business leaders and outline how the organization would remain on course to achieve its new goal of $70 billion in economic impact and 55 million visitors by 2015. “New York City welcomed an all-time high of 52 million visitors last year – a nearly 19 percent increase since 2006. Of those 52 million visitors, a record 11 million were international visitors, a 50 percent jump since 2006. And our City’s share of total overseas visitors to the U.S. has grown substantially from 28 percent of the pie in 2006, to 33 percent today,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Overall, tourism has grown 18.7 percent from 2006 to a record 52 million visitors in 2012. Employment in New York City

Name of event NYC & COMPANY ANNUAL MEETING Venue NEW YORK Date 20-02-2013

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within the hospitality and leisure sector has grown 25 percent from 285,000 jobs in 2006 to 356,000 jobs now. Tourism is now the City’s fifth largest industry. In 2013, NYC & Company will build on Mayor Bloomberg’s new plan to create the nation’s first-ever licensing model for privatelyowned, for-profit hostels by renewing its NYC<30 youth initiative, targeting travellers of ages between 18-29. Since 2006, hotel development in New York City has also expanded more than 30 percent from 71,000 rooms in 2006 to 93,000 rooms now. During this time period, approximately 72 hotels representing close to 6,200 rooms have opened in the City’s boroughs outside Manhattan.


Travel & Tourism Beyond Boundaries

TURKISH AIRLINES IS PRO AM SPONSOR I

ndiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s premier pro team golf event kicked off with the Turkish Airlines Celebrity Pro- Am played over 18 holes with celebrity amateur golfers teeing off with a star studded line up of top professional golfers Including actor and avid golfer Madhavan, the legendary Kapil Dev, cricketers Syed Kirmani, Madan Lal and Murali Kartik, shooter Mansher Singh, comedian Papa CJ, cricket commentators Charu Sharma and Nikhil Chopra, former Indian Hockey team Captain Ashish Ballal and top ranked lady golfer Gauri Monga. Top Professional golfers who played were Jeev Milkha Singh, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Anirban Lahiri, Jyoti Randhawa and Rahil Gangjee. Turkish Airlines gave away prizes to the amateur golfers for their performance on the opening day. The highly anticipated event provided an opportunity for the pro golfers to get to know the course better and the amateur Name of golfers to get a chance to pick up event valuable pointers and improve their LOUIS PHILIPPE game.

CUP 2013 Venue NEW DELHI Date 15-02-2013

Kapil Dev

R. Madhavan receiving gift from Turkish Airlines L-R: Charu Sharma; R Madhavan; Jacob John and Rishi Narain

Jeev Milkha Singh and R. Madhavan Lucky draw winner awarded by Turkish Airlines

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ROAD TRAVEL

FUN CARS INDIA’S HISTORY The car came loaded with almost everything one could desire in entertainment, climate control, parking sensors, etc. The ‘retro’ look instrument panel with round dials and chrome trim was also very pleasing. It is a real jewel on wheels and such fun to drive.

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he Mini Cooper is quite one of the most exciting cars to drive and the Mini Cooper S is the ultimate in fun cars. The standard Mini delivers a peppy 120 HP from a 1600 cc petrol engine while the Mini S pumps out a huge 181 HP from the same basic engine. I was therefore very privileged to take a Mini Cooper S on perhaps the most pleasurable 1200 KM test drive I can remember from Goa to the ruins of Hampi and back over lovely twisty ‘ghat’ roads and some good highways. The Mini is a small car, roughly the size of the Maruti Swift, but packed with every modern feature for performance and comfort. A bigger car may drive faster but a fast small car gives the driver a real sense of speed. The Mini is a real jewel of a car. Goa is a very pleasant and laid back destination for many Delhi citizens who tr y to e scape the cold of w inter or t he heat of the monsoons. But most visitors do not s e e muc h m o r e t h a n the beache s, discos and re staur ant s. Most visitors do not therefore know that Goa also has an ancient heritage that goes back long before the arrival of the Portuguese. We therefore began our odyssey with a visit to the cave temples of Arvanem, not far from Mapusa, that may have once been Buddhist caves before becoming Shaivite shrines in the seventh century. The Portuguese heritage cannot however be ignored so we also drove to the sixteenth century Reis Magos fort overlooking the Mandovi River opposite Panjim. The Goa Government with INTACH has just done it up to make a wonderful exhibition about Goa’s history illustrated with evocative pictures by the late Mario Miranda. From the battlements of the Citadel one can see how the battery of ancient canons used to command the estuary. We were warned that the roads on the usual route from Goa to Hampi was in bad shape so we headed north on NH 17 towards Mumbai and then headed west on a lovely winding road via the minor hill station of Amboli to get to Hubli from where NH 63 got us straight

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to Hospet close to the ruins of Hampi. In a fast and nimble car the 450 Km journey took just nine effortless hours and we arrived fresh and exhilarated by the drive. Guided by friends we stayed at a very comfortable resort run by the Kishkinda Trust that is located on the far side of the pretty Tungabadra River. A small coracle took us to the far side to see some wonderful rock carvings on the far side. Many pilgrims also come to Hampi as legend has it that the Hampi area was the launching pad for Ram’s final attack on Lanka as it was the home of Hanuman and many other characters of the epic Ramayana. Hampi is a truly magical place to visit. The ruins of the sixteenth century capital of the Vijayanagar Empire built with huge granite blocks, pillars and beams set among a huge collection of tumbled rocks are truly awe inspiring. European visitors described it as the most magnificent city in the world during its heyday. The fortifications set among the tumbled rocks would have been unassailable but the rulers foolishly challenged the Adilshahi rulers on the open plains and were routed and they utterly destroyed the city. We returned via the port of Karwar south of Goa on another wonderful hilly road. The little 2 - door car was wonderful in the two front seats but distinctly cramped in the rear. The 181 HP engine was very docile at low revs but pumped out instant acceleration when the pedal was pushed. The six-speed automatic also made it effortless to drive but there were also paddle shifts for those who like to use gears. Our average fuel consumption was also a very acceptable 15 KMPL on the 1200 KM journey. The car came loaded with almost everything one could desire in entertainment, climate control, parking sensors, etc. The ‘retro’ look instrument panel with round dials and chrome trim was also very pleasing. Paradoxically the Mini began life in 1957 as a compact poor man’s car but is today, at ` 27 Lakhs, a rich man’s fun car. It is however a real jewel on wheels and such fun to drive. Text & photograph by MURAD ALI BAIG


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Date of Publication: 04/03/2013

RNI No. DELENG/2000/3645 Posting Dt. 4-9/03/2013 Licence No. U(C)-299/2012-2014 W.P.P. at MCB-1 Reg No. DL-(C)-01/1250/2012-14


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