Page 1

a cross section publication

BUSINESS TRAVEL

• MICE • METRO TRAVEL • HOLIDAYS • TOURISM

GONOW volume

MUMBAI’S

TOP 5

HotelPools

14. issue 2. august 2013. ` 50

leisure

GOA The Spa Terminus UB CITY The Heartbeat of a Modern Metropolis

MY LAST

conference

Rewarding the

FREQUENT FLYERS

Bangkok

Convention Centre

Hyderabad

miceguide


7th annual edition promoting

Cinema Tourism exclusively promoting cinema tourism conference and B2B meet with Bollywood

7th Annual Conference & Expo October 18–19th 2013. Mumbai.

A N C H O R PA R T N E R

The networking forum where 300 leading producers from Mumbai cinema, both from the big and small screen, meet with providers and facilitators of ideal destinations suitable as cinemascapes, promoting cinema tourism O RG A N I S E R S

Mumbai: 18th-19th October, 2013 Email: cinemascapes@crosssectionmedia.com Website: www.cinemascapes.co.in 2

GO NOW August 2013


THIS ISSUE EDITORS’ PAGE

If travel incites you just the way it incites us, share your experiences on /gonowlifestylemagazine /gonowmagazine

Dear Readers, Hyderabad has been in the news for huge political reasons. As the city opens a new chapter in her life, being declared the capital of the two states of Andhra and Telengana, there is this big MICE interest and potential in the city. We bring you an extensive guide to some of the leading venues in this rich and historic city. Exploring the domain of MICE tourism broadly in India and abroad, we bring to you experiences from a diverse set of business travellers. They come together and share their experiences of the last conference they attended. As a single venue, the Centara Grand in Bangkok provides for some great meeting spaces – read on. We talk to Alok Bharadwaj, Canon India on his preferences while travelling for business and more. Deepak Ohri, CEO, lebua Hotels & Resorts, talks at length on the leading trends of business travelling – his expert advice should help you get more out of your own travels. In the Business Destination section, we have featured Hubli-Dharwad, which is asserting itself as Karnataka’s next big industrial powerhouse. National and international airlines offer different programmes, to reward their frequent flyers with benefits of various kinds. We analyze the same and help you in choosing the best of all. Starting a new series in this magazine, we ranked the top 5 hotel pools of Mumbai on different criteria, each equally important for you, the user and frequent traveller to the city. Also, find out how the glamorous UB City acts as the heartbeat of Bengaluru. Rejuvenate your senses at various spas offering exciting therapies in Goa, as we bring you the best in this holiday destination. Discover the opportunities that cinema tourism holds, and how is Delhi being labelled as the next B-Town in the Tourism Connect section. Adding on to this, Mukesh Bhatt shares his five favourite international destinations for his movies. We also bring you the architectural magnificence of North Karnataka, even as we present the spirit of celebrating victory in an English summer. Moving on to the Holiday Travel, we take you on a journey from the culturally vibrant Bhutan to the distinct features of the Greek Islands and through the historical capital of China. Happy Reading!!

/gonowmagazine

READERS WRITE IN An enterprising tale of two planned cities

Being from Mumbai, I wasn’t aware of the interesting MICE opportunities that Lavasa has. Your detailed article intrigued in me an urge to visit this beautiful getaway with my colleagues and associates. It was also wonderful to read about the modern international convention centre in that place. Mansi Sirohi, Mumbai

Indians should explore and understand India

BUSINESS TRAVEL

• • MICE

METRO TRAVEL

HOLIDAYS

TOURISM

Editor: Navin Berry Managing Editor: Priyaanka Berry

It was very interesting to read the conversation with HH Jodhpur, Gaj Singh and discover various cultural details of Jodhpur through him. The modern thinking that this maharaja holds taking along his ethics and traditions was a delight to read. Purnima Das, Ahmedabad

Editorial: Anupriya Bishnoi, Nikita Chopra, Varalika Vij

Been to New Zealand for once, but didn’t discover this side of the place as you described in your photo feature, enhancing the beautiful colours of the volcanic eruptions. I was aware of the volcanic history that it is known for but couldn’t get a chance to be there. Will definitely try a hot bath in Coromandel next time when I visit. Karan Bajaj, 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

Geothermal New Zealand

“What, no room service!?”

It definitely rings a bell to hear about luxury hotels without room service. It is one of the most comforting services that a hotel offers to its guests. It is a pure relaxation for a traveller when he knows that he will be served with all his needs just by a single call. Indranil Rajpal, Bengaluru

Advertising: Saurabh Shukla Design: Ashok Saxena, Neelam Aswani

This issue of gonow contains 80 pages plus 4 pages cover

drop us a line

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

August 2013 GO NOW

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INSIDE

a cross section publication

BUSINESS TRAVEL

• MICE • METRO TRAVEL • HOLIDAYS • TOURISM

GONOW volume

MUMBAI’S

TOP 5

HotelPools

14. issue 2. august 2013. ` 50

Business Traveller 10 On-time performance is most essential: In conversation with Alok

Bharadwaj, Executive Vice President, Canon India, we share with you his experiences, and preferences while travelling for business.

leisure

GOA The Spa Terminus UB CITY The Heartbeat of a Modern Metropolis

12 My last conference: From various spheres of life, these corporate travellers share the experience of the last conference they attended.

MY LAST

conference

Rewarding the

FREQUENT FLYERS

Bangkok

Convention Centre

Hyderabad

18

Hotels & Resorts talks to us about leading trends in business travel.

Business Destination 20

miceguide

Building an emotional connection with guests: Deepak Ohri, CEO, lebua

Karnataka’s next big industrial powerhouse: Hubli-Dharwad looks set to assert itself, as the battle for the crown of Karnataka’s second city intensifies.

MICE Destination 22

Hyderabad – High on MICE: Exploring the various convention and exhibition facilities of the state, we get you the best MICE guide.

28 World class convention facility: Centara Grand and Bangkok Convention Centre is the perfect choice for your conferences and conventions in Thailand.

Metro Travel

32 Rewarding the frequent flyers: Analysing the various frequent flyer

28 32

programmes of domestic and international airlines, we help you in choosing the best of all.

36

Mumbai’s top 5 hotel pools: Go Now ranks the top five pools of hotels in Mumbai on different criteria, discover your favourite of them all.

40 The heart beat of a modern metropolis: UB City adds on to the existing

glamour of Bengaluru and this opulent commercial hub houses the best luxury brands.

44

44

The regal tea: The British custom of High-tea is being very well practiced at hotels

48

Goa – The Spa Terminus: We take you for a stroll to some of the exotic spas of

in and around Delhi; Go Now discovers the latest menus. Goa where you can rejuvenate your senses.

Tourism Connect 52

The best bollywood backdrops: Mukesh Bhatt shares his favourite destinations – through the lens of a producer.

54 Cinemascapes 2013 Mumbai:

48 70

Cinema tourism gets a leg up with launch of cinemascapes 2013

56 Celebrating victory in an English summer: Explore the culture and nightlife of England and the vigour with which Indians cheered the Men in Blue at ICC Champions Trophy.

58

Doing the North Karnataka cultural circuit: The temples of the

mighty Chalukyan legacy can perfectly be witnessed in the northern quarter of Karnataka. 62 Delhi – The Next B-Town?: Find out exactly what attracts film directors and producers to the capital and why they keep coming back.

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Holiday Travel

64 A tourist guide to Bhutan: Experience the

cultural vibrancy and natural pleasures of Bhutan and relish the pleasures of its natural beauty.

68 Taj Tashi, Bhutan – An Architectural Elegance:

Nestled in the mountains, the hotel, with its luxurious facilities is one of the best choices for the discerning traveller.

70

The Greek islands:

74

A journey through China:

Greece, a paradise for both adventurous and romantic travellers, The Greek Islands has distinct features and pleasures. Offering wonderful experiences for all kinds of travellers, China is one of the oldest and most sophisticated civilisations.


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AIRLINES & AIRPORTS

SpiceJet’s NextGen Bombardier

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tarted from Hyderabad, SpiceJet Bombardier, after covering Chennai now has added its base in New Delhi. The only airlines with a fleet of Bombardier’s Q400 NextGen, SpiceJet currently has around 12 aircrafts in the fleet, and is planning to add more too. It initially started with South of India and is now all set to cover tier 2 and tier 3 cities of other parts of the country. It has added Amritsar, Chandigarh, Indore, and Srinagar to the existing connectivity and will be adding more soon. SpiceJet took the delivery of 5 Q400 NextGen turboprop aircraft recently

from Bombardier in C anada. These aircraft would be primarily stationed in Delhi to cater to the needs of North Indian regions. “Bombardier is considered as one of the best aircraft for short distances. It flies lower than the Boeings and also helps in saving fuel. Its turnaround time is also low and is more efficient, and economical too,” says SpiceJet spokesperson. Bombardier Q400 NextGen is a quiet comfortable and smart fleet, and can accommodate 78 passengers in one go. Bookings for these destinations from Delhi are now open. The airlines will have two flights daily from Delhi to Amritsar and one flight daily from Delhi to Indore along with more. With introduction of Bombardiers, SpiceJet has made tier 2 and tier 3 cities more accessible to the passengers at economical rates. Also, it is fast enough to operate more number of flights every day. While the noise and vibration reduction features have added comfor t to the journey of the passengers, the aircraft has proven to be reliable too. Being a budget carrier, it travels only in Economy class; the seat configuration in the aircraft is a comfortable 2x2. www.spicejet.com

KrisWorld in Singapore Airlines soon

Set to enter the fleet in coming months, Boeing 777300ERs boasts of world’s most advanced in-flight entertainment system, KrisWorld. This entertainment system features larger LCD screens and video touchscreen handsets across all classes. The size of the LCD screen varies in all the classes with, 23 to 24 inches in First Class, 15.4 to 18 inches in Business Class and 10.6 to 11.1 inches in Economy Class. Economy Class customers will also be able to browse through more than 1,000 on-demand entertainment options. The service will be rolled out to eight of these new aircrafts along with more. www.singaporeair.com

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Air India flies to Birmingham

Functional for four days a week, Air India introduces its fourth flight to UK. This service would be available from Delhi and Amritsar and will be operational on the recently launched Dreamliner aircraft. Operating on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, it will leave from Amritsar at 1030 hrs, reach Delhi at 1150 hrs. AI-113 will then depart from Delhi and will reach Birmingham at 1800 hrs. On return, AI-114, taking off from Birmingham at 2130 hrs will reach Delhi the next day at 1005 hrs and then fly for Amritsar at 1205 hrs. Along with boosting tourism, it will also fulfil the needs for trade relations in general. www.airindia.com


AIRLINES & AIRPORTS

Turkish Airlines’ new in-house fragrance

T

aking its brand experience to the next level, Turkish Airlines has introduced the fragrance, TK 1933, to add a sense of relaxation and happiness to its customer’s experiences. It has been exclusively created by the international perfume company, MG Gulcicek as t he de signated br anded fragrance that will be used in Turkish Airlines’ VIP/CIP Lounges, ticket sales offices, inside the aircraft, and for other corporate purposes. Turkish Airlines believe that it being a new branding element will prove to be

yet another tool to create customer satisfaction and happiness. The fragrance is

intended to provide a sensory recognition of the brand. www.turkishairlines.com

Holiday Packages by Air India In partnership with MakeMyTrip, Air India launches exciting holiday packages in an online B2C format. The transparent, dynamic and all-inclusive pricing will make it easier for the customers to choose the perfect package for their vacations. It offers access to 150 packages, which would take you to 23 domestic and 2 international destinations. The accommodation options range from in standard and deluxe variations, from selected 3 to 5 star properties. You can easily book your holidays in six simple steps and the itineraries vary from simple single city tours to complex multi-city, multidestination tour. www.airindia.com

British Airways gets its first A380 It is the first UK airline to take the delivery of the double-decker, world’s largest commercial jet. The aircraft can accommodate 469 customers across four cabins, with customers in the First Class seated at the front of the main deck. Club World (business class) customers can choose from 44 seats on the main deck, or 53 seats on the upper deck. The seats at the upper deck will feature a new 2:3:2 configurations across the cabin. The aircraft’s innovative design makes it much quieter during take-off and landing and 16 per cent more fuel efficient than a Boeing 747. www.ba.com

T1 expansion at BIAL

The expansion programme at Terminal 1, Bengaluru International Airport is going fast on track and is scheduled to serve a fully operational airport with new facilities in the phase starting in October 2013. Recently, things are coming in shape with the infrastructure completion of the airport operational control centre, installation completion, trials of the check-in counters and unveiling of the first art installation by cities artist Yusuf Arakkal. The art evokes in the viewer, the many dimensions of Bengaluru; based on the theme of flight, it references the city’s heritage as the aerospace hub of India and the flag-bearer of modernity and technology in the country. For Further Information, Visit: www.bengaluruairport.com

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HOLIDAY OFFERS

Vivanta By Taj Bentota reopens Explore Macau with Mandarin Oriental

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fter an extensive renovation, amounting to `65 crores, the hotel opens up with a new design which is a perfect blend of contemporary style and colonial charm. Adding to its magnificence are the views of the Indian Ocean, pristine beach and wide-ranging culinary offerings along with Ayurveda Jiva Spa. The look and feel of the 160 rooms is inspired by the heritage of Bentota region, and colours of the adjacent beaches. It also offers traditional Ayurvedic treatments at the Jiva Spa, and offers culinary delights like, S.H.A.C.K., The Palms, and The Orient Pavillion.

Discover the wonders of Macau’s most iconic centrepiece with style and luxury. The House of Dancing Water Experience, it takes place in the bustling entertainment area of the island. Mandarin Oriental, Macau offers you a package with one night’s accommodation in a luxurious guest room or suite, MOP 388 dining or spa credit per stay, two tickets for The House of Dancing Water in the A Reserve area, Round-trip limousine transfers between the hotel and City of Dreams, and more. Guests can use the dining or spa credit to savour exquisite French cuisine at the hotel’s signature restaurant. Price: MOP 4,688. www.mandarinoriental.com

reservations@tajhotels.com or Call: 00 800 4588 1825

Custom-tailored activities for kids at Taj 8

GO NOW August 2013

The Kids @ Taj Programme offers activities and amenities for the young guests to enjoy during their holidays. They will be greeted with a special ‘passport’, stamped with the property’s location and dates of stay with an official certificate, as a token of honour for their s t ay. Pe r s o n a l i s e d s e t o f stationery is presented to every kid and they can savour on the special kids dining menu too during their vacations. Along with this, the kids can also take home a mascot representing different properties of The Taj group. Various hotels around the world are offering this exciting package for kids. www.tajhotels.com

Complimentary 4th night at The Legian, Bali

After your stay for three consecutive nights at One Bedroom Villa with a 10-metre private pool, you can enjoy the fourth night complimentary. Along with this it also includes private butler and various club benefits. Savour the daily American breakfast in the villa or at The Club Lounge, tea in the evening and cocktails and canapés later in the evening. You are also entitled to unlimited access to the health club, sauna, beach and pool at The Legian, Bali. Also avail the daily laundry service, newspaper, seasonal fresh fruits, return airport transfers in private car and much more. When: Valid Till 31st March, 2014. Price: starting from US$ 430. www.ghmhotels.com


HOLIDAY OFFERS

Exciting Monsoon at Casino Royale Goa Celebrate Ramadan in Hyderabad

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ook any one of Casino Royale Goa’s special 2 Night – 3 Day packages and enjoy a luxurious stay at the all suite hotel, Deltin Suites. Each package includes a one night free entry for two into Casino Royale, along with complimentary snacks, unlimited drinks and an elaborate multi cuisine buffet dinner. The next morning, you can pamper yourself with a relaxing 30 minute spa experience. Both the packages also include, complimentary beverage on arrival, A/C executive suite, complimentary breakfast, dinner and transfer to Casino Royale Goa by private jetty. Price: starting from `9,000 www.casinoroyalegoa.com or Call: 022-40158888/0832-6710777

Mumbai’s Cutting Chai at The Claridges

Savour the distinct tea flavours in the famous Mumbai’s style at The Claridges New Delhi, along with a selection of Indian street food. Flavours like, cardamom, ma s ala and ginger are being served with an authentic touch of aluminium kettle and local glassware. Along with the ‘chai’ explore the local street food, including, Vada Pao, Pakoras, Masala Bhutta (corn on the cob), and Chana Zor Garam amidst the vibrant a mbience of Pick w ick s, overlooking the lush green garden and at The Claridges Garden.

With a customised experience, including a lavish meal at all day diners, Viva, Vivanta by Taj – Begumpet invites you to experience the euphoria of the holy month. The package also includes, exciting walk through the night bazaar to experience a number of culinary delights. The hotel presents a vibrant fusion of warmth and contemporary elegance that echo the deep-rooted culture and heritage of Hyderabad. You can also indulge in an interesting conversation with a heritage keeper who will share the rich history of the festival and the enriching city. When: Valid till August 2013 reservations.hyderabad@tajhotels.com or Call: +91 040 67252626

Nature Calls at Aamod, Dalhousie

With lush green meadows and silent valleys, Aamod at Dalhousie redefines ecotourism with luxury. This resort is set up in a picturesque setting with exquisite dining options, luxurious spa treatments and a host of adventurous sports. It offers an exciting selection of sports, excursions, day trips and activities for both adults and kids. Each cottage is surrounded by Silver Oak, Pine and Rhododendron trees. Blend in with the environment and rejuvenate yourself in your own beautiful private world. Serving you with lifetime memories, the resort offers personal and tailor-made facilities. Price: Deluxe Cottage `4,900; Super Deluxe Cottage `6,300; Deluxe Suite `7,700 www.aamod.in or Call: 09213022540/41

When: Going on till 15th August, 2013 Timings: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm Where: The Claridges Garden & Pick Wicks, at The Claridges, New Delhi August 2013 GO NOW

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MICE OFFERS

Dream wedding at Angsana Velavaru Residential meeting package at Sukhothai

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n booking for five nights in the villa category of the resort, their promotion, The Wedding Experience offers couples with their dream wedding with compliments of the resort in the charming beach pavilion located on the beachfront or a private castaway island. The planners at the resort help you in creating the perfect wedding with traditional Maldivian drummers. Additional options are also available for the couple to create the most unforgettable wedding experience suited to their preference. Angsana Velavaru offers different wedding dinner concepts including the Asian Wedding, Gala or Romantic Barbecue themes priced at USD 125 per person.

The Sukhothai Bangkok offers an excellent value Residential Meeting Package with highly competitive room rates including one nights’ accommodation, full buffet breakfast etc. It also features Morning and Afternoon Tea with a selection of bakery and savoury items, plus a choice of set lunch or international buffet at The Colonnade. Book a minimum of 10 rooms per night to enjoy special rates that start from THB 6,000++ for a Superior Room, or THB 8,000++ for a spacious Executive Suite, per night per person. When: Valid Till 30th September 2013 www.sukhothai.com

For Bookings, Call: +960 676 0028 or mail: reservations-velavaru@gmail.com

Greet colleagues at Sheraton Bangalore

Sheraton Bangalore at Brigade Gateway offers special meetings and conference facilities for the corporates looking for an interesting experience with comfort. Their package includes a whole day meeting space fit for 10 to 15 delegates with two rounds of appetizing coffee, tea and cookies. It also includes lunch buffet at the signature, all-day dining restaurant, ‘Feast’. Conference stationeries and water bottles are inclusive. With this package, residential groups get an attractive 10% discount on the price along with special 10% discount on technology equipment. The delegates can also experience Sheraton Fitness Programme during the breaks, or special nutrition breaks. Price: `1,500 per person www.starwoodhotels.com or Call: 080 - 4252 1000

Special conference rates at Radisson Blu

With an expansive space dedicated to MICE facilities, it is one of the ideal places for small as well as large conferences. You can avail their special inclusive conference package at ` 850 + taxes per person. This package includes usage of conference hall, morning tea/coffee break with assorted cookies, followed by buffet lunch. The delegates would also be provided with standard conference stationery. To take forward your conference and for presentations, this package also includes usage of one screen, or one white board, flip chart with coloured markers and one podium and mike. When: Valid Till 30th September 2013. www.radissonblu.com

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INTERNATIONAL HAPPENINGS

Celebrate art & music in San Francisco

Hot happenings in Miami this month

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isual artists represent San Francisco’s vibrant cultural beauty alongside dozens of bands and attractions at The Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival. It is becoming one of the ultimate summer festivals for live music, food and wine fans, along with unparalleled entertainment experiences. Going on since more than 60 years, The Sausalito Art Festival is another weekend which brings together art lovers from around the world at one place. The country’s best art, most exciting artists, a top-name music line-up, tempting gourmet food, fine wines and premium beers are a part of this festival. When: The Outside Land’s Music & Art Festival – 9th to 11th August 2013; Sausalito Art Festival – 31st August to 2nd September 2013. www.sanfrancisco.travel

Floralientime transforms Brussels City Hall

This all new floral event by collaboration of The City of Brussels, the NGO Brussels Flower Carpet, and the Floralies of Ghent will do an international plant and flower arrangement at Brussels City Hall and at Brussels’ Grand Place. Filled with colours and fragrances, the city hall will be transformed into a heavenly place. Under

this initiative the organisers wish to bring greenery to the residents of Brussels – into their homes, onto their streets and into their city. This is the first edition of this festival and it is being planned to take place biannually, alternating with the flower carpet event.

In August, Miami offers mouth watering meals at incredible savings at the Miami Spice Restaurant Programme. This programme is stretched on till the end of September and goes on throughout various restaurants in Greater Miami and the beaches. You can relish signature dishes created by world-renowned chefs all over the island. Moving on to the cinema, Brazillian Film Festival of Miami will be held from 18th August to 25th August at the Colony Theatre. During the festival various short and feature films compete for the prestigious, Cristal Lens Award. This will be the 16th edition of the festival in Miami. www.visitflorida.com

Coron – A diver’s delight

A remote province in Philippines, it hosts a number of options for the adventure-hungry tourists. From scuba diving, snorkelling to various other water sports it has it all. You can rent boats, masks, fins and also go for training dives starting from your hotel’s pool. Along with these sport activities, it also has a multitude of restaurants to choose from. For obvious reasons, seafood lovers can relish on some of the finest dishes by the region’s many fishermen. La Sirenetta is one of the most loved amongst foreigners, serving both Filipino and Western delicacies. www.visitmyphilippines.com

www.floralientime.be August 2013 GO NOW

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INDEPENDENCE DAY SPECIAL

Tiranga platter at Radisson Blu Freedom package at The Imperial

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adisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Paschim Vihar serves the true essence of India on your table. Their much talked about restaurants, Indyaki and Level 2 are blending the traditional dishes from all over the country in one fine meal. The impressive spread will include specially designed live grill menu at Indyaki and an extensive multi cuisine buffet featuring tri colour dishes with Chaat counter at Level 2. Serving the best of India to its patrons, the hotel is in the festive mood of freedom celebrating 66 years of independence. Price: Indyaki `1,600 + taxes. Level 2 – Lunch `1,300, Dinner `1,500 + taxes When: 15th August 2013. www.radissonblu.com

Rejoice freedom with buffet at Sheraton If you are from the Defence services or were born in the year 1947, then you can relish the flavours of India by paying just 66% of your total bill. The chefs at Sheraton New Delhi have prepared a grand Indian buffet, with traditional recipes from across the varied culinary delights of our country. Taste the flavours of the nation by paying just 66% of the buffet price for your entire table. The offer would be applicable only on presentation of a valid ID. So, celebrate independence this year with the delicious food of India. Where: Baywatch, Sheraton, New Delhi. When: 15th August 2013 Call: 011-42661122

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The perfect way of celebrating the Independence Day is with flying kites, The Imperial New Delhi prepares the perfect atmosphere amidst colourful flying kites on this eventful day. The package includes stay for one day for a couple, including taxes in a heritage room. It also serves you with a late check-out till 1600 hours along with buffet breakfast for two at 1911 Restaurant. The guests will be served with a welcome fruit platter on arrival in the room and 20% discount on food and soft beverages. Also included is the Imperial Release Massage for 30 minutes each for two Pax along with more. Price: `12,999. When: From 14th to 18th August. Call: 011-41116303/04/05 reservation@theimperialindia.com

An extraordinary break with The Oberoi

Celebrating independence, The Oberoi, Gurgaon, offers a special package which includes a luxurious stay in the Deluxe room for two guests with breakfast along with complimentary additional room for two children below 12 years of age. It also includes a buffet lunch for two at threesixtyone – the world cuisine restaurant. The guests will also be served with a 30 minute spa treatment, a bottle of wine in the room, complimentary internet for 30 minutes each day and a lot more. They have introduced a special price for check-ins happening on 14th or 15th August. Price: `15,900 + Taxes. www.oberoihotels.com


INDEPENDENCE DAY SPECIAL

Enjoy grand buffet at Madras Pavillion Celebrate Indian culture at The Lalit Jaipur

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pholding the true spirit of Indian hospitality and celebrating the 66th year of independence, ITC Grand Chola brings to you an extravagant lunch buffet spread at Madras Pavilion. The chefs at the hotel have prepared special menu to get into the mood of patriotism. Celebrate your freedom and choose from a variety of Indian and International gourmet delights from live counters and scrumptious displays. With a choice of unlimited mocktails and soft beverages and an array of mouth-watering desserts, this experience is sure to leave you ever so patriotic and asking for more! Price: `1, 750 + taxes Where: Madras Pavilion, ITC Grand Chola, Guindy, Chennai When: 15th August 2013, 12:30 to 3:30 pm

During the long weekend this Independence day, celebrate the colours of freedom with the special 2 Nights, 3 Days package with a complimentary third night stay at The Lalit, Jaipur. You can enjoy the luxury of The Lalit in the vibrant city Jaipur and get closer to the traditions of the Pink city. This special Independence Day package also includes special cultural performance by Ayan and Amaan Ali Khan, the renowned singing sensations who are maestros in their own forms. This would be followed by a gala dinner which would include delicacies of the various Indian and international cuisines. Price: starting at `21, 999 For Reservations, Call: 1800 11 7711 or, 011-44447474

www.thelalit.com

Relax this Independence weekend in Pune

Couple retreat at Royal Orchid Situated right next to the historical Krishnaraja Sagar Dam and set atop a small hill, the Royal Orchid Brindavan Gardens is the perfect holiday destination. To celebrate this Independence Day with your partner, avail the exciting package by the hotel for this weekend. The 3 nights, 4 days package includes, accommodation in a King room inclusive of all meals and sightseeing. Witness the illumination at the wonderful Brindavan gardens and enjoy the dinner at the specialty restaurant CK’s on 15th August. Enjoy the next three days in the calm surroundings of Venugopal Temple, Balmmuri waterfalls, and a lot more. Price: `25, 000 (all inclusive) When: 15th to 18th August 2013 www.royalorchidhotels.com

Four Points by Sheraton Hotels & Serviced Apartments, Pune is offering a special room package for a limited period. Applicable for minimum two nights, the package would include accommodation in a comfortable room with welcome dr ink on ar r ival, scrumptious buffet breakfast. You can also avail buffet lunch or dinner for two by just adding `1, 200. The guests would also be treated with tri colour platter of Indian sweets in room once during their stay. The rates of this package are applicable for rooms on single or double occupancy. When: stay between 14th to 18th August 2013 Price: `4, 000 + taxes  www.starwoodhotels.com

August 2013 GO NOW

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BUSINESS TRAVELLER

“On-time Performance is most Essential”

Travelling around the globe for 10 days in a month, Alok Bharadwaj has a lot to share from his travel experiences. Along with this, he gives you some handy travel tips.

H

W

W

A

ow frequently do you travel for business?

I travel almost 10 days in a month. My business travel is generally for three purposes, firstly, for customer meetings, to do business and to get customer feedbacks. Secondly, it is with regard to review meetings, I either review internally or go to Singapore or Beijing for the same. Thirdly, I travel for MICE, our incentive programmes or for our annual programmes.

here do you travel the most for business?

I travel both in India and abroad for business. Within India, I travel in metros or mini metros, for MICE in India, I generally prefer either going to Goa or Kerala. Regarding abroad, I go for discussions to Singapore or Beijing or Tokyo, as we have Canon offices in these countries. For incentives or MICE I travel to Europe.

“I am a relaxed W traveller as I always find some time for myself’’

hat kind of traveller are you?

I would say that I am a relaxed traveller as I always find some time for myself. I don’t miss sightseeing wherever I go, and exploring the must visit places of that town. When I am in the west then I do not miss the theatre, whereas if I am in a city like Rome in Italy, then having a delicious dinner opposite the Colosseum is a must.

ALOK BHARADWAJ Executive Vice President, Canon India

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hich airlines and hotels do you prefer traveling with? And why?

While travelling abroad, I prefer going on Singapore or Lufthansa airlines. I prefer them for their in-flight services and their on-time performance. While travelling in India I prefer going on Jet Airways or IndiGo Airlines. Their quality of service is efficient and I appreciate IndiGo for its punctuality. With regard to hotels, I am either a Taj or an Oberoi customer while in India, whereas abroad, I prefer properties of Marriott, Shangri-La or Hilton.

re you a frequent flyer member with airlines? Do you find it useful?

Yes, I am a part of them and I find them quite useful too. I am a member of frequent flyer programmes with Singapore Airlines, Jet Airways, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific and British Airways. The most useful is Jet Airways, as it comes handy for my vacations within India.

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ell us something about your top three airport experiences

One of the best airports, which I have experienced, has been with Changi Airport in Singapore. There is a speed and feeling of efficiency in the air of the airport, everything, from immigration to other processes, is very fast. Everything is well organized at the airport and it is ideal for a business traveller. It also has excellent options for shopping.


interiors and technology.

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hat gadgets do you always travel with?

My Laptop, smart phone, camera are a few gadgets which I do not miss taking along with me while travelling. I carry Canon EOS –600D SLR which gives amazing results.

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hich camera from Canon would you suggest to a traveller and why?

Second best airport that I have experienced would be Frankfurt Airport; it is quite large, with good lounges and good connectivity. Thirdly, Hong Kong airport is very modern as it has recently been made; all the services and facilities are fresh and clean. I don’t like European airports, as I feel they are very small and are quite old too. They badly need change and have to be revamped.

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hat are the essential comforts and facilities you look for while travelling? Most important service that I look for while travelling is on-time performance. I hate unpredictable things, especially when I have to wait on the airport because of a delayed flight. If the flight is getting delayed, then I would appreciate if I am informed about it well in advance and not at the last minute when I am at the airport. Secondly, I need decent good lounges. In hotels, Wi-Fi connectivity is very essential for me and good newspapers and reading material should be available. I love space; the room in the hotel should be spacious, I don’t enjoy congested small rooms, for this fact, I dislike hotels in Tokyo which have very small rooms. In this case, India has good decent space and the rooms in hotels are quite spacious. Also, hotels with smaller space have larger lines during breakfast.

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o you plan your travel through some agencies or you do it yourself?

In case of travelling for business it is easy, as everything is already planned and done internally. My executive assistant helps me in doing all the bookings as per my preferences. Whereas, when I am planning for my vacations or my incentives, then I prefer planning on my own, I don’t trust any agency blindly. Google has made many things easier for us, so I choose the hotel,

“I prefer Singapore or Lufthansa airlines for their in-flight services and their on-time performance. While travelling in India I prefer going through Jet Airways or IndiGo Airlines.” which side of town I would be staying, what height my room should be at, whether I need a resort feeling or I need to stay within the city. After choosing everything on my own then I use an agency for final bookings. Generally I get my bookings done with Tui.

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o you attend any frequent exhibition or events annually? Tell us something about your experience with the same. There are a few exhibitions where I am a regular; a printing exhibition in Dusseldorf, Germany is one which I do not mis s. Also there is another fair by the name of Photokina, which happens once in two years and I make it a point to visit it. Canon also does its own expo in Shanghai which is a must visit. It is quite crowded at these exhibitions and visitors from around the world come here, these are places to learn about what is happening in other parts of the world.

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hich convention and exhibition centers do you find the best out of all those you have visited till now? The convention centre of Shanghai is both spacious and has excellent infrastructure too. It is a new facility with state-of-the-art

I would suggest travellers to carry DSLR while travelling as they serve you with a good photography experience. Canon Power Shot G 15 is a compact option to the DSLR; it also has extremely fine results and work great in low light.

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ow much time do you spend for preparing yourself before travelling?

Before travelling for business I need at least two weeks to prepare myself, whereas if I am travelling for MICE then I need 4 weeks to get comfortably placed with my work and preparation.

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o you think spending extra money for a Business Class seat is worth?

I believe it is worth it for a long journey, where you need to be comfortable and relaxed. If you are travelling for less than five hours then I think Economy is also pretty good. The biggest difference between the two is the food. A person like me gets half the pleasure from good inflight food and drinks. Relaxation while flying is also important, you can sleep well if flying in Business Class.

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ow do you spend your time in the flight?

Mostly it’s a combination of reading or watching a movie. But sometimes I am also preparing presentations in the flight.

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ny country/city you are looking forward to visit?

I have never been to South America; I have been to more than 50 countries around the world but I haven’t yet explored this part of the world. So, I am really looking forward to visit there soon.

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ould you like to give a few tips to fellow business travellers?

I would like to tell the beginners to always be careful with their passport and money exchange. A lesson that I learnt quite late was that in your last purchase, surrender all the coins that you have and foreign currency, even at the duty free shops and after that opt to pay by card. Even if it gets an odd figure debited from my card, I don’t mind but at least I am rid of all the foreign currency. As told to NIKITA CHOPRA

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BUSINESS TRAVELLER

MY LAST

Conference

GoNow speaks with leading corporates from around India and finds out their experiences, preferences and dislikes when it comes to attending industry conferences and exhibitions. We interviewed eight business heads who have seen the following trends gaining speed in the recent times: •  In conventions you get a chance to get inspired from the panellists and audiences alike. You get a better idea of the industry you are in with varied opinions coming from the experts. 16

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BUSINESS TRAVELLER

•  Lots of enthusiasm and passion has also been seen among the participants related to the possible growth of opportunities in their respective sectors. People have become active speakers and express more in limited time. •  Conventions give a chance to all the participants to brainstorm so that equal participation can be ensured and everyone’s perspective can be acknowledged and respected. •  The venue of the convention however can vary from places like Philadelphia to Indian regions like Pondicherry according to the convenience of the participants. August 2013 GO NOW

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BUSINESS TRAVELLER

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Lake Constance, Germany

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attended the Messe Friedrichshafen Outdoor Fair, which was held on the shores of Lake Constance in Germany from July 11 - 14. It was the 20th edition of the trade show, where people from around the world get together to experience what the outdoor industry has to offer and celebrate its growth. My most important reason for attending this fair was that Woodland has now entered the equipment phase with our Adventure Gear line. My time at this fair gave me a deeper understanding of what to expect from this space, the potential it holds and how to position my brand in the mind of the consumer. What I really enjoyed about the experience was the immense energy and enthusiasm; the excitement over seeing what’s out there, what’s been done and what can be done. This kind of a gathering teaches you how to cooperate and develop together, while remaining competitors – a deeply valuable lesson in the business community. A trade show is once-ina-lifetime experience that I would recommend for anyone truly passionate about their industr y. I came away from that trip renewed in my passion for the outdoor s, and filled with ideas of new directions that Woodland a nd I per s ona lly c a n explore”.

“A trade show is oncein-a-lifetime experience’’ HARKIRAT SINGH

MD, Woodland Worldwide

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y la st big convent ion was Canton Fair in China i n O c t o b e r 2 012 w h i c h i s a mon g s t t he pr e m ie r manufacturing summits across the industry. The experience at the fair was great to say the least, as we were exposed to critical interaction with worldrenowned manufacturers; and got an opportunity of getting acquainted to the manufacturing processes followed across the pump industry of the world. The event was an appropriate reckoner for imbibing aw a r ene s s on Ind ia’s standing amongst t he world pump market, and AVINASH JAIN allowed us the opportunity Managing Director of Arise India Ltd. of understanding global standards of technical advancements in relation to the manufacturing of pumps and relative machinery. The fair also gave us an insight into the concept of ‘Energy Efficiency’, and how the world is moving towards enabling energy efficiency into the product technologies. The fair also provided us a vista of understanding channels through which we can incorporate the relative technologies into our product range. Interacting with other delegates on topics like global pump scenario, present demand of pumps, export opportunities, collective challenges of the industry, vistas of development and more; the fair was a oneof-its-kind platform for the greater understanding of the intricacies of the relative pump industry. Although a thought-provoking interaction, the language barrier was one drawback which to some extent impeded the understanding of the global scenarios. Thanking the brilliant interpreters who brought out every piece of information in its truest extent, the success of the fair can be attributed to their tireless endeavour without which the conference would have been absolutely futile”.

“The language barrier was a drawback’’


BUSINESS TRAVELLER

“A “At conventions one gets to meet a lot of budding entrepreneurs’’ MANU KUMAR JAIN Co-founder, Jabong.com

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he last conference I attended was the E-Tailing summit organized by Omnitech in Bangalore at Taj Vivanta. The panel had a fair amount of people from the online business as well as people shifting from offline to online business. You get a different perspective from brands which were traditionally not online in the nature of their business but have now changed their business model keeping in mind current trends. One thing that I feel should be kept in mind while planning out these conferences is that there shouldn’t be any last minute changes in the agenda to ensure that there aren’t any back outs in the final moment. Conferences and conventions are a great way to bond with other fellow colleagues spread across various industries. Not only this, but I feel they serve as a perfect platform to know more about the happenings in other industries as well as acquire knowledge from other learned people. Such industry forums also open up doors to come across budding talents. One gets to meet a lot of budding entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas and remarkable insights about the industry. As I believe, a fresh approach is definitely a refreshing change. Additionally, an added benefit is that we get to meet a lot of potential partners at such conferences’’.

s a businesswoman, it is always an honour to speak at a world-renowned conference, as you learn and get inspired at the same time from the panellists and audience alike. This March, I was invited to address the Wharton-India Economic Forum in Philadelphia to speak on entrepreneurship. The Wharton-India Economic Forum which was in its 17th year, this year had people from around the world discussing the entrepreneurship scene in India. Most of the speakers at Wharton, lauded the efforts of funding and angel broking companies, and the government in designing incubation cells to launch more and more start-ups. What moved me the most about the conference was the opportunity to connect with future entrepreneurs who were present in large numbers at the event and the idea of sharing my experiences. As an entrepreneur who has successfully started businesses in India and the United States of America, I was chosen by Wharton to address the talk on the current entrepreneurship scenario, and spoke about how India is bullish on entrepreneurial ideas, and supports hard-working individuals with a solid business plan. The Wharton-India Economic Forum was strategically planned in terms of subjects of discussions, brain-storming sessions and other platforms of exchange of thoughts and ideas. The conference ensured a line-up of Indian heavy-weights including Arvind Kejriwal, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Javed Akhtar, Samir Mitra, Thomas Brunner, Aneesh Reddy, Anita Marangoly George, Ravi Uppal, Boman Irani and L.N Balaji to name a few. The cache t he s e i nd i v idua l s bring to the thoughtt able i s a ma z i n g. Each succeeding year, Wharton gets bigger in terms of scale and content, and this is DEVITA SARAF something I look CEO, VU forward for”.

“It is always an honour to speak at a world-renowned conference’’ August 2013 GO NOW

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BUSINESS TRAVELLER

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he last convention I attended was – Annual AllIndia Hidesign Conference 2013 at Hidesign Factory, Pondicherry. The passion that drives a small but adventurous brand like Hidesign is all about seeking the rights and the wrongs of business. A convention enthuses each colleague to come prepared with information on their area of work, so that they can share their excitement and jump into every conversation that bounces off. What’s fantastic about the convention was passion and excitement that they shared of the most important experience with people who talked the brand along with them – both at the conference table and even in the evenings t hat went on late till night filled with great food, cocktails and wines. The exhaustion and the innumerable different agendas that have to find time and space to keep ever yone happy a nd about these disappointed souls who were not inv ite d t hi s ye a r. T here is always a next time’’!

“What’s fantastic about the convention is passion and excitement’’ DILIP KAPUR

President Hidesign

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ast convention that I had attended was A sia Pacific Golf Summit at Brunei in last December. The glitterati of the entire golf world were present and it was the main highlight. Around 400 delegates from across the globe were present amongst whom we had some prominent speakers as well. At conference we saw the evolving f ace of s p o r t s world and how it’s advancing every y e a r. We a l s o c a me to k now about the recent innovations and b e s t pr ac t ice s of the spor t s world and how

“Conferences make me aware of the best practices of sports world’’ RISHI NARAIN

Founder and CEO - RN Golf Management Pvt. Ltd. those practices can be brought to India. I have been attending this conference from the last 5 years and usually I am the chairman of one of the panels that happen over three days. It’s always a pleasure to interact with learned and informative minds. Ba sically I a m re spon sible for structuring the content of the panel discussions so that the delegates find it useful and interesting. The last edition was special as in our award ceremony we gave lifetime achievement award to the legend Milkha Singh. So the overall ex per ience wa s a n entertainment as well as informative”.


BUSINESS TRAVELLER

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he la st conference I attended was t he Ima ge s Beauty Conference and Awards at the Renaissance Hotel, Mumbai. It was a 2 day conference with stalwarts from the salon, spa and beauty industry w it h a n aw a r d s how at night. It was highly informative where panel

“Conferences are a platform to build new contacts and nurture the existing ones”

he Conference that I last attended was the Indian Restaurant Congress (by Franchise India) 2012 at the Claridges Hotel at Suraj Kund. W hat intere s ted me was the networking opportunity that it brought along with it specifically in the Food & Beverage Industry. The conference managed to achieve it s objective of br inging restaurateurs together and align their thought s collectively apart from voicing their concerns and addressing them as an industry. There were various success stories that were shared along with experiences from the industr y people AMEER HUSSAIN a s well a s from the Director, Yogurberry budding restaurateurs. This was a platform which was basically created to recognize these success stories. Being new players in the Indian Market, Yogurberry not only gained valuable insights into the India Food & Beverage sector but we were also able to gauge the psyche of the Indian consumer. We have since then launched 4 outlets and these learning experiences continue to benefit us. We have been able to imbibe these industry best and practical practices in our current operational initiatives and introductions”.

“Conferences are a platform to share various success stories”

by ANUPRIYA BISHNOI

DIVITA KANORIA

Chief Wellness Officer, The Vedic Collection discussions, talks and demos were held which highlighted the future trends of the beauty, health and wellness industry. It also gave a chance to connect with the various speakers so was a great platform to build new contacts and nurture the existing ones. The Renaissance Hotel had a great ambience as it was huge and the award show out in the open in the evening made the settings magical. The only disappointment was the simultaneous sessions that were going on which made the whole affair little chaotic. I couldn’t reap in all the benefits or information I wanted to. I thought the conference was too short with too many modules to attend. But overall the experience was great”. August 2013 GO NOW

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BUSINESS TRAVEL WHAT THE EXPERT SAYS?

The Emotional Connect

We speak with Deepak Ohri, CEO, lebua Hotels & Resorts on leading trends in business travel, starting with, personalized service, special conference package and the increasing need to employ latest technology to offer business travellers essential value added services.

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usiness travellers have traditionally favoured luxury hotels. However, in light of the economic slowdown they have begun looking at ways to cut down, to the extent possible, on ancillary fees without compromising on the overall quality of their stay. Hence, it has become very important for luxury hotel chains to tangibly demonstrate their promise of quality. At lebua, we look at luxury as a holistic experience, and engage with our guests on a personal level to gauge their needs at every step and provide them with a regal, bespoke experience. We believe this approach helps us build an experience that our guests will cherish long after their stay. Let me give you an example of how we build an emotional connection with our guests at lebua. As soon as our guests arrive at the airport, we provide them with a personal Welcome Escort to greet them and assist with the formalities. It’s this connection along with meticulous attention to the smallest of details – such as ensuring that our guests’ luggage

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is in their suite even before they are so they don’t have to wait for it – that makes the lebua difference in terms of luxury. Our philosophy of an evolved personal connection with our guests has been distilled from our study of luxury across segments. If you look through history, you will see that luxury brands like Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Chanel have succeeded because they are better at emotionally connecting with their clientele than most other brands. We believe that a luxury product or service transcends and becomes a work of art through the amalgamation of three key elements – authenticity, imagination and innovation. Authenticity is the constant pursuit of excellence that your clients expect from your brand, in every service interaction, and in ever y product. This tenacious authenticity is supported by imagination and constant innovation. In the era of 24x7 businesses, we believe that one of the essential luxuries for our guests travelling on business is that they

have no distractions while attending to their work. This is why lebua Resort, Jaipur, set away from the hustle bustle of the city, is ideal for business retreats. With impeccable personalized services and special conference packages, we ensure that our guests’ meetings are productive, conducive to fresh thinking, and offer an outstanding value. Lebua Resort offers a wide range of conference halls and meeting rooms so that our guests can choose the one that suits them best. Our recreational options are ideally suited to hosting team-building activities, while our serene surroundings help weary executives unwind. Similarly, with the ever-growing popularity of Bangkok as a prime business location, the Tower Club at lebua offers stateof-the-art meeting and conference facilities to suit every need of our business guests. Apart from the perennial flight delays, we found that one of the key concerns business travellers faced was the quality of food available during their journey. This is why culinary arts are an integral part of the lebua


BUSINESS TRAVEL experience. Our multi-cuisine restaurant at Devi Garh by lebua, Udaipur offers a choice of world-class Indian and international cuisines. Guests can dine at the restaurant or choose from private dining venues ranging from intimate spaces under the stars with a wide array of flowers and candles flickering in the mirrored walls, to the gentle sound of flowing water or a view of the moonlit mountain peaks. Live Jal Tarang and flute recitals in the background make dining at Devi Garh an even more unforgettable experience. We believe that dining should go beyond just exceptional presentation and taste and offer a feast for all the senses. It’s this experience that makes a meal truly luxurious. The Vajra Restaurant at lebua Resort, Jaipur serves eclectic cuisine infused with subtle flavours featuring unique Asian and Continental preparations. Furthering this sumptuous journey in taste is the fact that our chef uses only the freshest ingredients. The setting for Toran, at the lebua lodge at Amer, Jaipur, is a traditional arch twisted to create a dynamic roof contour. The result is a space that seems timeless yet strikingly new. The cuisine follows suit by offering traditional Indian food with a dash of inspired creativity from our chef. The fusion menu is created using a subtle combination of ingredients farmed in lebua’s private gardens. Let’s consider a few more emerging trends in the world of business travel. With the augmentation of technology, it has becoming increasingly easier for

DEEPAK OHRI CEO, Lebua Hotels & Resorts

“We believe that a luxury product or service transcends and becomes a work of art through the amalgamation of three key elements – authenticity, imagination and innovation.”

“With the ever-growing popularity of Bangkok as a prime business location, the Tower Club at lebua offers stateof-the-art meeting and conference facilities to suit every need of our business guests.” business travellers to be aware of the kind of value-added services available on the hotel property. Consequently, they are keener to avail themselves of these. With the increase in air traffic, airports are increasingly becoming a destination for travellers, as well as brands. While high-end luxury brands are still hesitant to enter Indian airports due to the limited profitability, it is a successful market for semi-luxury goods and low-indulgence categories like fragrances, liquor and pens. Firms are also paying more attention than ever to the wellbeing and safety of their employees while travelling. A significant trend we anticipate unfolding in the near-term future is the relaxation of visa regulations in some countries, and tightening in others. For instance, Russia is expected to relax rules for US citizens while Taiwan and Brazil are likely to be a part of the US Visa Waiver program. On the other hand, the UK is considering visa reforms that will make it tougher for Indian citizens to get a UK visa. These changing dynamics will require business travellers to be quick to adapt and make their travel arrangements accordingly. After dominating the leisure segment, we are now seeing low-cost airlines slowly become a larger part of the business travel market as well. This has been strongly aided by the addition of new routes in Asia-Pacific and Latin America by low-cost airlines, and it is expected to exert even more significant downward pressure on the profit margins of the already beleaguered full-fare carriers. Hence, in order to save costs, airlines will have to focus on consolidating existing routes by making sure they have fuller planes rather than increasing capacity. Travel to and from Brazil, India and China is expected to rise. Western travellers are increasingly heading to these emerging

markets as they seek ways to be a part of these rapidly growing economies. The same is true for business visitors from these countries.  As businesses from emerging economies utilize their growing prosperity, they are travelling more to develop partnerships and expand overseas. We at lebua are continuing to develop specialized offerings to make business travel more appealing to and comfortable for these segments. Another aspect of technology that is being exploited by the frequent business traveller is the apps that let one book flights and hotels at the very last minute. Meanwhile, hotel reviews by other corporate travellers play a pivotal role when booking online, especially when booking at the last minute. While one-in-three business travellers already posts reviews online of properties they stay at, social reviews will hold more sway in business travel programs with the adoption of new corporate review sites. Consumer technolog y is changing the modern traveller’s behaviour and expectations. Organizations try to keep up with the latest advancements focusing on cost optimization and performance enhancement while they also need to increase their focus on how technology can better meet their travellers’ needs. Given the dynamic nature of the domain, we will continue to see many more major and minor trends emerge and evolve. Amidst all this we believe that what will prevail are the loyal relationships and connections between guests and hotels that are built on authenticity. This is why at lebua we believe in connecting with our guests on a personal level, thus creating an emotional connection that leads to complete trust. This inimitable experience is what makes us a luxury hotel chain. August 2013 GO NOW

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BUSINESS DESTINATION

HUBLI-DHARWAD

Karnataka’s next big industrial powerhouse? With strong fundamentals and its strategic location, Hubli-Dharwad looks set to assert itself, as the battle for the crown of Karnataka’s second city intensifies. by ASHWIN RAJAGOPALAN

Backdrop If there has been one consistent criticism about Karnataka’s rise as an Industrial powerhouse it has been Bengaluru’s continued dominance. Whether its technology companies or manufacturing, Bengaluru continues to garner most of the investments putting a huge strain on its infrastructure. The race for the state’s second city is still however wide open. Mysore has historically been an important city; its proximity from Bengaluru (Just 140 kms) has seen the city emerge as a second IT hotspot with large development centres from companies like Infosys. Mangalore’s traditional entrepreneurial spirit, educational institutions and port always keep this city in the mix. But the urban agglomeration that currently looks best equipped to shrug off its sleepy small town image to emerge as Karnataka’s second city is Hubli-Dharwad. Draw a route map anywhere in North Karnataka or South Maharashtra and there’s a good chance that Hubli-Dharwad will figure

The Gateway Hotel Lakeside Hubli 24

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on it. It’s halfway from Bengaluru to Mumbai (550 km from Mumbai and 420 km from Bengaluru) and is also located close to most of North Karnataka’s tourist destinations. These twin cities are actually 20 kms apart and fall in two districts but are governed by one Municipal Corporation.

The Gateway Hotel The aspirations of the city run parallel with the aspirations of one of the country’s fastest growing ‘Indian’ hotel brands. The Gateway Hotel Lakeside Hubli is the 22nd Gateway hotel and this Tata Group company has drawn up an ambitious roadmap that will see its footprint double over the next three years. Speaking at the launch Prabhat Varma, Chief Operating Officer of the Gateway Hotels and Resorts said that the Gateway at Hubli marks an important foray for the group. “This is our first hotel in North Karnataka and is a clear testimonial of Hubli’s growing significance as an important business destination”.

Headquarters of the South Western Railways


BUSINESS DESTINATION Spread over 9 acres and with 92 rooms, the Gateway overlooks the picturesque Unkal Lake in what is essentially new Hubli. It’s just 20 minutes away from the airport and railway station. Keeping with the Gateway brand philosophy, the hotel is designed to allow business travellers to feel completely at ease. Whether it’s the 24/7 gym or dining, the emphasis is clearly on the new age business traveller.

use of chilli, groundnuts and the region’s staple Jowar (Sorghum). Old Hubli was an important iron and cotton centre during the Vijayanagar Empire and really took wings with the advent of the British who established one of the oldest railway workshops in the country in 1880. Its unique location assumed strategic importance for the British through the 19th Century, who set up the Hubli Gymkhana Club for the large presence of its officers. Hubli continues to supersede Bengaluru The destination on the railway map as the HQ for South Western Railways. Hubli is a Hubli takes its name from the Kannada words Hoovu (Flower) and hub and large market for cotton and groundnut and true to its name Balli (Creeper) and in many ways Hubli-Dharwad represents all the has one of the largest flower markets in India where produce comes contrasts of North Karnataka. Whether its cuisine, the landscape or from neighbouring areas. the Hubli-Dharwad brand of Kannada, it is all heavily influenced by If the crowds of locals that thronged Buzz (Gateway’s all-day Hubli’s proximity to Maharashtra. The twin cities are essentially a diner) a day before the official launch are any yardstick it is clear blend of three worlds – Old Hubli, new Hubli and Dharwad with its that new Hubli is ready to take the leap and become a bustling rich culture and traditions. Dharwad University has been an important city. The fundamentals are strong – Hubli, Dharwad’s educational seat of learning and the town has produced a long line of talented institutions produce a whopping 1,25,000 graduates and 5,000 musicians like Bhimsen Joshi and Gangubhai Hangal and literary post graduates every year. A total of 14 Industrial neighbourhoods figures like Girish Karnad. The region has also traditionally been one in the area are home to engineering components, machine tools, of India’s cotton centres and the first factory here dates back to the 17th chemicals & pharmaceuticals and textiles. Hubli produces 40% of century. Dharwad sarees are among the best known from Karnataka all the engine valves produced in India. An estimate in 2012 by the and some of them are still hand-woven to this day. North Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association (NKSSIA) puts Dharwad is probably best known for its Peda that stands out the total turnover of the region’s 1000 plus small scale industries with its coffee brown hue. Dharwad’s best known delicacy has its (SSIs) at about `100 crore a day. humble beginnings in the 19th century when Hubli missed Karnataka’s first big IT wave Babusingh Thakur moved from Uttar Pradesh in the 1990s and lost out to other locations and crafted the first Dharwad peda as we like Mysore and Mangalore in the tier-2 know it. Thakur peda is now a household city IT stakes. Hubli’s strong fundamentals name in the region and is being run by one and relatively low people costs have seen a of his descendents Umrao Singh Thakur. The clutch of small start ups set up shop. Hubli’s recipe continues to remain a closely guarded IT story received a major shot in the arm secret. The region’s cuisine holds compelling when Infosys announced that it was setting options for food aficionados with the heavy up shop in Hubli in a 50 acre space allotted by the Karnataka government in March 2013. The Gateway might be the first 5-star hotel but new Hubli is already home to a few other 3 PRABHAT VARMA and 4 star hotels like the Clarks Inn and Hotel Chief Operating Officer, Hans. Although Hubli’s enviable location Gateway Hotels & Resorts makes it the perfect hub to explore North Karnataka’s historic and scenic destinations, “This is our first hotel in it is clearly business travel that will drive this North Karnataka and is a destination contributing to 80% of all hotel clear testimonial of Hubli’s arrivals. A stumbling blocks is the current growing significance as airport with its short runway. A 150-crore an important business project is expected to address that and destination.” become operational in 2015; the upgraded airport will reaffirm Hubli-Dharwad’s status as Karnataka’s second city.

filefact Getting there and around there: Hubli is wellconnected by train from Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Mumbai. Flight connections are available from Bengaluru, Mumbai and Hyderabad. When to go: Most of the year except the summer months (April-May)

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MICE DESTINATION

Reception area at HICC Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC)

HYDERABAD

High on MICE

Theatre style setting at HICC

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long with an abundance historical magnificence and cultural v ibr a nc y, t he cit y of pe a rl s, Hyderabad is emerging as one of the most preferred MICE destinations in the country. It offers world-class venues for your conferences, events and exhibitions. With direct international flights to major countries around the world originating from Hyderabad, it is very easily accessible for delegates from overseas. It infuses an authentic essence of Indian traditions to events planned in the city. Boasting of one of the largest convention centers of the country and exclusive meeting spaces, and exhibition facilities, Hyderabad surely contributes a lot in enhancing the MICE sector.

 HYDERABAD INTERNATIONALN CONVENTION CENTREN

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quipped with superior technology and banqueting services, Hyderabad International Convention Centre boasts of world class standards and serves successful memorable events. It includes 37 break-out rooms including specialized rooms along with preparatory rooms, boardrooms and VIP lounges. Located at 40 minutes from the airport, away from the hustle of the city, HICC offers all kinds of options, convention centres for a variety of events and conferences. From holding board meetings for 5 people, to organizing conventions for around 5,000 people, Hyderabad International Convention Centre has the perfect space and facilities for all. They provide customized solutions to the organizers, with modern technologies and aim to make every event an experience in itself. It entails an internal pillar-less hall which is spread across an area of 6,480 sq.mt. and can easily accommodate 5,000 delegates. It is flexible enough to hold in smaller events too, and can be divided into six small halls. The hall is enhanced by a spacious pre-function area, spanning across 6,000 sq.mt. of lobby space. An in-house event management and audio-visual management team are available to bring perfection to your event and take it to the next level of excellence. The design and features of the hall also take care of environmental sustainable practices. The whole convention centre is very efficiently connected with power, internet and water and is equipped with service pits at every 6 meters. The height of the centre rises above till 12.5 meters and the roof is fitted with catwalks and sound-proof mobile

The Square, multicuisine all day dining restaurant at the Novotel Hyderabad

operated walls. To maintain proper decorum, it has a private workspace for organizers and their guests. Its parking base is strong enough and can accommodate 1000+ cars at a time. The property is managed by Accor and jointly owned by Emaar Properties PJSC Dubai and Andhra Pradesh Infrastructure Corporation Ltd. HICC is a purpose-built and state-of-the-art convention facility, in the city. Some major events organized at the venue: ☛  United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity 2012 ☛  20th International World Wide Web Conference. ☛  International Congress of Mathematicians 2010

filefact Hyderabad International Convention Centre Website: www.hicc.com Call: +91 96542326219, or mail: enquiries@hicc.com

  NOVOTEL HYDERABADN CONVENTION CENTREN

T

he convention centre is connected to the Novotel Hyderabad, which is a 287 room, five star hotel and serves is sufficient to serve the delegates at the convention. It is located in the HITEC city, which is the heart of Hyderabad’s IT and business district. This is a perfect choice of accommodation for both business as well as leisure travellers. Spacious and contemporar y in design, the rooms in Novotel Hyderabd Convention Centre Hotel consist of three categories, standard room, executive floor and suites. Taking care of all your needs, the rooms and suites are well equipped with Hi-speed internet, laundry services, iron & ironing board, 24 hour inroom dining and much more.

Apart from the impressive facilities of HICC, it also offers three banquet halls and pool-side lawns which can cater to conferences or meetings for people ranging from 8 to 350. To facilitate communication, the hotel offers personalized services and also has organizers and interpreters available. The ballroom is built in an area spanning across, 2,552 sq.ft. with dimensions of 45.7 ft x 56.5 ft. (LxB). Granite is another facility, which can accommodate around 100 people in the cocktail setting, and can be divided into three different parts to organize smaller meetings. The hotel also boasts of delectable culinary options, serving various cuisines from around the world. To start with, The Square is its signature, multi cuisine all day dining restaurant and has its extension, The Square Alfresco which includes live grills and barbeques. Authentic Mexican restaurant, La Cantina, set against the relaxing ambience of the poolside is famous for its florantigas, fajitas and tres-leeches. Le Café offers a wide range of coffees, whereas, The Bar, The Club and Johnnie Walker Lounge are the other options for the guests to unwind at and chat with friends or associates over drinks and dance. Along with these, the hotel also offers an array of specialties for the younger generation, from special kids play area, Xbox, Kids swimming pool to baby strollers and much more. The In Balance Gym, Sauna, Outdoor Swimming Pool, etc are there to keep you fit.

filefact Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre Website: www.novotelhyderabad.com Call: +91 040 66824422 August 2013 GO NOW

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MICE DESTINATION

Meetings at Novotel Hyderabad Airport

  NOVOTEL HYDERABADA  AIRPORTN

W

ith a perfect location, this fresh and contemporary hotel offers unique features that make it stand out in the city. With multi-level banquets and conference facilities on each floor and in-house event management team, the hotel has an array of options for your meetings and conferences. The conference halls at the hotel are big enough to accommodate 400 plus people, making it easier to have an interactive session that invite each and everyone to feel included. To take the edge off of a formal office-like atmosphere, Novotel Hyderabad Airport has a wide variety of sports and other recreational activities available as well. Sports help loosen people up, it also helps build team spirit and motivates them. The Hyderabad Ballroom, having space for 465 people in a cocktail setting is built in an area of 4,502 sq.ft. and can be divided in three separate areas to organize different conferences or meetings at one time. Shamshabad, a 4,502 sq.ft. hall, which can be divided into two parts, is also the perfect place for a cocktail for around 450 people. Garden Terrace and the poolside, can each accommodate around 80 people, and

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are perfect for cocktails by the pool or a private get together at the terrace. Further, Boulders, I, II, III, IV, and V are boardrooms for organizing meetings from 8 to 18 people.

filefact Novotel Hyderabad Airport, Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Shamshabad, Ranga Reddy District, Hyderabad – 500 409. Call: +91 40 66250000 Mail: reservations@novotelhyderabadairport.com

  HYDERABAD INTERNATIONAL TRADE EXPOSITIONS LIMITEDN

T

he Hyderabad International Trade E xpositions L imited, ne stled in a peaceful ambience, is spread over an area of 70 acres and is one of the most expansive exhibition centers. Conducted over 1,000 exhibitions, events and conferences in its span of 10 years, it is located very near to HICC. With world class infrastructure and modern art exhibition venue, it serves as a one stop destination for exhibition, trade shows, conference facilities and corporate events. It offer s a var iet y of facilitie s for conducting exhibitions, conferences and events. This includes, three air conditioned halls, each of 37,660 sq.ft. along with an open display area spread over 3,53,197 sq.ft. This open space assists in showcasing

large machinery and equipments. It also has conference hall facilities, which can accommodate from 10 to 200 people. Registration booths, ticket counters, and information kiosks are available at the entrance plaza to facilitate hassle free entry of large amount of visitors. HITEX has one of the largest parking space, its open car park area can accommodate around 3,600 cars at a time. Some of the eminent events of the year 2013 at HITEX Hyderabad are: ☛  Agritex 2013 (25–28 April 2013) ☛  Hyderabad Kids Expo 2013 (30th May to 2nd June 2013) ☛  Electri Expo (3–5 October 2013)

filefact Hyderabad International Trade Expositions Limited First Floor, Trade Fair Office Building, HITEX Exhibition Centre, Izzat Nagar, Hyderabad - 500 084, Call: +91 40 23112121/22/23. Mail: hitex@hitex.co.in

  RADISSON BLU PLAZAA HYDERABADN

A

long with state-of-the-art technology a nd convenient lo c at ion, t hi s luxury hotel offers ideal venues for your small to medium sized conferences. The two ballrooms are assisted by their private pre-function area and are fitted


MICE DESTINATION Azure, The Ballroom at Radisson Blu Plaza Hyderabad

with electronically operated screens, Bose sound systems and fabulous acoustics. The expert chefs at the hotel can prepare an extensive menu to treat your guests with gastronomic delights and help you create a successful event. From product launches, to weddings, cocktails or conferences, it can facilitate all. The Azure Ballroom at the hotel spans across an area of 3,552 sq.ft and is well equipped with a pre-function area of 2,755

sq.ft. to organize cocktails or registrations or in some other creative forms. The Bose sound system and the high speed broadband internet access helps in creating a more comfortable environment. The dedicated banquet coordinator can assist you in organizing things as per your request and can also offer you some specially designed conference packages. Three boardrooms of the hotel, by the name of Tokyo, London and New York

are perfect for your morning meetings with some close associates or your team. Spacious and contemporar y in design, all the boardrooms are well fitted with technological a s sistance and feature natural day light.

filefact Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Hyderabad Banjara Hills, 8-2-409 Rd No 6, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad – 500034, Call: 91 4067331133, Website: www.radissonblu.com

The Westin Ballroom

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MICE DESTINATION Grand Ballroom, Taj Krishna

  THE WESTIN HYDERABADA  MINDSPACEN

C

onnect with your colleagues and explore new ideas with your meetings at The Westin. Helping you stay organized, and plan clutter-free meetings, with an open room designs, socially conscious amenities and delicious menu choices. Whether you are planning a meeting with 5 delegates or a conference with 500 associates, the dedicated planning team at the hotel will assist you with your preparations. The Westin Ballroom, which can be divided into three parts, consists of total area of 5,488 sq.ft. with a height of 21 ft. It can easily accommodate 650 people in a cocktail setting and 548 in theatre style. Evolve, an option for your pr ivate meetings with around 50 delegates can also be divided into three parts and is assisted by a pre-function area of 793 sq.ft. Elevate on the other hand is the open space area for your special events. Built in an area of 13,552 sq.ft. it has room for 700 people in a cocktail type setting. Thrive, Energize, Renew and the Westin Lawns are a few other options for your meetings and conferences. The personalized services at Westin Hyderabad, keeps you relaxed and serves a memorable experience for every guest. Also, the green features such as energy-efficient light bulbs, double-sided meeting pads; etc helps the hotel in performing their part to protect the environment.

The Park Hyderabad

  TAJ KRISHNAN

  THE PARK HYDERABADN

N

A

estled in beautifully landscaped gardens, the hotel has a distinct charm and offers magnificent views of the city with unparalleled service. Whether planning a conference or a special event, Taj Krishna serves it all with a flawless blend of urban sophistication and classic majesty. Very well connected by airport and the railway network, the delegates can reach to the venue without any hassle. The banqueting facilities at Taj Krishna, consists of 12,000 sq.ft. of outdoor space and 25,000 sq.ft. of indoor space, this makes it a perfect venue for your large events. The Grand Ballroom is built up in an area of 6, 762 sq.ft. and can comfortably accommodate 750 people in a theatre style seating. With 7 entry points for the guests, it can easily be divided into three separate halls with private entry. A pre-function area of 2,000 sq.ft assists the ballroom for better functionality and for hosting cocktails or registrations. The hotel also boasts of an ideal space for exhibitions, The Emerald Lounge, it spans across 9,680 sq.ft. and can accommodate 400 people in theatre style and 1,000 in reception arrangement. It can be partitioned into two separate halls with separate entrance access. Adding on, its MICE facilities also include, Sapphire (with an in-built stage), Golden Room, Garden Room (with pleasant natural light), and the meeting room, Pearl.

filefact

filefact

The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace, Raheja IT Park, Hi-Tech City, Madhapur, Hyderabad – 500081, India. Call: +91 40 67676767 Website: westin.com/hyderabadmindspace

Taj Krishna, Hyderabad Road No.1, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad 500 034 Andhra Pradesh, India. Call: +91 406 6662323 Mail: Krishna.hyderabad@tajhotels.com

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n ideal choice for a corporate event or a social gathering, the venues at the hotel are strategically made in such a way that they can either be used entirely or in sections for your occasion. From round table gatherings, to corporate board meetings or large scale events, it has venues for all. The Ballroom at The Park can be used for various occasions, built in 7,428 sq.ft. it is an expansive venue to host a theatre style conference for 750 people comfortably. As per your requirement, you can either divide and use the combo of its parts or divide it in various parts as per your requirements. The pre-function area spans across an area of 2,052 sq.ft. and can be well organized for your cocktails. The Jewel Room, which is the Kismet Meeting Room, can also accommodate 50 people in a theatre style setting and is ideal for your board meetings or small get together. The state- of-the-art technology, the splendid décor, and the flawless hospitality help you in making your event memorable along with the assistance of the dedicated in-house event planners. Theme based decoration; in-built projectors, audio-visual, conference kit, photographers, DJ and console can be used for assistance during your event.

filefact The Park Hyderabad 22, RajBhavan Road, Somajiguda. Hyderabad - 500082 Call: +91 40 23456789 Mail: resv.hyd@theparkhotels.com Compiled by NIKITA CHOPRA


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MICE DESTINATION

WORLD CLASS CONVENTION FACILITY

Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre

WITH ACCOMMODATION AND ENTERTAINMENT

Buffet spread at the terrace on convention floor 32

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Capturing the essence of modern Bangkok, merging it with leisure and well-being facilities, it is truly a fullyintegrated contemporary convention, hotel, retail and leisure complex.

W

ith scenic wonders, modern MICE facilitie s, exotic si g ht s a nd enter t a inment oppor tunitie s, Bangkok offers an all-round experience to its MICE delegates. Taking it to the next level, Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld is integrated with a Five Star Hotel, world class shopping and entertainment facilities. Situated in the heart of Bangkok’s business district, you can also find various exciting

tourist attractions within easy reach. Making a spectacular mark in the city’s skyline, The Bangkok Convention Centre along w it h Centara Grand ser ve s an unforgettable experience to the travellers. Located at the CentralWorld, the world class shopping centre of the city, it offers a range of dining options, retail outlets and movie theatres. With this, it is a one stop destination for meetings, business, accommodation, entertainment and shopping.

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The Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld

Board room at Centara Grand

Red Sky Lounge

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* Private rooms available.

23 23 Ground

68 170 30

06.00-01.00 17.00-01.00 07.00-21.00

MICE DESTINATION

Function Rooms (Level 22,23) Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld Convention Centre Level

Round up dimention

Ceiling height

Area

Capacity

Booth

L x W (m)

L x W (ft)

m

ft

SqM

Theatre

Classroom

Banquet

Cocktail

3x3m

Convention Centre Convention Centre A1

82 x 66 30 x 66

266 x 214 136 x 214

11.30 / 13.50 11.30 / 13.50

37 / 44 37 / 44

5,250 1,900

6,000 2,200

3,000 1,100

4,000 1,500

8,000 3,000

360 130

Convention Centre B1 Convention Centre A2

52 x 66 40 x 66

169 x 214 132 x 214

11.30 / 13.50 11.30 / 13.50

37 / 44 37 / 44

3,350 2,625

3,800 3,000

1,900 1,500

2,500 2,000

5,000 4,000

230 180

Convention Centre B2

40 x 66

132 x 214

11.30 / 13.50

37 / 44

2,625

3,000

1,500

2,000

4,000

180

-

-

-

-

1,291

-

-

-

-

-

Pre-function Lotus Suites 1-4

23 x 19

75 x 61

3.80 / 4.00

12 / 13

412

380

200

300

550

-

Lotus Suite 1 Lotus Suite 2

11 x 9 11 x 9

36 x 29 36 x 29

3.80 / 4.00 3.80 / 4.00

12 / 13 12 / 13

105 105

90 90

50 50

80 80

120 120

-

Lotus Suite 3 Lotus Suite 4

11 x 9 11 x 9

36 x 29 36 x 29

3.80 / 4.00 3.80 / 4.00

12 / 13 12 / 13

105 105

90 90

50 50

80 80

120 120

-

Lotus Suites 5-7 Lotus Suite 5

23 x 19 11 x 9

75 x 61 36 x 29

3.80 / 4.00 3.80 / 4.00

12 / 13 12 / 13

412 105

380 90

200 50

300 80

550 120

-

Lotus Suite 6 Lotus Suite 7

11 x 9 11 x 19

36 x 29 36 x 61

3.80 / 4.00 3.80 / 4.00

12 / 13 12 / 13

105 206

90 190

50 100

80 160

120 250

-

Lotus Suite 8 Lotus Suite 9

9.4 x 7.5 9.4 x 7.5

32 x 23 32 x 29

3.80 / 4.00 3.80 / 4.00

12 / 13 12 / 13

58 80

40 80

20 40

20 70

30 100

-

Lotus Suite 10

11.6 x10.5

39 x 32

3.80 / 4.00

12 / 13

100

110

60

80

140

-

Lotus Suite 11 Lotus Suite 12

11.3 x 10.7 9.7 x 10.4

39 x 36 32 x 32

3.80 / 4.00 3.80 / 4.00

12 / 13 12 / 13

110 95

120 90

60 50

100 80

150 110

-

Pre-function

-

-

-

-

809

-

-

-

-

-

-

w w w.ce nt arahote lsresor t s.com

Afternoon Tea, Pastries & Drinks Late Contemporary Night Spot with Cool Sounds Bakery Shop & Cafe

FACTS

Lobby Lounge Globe Zing

CGCW 10,000/06/08

MICE Facilities With a wide variety of flexible spaces, the convention centre can efficiently serve events with people ranging from 10 to 6000. All MICE requirements, international or regional, can easily be met here be it for seminars, conventions, conferences, exhibitions, concerts etc. Located on level 22 of the hotel, Centara Grand, this pillarless convention centre offers amazing views of the city’s skyline. On level 22 you can accommodate some of your VIP guests in the seven luxurious suites, which can be subdivided into a total of 12 suites. The convention centre is built up in an area of 5, 250 m2 with dimensions of, 80.4m X 65.3 m. Perfectly suitable for exhibitions, the height of the convention centre is about 13.5 metres, facilitating easy functionality. The convention centre is also supported by a wide pre-function area spanning across an area of, 1,290 m2 and with height of around 4 metres. It can be very easily used for snacks between the meetings, cocktails or even some exclusive luncheons. In addition to this world-class facility, it also boasts of the World Ballroom, located on the 23rd floor, which can easily accommodate 1, 000 people seated in theatre-style. It can easily be divided into various sections to accommodate different functions at the same point of time. It is built up in an area of 960m2 and height of 6.80 metres. It is also supported by a pre-function area of around 706 m2 for cocktails and can also be used as a registration area. It is further complimented by three Lotus Suites, a VIP room, and a boardroom on the same floor.

Recently, M23 has been added at the 23rd floor of the hotel. It is an expansive suite with four meeting rooms. The natural daylight coming in perfectly complements the whole setting. It also includes an open show kitchen and bar for coffee breaks between the meetings. It can easily accommodate around 80 people in theatre style setting. T he well- exper ienced, professional, dedicated team at the hotel take s care of your event s unfailingly and organises, team-building activities, excursions for the delegates and their spouses along with much more.

Leisure Facilities at the hotel Conveniently connected to the Convention Centre and CentralWorld, the hotel serves you with fresh flavours of Thai hospitality and service. It consists of a total of 505 luxurious rooms and suites, divided into 9 different categories, ranging from 6 World Executive Suites to 255 Deluxe World Rooms and 1 Royal Suite. All the rooms and suites are very well equipped with luxurious facilities for both business and leisure travellers. The accommodations are located on the 28th floor and above, offering panoramic views of the city’s skyline through its glass walls. The hotel also boasts of a personal health and well-being venue called, Lifestyles on 26. It includes a 24-hour fitness centre, aerobics studio, and two floodlit tennis courts. Offering a wide range of exclusive therapies, the SPA Cenvaree is also a part of the same.

filefact Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld It is connected to major shopping and entertainment complexes by skywalk, and offers easy access to the mass transit system. A rapid rail link directly to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport is just 10 minutes away from the airport. Where: 999/99 Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. Call: +66 (0)2 100 1234 Mail: cgcw@chr.co.th

Serving its guests with fascinating dining options, Centara Grand Hotel has a chic urban bistro dining, international and themed dinners, light meals along the poolside and much more. The all day dinning, The World, serves Thai flavours and international cuisines, whereas, Ginger presents Asian cuisines with a twist and extensive selection of dishes of Japanese, Chinese and Thai influence. With the backdrop of the city’s sky line, Red Sky and Fifty Five, offer gourmet cuisines at the rooftop. Zing and the Lobby Lounge are two other options adding on to the culinary delights. by NIKITA CHOPRA

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AIR TRAVEL A clichĂŠd saying about frequent flyer programmes is that, the easier you get them, the harder it is to use them. But various airlines have different kinds of programmes, and these days they have become much friendlier too. Going by its literal meaning, rewards are achieved by a member of the programme on flying more miles with the airlines. But these days these rewards can also be added by using co-branded credit cards, and many more ways. We have analyzed frequent flyer programmes offered by different domestic and international airlines to make your choice easier.

British Airways Membership They call their Frequent Flyer Programme, The Executive Club. The membership for this is divided into four tiers, Blue, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Joining The Executive Club is a very simple process, you just need to book or fly a qualifying flight (flight in full fare economy or above) and fill the registration form.

Earning Avios Avios is the currency of the Executive Club and are issued to flyers that are a part of The Executive Club, it varies on the distance you fly, the cabin you fly in, the type of ticket you hold, and their Executive Club tier. The other

REWARDING THE

FREQUENT FLYERS Travellers enjoying breakfast at the British Airways Club World

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ways with which travellers can collect Avios without flying are with the hotel, car rental, financial and shopping partners. Earn more with British Airways American Express Card: If a traveller is using the British Airways American Express Corporate Card then he can earn 1 Avios for every £1 he spends. Whereas, with the British Airways American Express Corporate Card Plus, he can earn 3 Avios for every £1 spent with British Airways, and 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent otherwise.

Spending Avios Travellers can spend these Avios on flights and upgrades via the Executive Club loyalty programme. The amount of Avios that you need varies from destination to class of travel. For example, for travelling from New Delhi, India to London in Economy Class, your base fare can be exempted for an amount of 25,000 Avios and you just have to pay the basic fare for the taxes, fees and carrier charges. You can also spend your Avios on exciting hotel deals all around the world which are exclusively available to The Executive Club members. Or you can use your Avios to pay for your Avis car rental too. For further details, visit: www.britishairways.com

Jet Airways Membership JetPrivilege is the rewards and loyalty (frequent flyer) programme from Jet Airways. The programme has five tiers, and these are  Platinum, Gold, Silver, Blue Plus and Blue. Individuals 12 years and above are eligible to apply for a membership to this programme. Explaining some extraordinary features of the programme, Kaushal Satam, Head, JetPrivilege, says, “The unique feature of the JetPrivilege programme is the Dynamic Tier Review system. Under this system each member has a unique tier review date which is set from the time he/she enrolls into the programme and not as per a fixed date. Furthermore, under this system the member is reviewed for upgrade not just at the end of a 12 month period but even on a 6 month basis thus allowing the member a faster opportunity to upgrade. Similarly, unlike traditional programmes, at JetPrivilege the member is evaluated not only on a 12 month criteria but also over 18 and 24 months thus recognizing the member’s relationship with the programme.”

Customer service desk of Singapore Airlines

Earning JP Miles The programme does accord recognition benefits to members depending on their tier. These include dedicated check-in, lounge access, excess baggage allowance, and pre-reserve of seats. Joining JetPrivilege is free of charge; one just needs to enroll through a registration form. Members can earn mileage points, JPMiles for activities on Jet Air ways, JetKonnect and over 100 other programme partners like Jack and Jones, Benetton, Barista, Rajdhani, Air France, Lufthansa, Hilton Hotels, covering categories such as airlines, hotels, hospitality, car rentals, e-retail, telecom, lifestyle and leisure partners, publishing houses, dining partners, conversion and co-brand partners.

Spending JP Miles These miles can be redeemed for free flights across 600 worldwide destinations. You can also redeem your miles online. To avail various redemption options, you need to build up 3, 500 JP Miles and 2 activities on Jet Airways and Jet Konnect Flights or any other partner flights. For further informatixon, visit: www.jetairways.com

Singapore Airlines Membership Singapore Airlines’ frequent flyer programme is called KrisFlyer. All customers flying on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir are eligible for KrisFlyer membership. They can do so within minutes by simply filling out a form on the website www.singaporeair.com. There are also two KrisFlyer elite tiers for members, KrisFlyer Elite Silver and KrisFlyer Elite Gold. Members need to earn 25,000 Elite miles to be a part of KrisFlyer Elite Silver, whereas they need to earn 50,000 Elite miles within a 12-month membership year to be a part of KrisFlyer Elite Gold.

Earning KrisFlyer Miles A s a member, one can earn KrisFlyer miles when they fly on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir or any of our airline par tners, which include airlines in the Star Alliance net work. Member s al s o get to enjoy special promotions and earn miles when they stay, charge, call, book, drive or shop with our extensive network of over 120 global non-airline partners. More than a frequent flyer programme, KrisFlyer is the Singapore Airlines customer’s connection

KAUSHAL SATAM

G.M. TOH

Head, JetPrivilege

General Manager India, Singapore Airlines

“Under JetPrivilege system, the member is reviewed for upgrade not just at the end of a 12 month period but even on a 6 month basis thus allowing the member a faster opportunity to upgrade.”

“Singapore Airlines has a recognition programme for members who fly often in the Singapore Airlines Suites, First or Business Class on Singapore Airlines and Business Class on SilkAir called The PPS Club.” August 2013 GO NOW

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rate of Rs. 1 per mile. The mileage points redeemed for First Class are 2.5 times of Economy Class points, whereas those for Business Class are 2 times. For further details, visit: www.flyingreturns.co.in

Emirates Airline Membership

Guests are served with a smile at Air India

to worldwide hotel and serviced apartment chains, credit and charge card companies, telecommunications service providers, car rental agencies and other travel-related service providers, among others.

Spending KrisFlyer Miles With KrisFlyer, members can redeem their miles for free flights on over 20 world-class airlines to more than 1000 destinations in 170 countries. Their miles can also be redeemed for upgrades to First or Business Class on Singapore Airlines and Business Class on Singapore Airlines’ regional carrier, SilkAir. KrisFlyer Elite Silver members enjoy benefits such as a 25% tier bonus on actual miles, they will also be given priority when waitlisted or on standby at the airport. KrisFlyer Elite Gold members enjoy all the benefits of KrisFlyer Elite Silver and additional benefits exclusively for Elite Gold members, including Star Alliance Gold Lounge access, priority check-in and 20kg excess baggage allowance among others. Taking the loyalty, a step further, G.M. Toh, General Manager India, Singapore Airlines, tells us, “Singapore Airlines has a recognition programme for members who fly often in the Singapore Airlines Suites, First or Business Class on Singapore Airlines and Business Class on SilkAir called The PPS Club. This loyalty programme is separate from KrisFlyer. However, all PPS Club members are also members of KrisFlyer.” For further details, visit: www.singaporeair.com

Air India Membership They call their loyalt y programme a s ‘Flying Returns’. You can join this rewarding 38

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programme just by filling in the application form, and you would receive a permanent Flying Returns membership card after your first Flying Returns flight transaction with Air India. The members can avail FR Miles on travelling on Air India and its partner’s flights and by availing services of Global Programme Partners, which includes some of the leading names in retail, lifestyle, car rental, etc.

Earning FR Miles The FR Miles earned, are classified into Base Miles, Cabin Bonus Miles, Tier Bonus Miles, Partner Bonus Miles and Status Miles. These differ on the basis from where they have been earned. To get all their activities recorded, the passengers should quote their FR membership number while making bookings or other transactions. The Miles are valid for redemption during the calendar year of accrual and three subsequent calendar years.

Spending FR Miles Redemption of the FR Miles can be done for award t icket s, on bot h dome st ic and international airlines. It can also be redeemed on partner airline’s network or you can even gift them to your family members, or associates or friends. In case of shortage of miles, for an award ticket, the members can also purchase FR Miles at the

Conclusion

A very easy to join programme, Skywards is the loyalty programme of Emirates airlines. The membership is divided into four tiers, starting with Blue and moving on to Silver, Gold and Platinum. You can move up the levels either by collecting the required number of Tier Miles by flying with Emirates or by completing the number of Emirates flights needed to reach the next level. All the tiers hold different benefits for the members, from waitlist priority, lounge access, First Class check-in, priority baggage delivery and a lot more.

Earning Miles The Miles earned are divided into two types, Skywards Miles and Tier Miles. Here, the former can be earned through flights, promotions and partner offers, whereas, the latter can be collected only by flying through Emirates. With their Mile Accelerator feature you can find flights which would give you bonus Skyward Miles. Four basic inputs are used to calculate your Skyward Miles, these are, route, fare type, class and tier.

Spending Miles The rewards at Emirates Skywards start from only 12, 500 Miles. Your Miles are valid for three years, and you can spend them on upgrades which start at just 7, 500 Miles or reward flights, or with their partners in hospitality, car hire, finance lifestyle and retail. You can indulge in luxury at a hotel suite or go out for a fun day trip, treat your loved ones with surprise breaks and a lot more with your Miles. For further details, visit: www.emirates.com Compiled by NIKITA CHOPRA

Frequent Flyer Programmes of different airlines entail diverse privileges and offers for their customers. Talking about the earn rate of mileage points, airlines like British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Air India serves a 1:1 ratio, whereas Jet Airways and Emirates differ from 0.5 to 1:1 ratio, depending on the destination you are travelling to. Whereas, the burn rate differs on various factors, from the destination to the airlines and whether it is a connecting or a direct flight. Membership to these clubs is free at most of the airlines; you just need to fill out an online form. Whereas, some airlines allow you to enrol after you have flown a qualifying flight.


22.5 cm X 28.5 cm

Hampi has a new Hideaway Nested near the breathtaking ruins and faded beauty of Hampi, Hyatt Place Hampi is the perfect location family getaway. •

115 spacious guestrooms, including seven rooms with private plunge pools and three suites

• • • • • •

Complimentary Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel Complimentary hot buffet breakfast 24 our Stay FitTM Hyatt Fitness Centre Outdoor Swimming Pool More than 3,500 square feet of flexible, hi-tech meeting and function space 24 hour “Gallery,” an all-day-dining restaurant serving Indian and Western cuisine

Hyatt Place Hampi Vidyanagar Township, Toranagallu Bellary, Karnataka, India 583123 M: +91 8147093195, P: +91 8395 661234 W: hampi.place.hampi.com E : hampi.hyattplace@hyatt.com

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METRO TRAVEL

MUMBAI’S

TOP 5

GoNow starts a new innings evaluating and comparing services for our readers. In a first of this kind, we look at swimming pools in Mumbai city. We share how we picked upon the best, and choose the leader in the pack. Please note this survey is limited to the pool only, and does not include the spa or the fitness areas.

HOTEL POOLS

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by RAYNAH COUTINHO


R

emember when the word pool conjured up an image of an oval-shaped blue patch within a hotel? Today’s pools stand in stark contrast to that stereotype. Landscape artists and designers are asked to make pool-sides as stylish and distinctive as the rest of the hotel. They want you to remember every aspect of your hotel stay. As a result, they’re going all out to make a big impression. So you have lagoons and infinity pools, lush foliage, quirky furniture, great music, extra services and stunning views. We take our pick from the handful that we visited and share our perspectives.

1

Shangri-la Mumbai   SCORE 22a

Contemporary Luxe Living

A

s I walked through the fawn corridor, illuminated by a set of rather unusual lamps and into this pool-side, I half expected a rapper to pop out with a catchy song-and-dance routine. It looks straight out of one of those super-luxe R&B videos that drive the world’s aspirations. Posh white cabanas line one side – at a level slightly higher than the pool itself; stylish cane furniture and sun beds create a pictureperfect periphery around the pool. The pool is large enough to give you a sufficient work out in a few laps. After you’ve had a swim, you can lounge in the sun beds, and even ask for a foot massage – this unusual facility that is offered despite the fact that the spa is right next door, earned them extra points. Tall, landscaped foliage around the pool cocoons you from a view of the crowded, ever-evolving old-mills-and-new-malls-laden Lower Parel-Mahalaxsmi belt. The illusion of seclusion in one of Mumbai’s busiest commercial districts is truly mind-blowing. We love the Sunken Lounge that rests under the shade of tall shrubbery planted there for the purpose. The Shangri-La Mumbai’s poolside offers the perfect option for those of you who love to read, relax or enjoy cocktails by the poolside, with a hint of shade for comfort in the Sunken Lounge or the cabanas.

View: 03 Location within hotel (beside spa and fitness centre): 04 Foliage and privacy: 05 Look & feel: 05 Facilities, F&B: 05 POOL TIMINGS: 6 am to 10 pm

15-minute foot reflexology sessions at the poolside August 2013 GO NOW

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METRO TRAVEL

2 JOINT

Trident Nariman Point   SCORE 19a

Dizzying Views

A

s you step into the sprawling Trident poolside, you’ll feel that distinct rush from the unhindered breeze whipping by from the sea that stretches endlessly in front of you. And for a moment – no matter how many times you’ve seen it – you’ll stand rooted in wonder at the stunning Queen’s Necklace and South Mumbai’s skyline glistening before you. And in fact, this is why we chose it over the stylish, modern, yellow-chair dotted pool at its sister-hotel and more luxurious neighbour, The Oberoi Mumbai. Nothing beats the old-fashioned allure of a breathtaking view. This is one of the city’s larger pools. After all, this hotel came into being before land prices soared out of control. There’s abundant room for nice, long laps that will test your stamina. A quaint little pool bar serves snacks and drinks. What makes it great is the children’s play area – complete with swings, slides and see-saws right next to the pool within a fern-encrusted enclosure. Know that famous people have been here before you. Some of the city’s biggest social events are held at the gardens right behind the pool and several primetime television talk shows are shot at the adjoining sunset lawn, with the Mumbai skyline as a backdrop. However, don’t go from your room to the pool in a bathrobe or sarong (or less) unless you’re likely to comfortable running into t he cor por ate View: 05 crowd who visit the Location within meeting rooms right hotel(level 4, beside next door clad in only meeting rooms): 02 your beachy best.

Foliage and privacy: 04 Look & feel: 04 Facilities, F&B: 05

4

Grand Hyatt Mumbai   SCORE 18a

Pricelessly Calm

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7 am to 8 pm

J

ust far enough from the highway and any main roads, The Grand Hyatt allows very little of Mumbai’s deafening traffic sounds into its precincts. As a result, the swimming pool, tucked away into a discreet section towards the serviced apartments and its famous China House lounge, is the manifestation of pure serenity. There’s beautiful landscaping around the pool. It’s large enough for only a few laps to serve as a great work out. There is a lot of space around it for a multitude of sun beds and a children’s pool is only a few paces away – close enough for you to keep an eye on your own kids, if you’ve brought them along and far enough if other people’s children are creating a riot. Aqua, the pool bar as the name suggests, stands towards one side – the bar is closed during the monsoon season but the pool r e m a i n s av a i l a bl e , View: 03 should guests require Location within hotel: 03 to use it.

Foliage and privacy: 05 Look & feel: 03 Facilities, F&B: 04

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POOL TIMINGS:

POOL TIMINGS:

6 am to 10 pm


METRO TRAVEL

2 JOINT

The Westin Mumbai Garden City   SCORE 19a

Relax and Rejuvenate

I

n characteristic Westin style, this pool takes all the stress out of you the minute you set sight on it. It is set across multiple levels and the cascading water gives you a mesmerizing, soothing waterfalllike effect. Landscaping and plants within the pool itself powers the illusion of a tropical lagoon. The pool is irregularly shaped and not designed for a work out – Westin Workout right next door is the prescription for that need. Instead, it guarantees you a relaxing, rejuvenating dip. Lounge, float… breathe… relax. A children’s pool is right next-door to the adults’ pool, within the same vicinity and separated by a sound-lessening glass barrier. If you’re travelling with your family, this is the perfect opportunity for some quiet time, as the hotel has thoughtfully stationed an attendant there to look after children in their pool – which is fitted with a water-park inspired slide. Children are especially big fans of a sensor fountain that comes alive when as they walk alongside the pool. Also, the pool stays open year round monsoonnotwithstanding. The hotel’s stand on it is that if people enjoy swimming in the rain, the management won’t stand in their way. The Splash bar, as it is called serves up an array of F&B items. Relax on the sun beds all around the pool area, sit by the bar or even shy away into air-conditioned comfort of the hotel – the Splash bar offers an View: 02 extended area in the Location within hotel shelter of the hotel, with (beside spa and fitness floor-to-ceiling windows centre): 04 to still remind you that Foliage and privacy: 04 you are by the pool.

Attendant at children’s pool.

5

ITC Marathaa   SCORE 17a

Royal Style

Look & feel: 05 Facilities, F&B: 04

POOL TIMINGS:

6 am to 10 pm

I

n a royal courtyard setting, amidst carefully landscaped hedges and ornate walkways lies the ITC Maratha pool, guarded by intricate lion sculptures and framed by a regal gazebo towards one end. Its very rare to see an old-school fountain in a pool today and the lion sculptures that spew water over your head into the pool take you back a few centuries, when being by a pool-side was prive to royalty only. If you’re getting tired with the sun while lounging in this uberchic pool, you can always wade to the shade offered by the arch of the gazebo. The pool is fairly private despite being on the busy road leading to the international airport and carefully trimmed hedges protect you from any prying eyes, even though it is located on the first level. The pool was by far the most memorable and the most unusual, but some sort of ambiguous government mandate prevents the hotel from serving any food or View: 03 drink – barring drinking water – by the pool, resulting in lost Location within hotel: 03 points. Point to note however: Foliage and privacy 05 the restaurants are only one level Look & feel: 05 lower.

Facilities, F&B: 01

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METRO TRAVEL

Piazza Pan, The Al Fresco dining area at UB City Bengaluru

UB CITY, BENGALURU

THE HEART BEAT OF A MODERN METROPOLIS Bengaluru is known for its liveliness and UB City adds on to the same with glamour and elegance. Explore the luxury, that this commercial hub holds. by PRITI SALIAN

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W

hen Dr. Vijay Mallya of UB Group and Irfan Razack of Prestige Group came together to build the biggest corporatecommercial development in Bengaluru’s Central Business District, they didn’t know it would become such a rage. Inaugurated in 2008 and located at the junction of Vittal Mallya Road and Kasturba Road, UB City

houses one of the tallest structures in Karnataka- the UB Tower- measuring 127 metre in height. Needless to say, every aunt or cousin who visits Bengaluru is taken around to get a glimpse of the imposing building. The fact that it is located in one of the most happening hubs, just 1.5 km away from the MG Road – Brigade Road junction, makes it a lot easier.


METRO TRAVEL

Evening view

But the UB Tower is only one of the five blocks of this impressive 1 million square feet concrete spread. The Kingfisher Tower, Concorde, Canber ra & Comet Block s complete this extensive building which was built to give the feeling of a city. The UB Tower with 17 floors houses the UB Group Corporate Office. The upper levels of Concorde and Canberra also house several corporate entities. 3M India, Toyota Kirloskar, Tata Motors, CDC Software, Citi Bank, Citi Corp Finance India Ltd., Ernst & Young, Jones Lang Lasalle, Apple Computers and Kawasaki are a few well-known ones. But the highlight of UB City is “The Collection”, the retail area, located at the first three levels of Concorde and Canberra Block. “The Collection” is known to be India’s first luxury mall, and aptly so, for it is home to more than forty sought after brands such as Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Canali, Corneliani, Davidoff, Diesel, Estee Lauder, Etro, Good Earth, Hackett, Imagine, Jimmy Choo, Kimaya, Lalique, Lladro, Louis Vuitton, Minawala, Mirrors and Within, Oma, Paul Smith, Tumi and many more. The Collection is where the college-goers, fashionistas, families and the who’s who of Bengaluru gather to spend evening after evening either to shop or to catch up with friends over a cup of exotic latte.

A walk through luxury A look at “The Collection” brings forth a beautifully designed and tastefully done up space which boasts of opulence and luxury. The designs, architecture and frescos have been partly inspired from Tuscany. The look is special and very different from other malls

Luxurious interiors

in the city. The ground and the first floors are great for retail therapy, and if you are a watch lover or collector, this is the place for you. Montblanc, Omega, Rado, Rolex, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tag Heuer, Zimson are all there for you to get the best pick. The Bliss Chocolate Lounge on the ground floor gives you a chocolate break while you shop. Treat yourself to an exquisite cup of Belgian hot chocolate while you lounge with your friend to decide which Jimmy Choo bag to pick. Yes, the store is right across the Bliss Chocolate Lounge and you can ogle the choicest products from your table! And in case you forget why you’re there, the Bliss Chocolate Lounge serves exquisite European Chocolates and Desserts (and packs it too!).

Fine dining and perfect ambience

Buffet on my mind (Rates exclusive of taxes)

SHIRO Sunday brunch TIMINGS : 12:30pm -4:30pm (costs `1850) R ATE S : Monday to Friday, a 3 course meal costs `550 and a 4-course meal costs `650. Monday to Saturday there is unlimited Sushi/Maki/Dim sum on offer at a cost of `850. KHANSAMA Lunch buffet TIMINGS : 12pm to 3pm RATES : Monday through Thursday lunch buffet costs `415. Friday to Sunday Lunch buffet costs `475 SOUL CITY Sunday Brunch Buffet TIMINGS : 12:30 pm- 3:30 pm RATES : `799 for a non alcoholic brunch and `1,099 for brunch with alcohol. Monday through Saturday, breakfast buffet costs `385. Timings: 6:30 am- 10:30 am.

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The boutiques

The second floor is kept active all day by the visitors to Piazza, the al fresco dining area, which boasts of over a dozen premium speciality restaurants and cafes offering a spectrum of cuisine. Toscano, Rajdhani, Fava, Shiro, Tasty Tangles, City Bar and Café Noir are all lined up to serve you at the Piazza. Each restaurant at UB City not only offers delectable food but also a beautiful ambience. Khansama, located at the second floor serves fine royal Indian cuisine and is famous for its murgh zardari and bhuna gosht. Shiro on the third floor will give you a taste of authentic Japanese, Balinese and Chinese Cuisine and is proud of the sushi it serves. There is a special elevator to carry

guests up from the second to the third floor and opens right in front of Shiro. Soul City, located within Oakwood Premier Prestige Serviced Residences, is a multi-cuisine restaurant with a very international appeal and relaxed ambience. They take pride in serving exquisite Thai cuisine which is quite popular with their guests. Close to the eating area is the amphitheatre which can seat approximately 800 people. This space is used for outdoor exhibitions, art shows, concerts etc.

A residence within The City UB City also comes with a paradise of 177 luxurious Oakwood Premier Prestige Serviced Residences, with all modern day

Some interesting packages at Oakwood Premier Prestige Business Saver Studio residence with hi-tech kitchen, buffet breakfast, 2 pieces laundry per day and discounts on dinner, beverages, airport transfer and spa and massage services. Starting from `9,000 per night. The Romance One bedroom with living cum dining room and hi-tech kitchen, buffet breakfast, 3 course candlelight dinner, shopping discounts on select outlets and 20% off on spa and massage services. Starting from `11,000 per night. The Family Retreat Two bedroom luxurious residence with jacuzzi, buffet breakfast, `1,000 meal credit, 3-hours complimentary baby-sitting service, 2 free movie DVDs, popcorn and ice cream tubs, 20% discount spa and massage services. Starting from `14,999 per night. 46

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amenities including an exclusive residents’ lounge, signature rooftop swimming pool, state-of-the-art health club and gym and even a helipad! Have your pick from studio, one, two and three bedroom residences. It is located right opposite the Piazza, and comes with its own multi-cuisine restaurant, Soul City on the ground floor and the Angsana Oasis Spa on the 12th floor.

Pubs galore All restaurants at UB City, but for Rajdhani and Subway, serve alcohol. Some even have lavish bars associated with them. Cafe Mangii and Cafe Noir serve just wine but all others have harder drinks on their menu. Skyye, on the 16th floor opens for visitors every evening at 7pm. This open air bar and lounge has a large dance floor for people to enjoy some dance and music under the sky. A look around will give you a spectacular night view of the UB tower and the city. Another restaurant which offers an open air lounge with a bar is Shiro. Late evening, especially on weekends, they shift the seating to make arrangements for a dance floor so the guests can live it up with some dancing. City Bar, which is located at the Piazza, has karaoke machines and a grill to let its visitors have a go at singing and dancing! U B Cit y of ten be come s t he go - to destination for any Bangalorean who decides to take an evening off for a drink and dance. And for all non-Bangaloreans too who want to learn why the city has been termed “Pub City” and the “Dance Capital of India”. C he c k t he we b s ite h t t p : // w w w. ub c it yb a n ga lo r e . i n / for reta il a nd restaurant timings.


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METRO TRAVEL

HIGH-TEA IN NEW DELHI

THE REGAL TEA

High-tea, a British legacy, is one of those sophisticated customs which has been enjoyed and savoured merrily by us till date. The concept of High-tea is as old as mid nineteenth century. It is still as elaborate an affair as it was back then. With the rare servings and exciting menu, served beautifully, GoNow brings you the latest menu of high-tea from Delhi and NCR hotels. LOBBY LOUNGE   Hilton, Mayur Vihar

With three selections, Traditional high-tea, Indian high-tea (vegetarian) and Indian high-tea (non-vegetarian), Eros by Hilton offers a motley of choices to its customers at Lobby Lounge. The traditional high-tea includes finger sandwiches like cucumber and mint smoked Scottish salmon with herbed mascarpone and tomato and cream cheese sandwich. The scones range from plain to

Finger sandwiches served at lobby lounge, Hilton Mayur Vihar

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Traditional chai at Hyatt Regency Delhi


Emperor’s Lounge at Taj Mahal Hotel

raisin to cinnamon. filefact O t her delicacie s served under tradiHILTON, MAYUR VIHAR tional high-tea are Highlight: They have vanilla, madeleine, a separate menu for fruit tartlet and date vegetarian and nonand pr une ca ke. vegetarian guests. The Indian high-tea Price: Traditional English High-tea(ve g e t a r ia n) en `650, High-tea compasses scones, (vegetarian)- `580 sandwiches and alland High-tea (nontime favourite aloo vegetarian)- `650 matar samosa and Timings: 11 AM to 11 PM paneer pakora. If you are not a vegan you can indulge in high-tea (non-vegetarian) that serves classics like keema patti samosa, egg and cress and fish Amritsari apart from scones and sandwiches. “The Indian high-tea is very popular among our local clientele” comments Theodor Rudiferia, the Executive Chef, Hilton.

THE CAFÉ

  Hyatt Regency, Delhi With the special scrumptious monsoon offerings, Hyatt is ready to sway its customers with its exclusive menu. Now what’s the thing that monsoon reminds you of? Street food! En-

joy delicious street food delights like pakoras, samosas, chaats, dhoklas and Bombay sandwiches with traditional masala chai at The Café, Hyatt.

filefact HYATT REGENCY, DELHI Highlight: Make sure to try their special monsoon offerings! Price: `695 + taxes Timings: 4 PM to 6PM

THREESIXTYONE   The Oberoi, Gurgaon

At The Oberoi, Gurgaon the afternoon tea (high-tea) is served on the scenic decks of threesixtyone, which lie over the vast water body. This makes for a fine al-fresco setting for an afternoon tea in this clement weather. Here the culture of high - te a i s quite filefact exotic and English. You can select from THE OBEROI, GURGAON an array of 15 finHighlight: take it up est blends or enjoy a notch by adding a a pot of the special glass of champagne Oberoi brew. The for your high tea Price: `1,250 + menu consist s of taxes for two an a s sor tment of Timings: 3:30 pmfre shly prepared 6:00 pm sandwiche s, but-

tery scones served with home-made jams, marmalades and clotted cream and handcrafted bakes and tea cakes, all served in an elegant three-tiered stand, just like in the elegant living rooms of England. While the afternoon tea ritual is quite traditional, there are certain innovations by the Chef lately. For starters, the chefs have included a selection of Indian savouries to the menu. So along with smoked salmon and vanilla scones, you can also enjoy crisp pea samosas or chicken tikka sandwiches. If you are celebrating an occasion, the Afternoon Tea with Champagne is quite popular, which includes a glass of champagne along with a special cake, served at your table. Some of the teas served are Oberoi blend, Assam full leaf, Camomile, Darjeeling, English breakfast, Earl grey, Jasmine, Green tea with cranberry, Kashmiri kahwa and natural lemon.

EMPEROR’S LOUNGE   The Taj Mahal Hotel

At The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, they pay tribute to this aged tradition and welcome you to the Emperor’s Lounge to try their exquisite selection of teas and short-eats and encourage you to enjoy your afternoon August 2013 GO NOW

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Champagne also served at high-tea at The Oberoi Gurgaon

the way the Duchess filefact intended. Indulge in a mishmash of deliTHE TAJ MAHAL HOTEL cacies like Victoria’s Highlight: high tea Tea where along with – like the Duchess! your selection of tea Price: Victoria Teathey serve tea sand`750 per person, wiches, salmons and Dainty Delights`550 per person, freshly baked scones. The Taj Classic TeaBring exquisiteness to `900 per glass of your tea-session with champagne The Taj Classic Tea Timings- 3:30 PM where your tea will -6:30 PM be accompanied by a glass of champagne. Dainty Delights comprises Petite pastries and baked sweets along with your selection of freshly infused tea like earl grey or green tea.

THE LOBBY LOUNGE   The Leela Palace

The timeless elegance of The Lobby Lounge at The Leela Palace takes one back to the grace and style of the Edwardian era. The tea ceremony at The Lobby Lounge celebrates the finest of teas and single-origin coffees along with finger sandwiches, pastries and 50

GO NOW August 2013

fresh muffins with filefact live jazz three days a week. If you feel THE LEELA PALACE Highlight: Listen to like taking the expelive Jazz music along rience back home, a with your cup of tea trolley full of cakes and scones and pastries can be Price: `900 + taxes packed a s ta kea per person. Timings: 3 PM TO 6 PM ways. Even if you are not a resident, drop by and enjoy the great collection of teas with a delightful selection of sweets, berries, chocolate pralines and freshly baked scones. The wide selection of teas includes black like Black Currant to white like white ambrosia to dessert teas like Belgian Mint, Raspberry nectar and many more. The delicious menu never fails to impress and the ambience is luxurious yet cosy, making it an ideal place to unwind.

MIST

  The Park, New Delhi High tea at The Park, New Delhi will surprize you with an indigenous touch while maintaining the original British swish. The spread exhibits popular Indian delicacy ‘Chaat’ which combines spicy and tangy flavours best loved

by the local palate. filefact High-tea at all-day dining restaurant MIST THE PARK, NEW DELHI attracts guests especialHighlight: Bring ly from the corporate you desi flavours world who can discuss with chaat and business over savourmasala chai ies and pastries with Price: `700 per person their favourite cuppa. Timings: 5 PM TO The pastr y displays 7 PM ‘Flurys’ adds another dimension to the hightea culture at The Park. The selection includes pastries, doughnuts, cakes and muffins along with popular munches like a quiches and puffs. Variety of cupcakes, teacakes and kid’s favourite flavoured moulded chocolates are also available on a ‘Charlie’s stand’, an old fashioned, three tier stand used for offering High tea. Guests can place order from an expansive selection of the ‘Typhoo’ teas. From a strong ‘Assam’ to a light ‘Darjeeling’, from fragrant Earl Grey to fruit tisanes like ‘Blackcurrant’ and ‘Lime zest’ and from digestive ‘Moroccan mint’ to the local favourite ‘Masala’ make the high-tea a perfect affair. by ANUPRIYA BISHNOI


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METRO TRAVEL Goa Marriott Resort & Spa

GOA

THE SPA TERMINUS Having roots in pre-historic times, a spa is considered one of those treatments that inherit curative powers. From reasons like that of body polishing to increasing your blood circulation, to some serious health-related problems like getting a therapy done for arthritis or muscle spasms, spas have revolutionised as an urban treatment for rejuvenating the senses. GoNow takes you for a stroll to some of the exotic spas of Goa and bring you all you need to know. Drop in and enjoy the long pending ‘me’ time.

Sereno Spa, Park Hyatt

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Spa Sitara


METRO TRAVEL GOA MARRIOTT RESORT & SPA

Quan Spa

S

pread over 7,588 square feet Quan Spa run by the hotel will make you relax with its signature massage ‘Goan Magic’ that includes a combination of three different techniques Thai, Ayurveda and Swedish. ‘Tridosha’ is special oil used in this treatment that helps balance your elements and is a deep relaxing treatment which is priced at `4,500 (taxes as applicable). Five multi-purpose treatment rooms include a Couple Suite which are sea facing and equipped with shower and a changing area. The spa therapists have been thoroughly trained by an internal spa trainer as per the Quan Spa concept to let you enjoy an exclusive expert treatment. If you are the resident guest or the Club Marriott member you can also enjoy a cross massage. The Quan Spa uses Thalgo products, which are used for face and body Therapies and Iraya products, which are used for body treatments. Some of the luxury packages that the spa provides are: l Indoceane Spa Ritual experience: a four step relaxing journey from 4 different cultures that include scrub, wrap, massage and purity ritual and is priced at `7,000+ taxes. l Celebrating Couple’s Wedding Ritual that offers foot ritual, body

polish, massage and a facial and is priced at `12,000+ taxes. The Massage Therapies range from `3,300 to 4,800. The Aroma Fusion massage based on Swedish technique is priced at `3,300 for 60 minutes and `4,500 for 90 minutes.

WHY TO VISIT S

For its Goan Magic massage that includes a combination of three different techniques Thai, Ayurveda and Swedish. ADDRESS: Miramar, Panaji, Goa. Phone number- 0832 246 3333

Website: www.marriott.com

PARK HYATT GOA RESORT & SPA

Sereno Spa

I

ndulge in Marine Ritual designed to tone the body and mind, using seaweed and mineral-based luxury products to balance the skin of the face and the body at Sereno Spa, Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa. A toning and firming wrap uses the thermo genic qualities of three marine algae to counter cellulite, detoxify and firm the body.  This exotic massage treatment lasts for 3 hours and 30 minutes and is priced at `9,500 (plus taxes). It uses thermo-active cream to enhance the firming and toning the body. A nourishing facial uses fucus collagen to lift and build the cells, giving radiance and youthfulness. The spa is built up in an area spanning 36,000 square feet. Talking of its extensiveness, they have 16 indoor and outdoor spa treatment rooms where the outdoor spa treatment rooms are particularly used for traditional Ayurveda treatments. Also they use international spa product range from Comfort zone and Thalion, and customised oils from Iraya and Forest Essentials. The Swedish massage is priced in range of between `2,000 to `12,500 plus taxes. You can also enjoy cross massage here except for the Ayurvedic treatments,

Swedan Yantra at Sereno Spa, Park Hyatt

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Shamana Spa, Grand Hyatt

which are given by the same gender. Sereno Spa invites you to relax, revitalise and refresh with a variety of spa treatments, ma s s a ge t her apie s , f it ne s s and yoga activities, drawing on the mystical traditions and philosophies of old world India.  WHY TO VISIT S

To experience antiageing massage with Marine Ritual ADDRESS: Arossim Beach, Cansaulim,

Shamana Spa flowers

GA. Phone number- 0832 272 1234 Website- goa.park.hyatt.com

GRAND HYATT

Shamana Spa

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pread over 35,000 square feet, Shamana at Grand Hyatt, beckons you to indulge in two of its exclusive signature treatments. June Jacobs is a conditioning and hydrating treatment for body, face, hands and feet which counteracts the signs of aging. The exfoliating powers of the papaya enzyme are enhanced by a warm envelopment to soften the skin. A refining lemon sugar body polish and application of intensive age defying body emulsion follows to leave the skin soft and silky smooth with a vibrant, healthy glow. Nourishing Rejuvenating treatment is a nourishing experience which begins with a full body coconut butter mask to soothe the skin and nourish the cells. A rejuvenating warm jade stone massage follows, focusing on tired muscles, then a mother-of-pearl facial, full of minerals and amino acids, helps to renew from a cellular level, instilling an innate radiance to the complexion. These treatments are priced at `11,000 for 3 hours. Shamana has 19 treatment suites with 6 couple suites and one Ayurveda suite which depict its vastness. The therapists primarily belong from Kerala and North East India who are trained from Lambency Chrysalis Academy, Noida. You can also unwind and give your muscles and tissues some rest with the Swedish massage which is priced at `3,500. This monsoon, escape to Shamana Spa at Grand Hyatt Goa, overlooking Bambolim Bay on the shores of North Goa.  WHY TO VISIT S

For a rejuvenating warm jade stone massage that focuses on tired muscles Spa Lounge at Snip Salons & Spa 54

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ADDRESS: Bambolim Beach, North Goa. Phone number- 0832 301

1234. Website- goa.grand.hyatt.com


SNIP SALONS & SPA

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reat your senses to a transcendent atmosphere and impeccable service at Snip Salons & Spa which gives you a regenerating pause from the pressures of everyday life and a perfect balance of physical and spiritual wellness. With the Indonesian massage as their signature treatment that lasts for 60 minutes, they help relax the customers with deep tissue therapy performed with essential oils. The spa has experts from all over India and Bali, Indonesia, who gets 90 day training program to let customers experience spa the original way. Their wide range of massages include- Asian Head massage (head, neck, shoulders and hands), Asian back massage (head, upper and lower back), Foot reflexology (based on pressure points), Aromatherapy massage (a soothing oil massage), Baliness massage (a deep tissue oil massage), Thai massage (dry massage based on yoga) and Shiatsu Japanese Massage (dry acupressure massage) which are priced from `700 onwards.  WHY TO VISIT S

For its variety in massages which target different parts of the body. ADDRESS: Padmavati Towers, Next to Bombay Bazaar, 18th June Road, Panaji, Goa.

Phone number- 0832-2420898/ 0832-2420989. Website- www.snip.co.in

SPA SITARA

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pa Sitara features 13 spacious treatment rooms including a couple spa suite with private en-suite facilities including a sunken Jacuzzi, a nail and hair salon, 10 Ayurvedic rooms and a wide array of water facilities including Vichy rain shower, steam bath and hot air sauna. The spa is built by Acron and managed jointly by Urban Nirvana and Acron. Talking of exclusivity, Spa Sitara Signature Massage is a blend of Ayurvedic, Thai, Swedish, Shiatsu and reflexology techniques paired with medicinal heat compress, resulting in a ritual that harmonises the body’s energies and is priced at `3,500. The most availed massages at Spa Sitara are: Aromatherapy priced at `2,000, Swedish priced at `2,100 and Deep Tissue priced at `2,200. Clients also have an option of going for a 60 or 90 min massage. For summers they have introduced ‘Summer Splash’ where the facials and body treatments are done from fresh products using cucumber, watermelon and mango leaving your skin soft, hydrated, supple and glowing. Apart from this you can also splurge into their luxury treatments – Exclusive for him/her, a stress relief massage (5 minutes standard services, 15 minutes steam therapy, 40 minutes arabica coffee scrub and 60 minutes Swedish Massage), priced at `3,500, Thai Tranquillity, an anti-cellulite package (5 minutes foot ritual, 15 minutes steam, 15 minutes body brushing, 45 minutes ginger firming wrap, 10 minutes lotion application and 60 minutes Udvatanam Massage), priced at `4,500 and Honeymoon retreat (5 minutes standard services, 15 minutes body brushing, 35 minutes coffee scrub For him, 35 minutes milky lemongrass sea salt scrub for her, 5 minutes shower, 60 minutes butter body massage and 60 minutes Thai herbal facial, priced at `12,900.  WHY TO VISIT S

For its exclusive Spa Sitara Signature massage which is a blend of Ayurvedic, Thai, Swedish, Shiatsu and reflexology techniques. ADDRESS: Acron Place, 283, Fort Aguada Road, Candolim, Goa 

Phone number- 0832 665 0270 - 71. Website- thaispagoa.com

Jiva Spa, Taj Exotica

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Jiva Spa

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ne of the signature treatments at Jiva Spa, Taj Exotica is Jivanya, which is an energizing scrub with which you can surely relieve muscular tension and enhance your blood circulat ion. T hi s t re at ment includes an exfoliating herbal Jiva Spa, Taj Exotica scrub that cleanses, moisturises and refreshes the skin, producing a natural glow. Followed by a heat-stimulating wrap of exotic spices and herbs from the hills of India that nourishes the skin and draws out impurities, the treatment ends with a revitalizing massage and deep rest. Every product at Jiva Spa is natural and bespoke and contains herbs and ingredients of Indian origin. They use the purest ingredients that are all handmade and designed exclusively for Jiva Spas. Extracted from natural sources, the products are eco-friendly and toxic free and can only be availed here. One of the most popular spa indulgences at Jiva Spa are opted by couples who want a long vacation and want to rejuvenate at the same time. Soma is one such exotic treatment that includes a relaxing Indian aromatherapy massage, in a romantic candle-lit ambience, using pure, evocative oils, followed by a soak in a rose petal bath, replete with champagne and cheese in absolute privacy. The cost of this package is `8,250 + taxes.  WHY TO VISIT S

To relieve muscular tension and enhance your blood circulation with Jivanya and for herbal remedies. ADDRESS: Near Benaulim Beach, Off Colva Road, Calwaddo, Benaulim, Goa 

Phone number- 0832 668 3333. Website- www.tajhotels.com Compiled by ANUPRIYA BISHNOI August 2013 GO NOW

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TOURISM CONNECT

CINEMA TOURISM

Mukesh Bhatt recounts the best Bollywood backdrops

Go Now caught up with Mukesh Bhatt on his favourite destinations – through the lens of a producer who says the home of Bollywood is actually his least favourite location by RAYNAH COUTINHO

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London

Switzerland

Thailand

South Africa

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TOURISM CONNECT

“I

’m primarily motivated by the script. But little things like whether a country gives my cast and crew visas easily, the availability of single window clearance for shooting permissions and the destination’s film culture go a long way in a destination being chosen as a location for one of my films to be shot,” says Mukesh Bhatt. He went on to give details of his five favourite locations – mind you he took a few minutes to brood over which of the 20 countries he has shot in should earn the honour of being his favourites. Here’s a look of some of our favourite holiday hotspots through the Bollywood lens.

Switzerland Here’s an interesting bit of trivia for all you Bollywood-lovers. “Switzerland opened up as a location because of a ban on shooting in Kashmir,” says Bhatt. He says that the basic recipe for a popular Bollywood films is a love story, set against a romantic landscape and lots of music. Trees and mountains, as we’re all well aware are a standard for what is seen as a romantic landscape. As a result, Switzerland was an obvious choice. “It is also the fact that getting shooting permissions is a cakewalk for us in Switzerland. They have a no holds barred attitude – we could ask to shoot on a street, at an airport, in a train or in the mountains… and we would be given a green signal. It paid off for the destination too; Switzerland became the most popular destination among Indian honeymooners,” he continues. He adds that direct flights helped as did concessions on baggage by Switzerland’s national carrier Swiss Airlines.

South Africa “The biggest advantage in South Africa is its large Indian diaspora – if you need extras, small actors or junior artists, there’s absolutely no hassle in identifying exactly whom and what you need,” says Bhatt. Other factors that draw Indian film-makers to the destination, best known wildlife and cricket, include the fact that its currency exchange rate isn’t as high as in Europe. Equipment and lab facilities are excellent and affordable which Bhatt points out, “all goes into reducing the overall costs. Large equipment demands quite a big budget for baggage alone.” He adds that cheaper manpower, that is nonetheless well-trained and talented, acts as an additional incentive to shoot here. Then there’s the landscape: Wild forests, sand dunes, beautiful cities, mountains and water-bodies, all within a radius of three kilometers. “South Africa’s film community is supportive and friendly,” Bhatt relates, from personal experience. About 1.6 lakh Indians chose to visit South Africa last year as compared to nearly one-third that amount – 57,000 – in 2009.

Hong Kong “As scripts started to demand large, swanky-looking, urban backdrops Hong Kong fit the bill perfectly,” says Bhatt, adding, “I first went over to the destination upon the invitation of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, that was very keen that Indian film-makers see it as a viable shooting location.” He says that the support received from their government, together with tickets from Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s official carrier, made

shooting there a breeze. Other positives are the complete lack of a language barrier, a fairly vibrant film industry in Hong Kong and availability of equipment. “Hong Kong also has a very talented community of online producers,” he added.

London London, like South Africa, earned lots of points from Bhatt due to the large number of Indians settled there. “I can make a whole film with the sheer number of Indians that dot the city. Its no great task to find anyone from junior stars to technicians. All I need to do is take my star cast with me,” he says. The British government also provides subsidies to film-makers in a bid to make up for the high pound-to-rupee exchange rate. What kinds of locations have drawn him to London? “Anything from the tube, to London’s lovely large parks makes for a great location,” he replies. Particularly for street scenes where he has needed lots of Indian character actors; London has been just what the producer ordered. “Permissions are not difficult to procure. In the past, visas too were a breeze but I’m not sure what the stand is on it now – perhaps sufficient lead time is required, today. Also, when your shooting location so long haul, a direct flight, which London does have, is a great positive. Since we’re carrying so much equipment, which is checked-in, nobody wants to take a chance with changing flights because if your baggage is misplaced in the process, you’re loosing invaluable time and great sums of money as your entire shooting schedule is put on hold waiting for it to turn up,” Bhatt explains.

Thailand According to Bhatt, there’s very little that Thailand does not have. From all types of urban location, small, big and mega-cities to pristine, romantic beaches, to forests and hills, “Its all available in Thailand, and that too at labour isn’t expensive. You can get some very talent technicians to work on your film for a very good rate. Add a fantastic exchange rate to that and you can make an absolutely fantastic film in Thailand even in a very small budget. This is great because even smaller film-production houses can consider going there” he says. Thailand’s positive attitude to tourists, an easy visa-process, a proactive film community and film-commission, together with its proximity to India and lots of flight options make it one of the most viable, convenient shooting locations, Bhatt tells me. But some of these landscapes match India’s; wouldn’t he cut down spends on tickets and excess baggage if he shot here. “Permissions are a struggle,” he says adding that the home of Bollywood, Mumbai has been “nothing short of a nightmare to shoot in. As a backdrop, its rather ugly and it falls more expensive than shooting abroad even if you add in hotels and ticket costs involved in shooting abroad.” He says that a lack of support from the city’s state government and insensitivity to the film industry has led most producers to shoot their “Mumbai scenes” in big cities overseas. There’s a twinkle in his eye when he adds, “It also makes my job more fun to shoot abroad. And its this very sentiment – people have an inherent need to see and interact with other cultures – that makes it so exciting for people to see movies shot overseas.” August 2013 GO NOW

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TOURISM CONNECT CINEMASCAPES 2013 MUMBAI

CINEMA TOURISM GETS A LEG UP WITH LAUNCH OF CINEMASCAPES 2013 The 7th Edition of India’s leading event promoting cinema tourism will be held in Mumbai on 18-19 October, later this year.

“W

herever Bolly wood g o e s , tou r i s t s fol low. Cinema is a reference for holiday-planning,” said Mukesh Bhatt, speaking at the launch of

Cinemascapes in Mumbai on 19 July 2013. The launch event and unveiling of the 2013 brochure and floor plan of the event took place at the Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach – in attendance were tourism and

Ceylan özen, consul general, Turkey, her spouse and Mukesh Bhatt

Ramesh Sippy addresses the guests as Mukesh Bhatt and Navin Berry look on

Among the audience Supran Sen and Raj Tilak in the front row

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Kulmeet Makkar, secretary general, Film and TV Producers Guild and Ramesh Sippy

Ashish Singh, CEO, Yash Raj Films (front middle) among others

hospitality stakeholders, as well as members of the film fraternity. Navin Berry, founder of Cinemascapes added, “this is our seventh edition and we have some excellent partnerships behind us, to ensure the best ever show this year.” He also drew attention to a newly-designed, ver y contemporar y logo and branding for Cinemascapes, saying that the weeks in the run-up to the launch had witnessed a multitude of queries about this edition’s programme highlights. Bhatt said that the experience of shooting abroad is always a delightful experience, even for a seasoned film-maker. “I have shot in 20 countries over the last 10 years. Not only do the people in a location and its various landscapes make your film more interesting but also as an individual it makes the act of shooting a scene less of a mundane job – the act is the same but the setting is different. Its exciting for the film-maker too.” he explained. According to Bhatt, besides a need for scenic backdrops in a given scene, the inclusion of landscapes overseas stems from what the film community recognizes as every individual’s inherent need to see and interact with other cultures than his own.” Ramesh Sippy, senior member, The Film & Television Producer’s Guild of India and leading producer and director, pointed out that the event has grown in scale and participation over its several editions. He made a valid point: “We’re all aiming for a singular goal at the end of the day. Filmmakers want beautiful landscapes that will have people swoon at what they’re seeing on screen. They want to draw the audience into a given scene. And tourism boards want people to fall in love with those very


TOURISM CONNECT landscapes and visit their country. It makes the best sense to work together.” Sippy and Bhatt underlined the need for simplified visa processes, proactive film commissions and single window clearance for shooting permissions among destinations that want to benefit from the big promotional medium that is Indian cinema. The launch was attended by select Dheeraj Kumar, producer; Ramesh Sippy; Farhat Jamal, Shangri-La Hotels diplomatic community, leading stakeholders Navin Berry, Amish Modi, Sunil Mathapati and Joe Fernandes and Catherine Oden, French Tourism from the film and tourism fraternity. Senior representatives of tourism boards based in Mumbai shared their enthusiasm over the forthcoming event. Over the years, Cinemascapes has built a strong reputation as a platform that enables B2B dialogue between these two important verticals that promotes cinema tourism in India and also across the world. The awareness that films are a reliable medium to promote tourist flows is fast catching up and Indian states have become Navin Berry with Ashwini Kakkar, Mercury Travels and eager participants. Sonalee Vaz, Portugal Tourism (right) with a guest Deepak Khullar, Leela Hotels The 2013 brochure captures the success of the previous six editions, among them being the recently instituted Awards that were given away for the first time last year. Films such as Barfi received great recognition among the tourism fraternity for its clever and seamless integration of the film script with the landscape of Darjeeling. As many as a dozen awards were given away, with the chief guest being Shyam Benegal, who is also the chairman of MAMI. Earlier awardees have included the late Surinder Kapoor, father of Boney and Anil Kapoor, and a past president of the GUILD, and the late Yash Chopra who has immortalised Switzerland in his numerous films. The 7th annual edition of Cinemascapes will take place on 18th and Catherine Oden and a senior representative from the 19th October, later this year. It is endorsed by CII, as well as the Film and     Ashish Singh, CEO, Yash Raj Films Japanese Consulate in Mumbai Television Producers Guild of India.

MUKESH BHATT

RAMESH SIPPY

NAVIN BERRY

President, GUILD

Senior Member, GUILD

Founder, Cinemascapes

“Wherever Bollywood goes, tourists follow. Cinema is a reference for holidayplanning.”

“Tourism boards want people to fall in love with those very landscapes and visit their country. It makes the best sense to work together.”

“This is our seventh edition and we have some excellent partnerships behind us, to ensure the best ever show this year.”

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TOURISM CONNECT ICC CHAMPIONS TROPHY

CELEBRATING VICTORY IN AN ENGLISH SUMMER As the Indian team scripted a dream journey at the ICC Champions Trophy played at England and Wales, this writer followed the Men in Blue’s euphoria, sang “OH RAVI JADEJAAA”, and explored three premier cities. Text & photos by RADHIKA MEHTA

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t was a trip worth every penny spent. Where else can you enjoy cricket with the best of spectator comfort, explore the culture and nightlife of England and be the lucky Indian cricket fan who gets to witness first hand, history being created as India lifted the Champions Trophy for the first time. The tournament played at The Oval in London, Sophia Gardens in Cardiff and Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham presented me with brilliant options of exploring three cities. So from the manic pace

of London to UK’s Asia hub in Birmingham to the Welsh hospitality in Cardiff, this cricket tour was an exciting innings in itself.

DESTINATION LONDON As India took on West Indies, a huge crosssection of fans turned up. Not deterred by the cool breeze at The OVAL, fans could be seen gulping beer and relishing a variety of food being served at the multi cuisine kiosks. Chris Gayle followers were seen donning his hairstyle, while Shikhar Dhawan fans sported a make up moustache. What

amazed me was the stardom India’s newest sensation Ravindra Jadeja enjoyed as he took five wickets during the game. Fans whipped up a new song dedicated to him, “OH RAVI JADEJJAA”. Breaks in the games schedule permitted me to head for shopping and make the most of the sales. Now while travel and food in the UK maybe steep, there are plenty of shops such as H&M, Marks and Spencer and Primark that offer good value for money. Coming to the nightlife, you can party at the clubs and bars of Central London or opt for a quiet evening cruise on The Thames.

WELSH WELCOME The welcoming nature of the Welsh people allowed me not just a seamless movement in the Sophia Gardens stadium, but also a chance to enjoy India’s practice session. The city of universities also played host to the semi-final game between India and Sri Lanka. Must visit while in town is the Castle, just a quick 15 minute walk from the stadium. Built in the 11th century, the extensively landscaped gardens offer a good place to relax and enjoy the Welsh beauty. The City Centre offering various eating, clubbing and shopping options attract several tourists. While there aren’t many Indian restaurants in Cardiff’s city centre, there are quite a few Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurants that are worth trying out.

BIRMINGHAM BONANZA

Drummers on the ground during the match

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Birmingham is the right kind of balance between the pace of London and the serenity of Cardiff. The city with a huge Asian diaspora played host to India’s two most important games. First was against


Trophy distribution ceremony post the match

Pakistan and then the final against host country, England. There could not have been a bigger occasion in Edgbaston’ cricket history than to see an India-Pakistan game. The electrifying atmosphere saw the 23,000 seater stadium packed. Dhols, vuvuzelas and trumpets came out blazing. Ignoring the slight rain all the fans including me had a fabulous time. The final of Champions Trophy was another thrilling experience. Although it was being played in England, it felt like home town with more than 70 percent p e o ple pr e s e nt s upp or t i n g a nd cheering for India. Although it rained throughout the day, the fans stayed on. The organizers also persisted and extended the play till 8:30 in evening, so that a 20-20 game can be played. Sitting in stands, yelling, clapping, jumping with joy, rooting, blowing the trumpets was an experience difficult to forget. That is how my memorable cricket tour came to an end, with delightful memories of wearing the tri-cloured hat, English and Welsh hospitality and of course the joy of victory.

Enthusiastic Indian fans

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TOURISM CONNECT

DOING THE

NORTH KARNATAKA CULTURAL CIRCUIT

The temples of Pattadakal, Aihole and Badami in North Karnataka take you back to a time when the mighty Chalukyas held sway, making for a compelling day trip from Hubli. Text & photos by ASHWIN RAJGOPALAN

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ackdrop

H a m p i i n v a r i a bl y o c c u p i e s centre stage whenever there is any discussion about Karnataka’s heritage tourism destinations. Centuries before the Vijayanagar kingdom appeared on the horizon, another great dynasty ruled Karnataka with a vice-like grip. From the 6th to 12th Century AD the Chalukyas lorded over much of South and Central India when they ruled as three related yet individual dynasties. This mighty empire consolidated the entire region between the Narmada and Cauvery rivers – an area that covered most of present day Karnataka, Maharashtra Andhra Pradesh and parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Efficient administration, overseas trade were some of the highpoints

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of the Chalukya reign that also saw Kannada literature receive sustained patronage. However it is Chalukyan architecture that has stood the test of time and is testimony to the lives and times of this mighty empire that is the pride of Karnataka. The Chalukyan legacy lives on in the temples of Pattadakal, Badami and Aihole in the Northern quarter of Karnataka. Hampi’s relative proximity to Bengaluru vis-a-vis these sites meant that the temples here did not receive the same flow of visitors. The emergence of Hubli a s a n i mp o r t a nt commercial centre, the proposed

upgradation of the Hubli airport and the debut of the region’s first 5-star hotel will give this trio of temples a much needed boost. The 92-room Gateway hotel Lakeside Hubli is the ideal oasis to explore these temples. The hotel organises day trips to these locations along with tour guides who know these temples like the back of their hands.

First Stop Badami (105 kms from Hubli): I set out early (by 7 am) from the Gateway hotel, with a packed breakfast, arriving at the first stop just before the clock struck 9. It was one of those unusually hazy days when the sun was playing tricks behind ominou s da rk cloud s. Per fect weather to scale the legendary


TOURISM CONNECT rock cut temples at Badami. This town was originally called Vatapi before it assumed its present name assumed to have come from the colour of its Almond (Badam) brown stone. The Agastya lake is in the heart of this town which is now a taluk headquarters and home to 25,000 people. The lake also adds an element of drama to the rock cut temples that are located at the lake’s edge. Badami is best known for a series of four cave temples believed to have been built between 540 and 757AD, a time when this town was the capital of the Badami

Chalukyas. The temples capture the secular leanings of the Chalukyas of this period – there is space for Hindu, Buddhist and Jain themes in these temples. The first and the oldest cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva while cave 2 is dedicated to Lord Vishnu as Trivikrama. Cave 3 dates back to 578AD, capturing elements of the culture and clothing of that time through intricate carvings. There are also relief carvings of Lord Vishnu in various forms. The fourth cave is a mirror to 6th century Jainism with display reliefs of Jain Tirthankaras. The other notable structures here are the Badami fort and Bhutnath temple that lie atop a cliff across the lake from the cave temples.

UNESCO World Heritage complex (22 kms from Badami) In 1987 the temples at Pattadakal joined an illustrious list of monuments in India on the UNESCO World heritage sites. As I caught my first glimpse of this relatively compact temple complex it’s easy to see why these stunning architectural masterpieces earned international recognition. Pattadakal gets its name from two words pattada (coronation) kallu (Stone), this historic site used to be official coronation venue for the

Chalukyas. Located along the banks of the Malaprabha river these temples were built between the 7th and 9th centuries – a time when the capital moved here, an era when Chalukyan architecture reached its zenith. The ten temples of Pattadakal stand out primarily because of the fusion of different architectural influences. There are nine shrines built for Lord Shiva and a Jain sanctuary. There is hardly any other site in India that offers vignettes of both Dravidian (Southern) and Nagara (Northern, IndoAryan) – the temples are one of the finest standing examples of the Vesara style of Hindu temple architecture that combines both Northern and Southern influences. The Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh is believed to have sought inspiration from these temples. The largest and best-known temple in this complex is the Virupaksha temple that was built to commemorate Vikramaditya II victory over the Pallavas of Kanchi in 745AD. This temple is still used for worship and is home to an imposing Nandi (Bull). The temples are also full of historic inscriptions that offer valuable insights into the reign of the Chalukyas.

Where it all Began (14 kms from Pattadakal) Once you leave Badami there are no

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Nandi Shrine at Pattadakal

Steps to the cave temple 64

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restaurants or hotels where you can relax or grab a quick lunch on the go. So make sure you carry a packed lunch or have an early lunch at Badami before you continue your fascinating journey back in time. If Pattadakal represented the peak of the Chalukyan architecture, Aihole located just 30 minutes away is the research laboratory – a place where the Chalukyas experimented with contra sting architectural st yle s. According to Hindu mythology, this is the spot where Lord Parasurama washed his axe after killing the Kshatriyas. Aihole used to be called Aryapura or Arya vole and was the first capital of the early Chalukyas. Considered to be a cradle of temple architecture, Aihole was once a great ancient city and a throbbing commercial hub. It’s impossible to cover the 125 temples scattered all over this village but I made sure I spent time at Aihole’s two best known temples. Your camera will run into overdrive at the Durga temple with its unique apsidal plan. A pillared corridor encircles the shrine; the temple has intricate carvings and dates back to the late 7th century AD. The Lad Khan temple with its unique flat roof takes


PHOTO: INCREDIBLE INDIA

Historical essence of Hampi

its name from a general who lived there and dates back to 450 AD. Only Pattadakal might figure on UNESCO’s world heritage monuments list but both Aihole and Badami have a strong case to join this illustrious list. After spending a whole day at these three historic sites it is impossible not be mesmerised by the architectural feats of the mighty Chalukyas.

Aihole

G Huulbarg bli H a B igh ijap wa ur y

Badami

filefact GETTING THERE AND AROUND The temples of Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole are about 2-3 hours drive from Hubli. Hubli is wellconnected by train from Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Mumbai. Flight connections are available from Bengaluru, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

NARGUND

Karnataka

NAVALGUND

WHEN TO GO Most of the year except the summer months (April-May) ACCOMMODATION • The Heritage Resort Badami Cottages from ` 3,200/double per night Station Road, Badami - 587201 Tel: (08357) 220250. www.theheritage.co.in • Gateway Hotel Lakeside Unkal lake, Hubli: 580025. Tel: (0836) 661-1100 www.thegatewayhotels.com From ` 4350/night

Pattadakal

Hubli August 2013 GO NOW

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TOURISM CONNECT

DELHI

THE NEXT B-TOWN?

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ften an integral part of the script, the importance of finding the right location means that an enormous amount of time and energy go into finding the right setting for any movie. “Sholay would not have been the same if it hadn’t been shot in that particular location. There was nothing there initially, but the rocks and bleak scenery lent themselves so beautifully to the movie,” says the film’s director Ramesh Sippy. In fact, Vinod Pande, another eminent director adds that it is in “marrying frozen moments in a film with picturesque locations that make for a memorable movie”. In a place as varied as Delhi, even several films shot in the same city reveal different facets of the capital and filmmakers use the varied locations to bring alive their story and also to prevent scenes from looking repetitive. This is what hits you when you land in Delhi – there is much more to this place than just flyovers and buildings. If you want to bring realism into the movies, you have to find real locations because as film producer Rohan Sippy points out, “The greatest adventure of cinema is its ability to give people a cinematic experience and transport them into that experience through visuals. The creative use of locations helps us do that.”

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Director (Dilli-6, Rang De Basanti and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag) In Rang De Basanti, the lead actors play the role of contemporary patriots and Delhi, so often the centre of major revolutionary moments through its history, was the perfect location for the film. Locations featured include Habitat Centre for the audition scenes, India Gate where the youths hold a protest and Modern School, Barakhamba Road which is portrayed as the All India Radio Station in the climax of the film. Mehra returned to Delhi with Dilli-6, which stars Sonam Kapoor

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We love Delhi and it seems so does Bollywood! Some very popular and critically appreciated movies have been shot here in recent times, and many more are in production. Delhi is pegged at the centre of several Bollywood movies in 2013 with a total of 30 films expected to be shot in the capital. Seeing familiar everyday places on the big screen is always exciting. And if it happens to be that well-travelled road, a favourite eatery or a personal, muchloved hang-out, seen anew on 70 mm they all bring a little cinematic magic into our everyday lives. GoNow finds out exactly what attracts film directors and producers to the capital and why they keep coming back. and Abhishek Bachchan and is focussed on one of the most treasured and famous areas of the capital – Chandni Chowk. Unfortunately, the crew had to shift out of there after a few days due to excessive crowds and recreate the setting in Jaipur. Rakeysh Mehra, a Delhite himself, loves Delhi as it is one of the oldest cities of the world and he feels that it is a microcosm of India that also embodies the spirit of older cities. In 2013 he is set to release his next movie, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag based on the life of the Flying Sikh, Milkha Singh which has again been shot in Delhi. In Tughlaqabad Fort, Mehra had created a refugee camp that was actually in Purana Qila at the time of partition. Now, Purana Qila is all modernised, but Tughlaqabad is exactly the way it was – in ruins. He also found a wonderful location in the Cantonment area with the Rajasthan Rifles regiment, and a beautiful railway station from British times near the Sultanpur Bird sanctuary. The unit hunted for locations for almost 16 months for this film, and a lot of the places selected were in and around Delhi.


TOURISM CONNECT We talk to two eminent film makers from the Indian film industry who have shot in Delhi and who share their reasons for choosing the capital as a shooting locale.

Rajshree Ojha, Director (Aisha)

Rajshree Ojha, inspired by one of Jane Austen’s most celebrated works Emma, has attempted to recreate the popular and widely read classic in an Indian setting in her movie Aisha. In a tete-a-tete with her, she explains why it was Delhi and not any other city when it came to choosing a location for Aisha. “Before starting the movie I was travelling a lot and was looking very keenly at every city as a possible place for the Aisha shoot. Jane Austen was a classic writer rooted in reality and this element needed to come through in the movie. I wanted to select a place which was historically rich but had bling as well. With these as criteria, I could not think of any other city but Delhi. I used to go often to the Gymkhana Club some years back and the crowd never failed to impress me. The ladies were dressed in perfect saris, wearing pearl necklaces and designer wear. This made me realise just how much attention Dilliwallas pay to detail and dressing. So you will see Sonam Kapoor who has played Aisha always dressed perfectly. Most of the movie has been shot in Defence Colony keeping in mind its up-market status. Also when I was a kid I used to visit at my uncle’s place which was a huge bungalow. That lane was so beautiful that I couldn’t just let it go and when I thought of showing an element of class in my movie, Delhi automatically came to mind thanks to these memories. I also considered Kolkata but if we included glamour, well I felt no place would be better than Delhi.”

Vinod Bachchan, Producer (Zila Ghaziabad)

Vinod Bacchan’s real reason for choosing Delhi and Ghaziabad as the location for his movie is slightly contrarian. Of course Zila Ghaziabad is set in Delhi/NCR because the plot itself is based on the true story of a gang war that lasted between two groups in the 80s and 90s in Ghaziabad. But he says, “I chose Delhi because it is less crowded – in comparison to Mumbai. In fact while shooting for the song Ranja Jogi at Qutab Minar, we didn’t face any problem concerning the crowd. I am from north India and have a soft corner for it, so I try to shoot most of my movies here. Also I believe movies shot in Delhi have 99% success rate. My previous movie Tanu weds Manu was also shot in north India (Uttar Pradesh and Punjab). I am planning to shoot my next comedy film London Gopal too in the capital as the theme best suits this place.’

We talk with G.G. SAXENA, MD and CEO, Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation (DTTDC) on how Delhi is picking up as a preferred destination for filming How is Delhi as developing as a film shooting destination? Delhi is soon emerging a s the most preferred shooting destination for Indian and International filmmakers alike. Delhi has myriad hues, heritage and culture that is not seen in any other city in India. The city offers a variety of choices at a relatively cheaper cost. Earlier, two or three films were being shot in Delhi, but, since the improvement in the support system, the number has gone up. In the last five years, more than 200 films have been shot in Delhi. Delhi has more than 200 locations to shoot at, ready availability of high quality local film technicians at every level from costumes to makeup to lighting equipment, a large transport network for easy transport of crew, cheap labour and affordable accommodation. All this and more makes Delhi the new film shooting hub. What kinds of incentives, facilities and rebates are you offering to promote filmmakers? Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India has announced some financial assistance to the film makers through GNCTD titled “Guidelines for Extending Financial Support to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for Promotion of Film Tourism”, wherein assistance for a maximum of Five Films only, at the maximum rate of ` 2 lakh per film, will be given to each of the State Governments/UT Administrations during each financial year, on receiving complete justification for enhanced support. On making single window clearance a reality To ease out the whole film- shooting experience, the Govt. of NCT of Delhi has nominated Delhi Tourism & Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) as the nodal agency for seeking permissions

“Chief Secretary, Govt. of Delhi is regularly monitoring the issue with the major stakeholder agencies for facilitating the film productions for shooting in Delhi. Honourable Chief Minister of Delhi has also assured the filmmakers for making their film shooting experience worthwhile in Delhi.” & facilitating shooting of films in Delhi. Keeping this in view, DTTDC has formed a Film Shooting Facilitation Cell to smoothen the whole permission taking-granting process. We have also prepared an indepth guide, ‘Film Shooting Manual’ which answers the queries a filmmaker might have regarding shooting of films in Delhi. We welcome all filmmakers to shoot here in Delhi and offer our best services and provide solutions to potential hurdles in the film shooting process. We have been working on a single-window clearance for making Delhi a more attractive option for film shootings. DTTDC is in touch with all the stake holders in this regard and trying to make this system functional shortly. by ANUPRIYA BISHNOI

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HOLIDAY TRAVEL

T

he Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan mesmerized me from the moment I disembarked at Paro International Airport, a 90-minute flight from Delhi. Mostly airports are all about clinical steel and chrome. But this one was quite the antithesis, cradling amidst nature, sinuous hills, lush greenery and nature’s other accoutrements. Naturally, my photographic ambitions were fuelled. So whipping out my Nikon SLR, I got down to work, ignoring the surround sound of family members hollering at me to hurry up. The immigration counter’s line was apparently getting more serpentine by the minute! The approach to the capital city of Thimphu – an hour’s drive away from the airport – took us through more stunning vistas and valleys, punctuated by red-tiled roof houses, a characteristic feature of quintessentially Bhutanese architecture. The cab driver – a

self-confessed Aamir Khan fan – was playing Bollywood ditties on his music system livening the atmosphere cab’s innards while underscoring the soft power of the Hindi film industry well beyond India’s borders. “You come from New Delhi?” he enquired. We had. Nodding, he added, “Please breathe deep for a while to get used to our altitude and climate as Delhi is not mountainous.” We thanked him for his input, but weren’t we doing so in any case while soaking in the beauty of this wondrous dragon land where the pursuit of GNH (Gross National Happiness) is far more aggressive than the one over GDP (Gross Domestic Produce)? Soon we’re at Taj Tashi, a stunning fivestar property situated smack dab in the heart of Thimphu which was our abode for about a week. A delicious welcome drink (concocted from simple ingredients like

jaggery, basil leaves and a squirt of lime juice) left us refreshed and recharged. We sleep like babies the first night in our wellappointed room dreaming of monarchs, dragons and terracotta-hued roofs. After a lavish breakfast the next day at the hotel, we check out Bhutan’s multifarious attractions:

Thimphu TEXTILE MUSEUM It is a brilliant cloudless day with the temperature hovering at a nippy 18˚C (against Delhi’s catatonic 44). The Textile Museum, a showcase of fine Bhutanese textiles, is our first stop. It houses a trove of rare textile pieces and antiques, some of which have taken years to craft. Established in 2000, the museum is dedicated to the rich skill of the Bhutanese

A TOURIST GUIDE TO

BHUTAN Exploring the glorious temples, the magnificent capital, monasteries and the markets, discover the cultural vibrancy and natural pleasures of Bhutan. Text & photos by NEETA LAL

Punakha Dzong

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HOLIDAY TRAVEL weaver, primarily women. The guide informs us that it was the Bhutanese womenfolk who kept their families clothed in the era before machine-made fabrics inundated the markets. We snap photos of a couple of women who’re busy on gigantic looms inside the museum weaving beautiful multi-hued textiles. An interesting A/V on Bhutanese textile industry brought our visit to an end.

BUDDHA POINT

Buddha statue is build atop a hill called “Kuensel Phodrang”. The climb involves a bit of huffing and puffing up to a vantage point. But the effort seems well worth it as you’re rewarded with a gasp-inducing view of the Thimphu valley. It is especially beautiful at sunset when the city – looking like a giant legoland – is bathed in the marmalade colours of a setting sun. Interestingly, the glistening 53-metre Buddha crafted from brass is visible from any point in town!

If there’s a must-visit sight in Thimphu, this is it. A recent attraction, the country’s largest

TAKIN RESERVE If quaint wildlife is your thing, the reserve housing Bhutan’s rare national animal – Takin – won’t disappoint. The mammal has a thick neck and short muscular legs and is usually found in places above 4,000 meters high on

the north western and far north eastern parts of the country, the guide informs us. It feeds on bamboos, with an adult Takin weighing over 200 kilograms. There are over 50 of these quaint quadrupeds in the reserve. And mighty aggressive they are too, pushing and shoving each other even as we offered them leaves plucked off trees. Interestingly, the Takin also finds pride of place in Bhutanese religious history and mythology.

Tashichodzong Known as ‘fortress of the glorious religion’, the beautiful dzong (temple) was initially erected in 1641 and then rebuilt by the erstwhile King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk in 1965. Today, it houses some ministries, the king’s secretariat, and the central monk body. With its superb sense of proportion and space, it carries an aura of regal dignity. A nice walk down the street on the nearby

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Interiors of the dzong

Monks attend classes inside

Norzin Lam in the evening brought us to the local markets. We picked up gorgeous multihued necklaces, small curios and sundry handicraft items. Interestingly, unlike their Indian counterparts, Bhutanese shopkeepers aren’t too keen on haggling. So the quoted price for goods is usually the final one with limited room for maneuver.

river. A wide range of foodstuffs and local arts and crafts and souvenirs are sold here which also doubles up as a social venue for the local populace. It also provides great photo ops to capture shots of exotic local produce, condiments, spices, herbs, handicrafts and local families out in their Sunday best..

CHERI MONASTERY

An hour’s drive from Thimphu, the Paro Valley is crisscrossed with plots of wheat and barley, rice fields and the luminescent valley floor studded with irrigation channels that flow from the Paro River. Southwards, it descends into an alien terrain: lower, flatter, hotter and more verdant, where rice paddies and tea plantations alternate with dense jungle. This is the habitat of elephant and tigers. The transition from north to south, from mountains to plains and cold to hot, is repeated across Bhutan. Travelling east or west, whether you are walking, or driving on the country’s very limited road network, you must move continually up and over passes that join one valley system to another. Several treks begin in the Paro Valley. The Jhomolhari, L aya- Ga sa and Snowman treks, all lead west from Drukgyel Dzong to Jhomolhari ba se camp and then wind their way through Lingzhi and beyond.

Built in 1620, the architecturally stunning monastery is a popular trekking site as well. Our 45-minute trail commenced as soon as we crossed a traditional wooden bridge that spans the Thimphu Chhu. A steep gradient – punctuated with local shrubs and flowers – then took us right up to the monastery. En route we encountered hermitages and small temples located on hilly slopes. Serenelooking monks in their traditional attire of saffron or maroon robes (but with sneakers as footwear, not clogs!) as well as a few stray dogs were our travel companions throughout the jour ney. The trek concluded at a scenic spot which offered a panoramic view of the valleys, a basket of rich flora and fauna.

THE WEEKEND MARKET Most of the Thimphu’s population converges on this bustling weekend market held from Friday afternoon to Sunday down by the 70

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Paradisical Paro

TAKTSANG Ta k t s a n g h o u s e s t h e r e n ow n e d T i g e r ’s N e s t Monaster y famous for its

three-hour Tiger’s Nest trek. Spectacularly perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor, Taktsang is a place of pilgrimage which Bhutanese try to visit at least once in a lifetime. It is said that in the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave for three months. Hence its name, ‘Tiger’s Nest’.

DRUKGYEL DZONG With a delightful village nestling at its foot, this dzong commemorates victory of the Bhutanese over Tibetan invaders. Historically and strategically Drukgyel was featured in the National Geographic magazine in 1914, its glory remaining even when it was destroyed by a fire in 1951. On a clear day, one can see the commanding view of the surrounding mountains from here. Drukgyel is also one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century. The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, constructed the second temple in same original pattern.

TA DZONG An erstwhile watch tower, built during the inter-valley wars of the 17th century, Ta Dzong has been serving as the National Museum of the country since 1967. It holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangka paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps. The circular shape of the museum augments its varied collection displayed over several floors.


Dochula Pass

Handicrafts centre in Paro

filefact HOW TO REACH Druk Air flies several times a week to Paro. Fare ranges between INR 20,000 to 25,000 per person return economy depending on the season. WHEN TO VISIT July and August can be wet. Go in November and December (early winter) for clear skies and a sublime quality of light, in March to May for spring flowers, and in September or October for rice harvest scenes. Or time your trip for one of the country’s colorful festivals, whose precise dates are calculated according to the Bhutanese lunar calendar. Punakha’s festival is in February/ March; Paro’s in March/April; and Thimphu’s in September/October. It is advisable to carry umbrellas as cloudbursts are frequent though some hotels do provide the same. Light woolens are also a must as nights are nippy even during summers..

DOCHULA PASS The 3,050-metre Dochula Pass is the most renowned pass in Bhutan. A 30-km drive from Thimphu en route to central Bhutan, Dochula is 3,150 meters above sea level. It is mostly covered with white clouds, though on a clear day one can see the mighty Himalayas mountain ranges from here. It serves as a pit stop for all those traveling to and fro to Punakha. A hot cuppa at the Dochula Cafeteria, located just above the pass, is a must for passersby.

CHIMI LHAKHANG A much-thronged temple that lies on the periphery of the fertile Lobesa valley where the borders of Thimphu, Punakha and Wangduephodrang districts meet. Dedicated

to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine Madman, it is popularly considered to be a temple of fertility. A brisk 15-minute walk through the village of Sosokha led us to the temple where we regained our breath, enjoyed stunning views before starting our journey towards Punakha.

PUNAKHA PUNAKHA DZONG: Built strategically at the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in 1637, Bhutan’s most beautiful dzong serves as the religious and administrative hub of the region. The Dzong has also played a pivotal role in Bhutan’s history. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, its building was restored by the present King and is open for visitors during the Punakha festival in the summer months.

WHAT TO EAT There’s the famous salty tea and tiny dumplings called momo, filled with pork or cheese. These are flavorful, perhaps because pigs in Bhutan are fed on marijuana, which grows in profusion in the central valleys. Then there is zow, cold roasted rice, sometimes mixed with tiny red amaranth seeds, and yak cheese, dried on a string (zow and dried cheese are handy when you are on a trek). On the whole, though, Bhutanese food is strictly for chilli lovers: strips of pork fat with chilli; giant white radishes with chilli; yak cheese with chilli. If you arrive in the country in autumn, there’s a clear warning as you come in to land: the roof of every house is bright red with chillies, drying in the sun. Local dishes: Typical Bhutanese fare always features spicy red or green chilies. The traditional dish ‘ema dates’ comprises large green (hot chilies, prepared as a vegetable, not as a seasoning, in a cheese sauce. Other popular dishes are no sha huentseu (stewed beef with spinach), phak sha phin tshoem (pork with rice noodles) and bja sha maroo (chicken in garlic and butter sauce). Pork fat is a popular dish in the wilds because of its high energy content. Several Tibetan-style dishes are also common in Bhutan. Another Tibetan dish is thukpa (noodles), which may be fried or served in soup. Though there is plenty of white rice, the Bhutanese prefer a locally-produced red variety, and at high altitudes where rice is not available, wheat and buckwheat are the staples. Zow is rice that is boiled and then fried.

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TAJ TASHI, BHUTAN

Architectural

ELEGANCE in the hills

Nestling in the mountains, Taj Tashi in Bhutan is a discerning traveler’s dream come true with its luxurious spa, elegant meeting facilities and gourmet dining. by NEETA LAL

“M

adam, madam,” the therapist at Taj Tashi’s Jiva Spa in Bhutan nudges me out of my slumber as I lay on the spa bed, a slumber induced by the heavenly manda snana – the hotel’s signature spa treatment. The session involved a hot stone bath – where lava stones heated to 37 degrees C were slipped at regular intervals into a pool brimming with flowers and herbs – followed by a scrub and the soporific ayurvedic massage. Feeling reborn – my trance-like state inter r upted only by hunger pangs – I gravitate towards Thongsel (meaning ‘good view’ in Bhutanese), the hotel’s all day dining facility. The eatery offers a spectacular view of the mountains, water bodies, fountains, prayer wheels, it s interiors encr usted with Thangka s (Bhutanese tapestries) and decorative woodwork on the ceiling. After feasting my eyes, I moved to a tangible one for the palate – succulent chicken curry, buttersoft naans and other things yummy which delivered nirvana of a different kind. Taj Tashi, which opened in January 2008, showcases Bhutan’s vibrant juxtaposition of old and new. Until now the few luxury hotels permitted in Bhutan have been exclusive retreats in the countryside, but the Taj Group’s hotel is located smack dab Deluxe Room

Thongsel All Day Dining

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Taj Tashi hotel, Bhutan

in the heart of the capital with its imposing building echoing the mighty structure of Bhutan’s dzongs (monastic fortresses). Given the hotel’s architectural elegance, it comes as no surprise that the building was crafted by artisans who’ve worked on Bhutanese royal palaces. ‘Dolep’ (a duncolored sandstone) is the local stone that has been extensively used throughout the hotel. In the public areas, intricate murals draw on traditional emblems, principally clouds, dorjes (symbolic thunderbolts) and dhungs (horn-like musical instruments). The medieval-meets-modern imprimatur is evident across the hotel’s 66 rooms as well which are aesthetically furnished with handmade rugs and lattice paneling of local blue pine. They flaunt all modern comforts like a bathtub, writing desk, wi-fi, internet access and a 24-hour room service. My own room – facing the contiguous hills of the Thimphu valley – even offered a sit-out where I spent my mornings sipping fragrant tea and reading sans interruptions from kids or domestic staff! What a change from my chaotic mornings back home! The room also captured the essence of local design in the paintings of the ‘Cloud’ element at the headboard, and flowers in the panels of the doors, wardrobes, and the pelmets. A ‘Mandala’, which is a religious symbol, encompassed patterns that represent the cosmos, a microcosm of the Universe from

the human perspective, is also placed in each room. Interestingly, paintings of clouds – omnipresent in the hotel – represent the natural symbols of luminosity, and can be seen not only on the room’s walls, but also the carpets, the panel boards, on the floor of the bathrooms and almost every nook and corner of the hotel. Bhutan is a Himalayan Kingdom which is also why it is closer to the sky, and therefore, the ubiquity of clouds, I was told. Taj Tashi’s multifarious dining options al s o include s a specialt y Bhutane s e restaurant, ‘Chig-ja-gye’, where we partook of an alfresco meal near a raging bonfire. Scrumptious Doem and Ema Datshi or a hot cheesy (yak cheese) broth tasted like manna on a nippy night. ‘Ara’ or the homemade liquor produced in Bhutan (concocted from rice or millet) is the name of Taj Tashi’s bar. Aesthetically furnished, ‘Ara Palangs’ – or traditional liquor containers – dot the bar’s shelves while 11 traditional Bhutanese guitars, known as ‘Dramneyn’, inhabit its walls. You may ask for ‘sooja’ (Bhutanese salted tea with butter) here or quaff any of the modern/ New Age wines of which the bar boasts a good selection. Interestingly, ara isn’t commercially sold in Bhutan. Spirituality and religion permeate every aspect of Bhutanese life. Monikers and titles are thus all imbued with such sentiments. So

‘Chig-ja-gye’, which represents the number 108 is a significant numerical in Buddhism symbolizing the number of temptations that the human race faces. It also denotes things which tie humans down to the wheel of Samsara (the mundane cycle of life). Hence, no surprises for guessing why 108 Dhungs (a telescopic horn-like instrument) greet you at the restaurant! “Buddhist art serves a very different purpose from other art forms as it highlights certain important values associated with a spiritual experience, which is why the relationship between religion and art is extremely intimate here,” explained the hotel’s General Manager, Ravi Nischal. The “Dhungs”, which are also used to inaugurate public festivities, and mimic sounds that emanate from the earth’s womb, can be seen at the entrance doors of the hotel. T he mur a l s a nd t he p a i nt i n g s of the “Double Dor jes”, which represent enlightenment and wisdom, embellish the walls of the central lobby, the Tea Lounge, the elevators as well as the rooms. After sampling Bhutan’s fiery cuisine, gazing at mesmerizing nature through the hotel’s panoramic windows, luxuriating in its environs and relaxing with a special Bhutanese Hot Stone Bath at the spa, it was time to bid adieu to Taj Tashi with a trove of good memories! As the Bhutanese would say: ‘Tashi Delek’ or goodbye! August 2013 GO NOW

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THE

GREEK ISLANDS

M

ilos, Cyclades

Popula rly k now n for t he discover y of the statue of Venus or Aphrodite that is now displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, Milos is a volcanic island with remarkable scenic beauty of red, brown and white rocks

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and is therefore also referred to as the “the Island of Colours�. It consists of 7 small towns such as Adamas, Plaka, Pollonia over a total surface is 151sqkm. There are more than 70 beaches. The beaches are impressive: white, or black, with sand, small stones or ground shells.

In recent years, Greece has become a much sought after holiday destination amongst Indians. With its exquisite scenic beauty, crystal clear water, pristine beaches, mythological stories and historical nature, Greece continues to capture the attention of both adventurous and romantic travellers. We take a closer look at understanding The Greek Islands, which leave many baffled due to their number and variety. The Greek islands are divided into seven main


HOLIDAY TRAVEL

groups - Argosaronic Gulf which include Aegina, Agistri, Hydra, and Spetses; Cyclades that include Andros, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros and Santorini, Dodecanese with Halki, Karpathos, Rhodes and Symi; Sporades, with Alonissos, Skiathos and Skopelos; Aegean, with Thassos; Ionian, featuring Ithaca, Kefalonia, Lefkas, and Zakynthos and lastly Crete, largest of the Greek Islands. We take a look at 6 islands, each known and popular for their own distinct reasons.

Their waters are always clear with shades of emerald, green, pale blue or deep blue. Paliochori approx. 10 km. from Adamas is a must visit beach with small pebbles and hot spots from thermal water. You can spend your time lazing on these colourful beaches or visit the ancient theatre, catacombs and windmills in Tripiti, where the Venus de Milo statue was found or take a tour of the island’s inlets and go to Plaka, the former capital to watch the sunset. HOW TO GET THERE: Milos has an airport with normally two daily flights from Athens. The airport is at 4 km from Adamas. During the summer, there are on the average three ships a day from and to Piraeus, Crete and the other Cyclades. It takes about 4 hours from Piraeus on the high speed liner.

ITHACA, Ionian Islands Ithaca is thought to have been named after the son of a Kefalonian King, Ithacis, who settled here and together with his brother built a fountain that provided the whole

island with water. Ithaca is also believed to be the homeland of Homer’s Odysseus. There are two Odysseus sites on Ithaca and are well worth visiting. Arethousa spring has interesting surroundings, as towering above it is a cliff known as Korax, or the raven in English. The other site to visit is the Cave of Nymphs or sometimes known as Marmarospili which is a large cavern about 2500 m south west of Vathy. This is reputed to be the place where Odysseus hid his treasures. There is an archaeological museum on Ithaca. Also worth seeing is the Monastery of Virgin Mary which was built in the 16th or 17th century. Ithaca offers those who like walking some excellent walking opportunities, in the fabulous scenery. There are many types of wild flowers and wildlife to see. It has very clear waters so is excellent for snorkelling and there are many different kinds and colours of fish to see. The seafood is great in Frikes and Kioni, two harbour villages with August 2013 GO NOW

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a high concentration of tavernas. Filiatro closest to Vathy is a popular beach amongst locals. It is a pretty pebbly beach and the water here is very warm, shallow and clear, making it perfect for swimming. HOW TO GET THERE: Flights to Kefalonia and ferries on to Ithaca, or ferries from Patras or Astakos. There is no airport on Ithaca but to reach the island by plane you need to first fly to Argostoli airport in nearby Kefalonia and then take a ferry boat to the island of Ithaca. Flights from El Venizelos Airport, 76

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Athens leave daily to Kefalonia and the journey is approx 50 minutes.

Mykonos, Cyclades The most cosmopolitan and popular island in Greece, Mykonos is known for its nightlife and parties. The island of winds, as locals call it, is almost in the centre of Cyclades islands and between Tinos and Naxos. It is the closest island to Delos that according to mythology is the birth-place of Apollo and Artemis.

Mykonos Town is a captivating labyrinth that is home to chic boutiques and splendid white houses decked with bougainvillea and geraniums, plus a handful of small museums and photogenic churches. Little Venice, where the sea reaches the edge of the restaurants and bars, and Mykonos’ famous hilltop windmills should not be missed. Mykonos’ beaches are famous all around the world, offering all sorts of entertainment. You can combine swimming, sports and


leisure. Super Paradise and Paradise are the most famous beaches in Cyclades islands. Elia beach with an endless golden shore and crystal clear waters is ideal for swimming. If you are a lover of sports, visit Platys Gialos, with all the appropriate infrastructures for water sports.  How to get there: Mykonos has two ferry docks and multiple ferries with key ports such as Piraeus , Thessaloniki and Tinos. There are also daily flights from Athens and Thessaloniki.

Tilos, Dodecanese Tilos is a remote and tranquil island measuring approximately 63 sqkm and is regarded as a jewel of the Dodecanese Archipelago. Tilos has two main villages, Megalo Chorio and Livadia. Megalo Chorio is the capital of the island and has been built on the slopes of a mountain. Livadia is the main port and this is where most tourist facilities can be found. In the centre of the island, there are the remains of Mikro Chorio, a ghost village today that was gradually abandoned in the 1950s when its inhabitants moved to Livadia. The island is still mostly untouched by tourists and the beaches are peaceful and relaxing with clean water.

CORFU, Ionian

Known as the “Emerald Island” because of its lush greenery and breath-taking beauty, Corfu is one of the hidden treasures of the Mediterranean. Corfu is very green compared to other Greek islands: hot and dry summers along with winter rain creates lush vegetation HOW TO GET THERE:  There is no airport on Tilos which is dominated by over 2 million olive island. The closest airports are found in Rhodes and trees. These olive trees on Corfu are the main Kos, which are connected to Tilos by regular ferry. cultivation, although Corfu’s tourism now The airports of Rhodes and Kos receive domestic provides substantive income. and charter flights. The small island of Tilos is The second largest of the seven Ionian connected by ferry to Piraeus 3 times a week. The Islands, Corfu is just 593 square kilometres. trip is long, between 15 and 17 hours. Corfu remains proud of its intellectual and artistic roots. This legacy is visible in many ways, from its fine museums to its highcalibre, Italian-influenced cui sine. B e ache s a nd resorts punctuate t he entire coa stline, Sporades intensively so nor th of Corfu Town and along the Aegean Ionian north coast, but less so in the west and south. Don’t mi s s t hi s opportunity to tour the Cyclades Argosaronic Achilleion Palace, built Gulf by the Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1891. Take a scenic drive through Dodecannese t he wonder f ul Cor fiot Crete countryside Hike to the top of Mount Pantokrator where you’ll get a perfect

view of Corfu’s lush greenery and memorable views first hand. HOW TO GET THERE: Corfu’s International airport (Kapodistrias) receives international flights during summer months and domestic flights (from Athens) operate all year round. Ferries from Greek mainland (Igumenitsa and Patra) offer a regular service as well as ferries from Italy. Corfu port is also a popular stop for visiting cruise ships.

Ikaria, eastern Aegean Home of the mythical Icarus, the son of Daedalus in Greek mythology, who fell into the surrounding sea when his wax wings melted from the sun, IK ARIA is known for its clean mountain air, thermal springs, and have more rivers, waterfalls and gorges that an average Greek island. The island is mountainous for the most part. Many parts of the island, especially the ravines are covered in large bushes making the landscape lush with green. Ikaria is also home to some of the world’s longestliving people. They eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, whole grains, fruit and a little fish. Goat milk and wine are also traditional here and loaded with antioxidants. Spend your time exploring forests and ruins, stopover at the thermal springs on Thermes coast, laze on fabulous beaches with golden sand and crystal waters such as Agios Giorgis in the far north and drink the strong local red wine. HOW TO GET THERE: There are flights from Athens and ferries from Pireaus. August 2013 GO NOW

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A Journey Through

CHINA

A ten day tour, discovering the ancient Chinese capital of Xian, captivating Beijing and the bustling town of Shanghai, along with a lot more‌

PHOTO: MURAD ALI BAIG

by MURAD ALI BAIG

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C

hina is not only one of the world’s oldest and most sophisticated civilizations but also offer s a wonder ful exper ience for any traveler. As it is rapidly becoming one of the most powerful nations in the world it is also a culture that everyone should try to know and understand. Unlike almost every other country where progress is so often crippled by human rights, media outrage, judicial intervention and the other distractions of democracy, China moves relentlessly on its economic and political mission. Since the time of Confucius 2,600 years ago, the Chinese have never doubted that they, the inhabitants of ‘The Middle Kingdom’, were the only civilized people of the world surrounded by ever expanding 1000 Li (about 300 Mile) rings of increasingly barbaric people. The snarling lion, seen outside every important building, with his right paw on top of a globe could well be a symbol of this global vision. Chinese Emperors were also ruled by the philosophy of Confucius and believed that though they could be despotic they had to be righteous to continue to get the ‘Mandate of Heaven’. There were many bloody wars but they mainly conquered by a strategy of insidious seduction. When expanding against the Yeuchi tribes of the west, for example, they sent an imperial princess in a matrimonial alliance followed by huge supplies of silk, jade, tea and other valuables to convert the wild steppe horsemen into traders. Later they sent a number of farmers to not only make them agriculturists but to overwhelm their martial character. The exchange of gifts gradually became tributes to an Imperial suzerain. Today, China has huge stakes in America and many other countries. Confucian values rule the Chinese till this day making the people industrious, dutiful and outwardly modest. Ta nnie a nd I joine d f if te en ot her travellers on a very well organized ten day package tour of the Celestial Empire. We predictably began in the capital of Beijing where our spirits were rather dampened by a slow and depressing drizzle. Our first stop was to spend several hours visiting the ‘Forbidden City’ that remains the largest palace complex in the world. High walls also make it a huge gated colony, or rather a series of gated colonies one inside another, as a visitor walks from the outer courtyards to increasing smaller and more exclusive

inner courts where the Emperors audience halls and private chambers were located. Like Turkish, Mughal and other emperors they not only had politically important empresses but many hundreds of concubines who were usually introduced to the emperor at the age of 13 to 15. Unless she bore him a son she seldom saw him again. The most trusted court officials were all eunuchs who could not only be trusted to enter the inner palace but were incapable of having dynastic ambitions. The eunuch Zheng He was, for example, was a famous admiral to the third Ming Emperor Zhu Di who took out several huge fleets of some 400 great treasure ships from 1420 with crews of up to a thousand sailors to evidently discover America before Columbus, Australia before Cook and to circumnavigate the globe 90 years before Magellan. The inner courts also have beautiful gardens with a profusion of bonzai trees and tortured rocks. We then had a sumptuous Chinese lunch at a famous restaurants from where we staggered to the ancient Temple of Heaven and later saw a dramatic Kung Fu show before crashing out. On the second day we went to The Great Wall that is clearly one of the great wonders of the world. It is not however all that most people imagine as it is not a huge continuous 6,000 Kilometer long barrier that can be seen from space. There are many long sections of the 7 meter high wall near Beijing and also many gaps till it roughly links up with other walls around many smaller towns. The wide wall, with crenellations, however snakes between big watch towers following the contours of the hills. It is wide enough for horsemen or even chariots to gallop on to instantly oppose attackers. We later went to a Jade factory and then visited the Sacred Way and the Ming tombs. On the third day we visited the Summer Palace and a pearl factor y followed by another sumptuous banquet. We then walked off our surfeit by going by cycle rickshaw through the colourful old ‘Hutong’ (narrow street) parts of the city. The river flowing nearby made it very attractive and there was no garbage or plastic bags strewn anywhere. We then took a two hour flight to the ancient Chine se capital of Xian from where many Chinese dynasties were to rule. The emperor Qin Shi Huang (259 – 210 BC) unified several warring tribes and became China’s first emperor. He was also a August 2013 GO NOW

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HOLIDAY TRAVEL

PHOTOS COURTESY: CHINA NATIONAL TOURIST OFFICE

megalomaniac and began building his own tomb as soon as he ascended the throne at the age of 13. The huge terracotta army was later covered by a roof with mats and mud over it so that its existence vanished from memory until accidentally discovered by farmers digging a well in 1974. Only 1,100 out of about 7,500 soldiers and their horses have so far been excavated and excavators have to still unearth the emperor’s obviously more magnificent palace buried further below. We began the fourth day by visiting

The vibrant Shanghai

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a museum of the terracotta warriors to understand China’s earliest history and a large pottery factory to learn how the tall 7 foot tall warriors and oversize horses were made. We then spent several hours admiring the terracotta army created to serve the emperor in heaven where every soldier has been given individual features and weapons. We had lunch in a typical middle class Chinese flat where the hostess taught us how to make dumplings. Later we went to the small Wild Goose Pagoda and were treated to a delicious banquet where we also saw a Tang dynasty music and dance show. I was disappointed that we could not visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda where the great Chinese traveler Xuan Tsang’s (602 -664 AD) huge collection of documents is stored. He spent

17 years travelling to almost all parts of India seeking knowledge about Buddhism. He had also become a Sanskrit scholar and so mastered Hindu sacred books that he was able to rout a famous Vedic scholar in a long debate at Nalanda. His detailed records have enabled modern historians to reconstruct many gaps in Indian history of the 7th century and pinpoint the precise location of many ancient Buddhist sacred places. Though Buddhism had first reached China in the 2nd century AD it now became a major religion though Buddhist temples and rituals are not very different to those in Taoist temples. Many Boddhisatvas like Avalokeshvara the goddess of compassion became important Chinese deities and a new deity the fat Laughing Buddha evolved independently. In the 16th centur y Wu Chong`en wrote the Journey to the West that not only made Xuan Tsang a great national hero but introduced a Chinese version of the Indian deity Hanuman as the playful and cunning Monkey God. On the fifth day we leisurely visited the battlements of the Xian city wall and the

The package tour organized by TravelChinaGuide, that we had found on the net, had given us ten days of accommodation in good 4 star hotels, all internal airfares and transport, five banquets and two shows, visits to pearl, jade and silk factories and entry tickets to all the major tourist spots. At a cost of about $ 1800 a head it was very good value for money.


The Great Wall of China

Terracotta Warriors

Streets of Shanghai

history museum followed by an excellent lunch and a visit to a Chinese mosque that too has become thoroughly Chinofied with pretty gardens and carvings that may not quite fit the Islamic concept of banning graven images. Another two hour flight took us to the beautiful Guilin area where we first saw the huge Reed Flute caves with amazing stalactites followed by a visit to the elephant trunk hill on the beautiful jade green river that is surrounded by the most amazingly beautiful steep limestone hills. We took a most enjoyable three hour cruise down the Li River the next day to Yangshou. We then visited the house of a local farmer to get a glimpse of their lives. Tannie and I then left the group and went by local bus back to Guilin. We were interested to see that the bus stopped every 30 Kms or so that passengers could visit public toilets conveniently built on the side of the road. On the eighth day we flew another two

hours to Shanghai and had the evening to ourselves in the bustling town where the purely pedestrian Nanjing Street was a hive of activity. We spent time the next day visiting the big Shanghai museum followed by another sumptuous 22 course farewell lunch. We then walked on the bund along the busy river and visited the French Concession where hundreds of shops, bars and eateries attract thousands of young customers. We were interested to observe that over 80% of the tourists were Chinese tourists who were clearly having a good time. Later in the afternoon we went to Tianzifang or the China Town that was a most colourful collection of typical Chinese houses, shops and eateries built around most attractive gardens and decorative lakes. We found time to also visit a local Taoist temple near the market to observe that though most Chinese are atheists many burn joss sticks before their chosen deities and then put

them into large flaming cauldrons so that the smoke can take their prayers to heaven. I had visited Shanghai in 2006 and observed that worship in Buddhist temples was almost exactly similar. Shopping in China is no longer cheap. A half litre of mineral water from a dispenser costs 10 Yaun that is equivalent to about $1.70 or Rs. 100. Beautiful Chinese clothes, bags, jewelry, silks, jade, pearls and other items may be cheap when exported abroad but are quite expensive locally. Except for a rich elite, that includes senior bureaucrats, most Chinese have small salaries that make Chinese exports so competitive. The cost of food and shelter is expensive for them even if they have easy access to low cost health care. Following the tradition of Confucius great emphasis continues to be laid on education that though available free at nursery and primary school is entirely based on merit at secondary school and beyond. The one child policy makes small boys ver y pampered and there are seldom sounds of laughing or screaming children that can make other countries so lively. If small children can however master the complexities of 2,600 primary characters (out of some 6,000) of their script it automatically makes for a very clever nation. Chinese food in China was very different to Chinese food found in foreign countries. It had little chilies, salt of sugar and there were no sauces on the tables. Ordering our meals in street restaurants was also difficult even if the menus had helpful pictures as communication is difficult. Though most young Chinese are taught English they are either shy or not very proficient and it is quite difficult to get anyone to understand what you are trying to communicate. August 2013 GO NOW

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THE LAST PAGE

Instant Itineraries with Trip Tern Developed by three ex-IITians, Trip Tern (www.triptern.com) is a platform which automatically generates itineraries for travellers, taking into consideration all the variables, from the dates to the budget and the weather. Travellers can develop their travel plans based on their interests and choose from various accommodation options and attractions of a particular destination at one place. Talking to Shailendra Sason, Co-Founder, Trip Tern, we found what led to this interactive tool. Q. What motivated you to start such a portal? We were planning a trip to North-East India in Jan’12 but were unable to find a single resource of information on all the NE attractions and were also having trouble scheduling our trips between different states. We started looking for an automatic itinerary tool, unable to find one we decided to create it ourselves.

Q. How does Trip Tern help a traveller? It provides attractions list sorted by traveller’s interests which the traveller can either use to prepare his/her own itinerary or he/she can use our automatic itinerary creation tool. This tool takes away the complexity of scheduling, opening and closing times of destination, transit time and other factors that make planning a hassle. In the end, you get a detailed itinerary tailor-made for you. It’s a must-have tool for new travellers and experienced travellers can use it as a scratchpad and further customize it to their needs.

Q. What kind of traveller are you targeting? Through website, we are reaching out to solo and group travellers. Through our soon to be launched mobile app, we are targeting business travellers who want to fit-in some leisure activities in their business tours. Suppose you are on a business tour and your meeting gets cancelled, then, you just take out our mobile app and check out if there are any nearby places that catch your attention or are there any events/music fests going on.

Q. What places would you suggest a leisure traveller to visit this season? Europe is a great place to visit in this season if you don’t like snow. Also, festivals and special events are best way to understand a county and its culture. One can visit Spain, cities like Valencia and Barcelona are buzzing throughout the year but visiting Valencia in last week of August will give you a chance to experience La Tomatina. Edinburgh 82

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in Scotland is another great place to visit in August.

Q. Having updated information on various, destinations, hotels and its numerous opportunities, would be a huge task. How do you manage it? We have built the entire system to work automatically. Our systems work continuously to get the data from the web and organize it. The advantage of getting information from the web is that we always have fresh information and the list is never biased. We have built in-house algorithms to collect, clean and rank places so the system does not require any manual intervention from our part.

Q. As it is available globally, how would you compare the response from Indian travellers and international travellers for the same? We have got great response from European and American travellers and that is the market we are looking at currently. I think the reason that international travellers make a major chunk of our user base is primarily due to the international/national trips taken by them and the internet penetration. However, we expect a major change in the Indian behaviour over the next 18-24 months. So, it is definitely going to be a big market from travel perspective.

Q. What are your future plans with Trip Tern? We envision Trip Tern to be a one stop shop for all the needs of a traveller. Currently the market is focused on booking and not much thought is given on planning and enriching the experience of the traveller during the trip itself. We are working to add more personalization features and building a machine learning/AI based engine to understand the needs and interest of the traveller and suggest him the best places, thereby enriching his experience. So, Trip Tern will be with the traveller from the moment he decides to take a trip to the time he comes back. As told to NIKITA CHOPRA


JUNE MAY 2013|CityScan|99 59

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Date of Publication: 03/08/2013

RNI No. DELENG/2000/3645 Posting Dt. 4-9/08/2013 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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