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Choices for the New Year

Smita Tripathi | November 29, 2003

The holiday season is round the corner and most people are opening their diaries and making their plans for Christmas and New Year's Eve.

If you're one of those people who is determined to sit in front of the television watching Bollywood stars sing and dance, then we can't be of much help to you.

However, if you are planning to leave town this holiday season, then here are a few suggestions.

Ananda -- In The Himalayas, India's only lifestyle destination spa has introduced two special packages -- the Himalayan Christmas package and the Himalayan New Year package.

The Himalayan Christmas package is available from December 23 to December 26, and includes a two-night package for between Rs 19,750 and Rs 27,000.

The package includes breakfast and dinner, wellness activities and a special Christmas Eve dinner. It is also inclusive of one spa therapy per person during the stay.

You can choose from a range of therapies including the Ananda Touch, the hydrotherapy aromatic bath and the ancient Indian honey and sandalwood rub.

The Himalayan New Year package is available from December 29, 2003 to January 1, 2004. The three-night package is priced between Rs 35,000 and Rs 47,000 and includes all meals and also a special New Year's Eve dinner with a live band.

The Woodville Palace in Shimla is offering an all-meals inclusive package at Rs 2,500 per day between December 24 and January 1.

Similarly, the Windermere in Darjeeling is offering a package at Rs 6,200 per day, which includes all meals. It is valid from December 20, 2003 to January 1, 2004.

If you don't really fancy the Himalayas in the winter, how about trying Rajasthan?

The HRH Group of Hotels is organising a special Christmas dinner priced at Rs 2,000 per person at the Shiv Niwas and Fateh Prakash properties in Udaipur.

The Group has its own turkey farm at the Shikarbadi Hotel. But don't get emotionally attached to the birds because they are served up at the Christmas banquet.

The festivities continue till New Year's Eve when a grand party has been planned at the Zenana Mahal at the City Palace Complex in Udaipur.

The guests will first be served welcome drinks at the Shiv Niwas Palace lobby. Then they will be part of a royal procession to the Zenana Mahal. The procession will be led by horses and lance men and the bagpipers playing all the way.

At the Zenana Mahal the party will switch gear and there will be a DJ and traditional entertainment. At the stroke of midnight there will be a fireworks display to ensure a sparkling start to the New Year.

However, this grand party costs a not inconsiderable Rs 5,000 (plus taxes). Similar celebrations are offered at their hotels in Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh, Gajner, Bikaner and Jaisalmer for a cost of Rs 2,000 per person (plus taxes).

The WelcomGroup's Rajputana Palace Sheraton at Jaipur is offering a two-nights three-days package at Rs 8,499 per couple for Christmas.

This includes a special lunch and dinner on Christmas and breakfast on all days. For New Year's too the hotel offers a two-nights three-days package for Rs 19,000 per couple.

This includes all meals and festivities on New Year's Eve. The package also provides for two children below the age of 12.

The Oberoi Hotels & Resorts is offering special New Year packages at its property in Delhi. The 'Romantic Getaway' package is a three-day two-night package available from December 31, 2003 to January 2, 2004.

It includes accommodation for a couple in a premium room, complimentary use of steam and sauna at the fitness centre, a bottle of sparkling wine, and all meals. The cost: Rs 13,950 per couple.

Another package offered by the Oberoi is the 'Enchanting Evening' package, which is similar to the 'Romantic Getaway' package except that it is a two-day package between December 31, 2003 and January 1, 2004. It is priced at Rs 7,950 per couple.

The Taj Group has also planned special evenings for Christmas and New Year's at their properties in Goa, Agra, Varkala, Chiplun, Jodhpur and Udaipur. At Varkala, the New Year's Eve dinner is priced at Rs 1,500 per person for hotel guests and Rs 3,500 per couple for outsiders.

For those of you who would like to visit foreign shores this holiday season, there are special south east Asia packages offered by SOTC for Christmas and the New Year.

These include a seven-day Malaysia and Singapore package for $979 per person, a nine-day Orient package which includes Bangkok, Pattaya and Singapore for $1,099 and a 12-days package covering Bangkok, Pattaya, Kuala Lumpur, Genting Highlands and Singapore for $1,299.

The cost includes return airfare, visa taxes, sightseeing, hotel accommodation, buffet breakfasts and dinners.

So what are you waiting for, pack your bags and get ready to welcome the New Year -- at any place but home.

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