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Hotels out to woo domestic travellers
Smita Tripathi |
May 08, 2004
Is it costlier to fly to Singapore or Colombo or to take an old-fashioned vacation on Indian shores? Do the hills beckon this summer or, alternatively, is it worth taking a quick, midyear break in Goa, even if the temperatures are a bit too warm for comfort?
Let's get one thing straight -- holidaying in India is not necessarily the cheapest option any longer. It might, in fact, be cheaper to search out a cut-rate package to Bangkok or Singapore.
But there are summer discounts to be had at the best hotel addresses in the country. And you can choose between places like Wildflower Hall in Mashorba or Ootacamund in the Nilgiri Hills.
Says Sanjay Gulati of Interact Holidays, a Delhi-based travel agent, "As tourist traffic from abroad falls during the summer, hotels offer discounts to domestic tourists. So holidaying in India during summers makes sense."
Inevitably, some of the best discounts are in the hottest -- literally -- destinations. The Taj Group is eager to attract holidaymakers willing to brave the summer sun and the pre-monsoon showers in Goa and Kerala.
A six-nights, seven-days stay costs around Rs 58,000 for three nights at Fort Aguada Beach Resort and three nights at Taj Exotica. The offer is meant for the family (two adults and two children below 12 years sharing a double-room). It includes buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, transfer from airport or railway station and sightseeing.
The Taj also throws a quick, once-round-the-block sightseeing programme in the package. This package includes a half-day tour round north Goa and another half-day coach trip that takes in the key sights of south Goa.
The package also includes one complimentary adventure activity per person and the choices include rappelling, rock climbing, para sailing and several others. This package even includes free yoga sessions, and other activities for the family such as a Goan cooking demo, magic workshops and even basket weaving etc.
Also, from the Taj Group are holiday packages in Kerala, which is now known in the tourism world as God's Own Country. You can plan your own itinerary, with different time frames and destinations.
For example, there's a five-night, six-day itinerary at any of the Taj hotels in Cochin, Kumarakom, Varkala, Thekkady and Madurai for Rs 42,000. The offer is for two adults and one child below 12 years sharing a double room.
It includes buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, railway station transfers and sightseeing. In Cochin, the sightseeing includes a half-day city tour with visits to the Jewish synagogue and Dutch Palace. There is also a one-hour cruise around Cochin Harbour. Be warned that the monsoon starts any time after May 20 in Kerala.
Once in Kumarakom, you can choose between a half-day sightseeing tour or a banana boat ride or a backwater cruise in a motor launch. There are also paddle-boats, canoes and kayaks at the lagoon in front of the hotel for guests. Also, thrown in is a dinner cruise along the backwaters. Similar activities are also offered at the different Taj properties across Kerela.
ITC-Welcomgroup is offering two-night three-day packages at different hotels in cooler parts of the country. For instance, a package for two adults and two children (below 12 years) at the Sullivan Court, Ooty is priced at Rs 5,999. This includes accommodation with breakfast and lunch or dinner plus a 20 per cent discount on all food and beverages ordered.
The Welcomgroup is also offering a two-night, three-day package at the Gurkha Houseboats in Srinagar. The package costs Rs 7,999 for two adults and two children. It is inclusive of breakfast and lunch or dinner.
WelcomHeritage, which runs a chain of 33 heritage properties, is offering two-night three days packages at all their hotels. There's a wide variety on offer here as the hotels have sprouted in half-a-dozen states including Rajasthan, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. These packages include stay for a couple and breakfast.
For instance, a standard room package at Pushkar Palace, Ajmer costs Rs 3,699, Woodville Palace, Shimla costs Rs 4,999, Palace Belvedere, Nainital costs Rs 4,999 and Regency Villas Palace, Ooty costs Rs 3,600.
If you really want a holiday in the heart of nature while also enjoying ultimate luxury, head for the Oberoi's Wildflower Hall at Mashorba. For the months of May and June, the Oberoi Group is conducting a special promotion, which provides door to door transportation for the guests.
This includes car transfers to the airport and air transfer from New Delhi to Shimla airport via Oberoi Air Charters. From Shimla, it's an hour's drive, which is also taken care of by the hotel.
Of course, this is an expensive proposition. The deluxe rooms are priced at Rs 7,200 per person per night for three nights, Rs 6,500 per person per night for four nights and Rs 6,100 per person per night for five nights. The price is inclusive of stay and fare for chartered flights. Meals are additional.
Choice Hospitality India is offering two-night, three-day packages at Mussoorie and Shimla for Rs 6,999 and Jaipur for Rs 3,999. The package includes accommodation for a couple and breakfast and lunch or dinner.
There is also a package to Corbett at the Quality Inn Corbett Jungle Resort. The two-night three-day package for a couple with one elephant safari costs Rs 8,999. It includes accommodation and all meals.
The Jaypee Group of hotels is offering summer packages at the Residency Manor at Mussoorie. It costs Rs 4,499 for a couple per night. Breakfast is included and there is a 20 per cent discount on food and beverage.
There is also a 20 per cent discount on the ayurvedic therapies. The hotel chain is also offering a package at the Jaypee Palace in Agra. The package costs between Rs 2,799 and Rs 5,999 for one-night two-days. It includes breakfast and local sightseeing.
If you are willing to brave the summer sun in Rajasthan, it might be worth checking out the packages on offer from the HRH Group of Hotels. A two-night three-day package at the Shiv Niwas Palace, Udaipur costs Rs 8,500 for a couple.It includes food coupons worth Rs 2,000 and a visit to the Crystal Gallery and the Vintage Car Collection. A similar package at the Gajner Palace, Bikaner costs Rs 6,666 and includes camel and horse rides.