Living the ‘Luxe Life’

Luxury Travel is all about personalization. Whether you are looking at intimate experiences or personalized services, gourmet meals, or beautiful surroundings- it could be anything that promises a maximum of pleasure and a minimum of stress.

Today luxury travellers need new ways to be pampered. Personalized travel itineraries, individually curated experiences, top class amenities, they want it all.

A chauffeured Limousine pick up from your home , first class air travel, a welcome champagne at your hotel , a Michelin-starred restaurant in the lobby, a king-size bed and marble-lined bathroom or a butler to pack and unpack your luggage –the whole enchilada.

According to a research report by Reuters the Luxury travel market today is expanding faster than it did five years ago. The growth rate over the next five years is expected to register an 8.5% CAGR in terms of revenue; the global market size will reach US$ 8460 million by 2024, from US$ 5200 million in 2019.

Growing inclination of people towards unique and exotic holiday experiences, rise in middle and upper middle class spending and the increasing impact of social media on travel industry are the key factors that drive the market growth. Emerging new destinations coupled with rising service standards in the travel industry, is anticipated to further drive the demand for luxury travel, globally. Although the key developed countries such as the U.S. hold a higher share of the luxury travel market, there has been a rise in demand for international luxury travel in developing countries such as China and India. The drift is due to the increase in the per capita income of middle class travellers in the developing countries.

So if you are looking for something to inspire you to get up and book the next flight out, below are some of the few tip of the iceberg ideas for you to indulge in the ‘Luxe Life’

Luxury camping, also known as glamping, is redefining what it means to be one with nature, and roughing it has nothing to do with it. Glamping, is an experience-based kind of travel that allows guests to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors, but without the hassle of traditional camping. With five-star amenities and unbeatable outdoor access, glamping is where luxury meets simplicity.

aman e khas

Aman-i-Khás- A safari outpost on the threshold of Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan, India , Aman-i-Khas opens minds, and hearts, to the outlook of living well in the midst of incredible nature. Daily Jeep safaris promise glimpses of tigers amongst other myriad wildlife encounters.  Back at the camp, spa therapies, sleeping and dining take place under soaring, candlelit canopies inspired by the Mughal hunting parties of the days gone by. Each tent is assigned an experienced batman-your own private butler, who accompanies guests into the jungle, along the River Chambal and to temples and cultural sites. All this inspires an exquisite storytelling session at nightfall when the fire pit glows under a magical starlit sky.

Experiential travellers are looking for an ‘off the beaten track’ destination, away from the crowds;

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Allowing guests to explore unchartered territory, The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain is launching a series of boat trips designed to discover the hidden enclaves and sandy inlets of the Kingdom of Bahrain, along with gourmet picnics and a personal butler. One of the most delightful experiences is on Jarada island – or the ‘hidden island’ – an enchanted, deserted strip of pristine, white sand, only accessible for two hours per day before the tide gently washes over and covers it completely.

Water has always been a magnet for travellers seeking beaches and water sports but now travellers are seeing H2O in a whole new light. Wellness through water is one of next year’s big trends.

hurawalhi

Hurawalhi Island Resort in the Maldives are launching Ocean Healing Retreats which incorporate wave meditation, sound healing on Dream Island (a beautiful and deserted patch of white sand a couple of minutes boat ride from the resort) and underwater yoga at their submerged restaurant, 5.8 meters under the sea.

If you fancy having some cash to splash on spectacularly luxurious hotel accommodation, The Royal Penthouse Suite at the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva is just the place for you. Famous for being the largest suite in Europe at 1680 square metres, the suite is located on the entire top floor of the hotel and has a panoramic terrace with breathtaking views over Lake Geneva. The terrace comes complete with a telescope for stargazing on clear nights. The opulent suite has floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of Mont Blanc, as well as features like a panic button and bulletproof glass – surely one of the reasons why it attracts heads of state as guests. It’s also the most expensive in the world at about US$80,000 (€68,290) a night.

geneva

Amongst the many stunning island beaches in the Maldives, Cocoa Island is one of the most expensive islands to visit. Its mesmerizing beauty and pristine sand beaches, staying over the turquoise water to experience the beauty of nature costs around $750 (INR 48,670) for a night. Iconic sunsets, sugar white beaches, world-class spa facilities, unparalleled snorkeling and diving, Michelin-starred restaurants and stunning overwater villas – It’s not difficult to see why the seductive islands of the Maldives rank among the world’s best and most romantic destinations for couples and newlyweds.

Cocoaisland

The Instagram effect continues unabated – travellers are looking to find the most captivating backdrops and luxurious vacations. Photos are no longer just for memories – they are to ensure bragging rights across half a dozen social media portals. And when it comes to luxury, it’s easy to think ‘big’. Bigger rooms, bigger budgets, bigger experiences, private jet planes, spas, special menus, private island rentals, and private yachts –the list is endless.

luxury hotel

Luxury travel market epitomizes most unique and desirable destinations, luxurious accommodations, convenient transport facilities, and authentic travel experience giving an exotic experience to its travellers.

-Madhavi

OS: Luxury travel magazine; travel wire Asia;Conde Nest; PC: Aman-I- khas ;Tripoto; Trip Savvy;Luxury travel expert; Lonely Planet.

Your place or mine?

exchn

The first time I heard about Home swapping or Home exchange was via the Hollywood flick ‘The Holiday’ starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, the story about two lovelorn women from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, who arrange a home exchange to escape heartbreak during the Christmas and holiday season.

What a brilliant idea this was!

Swapping homes could be the perfect way to expand your horizons and holiday for free in exotic locations.

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Jetting off and arriving at your own ‘home away from home’ is an appealing thought. But since most of us can’t afford a foreign holiday home, the trend for house swapping, where holidaymakers move into one another’s homes – saving the expense of paying for commercial accommodation – is becoming increasingly popular. Home exchanges make an ideal base for one-day or weekend excursions.

People who have gone in for home swapping have made good friends along the way. You get to live as they live, shop where they shop since the exchange partner will often leave insider information about the area. What’s so fabulous about home swapping is it’s not just a holiday, it’s a lifestyle. And you get the most out of an intercultural experience.

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But home swapping is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some folks love to swap and do it several times a year because it allows them to experience new places without paying for hotels, restaurants or, in many cases, transportation (the use of the family car is included in many home exchanges). However, some travellers are turned off by having to cook and clean on their vacation, while others feel uneasy about having strangers living in their own homes.

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However there’s more than one way to do a home swap:

  • You can stay in your exchange-partner’s home while they stay in yours (a “simultaneous exchange”).
  • You can stay at a home-swapper’s second home or vacation home (a “non-simultaneous exchange”).
  • Or you can stay as a guest in a home-swapper’s abode while they’re also in the house (a “hospitality exchange”).

link home1

There are various home-exchange sites online that cater to different types of exchanges. Usually with the companies listed on a home exchange program  buying a membership is mandatory.

A lot of footwork is necessary. Both the owner and the holiday maker have to do their homework well before getting into such agreement. Check references, find them on social media or /and ask your home-exchange company for more information about prospective home exchange partners.

Home swapping is more or less a safe way to arrange a stay, with none or few cases of reported theft or vandalism. In the end, when it’s a simultaneous exchange, mutual trust is fundamental.

Here’s some pointers on how home swapping works.

  • By joining a reputable company via an annual membership. You’ll be able to list your property on their website and make contact with other owners to arrange your exchange.
  • Most house-swap firms don’t visit properties, so it’s imperative to study photos carefully, and look at feedback and definitely ask the owner questions.
  • Most of the companies have a guest points system where you earn guest points when you host and spend guest points when you stay as a guest.

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For many travellers, a home exchange /home swapping is an economical, comfortable and fascinating way to vacation far from home. The possibilities for home exchanges could be endless.

Madhavi

 

 

 

OS: Daily Mail UK /  PC:Shespeaks;Readers Digest;Hitster;Froodee;TripSavvy;

Continue reading “Your place or mine?”

Wellness holidays to rejuvenate your Mind, Body & Soul.

wellness

Giving your body a wellness holiday is the ideal gift of happiness and rejuvenation you can do to yourself. And when it comes to picking a place where you could unwind, India most definitely tops the charts.

Imagine yourself being pampered amidst the arms of nature, feels great right?

Wellness tourism is experiencing a huge spike in recent times with people swapping their cocktail-fuelled beach vacations for detox and other aspects of mental and emotional well-being. Most Spa resorts have incorporated Yoga Nidra, Acupuncture, Meditation and complemented them with specially-curated diet plans.

Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation, Rejuvenation-the options are endless.

Ayurveda, is the oldest system of medicine on Earth and practised from as long as 5000 years back, is known as the ‘Science of Life’ and is a great way to naturally heal and restore not just the body but the mind as well.

kerela (hindu)

Kerala is where it all started. Kerala has stood tall against time and has kept its age-old traditions alive not only with the natives but travellers from across the globe, who come here for seeking positivity, solitude, detox and natural treatments.

rishikesh

Bringing absolute peace to mind, YOGA stands as one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions. The ancient form aids in attaining good health through mental, spiritual, and physical practices. Indian and international travellers crash into yoga and rejuvenation retreats in India to relish a Saatvik diet (vegetarian proteins grown naturally by not harming nature and all its living beings) and meditate till they feel good. Yoga helps in bringing positivity to your thinking, pain relief, sound sleep, younger looking DNA along with helping in having healthy joints, controlling blood pressure, and boosting immunity.

Rishikes yoga

Rishikesh is the yoga capital of the world. The serenity and tranquility of nature have been very important to retreats in Rishikesh. The treatment or a yoga experience here is a blissful journey as it is housed in the lap of the Himalayas and it is located right next to the river Ganges. Yoga pavilions, landscaped gardens and the breathtaking Himalayan valleys are enough to lure people to get the best out of the retreats in Rishikesh.

dharamshala (shutterstock)

Whenever the dark clouds of stress and tension circle around, Meditation comes in like a savior. Meditation has been with us for thousands of years. This technique of connecting with your inner self in a peaceful environment aids in calming your blood pressure and heart rate. Meditation can fight anxiety, pain, and depression and brings ultimate peace to mind. ‘Vipassana’ a 10 day course and observes “noble silence” — that is, silence of body, speech and mind and which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills.

meditation1 tushita

Dharamshala is literally regarded as the paradise on earth for meditation. The natural beauty of that place with a very serene backdrop is in itself one of the very prime reasons why people flock to Dharamshala.

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Spread in a 65 acre Greenland campus, on top of the Panchagiri Hills, The Art of Living Ashram in Bengaluru is another place where not only can you simply meditate, but also practice yoga and other forms of art which gives you the complete freedom to be yourself no matter how the world is outside.

ayurveda

In simple words, rejuvenation is the art of injecting happiness and positive energies in someone. Getting a rejuvenating therapy helps in bringing calmness to your mind, improving your skin and even increase in memory. So whether it’s practicing yoga, or getting an Ayurvedic treatment, or just feeling good by the coastline or simply breathing along in nature, there are ways which you can feel rejuvenated.

Isha

Isha Rejuvenation Center, Coimbatore established by Sadhguru allows an individual to experience inner peace and the joy of a healthy body through a unique and powerful set of offerings. These include residential programs, walk-in medical consultations and Ayurvedic therapies. The Rejuvenation Center is located at the foothills of the Velliangiri Mountains, referred to as the Kailash of the South. The Isha Yoga Center is home to the Dhyanalinga, a unique meditative space that embodies the distilled essence of yogic sciences. The energies of the Dhyanalinga create an atmosphere that supports and catalyzes the rejuvenation process in the human system.

ananda

Ananda in the Himalayas, Rishikesh is the luxury spa which specializes in more than 80 varieties of spa therapies which are the mixture of traditional Ayurveda with modern spa. It also offers a range of Ayurvedic treatments- Abhyanga, Shirodhara, Shloka, Takradhara, Mukh lepa. Besides, the resort is also famous for Yoga & Meditation therapy, healing treatments, physiotherapy, and Vedanta talk.

shirodhara

Besides having places that are specially earmarked for wellness tourism, such as Kerala or the Rishikesh, it’s not unusual to see some of the major hotel chains at touristy destinations such as Agra, Goa, Bangalore or Udaipur and even cosmopolitan cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata having their own in-house spa therapies which are the mixture of traditional Ayurveda with modern spa.

Some of them offer a range of Ayurvedic treatments such as Abhyanga, Shirodhara, Shloka, Takradhara, Mukh Lepa and more which help in purifying the blood by using herbal oils and medicines.

ITCMughal

Most of these places offer some attractive tailor-made packages for a healthier and sustainable lifestyle, as per guests’ needs which are determined by a doctor and their team of experts, skilled therapist, nutritionist, yogis, and chefs.

With rising demand for traditional healthcare practices and a growing emphasis on preventive health care methods, medical and wellness tourism is gaining immense popularity and attention among people.  And so today the need of the hour is to provide an easy, transparent and organized way to travel and experience wellness with better classification and a more effective rating-system for these wellness centres is crucial.

 

Madhavi

 

 

 

 

 

 

PC: Little India;Shutterstock;Isha ;Hindu;Ananda Spa; Tushita info;Tour My India;Rediff

Amazon.in goes beyond being just a marketplace.

amazon

I am such an online shopping kinda person. Be it apparel, FMCG, books, personal items or electronics, I just love seeing and usually end up buying  some of them on Amazon.in

Imagine my surprise when yesterday I noticed that Amazon India  has also included flight bookings.

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Available only in India at the moment on domestic sectors, customers can now also do flight bookings and avail rewards and cashbacks in addition to shopping, money transfers, utility bill payments, mobile recharges – all of this in one single app.

How cool is that?

Does this mean that having started selling flights, this behemoth seems getting ready to devour all the large OTAs (Online Travel Agents ) globally?

Sample this: As per Forbes, 2019, Amazon.com transacted goods and services worth USD 916 Billion, as against only 160.5 Billion transacted by Delta, United, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Southwest, Expedia and Cleartrip – put together ! This makes Amazon 5.7 times larger than the 5 top airlines and 2 largest OTAs combined.

 By partnering with Cleartrip in creating best in class travel experiences, Amazon.in is enabling the existing customers to do more with their app and their Prime members can now avail more value from their membership.

Despite the abundance of meta search engines, like Kayak, and Google Flights, and OTAs, finding the lowest-priced airfare is still a tedious process. Amazon hopes to change all that by offering the lowest possible price. Amazon potentially has a large impact in travel, both from a booking and advertising perspective.

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Airlines such as Vistara UK, GoAir, SpiceJet, and Indigo were among the carriers offering flights through the service.

Amazon.com is the world’s largest eCommerce marketplace till now focusing on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming and artificial intelligence. And is one of the Big Four technology companies along with Google, Apple and Facebook.

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Amazon Prime Air, is a cargo airline brand name for Amazon’s freight delivery service based in Ohio. And we have also heard that Amazon is building an airport outside of Cincinnati to have greater control over their shipping by air and remove the need to use third parties like FedEx, UPS, and USPS.

Now that Amazon is expanding its footprint in travel, do you think we will soon see a commercial “Amazon Air” flying the skies anytime soon?

Stay tuned to more information on this exciting news!

-Madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Newsroom Miami Intnl Aiport; Amazon.com;Amazon.in

Celebrating Life’s Milestones.

SPECIAL

Celebrating life’s momentous occasion is turning into a niche travel market. More and more people are planning vacations around ‘milestone’ events and tour operators and suppliers are working to make the most of this niche.

Life is full of events that mark milestones. And travelling is considered therapeutic. From a birthday, anniversary, graduation or retirement to a new job, impending marriage or even divorce — each is considered a rite of passage to be acknowledged and celebrated. Friends and families want to travel together to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Travel-Cards

Think about it.

Maybe someone just finished a successful chemotherapy session. Or someone just retired after living a exceptionally rough life, or maybe the only child has gone off to college, or maybe just got out of a extremely tough marriage.

How we choose to mark these life-changing events is shifting.

People are looking at more exciting options to make it memorable. An African safari, mountain climbing -because mountain climbing is often used as a metaphor for life, trekking, skydiving , are becoming a popular choices for celebrating milestone events.

Skydiving

A growing number of people are choosing to honor a milestone event not only with a meaningful travel experience but also with one that includes a sense of accomplishment.

Egypt

Italy, London, Paris, Egypt New Zealand, Iceland and Ireland are some of the prime options for milestone travel. The more exotic the destination, the more exciting and lucrative the holiday becomes. It’s not just about going to a destination, wining and dining anymore. More and more people want something new and different like villa vacations, or a private sailboat cruise. Randomness and quirkiness are what people look for.

The trend has also extended to babymoons.

babymoon

Usually a 50th birthday or anniversary is a big one and a lot of people celebrate more advanced birthdays such as  grandma turning 80 and the whole family wants to be part of the celebration.

Yacht-Party-Mumbai

When people get together and travel they want to be transported, leaving behind their daily worries and responsibilities but taking with them their cherished friends and supporters.

wine tasting

Cooking classes, wine tastings, Art exploration, Music appreciation, Wildlife Safari or cultural exchange, the options are unlimited. ‘Let’s do it different’ is the buzzword here. The more diverse the experience, the more people desire it.

The world is your oyster . The destination you choose will be the one your heart chooses for you. Epic journeys and travelling on iconic trains across entire continents such as Europe, Asia and Americas is just so fascinating . Just go with the flow and have an awesome time, unwinding and celebrating with the people who matter.

Caviar in the Surf
Cruise liners –like seabourn offer One favorite perk, “Caviar in the Surf,” features waiters wading into the water with glasses of Nicolas Feuillatte champagne and Black Russian Caviar for guests.

Special life milestones represent continuity and growth, the unbroken threads that shape a person’s life.  They are a sign of triumph over adversity, of strength, and of hope, particularly in the later years when they represent decades of experience.

justonewayticket

The importance of celebrating life is reflected in physical and mental health, community and family relationships and a healthy self-concept. Each of which is essential to an optimal quality of life.

 

 

Madhavi 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

PC: Tripadvisor;My Awesome Adventure; Geeo;Passion Passport;Travel4u; Cruise Critic; Gateway sailing club; Groupon ; Blingbird.co.

Technology Trends that facilitate Smart Travel Experiences

cockpit

Technology is much like the Joneses- always up to something new. Frankly you just can’t keep up with it however much you try.

But the usage of technology is not new to Aviation. Back in the late 20’s a variety of technological navigation aids such as rotating lights or radio navigation aids would help pilots achieve a smooth and safe landing. Then towards the 40’s Instrument landing systems (ILS) used the best features of both approach lighting and radio beacons with higher frequency transmissions. Over the past few years many airports/pilots are using global positioning system (GPS) in addition to ILS. The GPS has become a primary method for navigation between airports and is exceedingly precise.

It is critical for the aviation, travel and hospitality industry to keep up-to-date with the emerging technology trends so as to nail the (CSQ) customer satisfaction quotient. Nonetheless, with such major breakthroughs in technology, it is playing a very vital role with its capability to increase the effectiveness of business operations and improve the customer experience.

 

Internet of Things (IoT)

IOT

The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, have the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. (IoT) involves internet-based inter-connectivity between everyday devices, allowing them to both send and receive data.

To explain simply; Smart homes that are equipped with thermostats,  appliances, heating, lighting and other electronic devices can be controlled remotely via computers, Smart phones or other mobile devices, is a example of IoT.

Similarly IoT technology is being used in hotel rooms to provide customers with a device that connects to everything from the lights, to the heaters and air conditioning, allowing all to be controlled from one place. At airports, this may mean using sensors and sending information to passengers Smartphone’s, alerting them when their baggage is nearby and allowing them to locate it faster.

 Recognition Technology

biometrics

The technology includes finger print recognition, facial recognition, retina scanning and various other biometric identifiers. Such technology is already being used in some hotels to allow access to rooms via finger prints, or to allow for semi-contactless check-outs.

As the number of travellers grows, airports have started to turn to biometric technology. This speeds up various airport processes by allowing passengers to complete check-in and go through security or passport control without having to deal with a human agent.

 Robots

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One of the most exciting technological developments in recent years has been the increased prevalence of robots in hotels, right from text-based chatbots and robotic assistants, to security robots, being used on the front desk as customer information points. The main benefits are their ability to function 24/7, without needing breaks or motivation, providing greater consistency than humans would be capable of.

With a constant need to improve airport security, robots are being deployed in some locations to assist human security staff, for the purpose of detecting concealed weapons and other hidden items that are not permitted on flights.

Chatbots are used to guide customers through the online booking process, asking intelligent questions along the way for seamless travel bookings 24/7.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI-in-Airport

Perhaps the most obvious use is with chatbots possessing the ability to deliver rapid response times to problems or queries.

In fact, one of its most popular and effective uses is for gathering and interpreting huge amounts of data quickly and accurately, in order to draw conclusions about pricing strategies, revenue management, customer feedback from surveys, reviews and online polls, and even intelligently manage inventories, in order to build a clearer picture of current opinion, in real-time.

Blockchain

Blockchain

Although blockchain technology can sound confusing at first, it is actually pretty simple. Ultimately, it is a list of public records, where transactions between parties are listed or stored.

Despite automation, payments and settlements in the travel industry continue to be challenging and time-consuming. A complex distribution system, frequent cancellations and refunds, add to the operational challenges. Blockchain can bring in the seamless integration, agility and speed required between multiple players.

One of the most crucial aspects of blockchain technology is that data is decentralized and is more secure, traceable and transparent along with being resistant to modification and unwanted tampering. The decentralised nature of the blockchain means that information can never go ‘offline’ or be lost through accidental deletion or a malicious cyber attack, ensuring transactions are always traceable.

The travel industry relies upon different companies passing information between one another. For example, travel agents pass on customer details on to flight companies and hotels by way of overseas payment or loyalty programs. Blockchain makes accessing and storing important information securely and more reliably.

Airports use blockchain technology for tracking the movements of luggage, especially when dealing with international travel especially when the passenger uses multiple carriers and journeys to arrive at a destination. Using a decentralised database makes sharing tracking data between companies a lot easier.

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For companies operating in the travel industry, it is essential to keep up with the latest technology trends. Understanding and adopting the trends allows the businesses within the travel industry to provide a better experience for the customers as well as aid in optimizing revenue management and overall business performance.

 

-Madhavi

 

PC-Future Customer; Airport Show; Hotel Technology; Digital Trends.