Micro Travel-When less is more.

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With time travel trends keep changing almost every year or so. The ever evolving travel market is always on the lookout for extraordinary experiences which can satiate the ever demanding need of the current generation.

Increasingly, most millennials are foregoing see-everything, do-everything vacation junkets for Micro Travel.

Micro travel is focused, have less-frantic itineraries that concentrate on limited locales and activities and offer a deeper, more rewarding appreciation of each destination. You see less but you see more. Seemingly contradictory but true.

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A trend to be noted is that travellers who are short on time for ex. the “bleisure” trip, where business travellers tack on an extra night or two to have a fun, leisure trip.

For some travellers, that kind of schedule checks all the boxes and allows them to say, “Yep, I’ve seen Croatia” or wherever they find themselves in.

I’m not judging, but just thinking about an itinerary like that makes me stressed. In the end, for me, it would all be a blur.

I’m a devotee of small, personal and concentrated travel. For me – and I am sure increasingly for more and more people – travel shouldn’t be a chore.

Too often, with the fast pace and ever-present “chatter” of modern life, it isn’t surprising that we want our leisure time to be calmer, more meaningful and more digestible.

But if you are enthusiastic and are loaded with short bursts of energy, micro trips are definitely for you. Micro trips have to be well planned, which means you can maximize destination time, minimize wasted time and cut down on expenses with clever flight times and usage of optimal time zones.

Most micro trips generally center on great flight options which allow you to leave after work or land near the same time you take off. Yes, it may sound slightly crazy, but you need to be looking for destinations which involve overnight flights where you Leave after work and land in your destination in the morning.  Or taking flights going west or short destinations you can fly to in the morning and return in the evening.

By taking advantage of any of these options you’re able to maximize time and spend the hours you’d be sleeping let’s say in the air instead of hotel rooms. This way you can also save huge money. By flying overnight you easily avoid one night of hotel and if you can find an evening flight back, you get two full days while booking just one night.

For Example USA to Europe, Or Vice Versa- Thanks to overnight flights from the USA and late departing flights from Europe back to the USA, you can put in a full day’s work whichever direction you go. You could take a 10PM flight from New York to London on a Friday evening, land Saturday morning, buy one night of hotel for Saturday night and spend all day in London Sunday, before heading back to New York on the 8PM flight, which gets into New York around 11PM.  No days of work missed, and you have two full days of exploration ticked off the bucket list. If you’re starting in Europe, you could take an 8PM back from the USA and land in Europe in time to make it to the office on time.

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Depending where you are from your micro travel could be anything such as some indigenous culinary experiences with locals in France teaching you the secrets of baking the perfect baguettes, or learning the art of making the famous blue pottery in Jaipur.

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Maybe it’s a journey to visit the dozen most historic pubs in London. Or even a small-group kayak trip on the Dordogne instead of the usual wine tour of Bordeaux.

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Or experiencing the wonder of living in a real palace turned hotel in Udaipur.

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Micro trips are for the people who are ready to throw themselves into a destination, make the most of every hour and turn up to work on Monday with a better “how was your weekend?” story than the rest of the office combined.

 

Madhavi

 

 

PC: Biznisto.cz;Lonelyplanet;Booking.com;Kingarthurflour;Timeout

 

 

 

A New York state of mind !

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This isn’t my first time in New York but still whenever someone asks me what they should see and do in New York, I’m almost always stumped for an answer.

I mean besides the obvious touristy places /things, how can I sum up my answer? New York isn’t just any other big city. It’s an experience.

New York emits a mixed response from people. The crowds that throng this city is unbelievable. Some just love the crazy vibe the city has, and others hate it.

There are a million things that you can do in New York City that if I start talking, I wouldn’t know when to stop. After all, it is known as the city that never sleeps.

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But let me begin by saying that you better be prepared for walking a lot! A lot, a lot, a lot!! I mean you definitely can hail a yellow cab, just like in the movies and all, but who wants to see NY from a cab window, come on !

New York traffic can really leave you exhausted; not to mention the cab fare which can add up and get expensive in the long run.

Subway is your best bet and the 7 Day Metro Pass card will give you the best bang for your buck. And sometimes, Uber and Lyft are better options since most of the time, they are cheaper than regular cabs.

Speaking of traveling by Subway, be prepared to spend a little time figuring out which train goes where. Although I have traveled by Subway several times, it does get a little confusing for me. Figuring out the direction I need to take rattles me but then I figured out that doing a recee first on the google maps helps in taking the best possible route. Also downloading the NY Subway app on your phone can be really helpful.

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While there are the definite,’Things to do in NY’ such as the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building , Rockefeller center- the Top of the Rocks a 3-tiered observation deck at Rockefeller Plaza, that offers a great view of Manhattan, Chinatown, SOHO, the numerous Museums , the list is endless, but most of these attractions are chargeable . But surprisingly there are also so many things that you can do for free.

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Some Museums have free entry on certain days/ times. Or you can catch The Staten Island Ferry which is a Free commuter ferry that travels back and forth from the Whitehall Terminal at the tip of Manhattan to the St. George Terminal on Staten Island. You can catch a stunning view of the city as well as the Statue of Liberty while on the Ferry. This is such a great alternative especially if you do not wish to buy tickets and go to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty or have already done that in your previous trips.

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Apart from this, popular places like Central Park, Bryant Park, Battery Park, Grand Terminal station ( an Icon) the 9/11 Memorial and Museum , Wall Street and its cobbled streets,  taking a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge , or DUMBO (The neighborhood of Dumbo is a beautiful place to visit. It has cobbled streets, vintage brick buildings, sits under the Brooklyn bridge and sports some sweet street art. Just walking around this area is a real treat). The HighLine which passes through Chelsea market and the nearby honeycomb structure  ‘The Vessel’ are all free activities.

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Stretching out underneath the Highline you’ll find a plethora of art galleries. These galleries are funky and weird as hell. They’re free to enter and some are big. This may be one of the most underrated things to do in New York City.

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Other than the tourist spots there are numerous other places of interest such as the ‘house from FRIENDS‘ in West village, or the the fact that Macy’s the trendsetter store covers an entire block with 11 levels of fashion for you and your home.

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NY has some of the hippest restaurants and rooftop bars that exude the vibe of this vibrant city.

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Of course there are many more sights that I haven’t included in this post, as I feel there will always be something I may leave behind.

You can somewhat relate to the quote from the movie Forrest Gump – “Life is a box full of chocolates, you never know which one you get”

Such is New York- Always a little mysterious, a little sweet and a whole lot saucy!!

 

Madhavi

 

 

PC:Lonelyplanet;NYTimes,Personal

A photo walk through the TWA flight center

 

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The last time the Trans World Airlines (TWA) terminal at Kennedy International Airport saw a weary traveler was in 2001.

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The flight centre has since been closed until May 2019 , when it reopened and transformed into the lobby of the new TWA hotel , the only on site airport hotel.
Offering an homage to a past era of aviation, today the terminal’s twin corridors lead you to the TWA hotel with 512 rooms.

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What was once an ‘Arrivals hall’ , is now the reception area of the hotel . The check in desks of the terminal serve as the reception desk .

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Lining the walls are the many pictures of the cities TWA  once flew to.

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Hotel guests will feel like they’re stepping back in history — with the old flight board on display, model cars in what will be a restaurant, rotary pay phones and red plush furniture. There are more than 500 guest rooms, dozens of meeting rooms and even an infinity pool on the roof.

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Walking into the Flight Center, you are greeted first by a vintage Lincoln in the porch. As you enter you see a ticking departures board and a hostess dressed in a purple polyester TWA uniform. Moving on the graceful staircase, the Sunken Lounge, huge window panes, and a view of a restored TWA plane on the long-abandoned runway..

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A cocktail lounge in a repurposed Lockheed Constellation L-1649A from the 1950s stands outside the new hotel. Four large sofas and eight vintage airplane seats reupholstered with a retro pink and orange plaid seat the guests .

 

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The display of TWA uniforms and luggage through the decades is just one taste of history in the brand new hotel.

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There are multiple places to eat throughout the TWA Hotel, such as the Paris Cafe, located on the mezzanine level of the historic building. The 200-seat restaurant is now open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and serves food inspired by in-flight menus from TWA.

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For quick meals, what was once the ‘Departures Hall ‘ now has a mini food-court style offerings and coffee carts.

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Located through the terminal are the multiple memorabilia reminding you of the aviation era gone by.

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Whether you’re an avid plane spotter or just love rooftop bars , the Pool Bar at the TWA Hotel is worth visiting . Looking out over JFK’s Runway 4, you can watch JetBlue and Delta planes take off while sipping a cocktail at the bar or while swimming in the infinity edge pool.

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The TWA hotel at JFK Terminal 5 takes you down memory lane with a marketable “story” and some absolutely wonderful ‘Instagrammable’ photos.

 

Madhavi

 

 

PC: Personal;TWA Hotel;

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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”).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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