Bangalore, the capital of the State of Karnataka, has now blossomed into one of those rare destinations juggling an old nickname with a new one. Already famous as India’s “Garden City,” its newest name—and probably the more appropriate one—is India’s “Silicon City.” Bangalore is home to seven million people and is the center of India’s thriving software industry.
But it’s not all business in Bangalore. The city has several offerings for the leisure visitor or the business visitor with some free time on their hands. Bangalore is nestled on the Mysore Plateau and is replete with tree-lined avenues, lakes and parks, as well as numerous restaurants and shopping venues.
Places of interest include the Bangalore Palace, built in 1887, and reminiscent of medieval castles in Normandy and England; Tipu's Palace, constructed in 1791, famous for its sculpted arches and minarets, and often referred to as "The Envy of Heaven"; and Venkatappa Art Gallery, one of India's oldest art museums, with displays of antiques and archaeological objects.
Bangalore has a number of hotel projects on the horizon. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has signed management contracts with India’s Adarsh Group to operate three new hotels in Bangalore starting in 2009. The three properties will add more than 1,400 guest rooms and service apartments to Bangalore’s room inventory. Opening in late 2009, a 469-room Shangri-La hotel will open in Bangalore’s IT corridor, about 3.5 miles from the Bangalore airport; a second Shangri-La hotel will open in 2010, and a 256-room Traders hotel will also open in 2010, near International Tech Park situated at Whitefield, Bangalore about four miles from the Bangalore airport.
Israel’s Dan Hotels chose Bangalore for its first foray into international hotel development. Construction of the first of the new Dan Hotels in India will soon begin and is scheduled to be completed by 2011. The company intends to expand further into India with additional hotels.
Bangalore is a good example of the success India is enjoying nationwide. India is truly one of tourism’s recent success stories. India continues to rise to the top of international destinations for American tourists. Nearly five million Americans traveled to India in 2007, almost double the number in 2000, and an increase of 10 percent from the previous year. A surging economy, a brace of international airlines flying into the country and the marketing campaign “Incredible India” by the Tourism Ministry contribute to the boom in arrivals.
“My clientele is upscale, educated and well-traveled,” says Deepi Mehta, owner of Carlson Wagonlit/Travel Express in Houston. “They’ve seen Hawaii and the Caribbean. Now they’re looking for something more exotic, and India appeals to them.”
Where to Stay
The Oberoi, Bangalore is situated at the heart of the city center and office district. The hotel is designed so all of its rooms look inward onto 2.8 acres of landscaping and gardens, a swimming pool and two magnificent rain trees.
All rooms come with a personalized butler service. The best rooms to book at The Oberoi, Bangalore are the 398-square-foot Premier Rooms, which include up-market features usually associated with a suite, such as a walk-in closet and en suite bathroom equipped with its own steam cubicle.
Luxury Rooms are located on the higher floor of the hotel, offering a magnificent view of the gardens from the private sit-out. These are also ideal for business travelers as a special Internet package is included in the room rate.
The top accommodation at the hotel is the 999-square-foot Presidential Suite. The Presidential Suite is decorated with original art and antiques from South India. The suite has a separate living room/dining area and includes a mahogany book cabinet containing a collection of leather bound classics. The bathroom fittings are gilded with gold. The suite also has its own private terrace overlooking the garden—a nice touch is the fact that the terrace is shaded by the canopy of an 85-year-old tropical rain tree.
The hotel has seven connecting rooms. Families with children often book a suite with a connecting room for the kids.
Agents can feel free to contact the hotel’s general manager, Huvida Marshall (firstname.lastname@example.org, 091 80 4135 8101). There’s also a travel agent liaison who can assist with queries; Amit Sachdeva, front office manager (email@example.com, 091 80 4135 8588).
The Oberoi Spa and Fitness Centre has four treatment rooms. The signature treatment is The Oberoi Massage, which uses palms and fingertips to apply continuous pressure. Agents can book treatments for clients ahead of time through the front office manager.
The hotel has several restaurants, including Rim Naam, serving Thai cuisine in an alfresco setting overlooking the gardens and situated over a lily pond. A signature dish is steamed, fried or grilled grouper or snapper with black mushroom and vegetables or with chili soy sauce or Thai herb sauce. Szechwan Court serves Chinese cuisine. A signature dish is lobster infused with Hua Tiao wine and sautéed with garlic butter sauce. The restaurant has two private dining rooms, which can seat up to 10 guests. Each month, each restaurant within the hotel presents special promotions. Recent examples are a single malt and cigar promotion in The Polo Club bar, or a pasta special at the hotel’s world cuisine restaurant, Le Jardin.
The Leela Palace Kempinski, Bangalore has hosted such guests as Tommy Hilfiger, Bill Gates, Vladimir Putin, and the Dalai Lama. The hotel is The Leela Palace & Resorts flagship property, and was inspired by the Royal Palace of Mysore and the palaces of the Vijayanager Empire.
A Conservatory room at the Leela Palace Kempinski Bangalore
The Leela Palace Kempinski Bangalore provides personalized butler service for VIP guests. Butlers are assigned to the guest throughout their stay, and can enact duties as varied as packing and unpacking for a guest to advising them on property and city information.
The hotel has 361 rooms. The Royal Premier rooms go fast. These popular picks are 704 square feet and elegantly appointed, with amenities that include 29-inch flat-screen TVs, high-speed broadband Internet connection and two-line speaker phones with data ports.
Guests looking for the best views can choose between Conservatory Rooms, which have Garden Views, or Premier Rooms overlooking the pool. The hotel has nine interconnecting rooms.
The Leela Spa has nine treatment rooms; two of these are outside cabana rooms set up for couple’s massage. Make appointments in advance by contacting Rosemarie Wikramanayake (firstname.lastname@example.org, 080-3057 1240, ext.1240).
Jamavar, the hotel’s main restaurant, is famed for its Tandoori Prawns, and Lobster Niruli Chaamp Tajdar. The restaurant holds regularly scheduled wine dinners and wine tasting events.
Agents can direct their questions to Lena Royappa, associate head of sales,
(email@example.com, 080-3057 1194).
Le Méridien Bangalore is near the city’s chief shopping areas. The hotel has 195 rooms and suites. For the best views, request one of the rooms overlooking the golf course and pool.
A guest room at Le Meridien Bangalore
Le Royal Club rooms represent good value, considering the extra amenities and services they afford. These include separate check-in; exclusive Club Lounge; complimentary buffet breakfast at the hotel’s coffee shop, La Brasserie; complimentary evening cocktails; business center and meeting rooms; and complimentary ironing of one suit or one dress per stay. Additional perks include late check out (4 p.m.) and complimentary airport transfers.
The Deluxe Suites are the most expensive rooms at the hotel—they’re also a good choice for large affluent families traveling together. The hotel also has six connecting rooms.
La Brasserie is a 24-hour, multi-cuisine restaurant overlooking the pool that claims to offer the biggest array of dishes in Bangalore.
Travel agents can direct their questions and requests to Sitara Rao, the hotel’s director of sales & marketing (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Getting There: Carriers with flights to India from the U.S. include Air India, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Jet Airways, Lufthansa, Northwest Airlines and United Airlines.
Bangalore is served by the Bangalore International Airport (also called the Bangaluru International Airport). The airport is 25 miles from the heart of the city.
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport and visa to visit India. Visas can be obtained at an Indian Embassy or Consulate office prior to entering the country. For up-to-date information about entry requirements, contact:
Embassy of India
2536 Massachusetts Avenue NW,
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tour Operators: Here’s a partial list of tour operators and wholesalers with India programs:
Abercrombie & Kent 800-323-7308
Collette Vacations 800-832-4656
Gate 1 Travel 800-682-3333
General Tours 800-221-2216
GTS Globotours 800-988-4833
International Expeditions 800-633-4734
Orient Flexi-Pax Tours 800-545-5540
Pacific Delight Tours 800-221-7179
Pleasant Holidays 800-377-1080
Ritz Tours 800-900-2446
SITA World Travel 800-421-5643
Swain Tours 800-22-SWAIN
Tauck World Discovery 800-468-2825
Travel Bound 800-808-9541
India Tourism Offices
3550 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 204
Los Angeles, CA 90010.
1270, Avenue of Americas, Suite 1808
New York, NY 10020.