INDIA IS ENJOYING the fruits of its ultra-successful "Incredible India" promotional campaign, and is welcoming additional visitors as new flights from the U.S. carry leisure and business travelers to the country.
Tourist arrivals in the first 11 months of 2007 totaled 4.4 million; that's up 12.7 percent from the same period in 2006.
Three New Delhi properties in the Claridges Hotels & Resorts (www.claridges.com) portfolio have just joined WORLDHOTELS, becoming the first in India to join the marketing and reservations network. Agent Advice
The Claridges, New Delhi is a 137-room, low-rise Art Deco hotel set in three acres of gardens, close to the business district, diplomatic missions, shopping and cultural centers and historical landmarks.
The two other Claridges hotels in WORLDHOTELS are side-by-side in the upcoming commercial area of South Delhi. The Atrium Hotel & Conferencing, Surajkund (www.atrium-hotels.com) is a four-star business hotel; The Claridges, Surajkund is a 204-room luxury hotel still under construction and scheduled to open next September.
The Claridges Suite is one of The Claridges, New Delhi's popular picks. It boasts not only a bedroom and living room but also a powder room. The living room's separate living, dining and work areas make it a good choice for clients entertaining business guests. Both the bedroom and living room have interactive plasma TVs.
Club Rooms here also garner many requests, especially by corporate clients. These accommodations have a large bedroom and a separate sitting area containing couches, a coffee table, interactive plasma TV, wireless Internet connection and work desk. These rooms might suit your business travelers or clients traveling with their brood—they are large enough for small business meetings and are the preferred choice for families.
The Claridges Rooms and Claridges Suite have picture-perfect views overlooking the garden. Note: The hotel has one set of connecting rooms, so book early. A good thing to keep in mind is that November and February are the busiest months at Claridges, so reserve at least a month in advance.
The travel agent liaison is Arun Yadav, associate director of sales (011-91-11-4133-5105, [email protected]). The general manager is Sanjeev Shukla. If needed, agents can contact him directly (011-91-11-4133-5000, [email protected]). The spa has two treatment rooms. Guests can book in advance of arrival by calling 011-91-11-4133-4133.
The Claridges, New Delhi has several restaurants: Dhaba serves Indian fare, Jade offers Chinese cuisine (specializing in dim sum), and Pickwicks has dishes from around the world. Guests in the mood for Mediterranean cooking can visit Sevillas, where they'll find tapas platters and a selection of sangrias. Those in search of a private dining room will find it in The Senate, the hotel's executive lounge.
The Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur (www.oberoihotels.com)—which/ once hosted President Bill Clinton—is located amid 32 acres of gardens and offers a variety of accommodations, including rooms, villas with pools and luxury tents.
If you have clients looking for romance, steer them toward one of the hotel's two Luxury Villas. These one-bedroom units have a private swimming pool, which is heated in winter, a bedroom with four-poster, king-size bed, dressing room with walk-in closet and personal bar. The marble bathroom has a double vanity, sunken bath and separate shower facing a private walled garden. The villa also has a separate living room, pantry and an outdoor dining pavilion overlooking the pool.
Families will enjoy the Kohinoor Villa with Private Pool, which is reached by crossing a small moat bridge. These quarters include a large swimming pool, outdoor dining pavilion and separate living and dining rooms opening out onto the gardens and pool. The villa has a master bedroom with adjoining lounge area and guest bedroom. Each of the bedrooms has an its own bathroom with sunken marble tub.
The 14 air-conditioned luxury tents are the preferred choice among premium accommodations, thanks to their Burma teak floors, claw-foot bathtubs and embroidered interior canopies. There is no need to worry about getting less-than-desired scenery; all rooms at the hotel serve up garden views.
The busiest times at the hotel are during the Pushkar Festival in November, Christmas and New Year's, the first two weeks of January and all of February. During these periods, book at least six months in advance.
The Oberoi Spa has 10 treatment rooms, among them four suites that can accommodate couples. Although there are no alfresco treatments, the hotel does conduct yoga sessions in an outdoor tent. Book appointments in advance by contacting the spa manager Punchaya (011-91-141-268-0101, ext. 1473 or 1443, [email protected]).
The chef at the Oberoi's Suryamahal restaurant conducts a "spice talk" for guests, explaining traditional Indian spices and their usage in Indian cuisine. At the end of the presentation, guests receive reference materials and packets of spices; they are then served a traditional thali dinner as the chef further describes the spices used in the meal. This dinner can be prepared for a maximum of 18 guests at the Chandramahal (indoor dining area adjoining Suryamahal).
Johannes Herman Hordijk, the hotel's general manager, can be reached at 011-91-141-268-0101, [email protected]
The Leela Palace Kempinski Bangalore (www.theleela.com) has hosted such bold-face names as Tommy Hilfiger, Bill Gates, Vladimir Putin and the Dalai Lama. The hotel is Leela Palace & Resorts' flagship property, and was inspired by the Royal Palace of Mysore and the palaces of the Vijayanager Empire.
One perk at the property is the personalized butler service for VIPs. Butlers are assigned to the guests throughout their stay, and can perform duties such as packing and unpacking to advising visitors on city information.
Of the hotel's 361 rooms, the Royal Premier accommodations go fast. These are 704 square feet with amenities that include a 29-inch flat-screen TV, high-speed Internet connection and two-line speaker phones with data ports. Guests who desire premier views can choose between Conservatory Rooms, which face the gardens, or Premier Rooms overlooking the pool. The hotel has nine interconnecting rooms. From September to March, it's recommended that agents book at least a month prior to arrival.
When guests wish to be pampered during their stay, the Leela Spa has nine treatment rooms; two of these are outside cabana rooms set up for couples' massages. Make appointments in advance by contacting Rosemarie Wikramanayake (011-91-803-057-1240, ext.1240, [email protected]
Jamavar, the hotel's main restaurant, is famed for its Tandoori Prawns and Lobster Niruli Chaamp Tajdar. The restaurant regularly holds wine dinners and wine-tasting events.
The Leela Palace Kempinski Bangalore is a celebrated wedding venue. Plans are made through the Catering Sales Department. For catering needs, agents can contact Sachin Malhotra, head catering sales, (011-91-803-057-1307, [email protected]leela.com. For other questions, agents can contact Lena Royappa, associate head of sales (011-91-803-057 1194, [email protected]).
Last August, Air India (www.airindia.com) introduced daily nonstop service between New York Kennedy and Mumbai. The airline operates the flights using its latest purchase of several Boeing 777-200LR aircraft. The new planes offer three classes of service: first class (eight 78-inch seats in a 1-2-1 configuration), business class (thirty-five 76-inch seats in a 2-3-2 configuration) and economy (198 seats measuiring 34 inches). American Airlines (www.aa.com) and Continental Airlines (www.continental.com) offer direct service from the New York area to Mumbai. In October, Jet Airways (www.jetairways.com) began flying daily from New Delhi to JFK via its hub in Brussels.