Diwali is almost here and the festival of lights has brought much-needed relief for hotels across the country.
The hospitality sector, which has been severely impacted by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, finally seems to be bouncing back. Hotels and travel websites across the country are observing a surge in inquiries and bookings for the Diwali weekend.
Ankita Sheth, Co-Founder, Vista Rooms, tells us that Diwali bookings have shot up by several points this year. “If we compare with last year, the dynamics have changed on many levels in 2020. We are currently having 100 percent occupancies in all our properties, especially North and West,” she informs. “In the south, it's close to 80 percent September onwards, we have started to receive inquiries about Diwali bookings,” she adds.
Sheth further says that more and more people have been reaching out to them ever since local authorities eased travel restrictions. “By Oct end, 80 percent of bookings were done through our website and social media channels. Our regular patrons are also instrumental in spreading words for us,” Sheth says.
The company has also increased tariffs by 25-30 percent due to heavy demand. “We are expecting it to continue till New Year as well.”
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Some of Vista Rooms’ properties that are in most demand because of their location, ambiance, and price point include Kinara Villa Goa, El House Lonavala, The Leaf Alibaug, Hampton's Charm Alibaug, Padam Hill Kasauli, The Banyan Abode Manesar, Windflower Manali, Violet Hill Mashobra, Aldeamar Goa, Red Tree Vineyard Nashik. “Looking at the high pace booking, at this juncture, we are not offering any discount,” Sheth says.
Manav Singh, Chairman Imperial Holding Pvt Ltd and the founder of Auramah Valley near Shimla, says that people are looking forward to escaping from the noxious air of Delhi during Diwali. He says that the pandemic has also persuaded people to contemplate spending time with their loved ones away from the city smog. “We have seen a considerable growth in inquiries and we are receiving 60 to 70 inquiries every day for the Diwali weekend.” Singh adds that the demand is greater this year as compared to the last year. “Looking at the current momentum, we are hoping to be fully sold out for Diwali."
Leading hotel chain IHCL has seen an increase in bookings at many of their leisure hotels this festive season. These include destinations like Rajasthan, Goa, Rishikesh, Ooty and Theog, Coorg, Nashik, Corbett, ama bungalows in Madh Island, Lonavala etc. There is a heightened demand for quick getaways, staycations and wellness-based vacations like Digital Detox, after being glued to their devices and screens for nine months. Road trips to locations close to metros are extremely popular, along with drives to more offbeat and less-crowded locations.An IHCL spokesperson tells us that Diwali is generally a time when people want to come together and celebrate with family and friends. “After months of lockdown, and with the festive spirit in the air, people are taking that much-needed break to bond with their families and loved ones,” the spokesperson says.
After being indoors for months, people now want to step out to celebrate or rejuvenate albeit keeping their safety in mind. Guests are comfortable with trusted brands, who will ensure they provide the highest standards of safety and hygiene. IHCL has implemented very detailed hygiene protocols along with zero touch applications, using technology to deliver a seamless guest experience.
Making the most of the rising demand, IHCL is organising Diwali festivities at its hotels across the country. Taking inspiration from the Jaipur royal family, Rambagh Palace, Jaipur will be hosting a Lakshmi Pooja along with cultural performances and fireworks. At Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur, guests will be able to enjoy Dev Deepawali with a Dev Pooja at Hawa Mahal and then light earthen lamps and sparklers in the Baradari lawns of the property.
Guests at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur will get to participate in an aarti ceremony at the ancient temple at the Lily Pond, followed by the lighting of earthen lamps at Sadar Ghat, which overlooks Lake Pichhola. Taj Nadesar Palace in Varanasi will be decorated with flower rangolis as it is believed that Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth resides where there are fresh flowers. After prayers at the Nadeshwari Mata temple, after whom the palace is named, guests can enjoy fireworks and a sumptuous dinner.
If being a Modern Day Maharaja appeals to you, check into the legendary Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai for Diwali. Guests can witness visual art with intricate rangolis, floral masterpieces, festive lights and a classical performance at the hotel’s charming poolside. Kids can look forward to fun activities like diya painting and lantern making. The family can indulge in some shopping at the Diwali pop up with its curated goodies.
Even if you don’t wish to stay in a hotel, you can get drenched in the festive spirit with IHCL’s unique and exciting experiences at Taj, Vivanta and SeleQtions hotels.
A Grand Diwali Soiree will offer festive dining across 50 restaurants and private dining areas while Qmin, their food delivery app will deliver special menus in the comfort of your homes.
Other hotels have also rolled out great festive packages. MRS Hotels has rolled out special packages for Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner and Suryagarh, Jaisalmer. The two hotels are offering great festive discounts and packages which include indulgent experiences that make for the perfect staycation.Replete with outstanding food and beverage options, music, dancing and fireworks, Narendra Bhawan is offering a stay for Rs 4,250 per night (valid for 13th to 14th November). The package (Rs 28,000 plus taxes) at Suryagarh, Jaisalmer includes breakfast, tea and an additional meal at the all-day dining restaurant, Nosh, with special inclusions such as a bonfire with live music and an extravagant Diwali gala dinner. The offer is valid from 12th to 17th November.
Hyatt Regency, Delhi is offering specially curated Diwali hampers. These hampers bring together a range of carefully selected assortments, including Indian sweets, contemporary confectionaries and dry fruits in limited edition boxes that are both exquisite and celebratory. The Gourmet box of 4 consists of dry mango, raspberry pistachio friande, honey date almond cake and pistachio macaroons whereas the Gourmet box of 6 contains honey sesame truffle, a white chocolate rocher, dry apricot, biscotti, pistachio truffle, raspberry macaroon.
The Gourmet box of 8 on the other hand consists of dark chocolate truffle, fruit cake, atta ladoo, a white chocolate bar, black pepper cashew nut, a granola bar and cherry nut cookies and the Gourmet box of 12 has chocolate sable cookies, atta ladoo, linzer cake, raspberry macaroons, a dark chocolate bar, dry apricot, honey sesame truffle, kaju roll, pistachio truffle, dark chocolate rocher, lemon short bread, and raspberry pistachio friande.ITC Hotels has also curated a collection of bespoke hampers that include an array of artisanal festive delights that have been specially handpicked to enhance the joy of gifting. These hampers include a variety of ITC specials such as Chef Crafted Festive Mithai, Festive Dry Fruit Cake, Festive Jars of Savoury & Sweet Treats and many more creations.