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Duty free paradise

entertainment Updated: Oct 12, 2010 01:54 IST
Surabhi Chauhan
Surabhi Chauhan
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

This place has been designed to woo visitors the minute they touch down in the country’s capital. It is 11 am and we are standing next to a bright red Volkswagen Beetle, a Bacardi open bar, and a group of Burqa-clad women sitting next to the Jean Paul Gaultier perfume display. We are at the newly-opened Delhi Duty Free shops at Indira Gandhi International Airport’s Terminal 3 (T3).

Here, you will find a R1,33,300-single malt bottle as well as a humble neem datun pen that costs just R130. The section stocks an extensive range of products, including foreign-made perfumes, cosmetics, liquor, tobacco and confectioneries, and also Indian products.

There is also a premium products section, where you can find a selection of single malts, Cuban cigars stocked in a walk-in humidor, La Praire skincare products, Chanel cosmetics, Grey Goose Vodka, and Moët & Chandon Champagne.
While the product range is not yet as extensive as it is at other international airports (think Dubai, Helsinki and Shanghai), Delhi Duty Free soon plans to open last-minute pier shops (where you can shop right before boarding the flight) and a specialty fashion retail area (a range of accessories from Hugo Boss, Mont Blanc, Swarovski and Samsonite Black is in the pipeline). It is likely to happen by Diwali this year.

International tourists can enjoy their first taste of India at the ‘Discover India’ kiosk. It stocks tea leaves from Darjeeling, dal bukhara from Kitchens of India, British-style tea sets, and Mahatma Gandhi pocket watches.
While perfumes and cosmetics account for about nine per cent of the sales at Arrivals, liquor makes for a staggering 80 per cent of the sales, with whiskey being the hottest selling item. The staff, dressed in uniforms designed by Rajesh Pratap Singh, has been trained well to serve customers here.

At the section stocking French luxury brand Chanel, for instance, we see a group of bearded men in white salwar kurta and chappals, trying to understand the hefty price and how to use a particular skin toner. The saleswoman calmly and proficiently explains the product’s features to the gentlemen, as they put some on their palms to smell it.

What’s inside
Open 24 hours a day, Delhi Duty Free has a staff of 292, with 73 manning each shift. Besides the duty free shops, T3 also has Italian fashion luxury store Versace, a WH Smith bookstore, an Ethos Swiss watch studio and food outlets such as Smoke House Deli and McDonalds.