Diwali can be a dampener without firecrackers and card parties. But despite the slow economy, many are bringing in the festive season in India’s party capital, Goa, with much fanfare. Casinos and hotel rooms in the state are either completely booked for the Diwali week or are being lapped up fast despite the exorbitant rates.
“We are completely booked out for Diwali,” says Ravi Kesar, executive director of Casinos Pride, Palms, Pearl, Paradise and Palace in Goa. The casinos are organising a lucky draw for customers buying chips worth R 10,000. “The first prize is a BMW, nine Swift Dzire cars for second prize and the third prize consists of 19 Yamaha bikes. We have all of 100 prizes.”
Casino Royale Goa too reported high occupancy rates. The group has tied up with five star hotels and is offering packages at different rates. While three Diwali nights and four days at the Vivanta by Taj Panaji costs R 37,000, a similar package at Fortuna Select Regina costs R 25,000 while the Goa Marriott Resort stay will set you back by v 37,000. To entice guests to try their hands at roulette or slots, 2,000 chips are being thrown in as part of the package for the first night. Additional 2,000 and 3,000 chips will be given for the second and third night respectively.
If you plan to get a room now, chances are that it may take a while before you find one that matches your budget and requirements. Sam-San Travels, a Mumbai-based travel agency says they have no rooms available at their properties.
Morton Johnston from The Leela says, “We are fully booked over Diwali and we have no rooms.” Tony D’Costa, sales manager, Holiday Inn Resort Goa, concurs. But guests aren’t perturbed. Bandra resident Arjun Shah, who is currently searching for a free room in Goa, says, “All the action this year will be at Goa’s casinos. I don’t mind shelling out a bit more to party there.”