Travel diaries: Luxury holidays take flight in India

  • Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 01, 2014 15:27 IST

A white Christmas in Europe, therapeutic baths in Azerbaijan’s mud volcanoes and Ferrari selfdrive tours in Italy make up the winter travel itineraries of a small, but steadily growing bunch of upwardly mobile Indians this year.

The luxury travel segment — which bit the dust last year because of a weak rupee and global slowdown — is seeing a revival with the double-digit increase in such holiday packages between December and February, travel companies said.

Indulgence, a luxury product offered by travel operator Thomas Cook India, saw a 33% year-onyear growth over 2013. Packages consist of itineraries such as travelling through New Zealand on a Harley Davidson, dining in a crater or on a floating glacier in Belgium, luxury camping in the midst of Egypt’s dramatic White Desert, among other things. “Destination get-togethers such as pre-bachelors, hen parties and weddings are highlights of our luxury travel segment this year,” said Shibani Phadkar, products and operations, leisure travel (outbound), Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

Phadkar said group holidays comprise charter jet operations or hiring a private island for 25 to 500 people. The average amount spent between Rs7 lakh and Rs10 lakh.

“We have also noticed a steady rise in couples from the mid-income bracket planning weddings at places such as Thailand, Bali and Malaysia,” she said.

Another travel company, Flight Shop, said it witnessed a 15% rise in bookings to white Christmas destinations such as Russia, Prague and Budapest between December and February.

“The healthy recovery of the Indian rupee and a positive sentiment to spend generously has boosted luxury travel this year,” said Sharat Dhall, president Yatra. com. While Dhall said his travel portal largely caters to holidays for “masses”, the luxury segment, which comprises villa stays, sightseeing in high-end sedans and customised services, saw a 50% jump over last year.

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