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  • Tourism infrastructure or lose out on jobs and economic contribution for the country

    Weaknesses in the current state of Travel & Tourism infrastructure in the U.S. pose a threat to Travel & Tourism growth in the country and could cost the U.S. in terms of jobs and a reduced contribution to the economy. That is according to Mr. David Scowsill, President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the member organisation for the global Travel & Tourism sector. A new WTTC report out today says the poor quality of U.S. ground transport infrastructure could see the country fail to meet its demand growth predictions, lose ground to other advanced economies and miss out on social and economic benefits from Travel & Tourism.

    WTTC’s report, “Travel & Tourism investment in the Americas: will the region’s infrastructure and investment constrain or support future industry growth?” states that U.S. Travel & Tourism infrastructure is of a comparatively high quality and capacity overall. However, its ground infrastructure is weak. Given the outlook for Travel & Tourism investment and demand over the next decade, Mr Scowsill says it raises cause for concern; “The United States does not rank favourably for ‘tourism supporting’ infrastructure, to transport tourists domestically and internationally. This is compared to other advanced economies within Asia and continental Europe. Roads, especially in the major cities, are heavily congested. Rail networks are slow, compared to their high speed equivalents in other countries. Flight delays and cancellations are common, with inadequate air traffic control infrastructure. No domestic or international tourist wants to spend time in road traffic jams or in lines at airports. Major improvements are needed”.

    The forecast annual average growth of Travel & Tourism investment over the next decade for North America is 4.4%. The sector is expected to grow by 3.6% per annum. Against this backdrop of strong demand growth prospects and an increasingly competitive marketplace, the report states that the U.S. is at risk of complacency. Mr Scowsill says it is essential for the U.S. to make significant investment for the ongoing development and growth of its Travel & Tourism sector; “WTTC fully supports the Build America Investment transportation initiative announced this summer by President Obama. It is certainly promising to see the recognition for infrastructure improvement and the funding being put behind the initiative. However, the Government must ensure it delivers the right level of investment to effect change. Most importantly, industry and government need to work in partnership to see through these critical improvements. This includes the need for the air traffic control system to be upgraded to the NextGen programme, which is so desperately required to keep competitive and to improve airline performance for climate change needs”.

    Mr Scowsill says the market is ripe for investment; “The economy is now stable. The tourism-supporting infrastructure is recognised as weak, which means there is an unequivocal case for major upgrade work. There is a real opportunity for private investors to seize and to work with the U.S. Government to ensure these improvements are realised”.

    WTTC’s report out today outlines that investment is essential for a number of reasons; to ensure current infrastructure is maintained to a good standard; to adapt and upgrade current infrastructure and to expand capacity to prevent supply-side bottlenecks.

    The U.S. is the biggest tourism economy in the world. According to WTTC’s 2014 U.S. Economic Impact Report, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was 8.4% (US$1,416.0bn) and visitor exports generated 8.4% of total exports (US$190.1bn) in 2013, (including direct, indirect, and induced). Travel is the second-largest U.S. export by industry and accounts for almost a third (31.2 percent) of U.S. service exports and almost a tenth (9.4 percent) of exports of all goods and services, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

    Mr Scowsill believes the U.S. has to do the following to maintain and grow its market share of visitors and appeal to an ever-growing and diverse group of travellers; “The U.S. needs to ensure that travel is as seamless and hassle-free as possible. Bottlenecks need to be removed in air and in road and rail networks, especially in areas with high population density. It’s essential that ground transportation connects directly to airports and urban centres and that there is more point to point connectivity. A NextGen air traffic control system would enable airlines to fly more efficient routes and would cut down on flight delays, cancellations, aircraft noise and emissions. Only if the U.S. makes a step change in the level of investment will it achieve the projected levels of demand growth over the next decade and maintain its current industry competitiveness ranking. If it does not make the investment, there will be fewer travellers which will cost the U.S. heavily in terms of economic contribution and jobs”.

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  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced progress in the implementation of Fast Travel in the Asia-Pacific region. Qantas Airways has achieved Platinum status for Fast Travel implementation, while Narita International Airport Corporation has engaged IATA to conduct a study on the implementation of Fast Travel at Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

    The Fast Travel program responds to passenger demand for a more seamless travel experience and more control through six time-saving, self-service initiatives. They includes Self check-in and/or automatic check-in, Bags ready-to-go, Document check, Flight re-booking, Self-boarding and Bag recovery.

    In IATA’s 2014 Global Passenger Survey, over 75% of air travelers would prefer to check in online or automatically by receiving a text message or email. Only15% prefer to receive their boarding passes from an agent at an airport check-in counter. The industry’s target is to implement Fast Travel projects covering 27% of eligible passengers this year and by 2020, the goal is to have 80% of passengers offered a complete self-service suite based on common industry standards.

    First Asia-Pacific Platinum Airline

    IATA has awarded Qantas Platinum status in recognition of the airline’s progress in implementing the Fast Travel program. The award was presented by Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO, during the World Passenger Symposium held in San Diego.

    Qantas is the first airline in Asia-Pacific and the second in the world to achieve Platinum status. The Platinum status is achieved when Fast Travel compliant solutions are made available to at least 80% of an airline’s passengers.

    “I congratulate Qantas on this achievement. Travelers have told us through the annual IATA Global Passenger Survey that they want to be able to do more things for themselves.  Qantas is leading the Asia-Pacific region in responding to this self-service expectation. I encourage the Asia-Pacific airlines to fast track the implementation of Fast Travel across their network so as to provide their customers with more options to improve their passenger experience,” said Conrad Clifford, Regional Vice President, Asia-Pacific.

    Qantas Domestic Executive Manager, Customer Experience, Paul Jones said that the achievement of Platinum Status reflected Qantas’ commitment to a streamlined customer experience.

    “Travellers today rightly expect a seamless journey through the airport, and we’ve invested in technology and training to deliver that.   From smart check-in facilities across airports in Australia to online and mobile check-in, auto bag drops, and mobile boarding passes at the gate, our goal is to make the process as fast and efficient as possible,” said Jones. 

    “Customer service innovation is central to Qantas’ strategy and we’re committed to playing a lead role in the development of Fast Travel across the industry.”

    First Fast Travel Consulting Project

    IATA has been engaged by the Narita International Airport Corporation (NAA), which manages Tokyo’s Narita Airport, to conduct a study on challenges and opportunities for the implementation of Fast Travel initiatives for international travelers at Narita Airport. NAA is the launch customer for this service by IATA Consulting.

    Through the study, IATA will provide recommendations on how the various Fast Travel initiatives can be implemented and integrated with the existing systems at Narita Airport.

    “Japan has been at the forefront of many of the advances in the passenger experience including domestic air travel. Thus, we are delighted to partner with NAA to take this forward for international travel at Narita Airport. The airlines are eager and ready to offer a more convenient and faster experience to their passengers through the use of technology solutions. This project will help bring the airlines and airports together in delivering a better travel experience at Narita Airport,” said Clifford.

    “Given the expected traffic growth in the Asia-Pacific region, major Asian airports are under pressure to handle the anticipated traffic growth. Partnership between airlines and airports will be crucial to address this challenge.  IATA’s Fast Travel initiatives will bring more efficiency for airline operations, and improve the customer experience. From an airport perspective, we can make more efficient use of the airport’s facilities and improve the airport experience for travelers. Reducing the waiting time at the various queues also means that travelers can have more time to use the airport’s facilities and for shopping. We are happy to work with IATA to identify how Fast Travel can bring more efficiency and convenience, and on its implementation at Narita Airport,” said Hideharu Miyamoto, Vice President Corporate Strategies & Planning, NAA.

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Mr. Arvind Mayaram IAS new India Tourism Secretary

Mr. Arvind Mayaram IAS has been appointed as new Secretary of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. Currently he is serving as Finance Secretary and Secretary, Departmemt of Economic Affairs since 2012. He will take charge from Mr. Parvez Dewan, IAS on his retirement on 31.10.2014.  He is a 1978 batch IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre and he was served as Principal Secretary Tourism and Cultural Affairs department, Govt of Rajasthan during 2002-2004 periods.A doctorate in finance, Mr. ...

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Air Transport and Tourism to Grow Together

The 2013 UNWTO and WTM Ministers´ Summit at the World Travel Market (WTM) will put a spotlight on the essential connection between air transport and tourism, debating the challenges and opportunities of promoting higher policy coordination between aviation and tourism.

Air transport, being an important factor in outbound or inbound tourism, plays a vital role in foreign tourist arrival in India. Therefore, the discussions on the matter must be considered as important for the tourism industry in the country. New alliances with tourism boards and airlines all around the world is needed  to boost the business. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on all partners and stakeholders involved in passenger travel to work together to deliver greater value to passengers. This is a remarkable decision that will encourage travellers all around the world to visit foreign countries.

Air travel is one of the major part, travellers worried about in their journey. Addressing their issues is the most important thing for the sector to grow their business. According to IATA Director General and CEO, Mr. Tony Tyler, Aviation makes possible $2.2 trillion worth of economic activity and supports about 57 million jobs around the globe. Every day more than 8 million passengers take advantage of the safety, speed and convenience of air travel. Therefore, any new strategy implemented will work as a catalyst that makes big changes.

The alliances by airlines also play a major part in air transport. The recent joining of Qatar Airways in “Oneworld” shows a positive approach by major airlines that hold major part of the market share. These alliances give the consumer better offers, which encourage them to travel frequently. The initiatives by WTM and IATA are expected to give new possibilities for air transport and tourism to grow together. Let's hope for a better connected world that encourages people to travel and make the tourism industry to grow to a new level.

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TOURISM EDUCATION

TAAI to offer Degree Course in Tourism & Hospitality Management

TAAI signs MOU with H R COLLEGE to offer Degree Course in Tourism & Hospitality ManagementTravel Agents Association of India (TAAI) has signed a MOU with HR College of Commerce & Economics in Mumbai introducing a degree course, Bachelor of Vocation (B. VOC) in Tourism & Hospitality Management.In one of the first in the country, Mumbai University has approved a 3 year degree course (12+3)  which shall be conducted by HR College.The MOU was signed ...
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TRAVEL ONLINE

RezNext announces partnership with Cleartrip

RezNext announces partnership with Cleartrip; one of India’s leading online travel portal RezNext’s real-time two way hotel booking technology powers Cleartrip in India, UAE, Srilanka and Africa RezNext, the world’s leading real-time distribution company and Cleartrip, a leading online travel portal, have partnered to provide Cleartrip’s customers a real-time hotel booking service. RezNext’s distribution technology connects ...
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ART & CULTURE

‘Indian Art, Culture & Heritage Fiesta’ To be showcased at Hong Kong Harbin Ice Festival

Celebrating 2014 as the ‘Year of Friendship and Exchange’ with China, India is all set to showcase its art and culture in Hong Kong, at one of the world’s largest festival of its kind, the Hong Kong Harbin Ice Festival.  Organised by Fictional Reality Communications, Hong Kong, a ten day fair titled ‘Indian Art, Culture & Heritage Fiesta’ will be organized from 1st - 10th November 2014 with an aim to bring Indian cultural ...
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HOTELS PROMOTIONS

THE LEELA UNVEILS LIMITED EDITION DIWALI GIFT HAMPERS

Celebrate in style with bespoke creations by AMALYA   Celebrate this festive season with a limited edition of especially curated gift hampers by AMALYA, lifestyle boutique of The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, India’s leading luxury hotel group. Ranging from the traditional to the extravagantly indulgent, and with price points to satisfy a variety of budgets, the thoughtfully designed gift hampers are part of an exclusive ...
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ENTERTAINMENT

Wanderlust Film Festival Jaisalmer will be screened best of Travel Films

Wanderlust Film Festival announces the list of films to be screened at the festival List includes travel films from all across the world Wanderlust Film Festival is a unique travelling film festival, which is scheduled to take place from 31st October to 2nd November in Jaisalmer (Rajasthan). It is a one-of-its-kind film festival, which focuses on cinema that depicts travel. On 31st September, the Wanderlust Film Festival Director Aditi ...
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TRAVEL EVENTS

India to host SITE Global Conference 2015

The SITE Global Conference, the association’s largest annual event will be held in India next year for the first time ever. This will take place in New Delhi from October 21-25 , 2015 and will give a big boost for the MICE industry in India. SITE (Society for Incentive Travel Excellence) is a global network of professionals in the motivational travel industry (commonly referred to as Incentive Travel). Each year, a chapter from among the 2 ...
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CRUISES

Royal Caribbean announces offers on Cruises from Singapore

Royal Caribbean International announces special offers , complimentary Upgrades & 50% off on 2nd guest, exclusively for Indian travellers onboard the largest cruise ship sailing from Singapore, Mariner of the Seas. Both these offers are valid on 3 to 5 night sailings from Singapore, between November 2013  and  February 2014 and will be applicable on new bookings made by 31st October 2013. With Complimentary Upgrades, guests ca ...
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TRANSPORTATION

Meru Cab Expands its Presence into Ahmedabad

Meru Cab, India’s largest and favorite radio taxi service, announces the launch of operations in India’s fastest developing and growing city Ahmedabad. Neha Dhupia, Bollywood star and icon graces the launch with her presence along with the Meru Cabs, MD and Founder Mr. Neeraj Gupta and CEO, Mr. Siddhartha Pahwa. The world-class metered radio cab service is completely technology and systems driven and will cater to the needs of commuters in Ah ...
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Appointment

Mr. Mohammad Al Hashimi, New VP-Commercial Product of Emirates

Emirates Announces New Vice President Appointment to Support Dubai Expo 2020 Vision and Beyond

Emirates Airlines has announced the appointment of a new role within the Commercial division. Reporting directly to Emirates Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Thierry Antinori, the newly created Vice President Commercial Product position will be fulfilled by Mr. Mohammad Al Hashimi, who has worked with Emirates since 2006.

Mr Antinori said this of the decision; “As Emirates, and Dubai, prepares for the World Expo 2020 and the economic and commercial impact it will have on the future of travel, it is important to have a strong team in place to respond to all opportunities. With this in mind, we have created the position of Vice President Commercial Products Dubai, and are pleased to announce that Mohammad Al Hashimi has been appointed this vital role to support our strategy. His responsibilities will include the development of new and unique commercial products, working closely with Destinaton Dubai on inbound leisure and business travel, as well as promoting Dubai as a world-class MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions) destination. We have every confidence that he will excel in this role.”

Mr. Al Hashimi joined the company soon after graduating from the American University in Dubai with a Bachelor in Information Technology, and has gained valuable experience and industry knowledge through his various positions within the company. His most recent role was within the Destination & Leisure Management division, where he was the Manager of Strategy for the Emirates Holidays and Arabian Adventures brands. During this time he was integral to the strategic development of the portfolio, both externally with strong relationships with government ministries and associations, and internally with the management teams.

In his previous position as Head of e-Business & New Business Development for dnata Travel Services, Mohammad played a key role in the acquisition of British OTA, Travel Republic which subsequently led to a position on the company’s Board of Directors and also that of Travel Counsellors. Other key responsibilities at dnata Travel included the execution of the operational and commercial set up of Travel Counsellors in the UAE.

As well as excelling in his roles within Emirates and dnata, Al Hashimi, an Emirati national, has also continued with his personal development and has completed an MBA in Aviation Management.

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Airline News

Singapore Airlines Now Serving Taittinger Champagne in Business Class

Business Class customers on Singapore Airlines can now enjoy the exquisite taste of the Prelude “Grands Crus” from Taittinger.  Produced by one of the few remaining family-owned champagne houses, Prelude “Grands Crus” is made with the first pressings of an equal portion of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, selected from Grand Cru vineyards.

“We’re pleased to be offering Taittinger Prelude “Grands Crus” to our Business Class customers. Prelude “Grands Crus” is made solely from the best Grand Cru vineyards in the Taittinger family’s own estate and is then aged for more than five years in their cellars. For elegance in the glass and exclusivity in the air, this is something really special,” said Singapore Airlines Wine Panel member Oz Clarke.

Clarke is the newest member of the Singapore Airlines Wine Panel that selected this champagne. The panel also includes Michael Hill-Smith, the first Australian to pass the challenging Master of Wine examinations, and Jeannie Cho Lee, the first Asian to be awarded the Master of Wine title.

 “Our new Business Class offering is testament to the lengths we go to for our customers to enjoy champagne from one of the best vineyards in the world. This outstanding champagne is a joyous blend of finesse and complexity, which will certainly delight the most discerning palates,” said Senior Vice President Product & Services, Mr Tan Pee Teck.

Around 194,000 bottles of champagne are consumed on Singapore Airlines flights annually. Currently, Singapore Airlines is the only airline that serves the rare and highly coveted Grand Cru Red Burgundy and two prestige cuvées, Dom Perignon and Krug Grand Cuvée, in tandem.

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Destination Review

Bhoothathankettu, the scenic dam site, is situated in a vast virgin forest of the village of Pindimana at a distance of 50kms from Kochi. There is a legenat the forest and hills was built by the demonsthe or 'Bhoothams' and hence the name Bhoothathankettu, i.e fort of the spirits. The dam here is built by placing unshaped stones on both sides of the Periyar river and is one of the oldest existing European structures in Kochi. There is an artificial pond with pedal boating facility which can take a 20-minute boat ride to the nearby Thattekkad bird sanctuary.

The story goes those ages ago, demons set out to submerge the Trikkariyoor temple, whose presiding diety is Lord Shiva, by damming the Periyar and flooding the area. But, Lord Shiva, suspecting trickery, came up with a plan to deter them. He made it appear that dawn was approaching by making a sound like the crowing of the rooster. The demons fearing the arrival of light fled from their task. But there remains to this day the visible proof of their effort - the huge stones the demons were supposed to have rolled onto the riverbed, the Old Bhothathankettu. The Periyar flows on through the narrow space which the demons did not quite manage to dam up.  That's imagination for you. The actual cause for the formation of the old Bhoothathankettu remains a conjecture. It’s been attributed to two great floods - one in the 4th century and the other in 1341, which threw open the port of Kochi. The massive landslides during the flood are believed to have caused gigantic rocks to roll down from the mountain and become entrenched in the Old Bhoothathankettu.  If its curiosity about this place which that brings tourists here, it will be her beauty that keeps them enthralled forever. Bhoothathankettu has the potential of becoming one of the must-visit places in Kerala yet it remains virtually unknown by tourists.

This is mainly because of the lack of infrastructure, even though plans for its development seems to have acquired some direction and drive of late.  If one is willing to put up with minor difficulties, one can come away with a veritable feast for the senses. Once you've arrived at Bhoothathankettu, which is located just eight kms north-east of Kothamangalam, there are various activities that one can indulge in. A trip upriver on a house boat that can conveniently accommodate 25 (for a fee of Rs. 500 or Rs. 20 per person), a ride on a speedboat, a trek into the jungle, rock climbing, fishing ...the possibilities for relaxation and fun remain endless.  A trip on the houseboat is a must. Cruising up the river that is purported to be a freshwater body, whose water has medicinal values of the `Neelakoduveli' that grows in the upreaches of the ghats (where the Periyar has its origin), is a memorable experience. The river brings a new meaning to the word `quiet' - at least once the motors of the boat are cut.  To one side of the river lies a dense forest, that grows to the very edge of the water, so much so it seems as if a part of the forest is growing on the Periyar itself. On the other side, you can catch an occasional glimpse of habitation between the coconut and rubber trees, but not enough of them to dampen the serenity of the place. The scenario remains unchanged for some time before that side too is overtaken by forest.  The river dips inland at times, creating tempting green coves that beckon you to swim in. As you go further upstream, to the right the river seems to break away from its almost straight path to flow between the Thattekad bird sanctuary and Chelamalai, which might have been the `Vanchi' of the old - the seat of the Cheraempire. According to locals, the forest on either side of the Periyar was once home to a thriving civilisation. Remains of wells, walls, pieces of pottery recovered from there and the ruins of temples, of ancient architecture, are proof of a highly developed culture that once existed on this river's bank.  Even if one may not be interested in anthropology, the river itself, embraced as it is by ever-green forests on both sides, the white storks lazily rising into the air, the kingfishers nearly torpedoing into the water, sightings of rare migratory birds from Siberia and above all the absolute peace and quiet that one can experience will make a trip to Bhoothathankettu worthwhile.  A journey up the Periyar to satisfy your parched senses with her beauty and tranquility are mere bonuses. The dam is a vantage point from where you can spot the turbulent water rushing from the dam towards the Old Bhoothathankettu. The river gives one the impression of sprouting here and there into pools of blood, due to the presence of a red water plant - possibly algae, that grows on the rocks just beneath the rushing water. A view of the surrounding area from up there, will make you forget the scorching rays of the sun that beats down on you, your companions, everything... to become lost in the legendary beauty of the Periyar.  All serene and placid, a ride through the waters is a unique experience, especially for the uninitiated. Lying close to Bhoothathankettu is the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Thattekkad. Trekking through the forests here is an exhilarating experience.


The two main irrigation projects of Ernakulam district - the Periyar Valley Irrigation Project and the Idamalayar, one of the biggest Hydro Electric projects are also located nearby.

Contact

DTPC, Ernakulam, Ph: +91 484 2367334

Getting there

·         Nearest railway station: Nearest railway station are Aluva, about 44 km

·         Nearest airport: Nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, about 37 km

 

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Kenya Hosted Indian Travel Trade for 4th edition of the Magical Kenya Travel Expo

His Excellency Hon. William Ruto, Egh, The Acting President of the Republic of Kenya inaugurated the 4th edition of the Magical Kenya Travel Expo in Nairobi organized by the Kenya Tourism Board. His Excellency on the occasion of the inauguration said, "We are delighted to see that you have all travelled to Kenya and experienced the magic of our open, warm, generous and genuine hospitality. This event continues to attract immense attention from the global tourism sector. Tourism is critical to our economy, generating 11% of our GDP and accounting for 9% of our employment. We are confident that tourism will contribute more to our economic development as it expands and diversifies. For this reason, the Government is investing intensively in projects and initiatives to expand stabilize and maximize tourism."

Mr. Muriithi Ndegwa, Managing Director of Kenya Tourism Board (KTB)  also added that, "We want to assure you and your clients that Kenya is safe and open for business and leisure activities."

MKTE is fast becoming the leading tourism event in this region. This year Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda, India, Djibouti, Sudan, Indonesia and South Africa also exhibited along with over 100 private trades from Kenya. Over 170 hosted buyers from 36 countries attended the expo and demonstrated their passion for tourism and love for Kenya. The expo continues to provide a platform for business to business interactions between hosted buyers and Kenya`s tourism sector players. On this occasion Kenya Tourism Board hosted 9 Indian Travel Trade in Kenya from 2nd October to 10th October 2014. The Indian trade delegation included senior members of travel trade fraternity from 8 different cities i.e Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Lucknow, Chandigarh and Rajkot. Kenya Tourism Board also organized a familiarization trip for the agents to explore the breathtaking variety of touristic attractions. The aim of this FAM trip was to establish a connection with travel agents and to have a better understanding of the destination.

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Tranquility, Luxury and Authenticity: My UDS Experience

By Rhiannon Long
When entering the lobby of the Uday Samudra Leisure Beach Hotel, you can't help but get the feeling that you're stepping into paradise. A huge, stylishly furnished lobby is your first view, with glimpses of an enticing pool in the near distance. I was immediately greeted with a rose and refreshing drink, a nice touch which instantly made me feel at home. A personal tour of the hotel's four acres soon confirmed my first impressions; this was a mini paradise. 
Set on the shores of Kovalam's Samudra beach among groves of lush palm trees, it was easy to feel truly at one with nature and completely unwind in the serene setting. There was a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere as I strolled the grounds, which span an area of four stunning acres. The ambience of the entire hotel was completely laid-back, but at the same time quality was never sacrificed.  
When I spoke to the resort's Sales, Marketing and Operations Director, Mr. William Hoarsley, he admitted, “India is a challenge, but that shouldn't put people off.” Admittedly, from a Western Perspective, India is not the first destination in mind when considering a luxurious and relaxing holiday, but with resort's like the Uday Samudra, I realise now that there is no reason why it shouldn't be. The convenience and familiarity of a European break is no match for the luxury and authenticity which can be found at resorts like this. The hotel combined an authentic taste of India with high quality services, so that guests would never think twice about their choice of destination. 
I found the room to be a key aspect of making the resort a laid back place to be. Unlike many hotel rooms, there was no feeling of being 'cooped up'; it was light and immaculately clean, meaning I had no trouble spending hours there. The view from the balcony was terrific; a direct view of one of the three pools, with an expanse of coconut tree groves setting off into the distance. Although the sound of building work slightly offset the peace and quiet, it was infrequent and I was assured it would never be there during peak season. 

But for me, the personal highlight was without a doubt the service offered there. Every single staff member I encountered was courteous and polite, and had no hesitations with stopping and chatting when seeing me around the resort. At breakfast, the friendly waiters did more than just serve food, but took extra care to make conversation and enquire as to how my stay was. As a solo traveller, this was an aspect I particularly appreciated, and helped to make the resort that little bit more personal. 
A versatile range of cuisine was offered in the resort's restaurants, of which there were five.  From authentic Keralan delicacies (which were my personal preference), to freshly caught seafood, the needs of every guest were catered for. I thought the breakfast in particular was superb; there was a huge range of Keralan and continental options, all within an extremely unhurried atmosphere. During October to March, I was told the hotel provides an intimate alfresco dining experience where for a small fee, guests can enjoy seafood cooked before their eyes whilst overlooking the waves on the charming Samudra beach. 
“In terms of audience, Kerala could be a destination perfect for everyone,” Mr. Hoarsley went on to say in our meeting, and I certainly thought this true at the Samudra. There were three large pools to unwind by, meaning peace and quiet could always be found by at least one of them. The hotel has its own private stretch of beach, which I unfortunately couldn't experience due to the high tides of monsoon season. What's more, the tourist hotspot of Kovalam is only a five minute drive, and with transfer services constantly available, it's easy for the more adventurous travellers to get out and about. During my stay I noticed such a variety of guests, from solo travellers, large groups of friends and families, proving the hotel's versatility and appeal to all. 
I also had the opportunity of speaking to the resort's Corporate Director, Mr. Prasad Manjali. He admitted that considering the growth and success of the Uday Samudra resort, further expansion was definitely on the cards. “As well as our two hotels in Kovalam and by Shangumugham beach, there are plans for a 300 room establishment in Trivandrum, a 100 room hotel in the backwater destination of Allepey, and an intimate location set in the Periyar mountains,” he told me. What's more, the UDS experience is not limited by international borders, with Mr. Manjali suggesting expansion as far as Malaysia. It was refreshing to see such great faith in a product's potential, and having experienced the resort myself, could definitely see success in the plans of further expansion.
“We have a lot of 'repeaters' here year after year”, Mr. Manjali told me, and I could see why. It's difficult to achieve the combination of luxury and home comfort which was found at the Uday Samudra, and I think once guests sample it, they would find no reason not to return. Personally, I found the atmosphere friendly and easy-going, which I consider ideal during a holiday, and certainly makes for an unforgettable experience. 
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‘The Butler Did It’ Takes On A Whole New Meaning At Anantara’s Maldives Resorts & Naladhu Maldives

‘The Butler Did It’ Takes On A Whole New Meaning At Anantara’s Maldives Resorts & Naladhu Maldives

To meet the constantly evolving needs of discerning guests from across the globe, Anantara’s Maldives resorts and Naladhu Maldives recently put their team of Villa Hosts and House Masters through their paces with an intensive training course delivered by British-born Steven Ferry, Chairman of The International Institute of Modern Butlers.  Anantara and Naladhu are already recognised for offering exemplary service, demonstrated through recent awards including the World Travel Awards and multiple TripAdvisor Awards for Excellence.

Villas Hosts and House Masters, otherwise known as butlers, are responsible for ensuring the needs of their guests are met from the moment they step off the plane to the second they return home - and sometimes beyond.  Services include packing and unpacking guests’ luggage, creating unforgettable dining experiences such as gourmet picnics on the beach or breakfast in bed, personalised bath rituals or once in a lifetime experiences such as marriage proposals and reunions, helping guests surprise and delight their loved ones.

“It comes down to the art of being invisible and yet delivering everything,” says Steven Ferry, who personally trained Forest Whitaker for his role in the widely-acclaimed movie, The Butler.  From the White House in Washington D.C. to the white sands of the Maldives, the training for Anantara’s Villa Hosts and House Masters went far beyond covering the basics of the traditional ‘British butler’ service, instead focusing on ways to enhance the naturally warm and hospitable nature of Maldivian people and the barefoot luxury experience which are both unique to the destination.

Steven continues: “I believe the true test of an intelligent modern butler is not how much he knows how to do, but how he behaves when he doesn't know. One of the toughest aspects of the job is trying to second-guess the guest.”

As well as offering a personal concierge-type service, anticipating guests’ needs is a major part of the role: “We are ahead of our guests’ needs. We like to be there before they ask, so the knowledge we have gained from Steven Ferry’s training is something we apply every day to offer a better service,” remarks Bibin, an Indian House Master at Naladhu Maldives.

Steven Ferry’s butler training involves learning the art of creativity and anticipation and ways to deliver intuitive service, with soft skills such as character and body language reading, etiquette and how to be ‘emotionally in tune’ with guests -  very important when dealing with travellers from a wide variety of nationalities and cultures.  The training also covers ways to demonstrate two of the most important characteristics of any good butler - loyalty and discretion - and practical skills such as techniques for walking silently across wooden floors, ways to enhance the wake-up service for guests and the intricacies of handling cigars including humidity control.

“For destinations like the Maldives, which offer exceptionally high standards of service and luxury, butlers are not just a status symbol but also key to delivering memorable experiences and an emotional connection with particular resorts and brands.  One of the most enlightening aspects I learnt from Steven was that in the corporate world you strive for recognition; in the world of a butler, your goal is invisibility,” says Torsten Richter, Cluster General Manager of Anantara Dhigu Resort & Spa, Anantara Veli Resort & Spa and Naladhu

Maldives in South Male Atoll.  “When things are going very, very smoothly and the guest doesn’t notice the butler, then they’re successful.”

To help measure the impact of the butler training on service delivery, a number of internal and external measurement tools are used by Anantara.  The Quality Assurance team carries out bi-annual assessments to measure the effect of the emotional connection that associates are trained to establish with guests, including mapping the emotional impact of service delivery at every touch point throughout a guest’s journey and how this correlates with their overall satisfaction.  The results highlight the importance of emotional connection as a key factor in exceeding guest expectations and help to develop benchmarks for best practice.   

To experience the warm, personalised service offered by the Villa Hosts and House Masters at Anantara’s Maldives resorts and Naladhu Maldives, please go to anantara.com and naladhu.com to make a reservation.

 

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