Diwali Getaways: Top Cities to Visit for a Sparkling Celebration

Diwali Getaways: Top Cities to Visit for a Sparkling Celebration

By Author

Published on November 8, 2023

The festival of lights is upon us, and this year's Diwali is set to sparkle with more than just firecrackers. With a calendar that blesses us with a long weekend, why not swap the usual festivities at home for a burst of new experiences? Let's jet set to some of India's most iconic cities, where Diwali isn't just a festival, it's a lifetime memory waiting to happen.

 Varanasi: A Divine Spectacle on the Ganges

First up, Varanasi – the spiritual heart of India, where the Ganges isn’t just a river but the canvas for the grandest aarti you'll ever witness. Diwali here is a celestial event, an endless cascade of lights and colors that makes the city feel like a galaxy on earth. As the ghats light up with thousands of diyas, the echoes of chants and bells create a soundtrack that's more soul-stirring than any orchestra.

 Jaipur: Royal Splendor Amidst Pink Walls

Next, let's take our Diwali celebration royal at Jaipur, the Pink City that turns into a golden mirage during the festivities. Here, palaces aren’t just historic landmarks; they’re timeless sentinels watching over a city draped in vibrant hues and twinkling lights. The markets bustle with activity, as locals and visitors alike seek treasures in the form of traditional wear and artisanal crafts.

 Ayodhya: An Epic Homecoming Celebration

In Ayodhya, the essence of Diwali goes back to its mythological roots – a homecoming and a victory of good over evil. The city isn’t just lit; it reenacts history, inviting everyone to be a part of a celebration that has been ongoing for millennia. Here, the warmth of the people matches the warmth of the lights that adorn the city.

Goa: A Beachside Festivity with a Twist

Then there's Goa, which offers a Diwali with a twist. It's not just about the sandy shores; it's about cultural fusion where traditional lamps meet the serenity of the sea. Goa's version of the festival includes vibrant fairs, effigies of Narakasura being paraded through the streets, and, as night falls, a panorama of fireworks that reflect over the ocean.

 Kolkata: The City of Joy and the Goddess of the Night

Our festive trail ends in Kolkata, the cultural capital that turns into a panorama of devotion and celebration during Diwali. Known for its grand Kali Puja, the city takes on an ethereal aura, offering a stark contrast to the usual Lakshmi Puja observed elsewhere. The city is alive with thematic pandals, sweets that are culinary masterpieces, and a collective spirit that could light up the darkest of nights.

Each city on this list offers a slice of Diwali that's unique, immersive, and utterly unforgettable. This isn't just about escaping the routine; it's about enriching it with stories you'll tell for years to come. So, light up your inner traveler and let this Diwali be a journey that celebrates not just the victory of light over darkness, but also the joy of exploration and the spirit of India in all its festive glory.


World Environment Day: A Spotlight on Sustainable Practices by Hospitalitynews

World Environment Day: A Spotlight on Sustainable Practices by Hospitalitynews

By Nishang Narayan

Published on June 5, 2024

As the world commemorates World Environment Day, it's a poignant moment to reflect on the urgent need for environmental conservation and sustainable practices. In the hospitality industry, where consumption and resource utilisation are significant, the importance of sustainability cannot be overstated. Hotels, resorts, and convention centres play a pivotal role in shaping environmental attitudes and practices, making World Environment Day a pertinent occasion for introspection and action.

Sustainability lies at the heart of the hospitality industry's efforts to minimise its environmental footprint and foster responsible tourism. From energy-efficient operations to waste reduction initiatives, hotels worldwide are embracing sustainable practices to mitigate their impact on the environment. However, despite commendable progress, there's still much more to be done. The challenges posed by escalating overhead costs, evolving workforce dynamics, and the imperative for sustainability require continuous innovation and commitment from industry stakeholders.

On this World Environment Day, it's essential to highlight the exemplary efforts of hospitality establishments that are leading the charge towards sustainability. In the spirit of celebrating sustainability, let's take a closer look at insights from industry leaders on their sustainability initiatives and ongoing commitment to creating a greener future:

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In the spirit of celebrating sustainability, let's take a closer look at insights from industry leaders on their sustainability initiatives and ongoing commitment to creating a greener future:

Bhaskaran T. Menon, General Manager, Le Royal Méridien Chennai

Under Bhaskaran T. Menon's leadership, Le Royal Méridien Chennai has taken substantial strides toward sustainability. The hotel operates entirely on 100% renewable energy and boasts a zero-discharge status, meaning it releases no wastewater into city systems. Significant efforts include a comprehensive rainwater harvesting system, an in-house water bottling plant that has reduced garbage production by 70%, and initiatives to eliminate the use of single-use plastics. These efforts are complemented by the installation of heat pumps to replace traditional boilers, further aligning the hotel with sustainable practices.

Varun Sharma, Director of Operations, Clarks Exotica Convention Resort & Spa

Varun Sharma anticipates that the future of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) will be heavily influenced by hybrid events, eco-friendly practices, and advanced technology. Clarks Exotica is preparing to stay ahead of these trends by enhancing its technological infrastructure to support hybrid events, implementing sustainable operational practices, and boosting its digital presence to meet evolving attendee expectations. These strategic updates are designed to maintain Clarks Exotica’s position as a leader in providing exceptional MICE experiences.

Shwetha Rajashekar, Co-Founder and Director of Communication, Branding, and Design, India Sweet House

Shwetha Rajashekar highlights India Sweet House’s commitment to environmental stewardship, which extends beyond organic farming. The initiative "Bring Your Own Bowl and Get 10% Off," starting April 22nd, encourages customers to use reusable containers, reducing waste and promoting sustainability. This effort is part of a broader strategy to impact positively on the environment through every aspect of the business, including packaging and customer engagement in sustainable practices.

Christopher Baker, General Manager, COLORS OF OBLU

Christopher Baker outlines several sustainability initiatives across COLORS OF OBLU resorts, emphasizing the CORE pillars: Community, Operations, Resources, and Environment. Noteworthy actions include educational marine tours conducted by an in-house marine biologist, a significant investment in renewable energy with a capacity of 1222.59 kWp from solar panels, and creative recycling efforts such as transforming food racks and Styrofoam boxes for practical uses. These initiatives not only minimize environmental impact but also support local communities and economies.

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Mr. Somesh Agarwal, Chairman and MD, Radisson Blu Palace Resort, Udaipur

At Radisson Blu Palace Resort, sustainability is integral to both operations and guest experiences, reflecting the increasing demand from environmentally conscious travelers. Key initiatives include the use of renewable energy from solar panels near Bikaner, water conservation programs, and energy-efficient LED lighting. The resort enhances the guest experience by incorporating locally handcrafted decor and eco-friendly materials in interior design. These efforts are aimed at preserving Rajasthan's heritage and promoting the socio-economic development of local communities.

Ar. Anil Badan, Founder and Principal Architect, Studio B Architects

Anil Badan emphasizes the role of smart technologies in boosting sustainability within the hospitality industry. He advocates for integrating energy-efficient fixtures, such as LED lighting and smart thermostats, along with renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines. The use of sustainable construction materials and smart devices reduces the carbon footprint and enhances operational efficiency, aligning the architectural design with environmental stewardship.

Vikas Sharma, Area General Manager, Courtyard by Marriott, Surat

Vikas Sharma describes Courtyard by Marriott Surat’s comprehensive approach to managing operational risks, prioritizing safety, security, and environmental sustainability. The property implements various initiatives like energy-saving measures, waste reduction programs, and the use of eco-friendly materials. These efforts aim to foster a culture of sustainability awareness among staff and guests, thereby enhancing the overall safety and environmental responsibility of the operations.

Haninder Sachdeva, CEO, Eight Continents Hotels and Resorts

Haninder Sachdeva explains how Eight Continents Hotels & Resorts integrates their commitment to delivering exceptional value into tangible results for guests through sustainable and responsible practices. The focus on eco-friendly operations, sourcing local produce, supporting local artisans, and promoting cultural experiences enriches guest stays and supports the brand's commitment to minimizing environmental impact. This strategy not only satisfies guests but also aligns with their values, enhancing their overall experience and brand loyalty.

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Mr. Balaji. M, Chief Executive Officer, Kamalya Group and Clarks Exotica Convention Resort & Spa

Mr. Balaji M. discusses the major challenges facing the hospitality industry, such as rising overhead costs and evolving workforce dynamics. At Clarks Exotica, these issues are addressed by adopting efficiency measures, embracing workforce diversity, and engaging in continuous learning. The resort also focuses on sustainability through recycling, waste reduction, and energy-saving initiatives, ensuring a reduced environmental footprint while maintaining industry leadership.

Mr. Rubin Cherian, General Manager, Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre & Hyderabad International Convention Centre

Rubin Cherian identifies key challenges for convention centers like adapting to technology, meeting diverse client needs, and maintaining sustainability. Novotel Hyderabad addresses these by investing in cutting-edge technology for improved event experiences, offering versatile spaces for tailored events, and implementing eco-friendly practices such as energy-efficient operations and sustainable sourcing. These strategies help exceed guest expectations while aligning with sustainability goals.

Vaishakh Surendran, General Manager, Mercure Sriperumbudur

Vaishakh Surendran highlights initiatives at Mercure Sriperumbudur that deliver exceptional guest experiences, setting it apart in the market. These include the elimination of single-use plastics, the use of electric vehicles for transportation, and advanced technological solutions. Additionally, the hotel’s diverse culinary offerings and a focus on organic cooking, supported by an in-house organic garden and local sourcing, underscore its commitment to sustainability and local community support.

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Vishal Gupta, General Manager, Novotel Juhu Beach

Vishal Gupta outlines the sustainability practices at Novotel Juhu Beach, emphasizing the elimination of single-use plastics and the use of a water purification plant to avoid plastic bottle waste. Guest involvement in water conservation efforts and targeted initiatives to reduce energy consumption and food waste further enhance the hotel's sustainability profile. These measures not only minimize environmental impact but also resonate well with environmentally conscious guests.

As we observe World Environment Day, it's clear that the hospitality industry is embracing a pivotal role in sustainability. Leaders from various organizations have demonstrated innovative practices, from renewable energy adoption and waste reduction to community engagement and technological advancements. These initiatives reflect a collective commitment to safeguarding our planet while setting new standards for environmental responsibility in the sector.


Goa Thrives Year-Round: Summer and Monsoon Tourism Drive Economic Growth

Goa Thrives Year-Round: Summer and Monsoon Tourism Drive Economic Growth

By Shreenidhi Jagannathan

Published on May 27, 2024

As temperatures rise and summer approaches, Goa's beaches have become a magnet for tourists seeking an escape from the heat. Known for its sun-kissed shores and vibrant nightlife, Goa is experiencing a surge in visitors from neighboring states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Kerala. This influx brings significant economic benefits to the region, filling hotels, restaurants, and local shops with eager patrons. However, unlike previous years where the onset of the southwest monsoon marked a sharp decline in tourist numbers, Goa is now thriving as a year-round destination. The pleasant weather and unique attractions during the monsoon season, such as bird watching and lush green landscapes, continue to draw visitors.

The continuous flow of tourists throughout the year has provided a steady stream of revenue for local businesses. During the summer rush, beach shacks, water sports operators, and local markets experience peak business, capitalizing on the large crowds. When the monsoon arrives, these businesses adapt, offering new experiences that cater to the different interests of monsoon tourists. Suneel Anchipaka, IAS, Director of Tourism and Managing Director of the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC), notes that the tourism industry has adapted to this shift. "Beach clearing agencies are in place, all the cleaning activities are taking place. Lifeguards are situated in various beaches. A few shacks have already started dismantling. By the end of this month, they are all going to be dismantled." While the dismantling of shacks marks the end of one tourist season, it also signifies the beginning of another. The transition from summer to monsoon tourism involves different preparations, but the economic impact remains positive.

Industry leaders have welcomed Goa's transformation into a year-round tourist destination, recognizing its positive impact on the local economy and tourism industry. Among them, TWH Hospitality, the operator of two beloved properties in Goa, has been at the forefront of embracing this trend. "Our properties are designed to offer the best of Goa, regardless of the season," said Ambika Saxena, CEO, TWH Hospitality. "At Boho Box, guests can immerse themselves in the vibrant culture of Goa with easy access to local markets and nightlife. Meanwhile, Boho By The Beach provides a tranquil retreat with stunning beach views, perfect for those looking to relax and enjoy nature." The industry has also introduced special packages that highlight Goa’s diverse attractions year-round. These offerings ensure a memorable stay for guests and support the local economy by driving continuous tourism. “We're proud to be part of Goa's thriving tourism landscape," Saxena adds. "By offering year-round packages that showcase the best of what this enchanting state has to offer, we're not just creating memories; we're fostering lasting connections between travelers and the communities they visit."

Goa's transformation into a year-round tourist destination has brought significant economic benefits to the region. The combined allure of its summer beaches and monsoon activities ensures a steady flow of visitors, providing continuous support to the local economy. This steady influx of tourists throughout the seasons underscores Goa's appeal as a must-visit destination all year long.


Culinary Tourism: Drawing Visitors through Mall/High Street Dining and Hospitality

Culinary Tourism: Drawing Visitors through Mall/High Street Dining and Hospitality

By Nithyakala Neelakandan

Published on May 23, 2024

Culinary tourism is rapidly becoming a key driver in the tourism industry, with an increasing number of travelers seeking unique and memorable dining experiences. Malls and high streets are capitalizing on this trend by transforming into culinary destinations, offering diverse and immersive gastronomic adventures. This strategy not only enhances the visitor experience but also boosts foot traffic and revenue for retail and hospitality businesses.

The Rise of Culinary Tourism

Culinary tourism focuses on exploring local cuisines, dining experiences, and food-related activities as a significant part of travel. According to the World Food Travel Association, culinary travelers spend about 25% of their travel budget on food. This shift has prompted many commercial centers to integrate high-quality dining options and culinary events into their offerings.

Malls and High Streets as Culinary Destinations

Omaxe Chowk, located in the heart of Delhi, aims to be a hub for culinary tourism by showcasing India's rich culinary heritage. "Our vision is to recreate the charm of Chandni Chowk's street food within a modern and comfortable environment. Visitors can enjoy authentic local delicacies while exploring the historical and cultural essence of Old Delhi," says Jatin Goel, Executive Director, Omaxe Group. The operational food brands at Omaxe Chowk's Dawatpur include Popeyes, Burger King, Hongs Kitchen, Pizza Hut, Vaango, Spicenama, Eat Co., Amritsari Chennai Express, Chat Town, Jung Bahadur Kachori, KDH Chat, Vezley, Chicago Pizza, KFC, Chinese Wok, Dominos, Rolls Mania, Wow Momo, and Wow China.

Pacific Malls, with multiple locations across India, have embraced the culinary tourism trend by offering a variety of dining options ranging from fine dining to food courts with international cuisines. "We believe that a great dining experience is crucial to the overall appeal of our malls. By bringing together diverse culinary traditions, we aim to attract food enthusiasts and create a vibrant community space," states Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director of Pacific Malls. Notable food brands at Pacific Malls include Spezia Bistro, Punjab Grill, United Coffee House, Chili's, Birch By Romeo Lane, Neoba, House of Royal, Indus Flavour, and QDs.

Reach 3Roads, a mixed-use development in Gurugram, combines retail, dining, and entertainment to create a holistic experience for visitors. "Our focus is on creating an environment where people can come together to enjoy great food and social activities. Culinary events and festivals are a significant part of our strategy to engage the community and attract tourists," shares Nandini Taneja, VP, Reach Group. The dining options at Reach 3Roads include Sagar Ratna, Starbucks, Haldiram's, Chaayos, McDonald's, Badmaash Kebabi, Hong's Kitchen, Dunkin', and Moti Mahal.

Urban Square Mall in Udaipur is positioning itself as a premier culinary destination in the region. "We are curating a mix of local and international dining options to cater to the tastes of both residents and tourists. Our goal is to make Urban Square Mall a landmark for food lovers in Udaipur and for those also visiting Udaipur," says Uddhav Poddar, Managing Director of Bhumika Group, developers of Urban Square Mall. The mall features a variety of food brands including Kailash Parbat, Starbucks, Pind Balluchi, Keventers, Wow Momos, Subway, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Baskin Robbins. Additionally, they're excited to announce the upcoming opening of Lemon Tree Hotel and PVR INOX, further enhancing the visitor experience.

Creating Memorable Culinary Experiences

To attract and retain visitors, malls and high streets are incorporating various elements into their culinary offerings. Diverse food options, including local, regional, and international cuisines, cater to different tastes and preferences. Themed food festivals celebrate specific cuisines, seasons, or cultural traditions, drawing in crowds. Interactive food experiences, such as cooking classes, food tastings, and chef meet-and-greets, engage visitors actively. Aesthetic and comfortable ambiance enhances the overall dining experience, while promotions and partnerships with food bloggers, chefs, and influencers help to promote dining options and attract food enthusiasts.

Culinary tourism is transforming malls and high streets into vibrant culinary hubs, creating memorable experiences for visitors. As this trend continues to evolve, these commercial centers will be pivotal in shaping the future of travel and dining.

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