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Hotel and Travel News and Updates – March 2011

  • Wyndham to open 03 Hotels in India
  • 40th SKAL Asia Congress to be held in New Delhi from 31st March to 2nd April, 2011
  • IHG to open Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rohini New  Delhi
  • Western India Tourism organization formed
  • Women’s Day – All women crew operate 13 Air India Flights
  • Jet Airways onboard film fest celebrates Women’s Day
  •  “Something That I Will Never Really See”  - An exhibition of contemporary photography from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
  • India and Brazil sign Air Services Agreement
  • Elephanta Festival  2011, Held on 5th and 6th March, 2011
  • Kuoni Travel Group India reshuffles top management
  • TAAI disappointed with budget 2011 as industry ignored once again.
  • Destination of the week : Maharastra’s Karla and Bhaja Caves, the shadow of Ajanta and Ellora.

Wyndham to open 03 Hotels in India

Wyndham Hotel Group’s Days Inn brand is to debut in India following the signing of three new construction full service Days Hotels in the country.

The three new hotels include the five-story, 48-room Days Hotel Neemrana, Jaipur Highway, owned by Mighty Developers India Limited and expected to open in March 2011; the five-story, 102-room Days Hotel Neemrana, Sahil Square, owned by Yogi Properties Private Limited and expected to open in January 2012; and the four-story, 80-room Days Hotel Asansol, owned by Shradha Agarwala Hotels Private Limited and expected to open in March 2013.

Both Neemrana properties will be located near the historic fort of Neemrana and the Japanese and Korean investment zones while the Asansol property will be located close to the Asansol town center and just a short drive from the nearby city of Durgapur.

All three properties will include a host of amenities ranging from business and fitness centers to restaurants, meeting facilities, swimming pools and more.

The signings add another 230 rooms to the Days Inn and larger Wyndham Hotel Group portfolio and come on the heels of the recent news that the company will open its first Wyndham Hotels and Resorts branded property in India in April 2011.

“India remains a market where there is great potential for growth,” said Ken Greene, Wyndham Hotel Group president and managing director, Asia Pacific. “The addition of these hotels highlights our commitment to the Asia Pacific region and underscores our continued focus to grow rooms globally."

Wyndham Hotel Group currently has 11 hotels and more than 1,200 rooms in India under its Ramada brand. The company’s Asia Pacific portfolio consists of more than 325 hotels and over 50,000 rooms under the Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Ramada, Howard Johnson, Days Inn, Super 8 and Microtel Inns & Suites brands.


40th SKAL Asia Congress to be held in New Delhi from 31st March to 2nd April, 2011
New Delhi
The 40th Skal Asia Congress is being held in Delhi from March 31 to 2nd April.  Delhi Chief Minister, Mrs. Sheila Dikshit will be chief guest of the Inauguration event at Kamal Mahal at The Maurya on Friday, 1st April.

We would like to have maximum attendance from the Delhi club members.  We have several options available for participation.

  • The Awards Dinner will be at the Imperial Hotel on Friday, 1st April.
  • A Golf tournament on Friday 1st April at the Qutab Golf Club at 1330 PM 19.00
  • The General Assembly will be at Le Meridien from 09.30 AM onwards followed by lunch on Saturday 2nd April.
  • The Skal Ball / Presidents Ball at Le Meridien on Saturday 2nd April evening.

More information is available on www.skaldelhi.com.


IHG to open Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rohini New  Delhi
New Delhi
IHG is planning to open the Crowne Plaza New Delhi Rohini in the second quarter 2011. Located at Rohini, the 16-storeyed hotel features one of the largest banquet facilities, 183 guest rooms, three F&B outlets and a spa.
Another highlight of the hotel will be a sprawling commercial complex with several upmarket brands. The hotel is located adjacent to Adventure Island - a popular amusement-cum-shopping arcade while several commercial establishments, technology.


Western India Tourism organization formed
In a bid to address issues concerning the hospitality and tourism segment in the western region of the country, various associations representing the sector have come together to form a new organisation.

Western India Tourism Organization (WITO), a forum of various associations that represent the travel, tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors, was launched.

"WITO aims at creating synergy among all stakeholders in order to chart-out an action plan for tourism development in the western region and also address various issues affecting the sector," Hotels and Restaurants Association (Western India) President Kamlesh Barot told reporters here.

"It will also work with the State and Central Governments to augment effective implementation of their tourism development plans," he said.

WITO consists of Hotel and Restaurants Association Western India, Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI) and Maharashtra Tour Operator Association (MTOA) and Western India Culinary Association (WICA).

"The organisation will not only take up the hurdles this industry faces on account of strategic, policy directives from the Government, but also suggest remedies to them and various other bodies," Barot said.

WITO would also work towards identifying the potential of the region and create strategies that can be implemented for tourism development, he added.


Women’s Day – All women crew operate 13 Air India Flights
New Delhi: Air India operated 13 flights with all women including a 15-hour non-stop flight from Delhi to Toronto on March 8, International Women’s Day. Women engineers carried out the safety audit before the Boeing 777-300 aircraft was flagged off from Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport by Mr. Nasim Zaidi, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.


Jet Airways onboard film fest celebrates Women’s Day
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, JetScreen, Jet Airways' state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system, will feature a film festival titled “Modern Day Heroines”, celebrating women in the movies, in collaboration with JetViva. This cycle will also feature the work and craft of the acclaimed Indian Director Sai Paranjpye in the form of Katha, Chashme Buddoor and Disha. The screening will include her exclusive interview, where guests will learn about her perspective on movies and society.

For the cycle March to April 2011, Jet Airways' JetScreen will also screen movies ranging from the critically acclaimed “The Kings Speech” (Winner of four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay) and “Black Swan” (Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role), as well as Oscar-nominees "True Grit", "127 Hours" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part1".

According to Sudheer Raghavan, CCO, Jet Airways, “In-flight entertainment is a critical part of the on-board experience for all our guests. Our selection of the best movies from various genres is aimed at enhancing the overall in-flight experience. We are confident that our latest selection of movies will appeal to all guests and make their journey more enjoyable. This is part of our initiative to heighten customer satisfaction and we will continue to work towards improving our offerings.”


“Something That I Will Never Really See” - An exhibition of contemporary photography from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
New Delhi
Kumari Selja, India’s Minister for Culture inaugurated an exhibition of Contemporary Photography from the V&A- “Something That I’ll Never Really See:” Ms. Kate Bellamy, Head, International Audiences, Victoria and Albert Museum, London. This exhibition is part of a travelling tour that was first showcased at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai. 

Speaking on the occasion the Minister said, Victoria & Albert Museum has been playing an active role in cementing bilateral cultural relations between India and United Kingdom.  Even before a MoU on cultural exchange was signed between the two countries in July 2010, Victoria & AlbertMuseum had an agreement with the Ministry of Culture, under which several exhibitions entitled ‘Indian Life and Landscape by Western Artists’ were hosted in different metros of India. 


India and Brazil sign Air Services Agreement
New Delhi
Bilateral Air Services Agreement (ASA) between India and Brazil was signed by the Minister of Civil Aviation, Mr. Vayalar Ravi and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil Mr. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota.

The new ASA has the potential to spur greater trade investment, tourism and strengthening the cultural exchange between the two countries besides bringing it in tune with the developments in the international civil aviation scenario.

The Agreement is based on the liberal ICAO template and paves the way for increased air connectivity between both countries. It supersedes the Agreement signed between the two countries on 12th September 2006 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.


Elephanta Festival  2011, Held on 5th and 6th March, 2011
Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation with support from Ministry of Tourism, Government of India organnised the Elephanta Festival 2011.

The two-day festival had an amalgamation of Prakruti (Nature), Shakti (Power) and Bhakti (Worship) with music and dance.


Kuoni Travel Group India reshuffles top management
Kuoni Travel Group India will reshuffle its top management in an attempt to revamp its business operations in the fast-growing travel and tourism sector. Kuoni, which operates in India through its tour operator subsidiary, SOTC, and visa processing division, VFS, will create separate managements for its two companies.

The board of Kuoni has now decided to create an independent management for VFS and appointed Rajiv Duggal the managing director of Kuoni India, effective May, while Zubin Karkaria, who was until now heading Kuoni India, will become the non-executive chairman of VFS according to a news in The Economic Times.

"In line with the continuing strategy of strengthening Kuoni India and the VFS Global management to enhance business operations, a dedicated management team for the two businesses has been set up," the company said in an e-mailed statement to ET.

Kuoni Travel group India was formed in 1996 following the acquisition of leading package tour brand SOTC and has since launched various portfolios, including its visa arm, VFS.

Kuoni launched VFS in July 2001 and currently operates in 18 countries and processes nearly 7 million visa applications annually. While Karkaria had been heading the India operations of Kuoni for the past five years, Rajiv Duggal had earlier worked with Kuoni as the vice-president of its tour operating division after which he was appointed the CEO India and South East Asia of Destinations of the World Pvt Ltd.

To read the complete story visit


TAAI disappointed with budget 2011 as industry ignored once again.
New Delhi
“The reaction to the Union Budget 2011-12 has been one of disappointment. The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) is of the   opinion that the government is neglecting tourism and hospitality industries, amongst the largest generator of employment in the country. There are no incentives or sops from the Government for our trade. The current levels of taxation should not have been touched. Instead, the government has increased Service Tax on tickets and hotel rooms. This shows that the Government has taken no interest in Tourism and Aviation in this Union Budget and is in fact totally insensitive about this industry in India according to Mr. Rajji Rai, President, TAAI.

“Air travellers in India are already paying Service Tax, airport tax etc and this expense is really bleeding the passengers. It is learnt that the Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) has decided to take up the matter with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as well as the civil aviation ministry.  It is a well known fact that air travel is no longer restricted to the "Rich and the Famous" but has become the mode of transport for the middle income common man.  Thus they are all going to be affected,” added Mr. Rai.


Destination of the week : Maharastra’s Karla and Bhaja Caves, the shadow of Ajanta and Ellora

Most tourists are aware of the famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves but few have heard of the Karla and Bhaja Caves which date back to the 2nd century BC and are amongst the oldest and perhaps finest example of the early Buddhist rock-cut temple genre in India. Though on a much smaller scale than the better known Ajanta and Ellora their charm lies in their simple charm, serene surroundings and hardly any commercialization. As a result they also get fewer visitors which some may find a blessing and reason enough to visit. So if you literally want to take the road less travelled then you will enjoy your visit. Take your time exploring and enjoy the countryside.

Your take off point can be Bombay or Pune but the closest is Lonavla from where you can hire an auto rickshaw to get you there. The most impressive cave is at Karla and a short climb will bring you to this spectacular Cave. Karla Cave is considered by historians to be the largest early Buddhist Chaitya in the country. It is around 40 meters long and about 15 meters high. Completed in 80 BC it is said to be carved by monks and artisans from the surrounding rock. Yet it imitates the more prevalent and hence more familiar (to them) wooden architecture of the time. Of course it is not as impressive as the Kailash Temple of Ellora but next to that it is the second most impressive in Maharashtra. it is interesting to see how light filters into the cave through a semi-circular "sun window" to bathe the stupa or dogba in light, quite an engineering achievement considering that it was built in 80 BC. This stupa or dogba is considered to be the representation of the Buddha.

This Stupa is protected by a carved wooden umbrella. The cave's roof is ribbed with wooden beams of teak which are said to be original. There are 37 pillars which form the aisle and each one is topped by a carved kneeling elephant, the elephant considered a sacred symbol in Buddhism. At the time the caves were built the carved elephant heads on the sides of the vestibule had ivory tusks and must have presented quite a sight.

Today a modern temple has been built near the mouth of the Karla Cave which does detract somewhat from its charm but then again it brings pilgrims here and provides some colour and life to this otherwise desolate area from here the Bhaja caves are approximately 10 km and a brisk 2 hour walk away. You can always take a rickshaw. Of course from the main road it is only 3 km to the quieter Bhaja caves. The surroundings are green and lush and there is calmness about the area. There are around 18 caves of which 10 are viharas and said to date from around 200BC. Cave number 12 is an open chaitya and said to pre-date Karla. This cave contains a simple stupa/dogba. Beyond this is a collection of 14 stupas, five inside and nine outside one of the caves. An added bonus is the view from the Bhaja Caves. You can see two forts - the Lohagad fort and the Visapur fort local children will happily volunteer to be your guides and take you there for a small tip.

Maharashtra Tourism runs a clean and pleasant Karla Resort set under the trees and besides a small lake. So relax and even go boating on the lake. It is a much better option than staying in Lonavla where you have to go eventually to get to your onward destination.

For more information contact:
Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation,
C.D.O. Hutments, Opp. L.I.C.(Yogakshema) Building,
Madame Cama Road, Mumbai-400 020,
Tel:  +91-22-22044040, Fax: +91-22-22024521,
Email: contactmaharashtratourism@gmail.com and website: www.maharashtratourism.gov.in


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