Our Sodha Travel team has been busy preparing new custom India tour programs that will be launched this summer! Based on your feedback and recommendations, we have crafted four itineraries that serve the diverse interests of our clients. The themes include family-travel, vineyards, Ayurveda, and more! Read on for an exclusive preview of our *new* private India packages.
Ayurveda, or “Science/Knowledge of Life,” is a form of holistic medicine. The earliest documentation of this healing system appeared in India over 5,000 years ago. Ayurveda focuses on balancing the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual elements of life to create ultimate wellness. This custom package focuses on retreats and spas in Kerala, a lush state in Southwest India that is often considered the birthplace of Ayurveda.
This 22-day comprehensive itinerary of North and South India includes Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Rajsamand, Udaipur, Mumbai, Cochin, Kumarakom, Munnar, Madurai, Tanjore, Trichy, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, and Chennai. Highlights include a private Keralan cooking session in the home of a local family, a stay in a historic Mewar palace that is still partially occupied by the royal family, and an optional private visit to the Bollywood film studios in Mumbai.
The Vineyards of India
Drink up! In addition to producing internationally recognized and award winning wines, many Indian vineyards now feature modern tasting rooms and luxury accommodations. Sodha Travel is excited to have partnered with a few exclusive and noteworthy vineyards to offer our clients exclusive property tours and wine tastings. Vineyards of India will include Mumbai, Nashik, Bangalore, and Nandi Hills.
Rajasthan: A Family Experience
Sodha Travel is very excited to offer our first package that caters to children and family travel! Ride an elephant to Amber Fort in Jaipur, stay in a historic palace in Rajsamand (where the children will no doubt feel like a prince and princess), experience a zipline near Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, and view wildlife in Ranthambore National Park. For the junior chefs, enjoy a private Rajasthani cooking demo; for the artists, make pottery with a local artisan.
Stay connected with Sodha Travel to learn more about these exciting new tour programs! Our first itinerary launches in June!
Throughout the years, Sodha Travel has remained committed to offering private and custom tours at reasonable prices. Our passion and expertise for the destinations we serve create not only unique but affordable experiences. I often browse the tour programs of other travel companies and gasp. Why, I wonder, is it so expensive? At least twice a month, I price out our packages exactly as they are offered with other companies – the same hotels, destinations, guided touring, entrance fees, internal transportation, and taxes. Almost every time, our costs are significantly less. Additionally, many of the programs are offered in a group setting, where our costs are for private tours with the added benefits of personalized experiences and schedules.
We recently had a client return from three weeks in North India. At the time of booking, she was comparing our proposals with other companies, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that our costs were – at the very least – almost $2500 less per person for the same itinerary. (The other proposals were from organizations with prominent names, which I will omit for this post.) Suzanne sent us the following note and approval to share with our readers:
Incredible India! The sights, sounds, smells, and all that makes it an appealing destination was made even more wonderful by the Sodha Travel team. The itinerary was well planned with enough time for touring and leisure activities. Your restaurant recommendations were appreciated, as well as the special touches along the way. Several of our friends traveled to India in the past with abc and xyz*, and when we were comparing costs and inclusions, Sodha Travel was considerably less expensive. You also included activities that were not part of their tour programs, and I must say they were envious of our personalized experiences! It was rewarding for us to not only have a well-managed itinerary, but to have done so with extra money in our pockets. We saved over $4800 with Sodha Travel! Even with a luxury package, we still appreciate the value of a dollar. Your services were exceptional and I will be glad to refer travelers to you. Oh, and a special thank you for recommending Deogarh Mahal. It was a treasure!
*Company names omitted for the post
We appreciate the feedback, Suzanne. We continue to strive to offer unique tour programs without the excessive mark-up. I have always believed in the value of a service and treating clients like I am one. Enchanting and private experiences are possible without the hefty price tag!
From October 31 – November 18, the Sodha Travel team will be traveling in North India. In addition to negotiating contracts and meeting with vendors, we will be conducting property tours, visiting the most recent sites and restaurants, and researching all the latest and greatest activities for our clients. This year, our destinations will include Delhi, Jaipur, Rajsamand, Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Rishikesh. During our travels, we will be posting photos and journals on our blog and Sodha Travel social networks. We invite you to follow us on our journey as we celebrate Diwali and other regional festivals with the magnificent people of India.
Here is a brief description of the destinations we plan to visit:
Delhi: Located on the Yamuna River, Delhi (locally known as Dilli) is the capital of India. It is typically the first stop on the popular Golden Triangle circuit and offers many attractions for visitors. Because my husband’s family lives here, we often discover unique spots usually frequented by locals. Delhi is also overflowing with wonderful markets and bazaars, and we enjoy scouting the shops for treasured items. We are perhaps most excited about celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights, in India’s capital!
Jaipur: Jaipur is the capital and “Pink City” of Rajasthan. It is considered India’s center of jewelry and gemstones, and also known for handicrafts, glazed pottery, and block textiles. We will be visiting Galwar Bagh (the Monkey Temple) and the most acclaimed properties in the city, including Rasa and Oberoi Rajvilas.
Rajsamand: The Deogarh Mahal is one of my favorite hotels in Rajasthan, and we are excited to return to this restored Mewar Palace that is still partially occupied by the royal family. In the evening, we will participate in a rural ramble, a jeep ride through the countryside.
Udaipur: With a wealth of enchanting lakes, Udaipur is a true oasis in Rajasthan. The highlight of our property tours will include a visit to Taj Lake Palace, one of the most luxurious and romantic hotels in the world. We will also be participating in a regional festival and viewing the city frescoes.
Jodhpur: From Udaipur we will travel to Jodhpur, en-route visiting Ranakpur, a pilgrimage destination famous for its exquisitely carved Jain temples. Jodhpur is the 2nd largest city in Rajasthan and known for its impressive fortified bastions. Our team will have the opportunity to visit a traditional Rajput home and spend time learning about the family traditions, past and present.
Rishikesh: To many, Rishikesh is considered the heart of yoga and meditation in Northern India. However, it also offers an array of adventure activities, including rafting, kayaking, cliff jumping, and trekking. Two members of our team will be participating in a thrilling 2-night rafting adventure on the Ganges River.
As India continues to be ranked one of the most favorable travel destinations worldwide, hotel chains are busy developing newer and more creative accommodations. Looking ahead, 2011 is going to be one of the most exciting years for unique properties, catering to both budget and luxury travelers. Here are a few of my most anticipated additions to the Indian market:
Rasa, Jaipur: Opening in March, the Rasa seamlessly blends modernity, luxury, and ecotourism. There will be forty tents with glass-wall facades and a private outdoor pavilion. Located adjacent to the 16th century Amer Fort, the futuristic Rasa also serves organic produce grown on site. The nearby nature sanctuary offers hiking and bird watching, all within close proximity to Rajasthan’s capital and Pink City, Jaipur.
Radisson Hotel, Haridwar: As much as I love Haridwar, a holy city on the Ganges River, there are very limited first-class accommodations that cater to the more discerning traveler. The Radisson will have 16 suites and 113 rooms with a variety of upscale facilities, including an all-day dining restaurant, specialty restaurant, bar, club lounge and tea lounge.
Park Plaza and Park Inn, Delhi: It is hard to believe that Delhi, India’s capital and one of the three cities on the Golden Triangle tourism circuit, has a limited number of reasonably priced moderate hotels in favorable parts of the city. But for this reason, I am very pleased to see three new properties opening in Delhi: Park Plaza New Delhi Dwarka, Park Plaza New Delhi Nari Nagar, and Park Inn Delhi CBD Shahdara. Park Plaza is an upper mid-scale brand that offers modern design in a comfortable atmosphere, while Park Inn is the slightly less upgraded counterpart. Both are highly recommended by travelers, and one of my clients calls their breakfast buffets “the best in India.”
Banasura Hill Resort, Wayanad: Though Banasura is already operational, I encourage travelers to experience this ecoresort before the popularity detracts from its charm. Banasura is located in the misty hills of Wayanad in the Malabar region of Kerala. It is also Asia’s largest “Earth Resort” and awarded the Greenest Destination in the Nilgiris Biosphere. The main resort is built entirely from mud, and the villas are constructed from rough hewn stone. Very impressive, considering the luxurious finishes and spacious rooms – not to mention a mud structure in an area known for heavy rainfall.
India was once reserved as a destination for backpackers, voluntourism, and group tours. Though the market remains strong for budget-friendly travel – India remains one of the top ten most affordable destinations in the world – luxury travelers have finally discovered the Indian decadence. The 2010 Virtuoso Luxe Report recognized India as the #1 Emerging Destination for Luxury Travelers. Spacious villas, private tours, and the incomparable Indian hospitality are just a few of the elements that have won over the hearts of tourists worldwide. Furthermore, in today’s market, even luxury travelers are looking for a good deal – another benefit to experiencing what India has to offer. As one traveler recently told me, “I am a 6-star traveler, but I don’t need bragging rights. Even I like to find a good deal. And India was the perfect combination of opulence and affordability.”
So where can luxury travelers expect to stay during their Indian experience? Here are a few of my favorite properties:
1. Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur: This white marble luxury hotel shimmers in the middle of Lake Pichola, surrounded by the Aravalli Mountains. The palace was built in 1746 and the Royal Butlers are descendants of the original staffers, ensuring each guest is treated like royalty. For the ultimate experience, reserve one of the ten Grand Royal Suites, offering a glimpse of the Rajasthani princely lifestyles of the past.
2. Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra: Each room and suite offers a stunning view of the famed and majestic Taj Mahal. The resort was built to reflect Mughal architecture and has terraced lawns, fountains, and pavilions. The Kohinoor Suite includes a private butler and the white marble bathroom offers one of the best views of the monument. The Oberoi Spa experience is also not to be missed.
3. Oberoi Vrinda, Kerala: I have often said that all travelers must experience a houseboat in the backwaters of Kerala, and Oberoi took this experience to the next level with their luxury cruising vessel, the Vrinda. The eight cabins have a simple elegance with large windows overlooking the lakes and canals. The vessel also boasts of its internationally-rated cuisine that incorporates local ingredients, including coconuts, bananas, and prawns.
This is just a sample of India’s finest properties, and I invite you to savor the country to its fullest. You may complete a Custom Trip Proposal and one of our representatives will customize your luxury Indian experience.