Immersive Itineraries – The New Indian Express
Express press service
Earlier in January, a group of curious women learned the intricacies of Chettiar cuisine in Chidambara Vilas, Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu. “An open kitchen concept provides insight into locally sourced ingredients, traditional techniques and a chance to savor the unique dishes a region has to offer,” says Muthamma Nanjappa, Travel Commissioner of Globetrippers.
Athangudi tile making and Chettinad saree weaving are also among its offerings in this region. “However, in Uttarakhand, we are running an ingredient sourcing experience for a typical Kumaoni and Van Gujjar home-cooked meal. Village walks and interaction with artists making Panchachuli, basket weaving, copper crafts, Aipan floor paintings are also on the list.
More than just checking off a list of sights to see, travelers seem more interested in getting to know the place and interacting with its people on a deeper level. The tourism industry is responding by offering experiences where locals open their homes and workshops are offered. These can be focused on food, art or culture. Sometimes it’s just for comforting conservation. Arun Ashok, Regional Manager, India & Middle East, Luxury Getaways, agrees: “According to various industry reports, the overall travel market in India is expected to be worth $125 billion by 2027, of which nearly 10% should include travel experiences. This is an industry that is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 7.5-10% and presents a valuable opportunity. »
Luxury Escapes has begun offering additional experiences that our members can purchase on top of our accommodation packages in an effort to tap into this segment. “We partner with reputable service providers and aggregators and even went the acquisition route by buying Travelshoot, a shooting services company. These are currently very popular, with one in three in five shoppers choosing to augment their travel experience with an add-on experience,” Ashok shares.
Premium photo shoot services are popular in Rajasthan. Game drives in wildlife reserves have been a recent point of interest since Covid hit. Most travelers prefer outdoor experiences such as electric bike rides, outdoor picnics, waterfall visits, etc. rather than guided museum tours or restaurant tasting menus, he says.
The pandemic has pushed this shift even further where people are spending on experiences rather than things. For example, Ceylon Tea Trails, perched 1,250 meters above sea level in the Ceylon tea region of Hatton, Sri Lanka. This property features five restored tea planters’ bungalows offering guests the ambiance of a non-hotel private home, as well as period furnishings, butler service, tea trails, and gourmet kitchens. Guests also enjoy a tour of the plantation, a tea factory and a tasting session with the hotel’s resident tea planter.
Experiential travel is also more fulfilling, leaving a positive impact on the traveler about the place. At Sujan Jawai, Rajasthan, a Relais & Châteaux member, guests have the opportunity to explore the beautiful landscape of Jawai on horseback. This awe-inspiring experiment by Marwari and Kathiawari aimed to re-wild the soul in a post-lockdown world. Additionally, travelers can also learn about biodiversity and culinary heritage as chefs raise awareness of near-extinct foods. In this case, it is Kumatiya, a pod containing three shiny white seeds, used as food in Rajasthan. As Jaisal Singh, owner and vice-president of Relais & Châteaux explains: “It is an essential ingredient in one of the most popular and delicious dishes of Rajasthan. Ker Kumatiya Sangri, a blend of three native dessert ingredients, is a delicacy that gives you a real flavor of the local terroir.
There is a shift towards active travel and a growing interest in local cultural immersion. Ask mountaineer and outdoor professional Abhirup Paul of Eka Experiences who run guided trips through the destinations. Its latest offering is the Gurez Valley recently opened to the public in Kashmir. “Gurez was part of ancient Dardistan. It fell along the ancient Silk Road. The local inhabitants are from the Dard-Shin ethnic tribe. Different from Kashmir, they speak in Shina, a once flourishing language that is slowly disappearing. This unspoilt place that deserves worldwide attention keeps responsible travel in mind in a very sustainable way. »
Travel is increasingly seen as a way to gain a new perspective on life. Anand Bhava is one. This is the emotional healing program offered by Ananda Resort. Through alternative modalities such as hypnotherapy, regression, and energy healing, clients here heal their physical, emotional, and mental states. Mahesh Natarajan, Senior Vice President of Ananda, comments, “This unique and timely platform enhances the holistic and integrated approach to our wellness programs. Several guests had transformational changes.
Another such initiative is “Airbnb Adventures,” where travelers ditch the usual tourist routes for offbeat adventures that give them something different to post on social media.
It seems clear that the trend is here to stay and for exciting reasons.
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