Asia

Luxurious India by Rail, Plane and Boat

written by | Posted on October 1st, 2010

There’s still another option for a high-end India adventure with Greaves Tours: its new 7-day Soaring the Golden Triangle private plane itinerary with Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, aboard a refurbished Super King Air B200 aircraft. The plane’s interior has expanded its capacity (from six to eight passengers in the main cabin plus two pilots) and they’ve upgraded the woodwork to a sleek mahogany, restyled the interior’s walls, and added soft cream leather chairs, along with a new bench seat.

“Our new private plane itinerary with Oberoi connects some of India’s leading attractions and most elegant properties in an extraordinary program that is highlighted by the ease and convenience of traveling in stylish, private plane comfort,” says Carole Cambata, president of Greaves. “In addition to opulent hotel accommodations, intriguing sites and the appeal of flying by private plane, the tour is exceptionally priced, considering every step of the travel experience is first-class,” Cambata adds. Prices start at $5,100 pp based on four people traveling together.

The program includes accommodations at The Oberoi, New Delhi, The Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra, and The Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur (in one double/twin room). There’s also the private plane charter for all internal India segments: New Delhi to Agra, Agra to Jaipur, and Jaipur back to New Delhi. Touring includes the narrow streets and historic monuments of Old Delhi (including a short cycle rickshaw ride) and the wide boulevards and architectural wonders of New Delhi. At the Taj Mahal in Agra, clients arrive in high style transported by a decorated horse carriage. They’ll also visit the Amber Fort by elephant-back up the hill and then descend by jeep.

At the hotels, clients will meet with a gemologist at The Oberoi Rajvilas; receive a 25 percent discount on spa therapies and complimentary daily yoga session at each hotel; breakfast daily at The Oberoi properties, lunch at Veda restaurant in Delhi, and a cookery demonstration followed by lunch at The Oberoi Rajvilas. In addition, they’ll get a $75 credit for laundry at The Oberoi Rajvilas.

Additional services on the program include all transfers, sightseeing and excursions per the specific program using an air-conditioned Mercedes Viano at all places, with mineral water in the vehicles; knowledgeable, English-speaking local guides in each destination, who are well-versed in the history, customs and language of the region; entrance fees and video and still-camera fees at monuments, as well as porterage at airports.

Down south in Kerala, clients can book The Park Hotels’—pioneers of the boutique hotel concept in India—first luxury lake cruiser, Apsara, a 2-level, 8-cabin cruiser described as “heaven on water” on Kerala’s Vembanad Lake. Designed with luxury and comfort in mind, the Apsara sets sail on 4-day itineraries that take cruisers through the tranquil waters of Vembanad Lake and the backwaters with its paddy fields and fruit-laden coconut trees, where guests can watch the day-to-day rural life of Kerala drift by. In addition to eight guest accommodations, the 92-ft. Apsara has a crew cabin, galley, dining area (seating 24 people), saloon (with a capacity of 14), sundeck and panoramic forward-seating area (with comfortable corner sofas and tables). Cabins feature teak wood furnishings, LCD TV, DVD player, double bed, desk and chair, mini-bar, safe, satellite receiver, and private, marbled bathrooms.

Guests may dine on traditional and contemporary Kerala cuisine as well as a mix of international specialties while on the Apsara. For added local flavor, stops at toddy shops that line the waterway’s embankments afford an opportunity for cruisers to try coconut beer and local seafood. There’s also an onboard spa deck that is ideal for relaxing treatments such as foot, head and shoulder massages while sailing. The Apsara can be hired on an exclusive basis for personalized sailing itineraries, offsite company meetings, and other special occasions.

When it is not sailing, the boat will dock at The Park on Vembanad Lake, a brand-new resort that opened this summer and a perfect complement to the Apsara. It’s a sophisticated lakeside resort with 10 luxury rooms (four deluxe lakeview rooms, four luxury lakeview rooms, The Vembanad Room and The Vembanad Suite), a tented spa featuring Ayurvedic and international treatments, a gym, restaurant, two bars, a pool and adjacent deck, and performance space.

Local cultural tours and educational talks add to the complete Kerala experience in the backwaters of India. Some of those experiences include performances of kalarippayattu, a martial art form from Kerala; chakyar koothu, a highly refined monologue that is sometimes a traditional equivalent of the modern stand-up comedy act; and theyam, a traditional dance form. Guests of The Park on Vembanad Lake and the Apsara each have the opportunity to take village walks, meet the locals, and have a traditional meal with a Kerala family. Call for rates.