EXPLORE THE WORLD
Travel Package(s) for Senior Citizens --Golf Holiday in Andalusia in Southern Spain --Seychelles,the sun-kissed paradise for the holiday makers--Drive your desire in Ireland,Spain,Malaysia,Melbourne --Lakshadweep ,an idyllic escape --

            SENIORS ON THE RUN

TRAVEL: All the world’s their oyster for senior citizens bitten by the travel bug.

Holidays are no longer the exclusive preserve of the young and restless. With spending power like never before, senior citizens are splurging on travel. Also, with children gifting holidays to parents and a plethora of senior travel discounts, the elderly are holidaying with a vengeance.

     And they are traveling far and wide to destinations like Thailand, China, the US and Egypt to name a few. Says Sunil Gupta COO, SOTC: “Packages to these destinations are slightly slow in pace which makes it easier for the elderly to relax on their holidays”.  

     Says Karan Anand, Head-Business Development, Cox and Kings (India): “Most senior citizens prefer group tours so theres no fear of getting lost or missing transport”. Group tours also translate in to low tour costs. Often, tour operators ensure that their senior guests are provided hotels with ramps (to avoid climbing stairs) and less walking in between sights. So take a look at the top picks.

Thailand: The leisurely pace of the Thai capital Bangkok (sometimes called the slow city) is ideal for the elderly. The seniors can soak in its many cultural sights ranging from the Grand Palace with its gleaming spares to Wat Phra Kaeo – a temple complex housing the Emerald Buddha.

     Shopping at throwaway prices for clothes and cosmetics is on the agenda too. One can club Bangkok, with a beach holiday in Pattaya too, where gem stores, souvenir shops, traditional Thai massages, shopping, restaurants and bars are par for the course.

HOT TICKET! Cox and Kings Thai Adventure package for 6 days/5 nights to Pattaya and Bangkok for Rs.22999 per person includes return airfare (exit Mumbai – Bangkok – Mumbai), stay at a four star hotel, meals, coach transfers, entrance fees, sightseeing and surface transportation, services of a Cox & Kings tour leader or local representative.

China: The recently held 2008 Beijing Olympics could be a definite reason for a Chinese sojourn. Tiananmen Square in Beijing and the Great Wall are on every travelers itinerary. Relive history at the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace.

     For a night out, the senior travelers should catch the Peking Opera or, alternatively, a kung-fu show in Beijing. Panda spotting at the Chongqing Zoo in southwest China is another treat, before flying back home from Shanghai with its temples and bazaars.

HOT TICKET! Cox & Kings Treasures of China tour for 11 Days/10 Nights could set the seniors back by Rs.95999 per head. The tour cost includes return airfare (exit Delhi/Mumbai), stay at a four star hotel, meals, coach transfers, entrance fees, sightseeing and surface transportation as mentioned in the itinerary, services of a Cox & Kings tour leader or local representative.

The US: If the seniors didnt have the time and money in their youth to get dazzled by cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC, well, this is their chance.

     Should they visit Disney World at Orlando in Florida, which provides wheelchairs for those who tire easily, the seniors can rediscover the magic of their childhood. A trip to Beverly Hills in Los Angeles will take them to one of the worlds most glamorous places to eat, shop and indulge.

     They can gaze at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or watch the Niagara Falls by night. At Washington, Capitol Hill (with its huge edifices), Lincoln Memorial, White House and National Air and Space Museum are on everyones must-see list. The Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building in New York make for unforgettable memories.

HOT TICKET! SOTCs American Experience for 9 nights/10 days costs Rs.113556 per person. It includes a round trip economy class air fare, four star accommodation, cost of overseas Med claim policy valid for the duration of the tour, porter age for one bag per person at all hotels, services of an SOTC tour manager or local representative, meals, coach tours, transfers, entrance fees, sightseeing and surface transportation as mentioned in the itinerary.

Egypt: Those with a passion for antiquity can walk back in time at the Great Pyramids of Gaza, Sphinx, the Papyrus Museum, Valley of the Kings (with many of the pharaohs tombs) and the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities.

     Golf enthusiasts can go putting at the several world-class courses dotting the cost, desert and oases. From Cairo, the seniors can take the train to Aswan on the Nile; or they can take a three-night cruise down the Nile to Luxor, known for its temples and sights. A visit to the Hurghada beach resort and to Cairos most important shopping destination – Khan EI Khalili Market – shouldnt be missed either.

HOT TICKET! STIC Travels Egyptian experience for 7 nights/8 days will cost Rs.53000 per person on twin sharing basis (approx). It includes return airfare on Gulf Airlines, airport taxes, two nights accommodation in Cairo at a 3-star hotel, three nights accommodation on a five star Nile cruise ship with meals, two nights on board the first class sleeper train inclusive of breakfast and dinner, all transfers and sightseeing as per the itinerary, all entrance fees, service charges, current taxes, porter age and VAT.    

 

                                   

TEEING IT IN STYLE

How would you like a golf holiday in Andalusia in southern Spain? The Fair-play Golf Hotel and Spa, located within one of the best golf courses in the region, the Benalup Golf and Country Club, meets the needs of ardent golfers. It has facilities for tennis, billiards, windsurfing, fishing, hiking, cycling, horse riding, massages and ham am or Turkish steam bath along with a sauna, fitness center, games room, solarium, spa and wellness center, Jacuzzi, library and an outdoor swimming pool. For nearly Rs.1.1 lakh for seven nights for a one-bedroom suite per couple, youll get all meals along with drinks, complimentary access to tennis and unlimited golf (buggy included), a 30-minute massage per person and transfers to Fair-play Beach & Yatch Club. In case of cancellations 15 days prior to the designated date, you get a complete refund, after which youre charged 25% of the total cost. The offer is valid until December 31, 2008. For more details, contact reservation@mstravels.com. 

 

Visiting paradise

WAYFARER: Seychelles with its azure waters and sun-kissed beaches is the perfect getaway to beat the heat.

Shangri-La – too clichéd, Eden – too prosaic, Paradise on Earth – not even close! Frankly, I dont think the words exist in the English language to describe Seychelles. An archipelago of 115 island, nestled in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of Africa, the country is the ideal getaway if you are looking for sun n sand and a place to get away from it all.

       How exotic is it? I had a tough time getting through immigration at the Bangalore airport as the official in charge hadnt heard of the islands and there was no visa on my passport to boot (conveniently available on arrival). After explanations and confirmation from other officers, I finally boarded a plane to join my friends at Dubai. We arrived at Maher, the largest island in the Seychelles; visa a four-hour flight from UAE.

I’ve never seen clearer waters anywhere else in the world. Its like the sun playing tricks on you; the ocean changes color every few meters into every conceivable hue of blue and green. I actually researched why that occurs – due to changing depth and the presence of corals.

       Victoria in Maher is the capital of Seychelles and is a quaint little down. We made it the base of our operations since we were staying with friends. That was quite fortunate since hotels there are exorbitant.

       Meals are expensive too (Id budget 15 euros per person per meal) and mostly nothing to write home about, even in large, popular restaurants. Stick to seafood – its fresh and tasty. Do try the local Creole food (at the numerous take-ways that line the streets in Victoria).

       Maher is not large and you can drive around the whole island in a few hours. But everywhere you go, the beaches are spectacular with crystal clear waters, a few idyllic fishing boats anchored near the shore and not a living soul in sight. The most popular beach on the island is Beau Vallon, with golden sand and clear waters. It was also the site of our diving school.

       After we spent the first couple of days lolling about the beach, our hosts arranged a trip for us to a resort across the bay called La-Brize on Silhouette Island. The thousand euros a night resort is also popular with day tourists who come to enjoy the food, the beach and the solitude away from the relative hustle bustle of Maher.

       And trust me; the beach is phenomenal – the softest powdery white sand that emerges from a tropical rainforest and ends kissing the blue lagoon. And finally a restaurant with succulent meat.

       The next day we began our diving course at Beau Vallon. An Open Water Diver Course takes about four days to complete and costs about 300-350 euros per person.

I’d wanted to learn diving ever since my trip to Hawaii but even I was not ready for what was in store. Putting on the wetsuit, strapping on the cylinder and taking the first breath of air through the regulator isnt an experience one can forget. My first dive was spent imitating a yo-yo because I could not control my buoyancy under the water.

       But once you master it, there is nothing quite likes it in the world. We went as much as 22m-25m under water (officially youre not allowed to go under 18m during training), getting the chance to see turtles, eels, octopus, lobsters, eagle rays, psychedelic-hued fish and even a white-tip reef shark.

       We spent the next four days diving, lying around the beach drinking cocktails (mostly prepared from the local Takamaka Rum), and if we still had some energy left at the end of the day, hopping across to a popular bar to enjoy the local house or Creole music.

After mastering the course we realized we still hadnt seen the most beautiful beaches in Seychelles. Anise Lazio and Anise Source D Argent are two of the most photographed beaches in the world and a staple of most swimsuit shoots. Unfortunately, we didnt bump into any supermodels.

       We took a flight on a small propeller plane to Praline Island, from where we took a catamaran for a ride to the island of La Digue. A lot more secluded than Maher and definitely less touristy, it serves as a popular holiday destination even for locals, with even a touristy ox-cart ride. 

       The Anise Source D Argent beach is easily the most picturesque. The large granite boulders straddling the shore make for quite a picture but no photograph can ever do the view real justice. After spending most of the morning soaking up the sun, we headed back to Praline, home to the Valle de Mai Nature Reserve. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this forest has quite a few exotic palm species, the most famous being the coco de mar plant. It has the largest seed in the plant kingdom, weighing more than 15kg. In the evening, we stopped at Anise Lazio, to enjoy its azure blue waters and the perfect sunset.

Ready reckoner

Getting there: Emirates has one-stop flights between Mumbai and Maher. Qatar Airways also has one-stop flights that ply between Mumbai and Seychelles.

Best time to visit: Its always a good time to visit Seychelles with its warm tropical climate.

Currency: 1 Indian Rupee = 0.17914 Seychelles Rupee.

Where to stay: A wide range of affordable hotels and charming Creole guest houses can be avail–ed of, in addition to the existing 5 star hotels and exclusive island retreats.

Web watch: www.seychelles.com.   

       Now before you pack your bags, a word of caution. Seychelles is not for the conservative or the squeamish – a holiday destination popular with vacationing Europeans, topless sunbathing is quite common. Considering the expensive hotels, the islands are frequented more by honeymooners and retired couples. I can hardly think of a better place to enjoy the summer.  

DRIVE YOUR DESIRE

Hit the road to freedom with a slew of self-driving holiday packages on offer around the globe---

Driving holidays are all the rage these days.But wouldn't you like to be spared the bother of hiring a car and finding hotel rooms along the way?One way of making your holiday on the road easier is to opt for a self-drive package from one of the tour companies.This way you can holiday in any part of the world - think anywhere from Malaysia,Spain,Ireland and even Australia,way Down Under.

IRELAND

Thanks to its small size you can cover Ireland's most popular destinations in just a week with a good car at your disposal.You visit to Ireland is incomplete if u don't start with its capital Dublin and go club shopping.Apart from St.Patrick's Cathedral a big attraction here is the Old Jameson Distillery from where you can taste some fine whisky.Driving ahead the next picture perfect destination you will spot is Galway,well known for its granite mountains populated by sheep and hundreds of lakes popular with anglers.Maybe after trying your luck in angling you can drive down to Killarney,which is a hub of activities with a number of hotels,restaurants,pubs,discos on one hand and its sparkling lakes and the MacGillicuddy Reeks - Ireland's largest mountain range on the other .Ahead of Killarney - located in Southwest Ireland,Limerick is where the Shannon,Ireland's longest river meets the Atlantic Ocean.

HOT TICKET !

Cox and Kings' seven-night and eight-day package (for four) costs Rs.43,406/- per person,driving you through Dublin,Galway,Killarney and Limerick.The tour price excludes airfare to Dublin but includes accommodation and breakfast in three-star hotels in the four places included in the package.It also includes the cost of an automatic Nissan Micra car which u will drive .There is no limit on the mileage and the car comes with a full tank(you must return it with a full tank when u hand the car back to the company).The car has a handy Heritage Island Tour Guidebook in its glove compartment and comes with third insurance ,theft protection insurance,34-hour breakdown service and VAT.The package is valid from October 1st,2008 to March 31st,2009.

MELBOURNE,AUSTRALIA

The land of kangaroos and beaches is also known for its Great Ocean Road which is a 273km stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victoria cities of Torquay and Warrnambool.One of the highly recommended drives is the Melbourne-Lorne-Warrnambool-Phillip Island route.It's very picturesque as through most of the distance,the road embraces the coastline.

HOT TICKET !

A five-night and six-day driving trip from Melbourne to Lorne's Great Ocean Road and back to Melbourne on your way to Phillip Island will cost Rs.29,990/- per person.This includes 3-star accommodation in the three hotels where u will break your journey in Melbourne,Lorne and Phillip Island.This package also throws in breakfast(including tax),a Melbourne tour,unlimited usage of a self-driven car and standard motor vehicle insurance.The cars provided are a Toyota Corolla or a Hyundai Accent.The package is valid till March30th,2009.

MALAYSIA

There's more to Malaysia than shopping and its casinos.A driving holiday is a great way to see this country up,close and personal .A popular driving route is from Kuala Lumpur to Penang(enjoy its lovely beaches) and the Cameron Highlands(and its much talked about butterfly and strawberry farms).This leads to Ipoh,Malaysia's peaceful hill city that's located north of Kuala Lumpur.

HOT TICKET !

A six-night and seven-day package (for four) in 4-star accommodation is priced upwards of Rs.39,999 per person.The package offers a two nights stay each in Kuala Lumpur and Penang with one night each in the Cameron Highlands and Ipoh.Exclusive of airfare this package also includes breakfast.While the car is provided to u at the airport,the package cost does not cover the cost of the car.You will have to shell out an extra Rs.2300 per day for the car.A luxury car like the Honda Accord or the Toyota Corolla will cost anywhere between Rs.11,615 to Rs.13,938 per day.This is a year round package.

SPAIN

Spain is emerging as a hot driving holiday destinatio.Your best bet is the eight-city driving holiday - from north to south Spain - through Chinchon,Carmona,Merida,Caceres,Salamanca,Zamora,Leon and Madrid.It's a real thrill to drive through rugged mountains and valleys.

HOT TICKET !

A 13-night and 14-day Silver Route package will cost you Rs.1.19 lakh per person on twin sharing basis.A child will be an additional Rs.83,569.This will include accommodation and breakfast at 3-star hotels in all cities except Madrid where you will stay at the 4-star Hotel ME by Melia.You'll hit the road after landing in Madrid and you'll begin the trip by driving to Chinchon,45km to the south of Madrid.You'll spend two nights here and then drive to Carmona for another two nights.This city is a few kilometres from Sevilla,the cultural and artistic capital of southern Spain.The next destination is Merida where u can stay for a night.You next halt is Caceres,a world heritage city,where you'll stop for a night.From here you head for Salamanca to spend two nights.Don't miss the city's old museums and cathedrals.You drive to Zamora next,which is an equally charming town.After two nights here your next destination is Leon where u spend two nights.Madrid is your last overnight destination.You'll will driving a Renault Megane during the journey.The package cost excludes airfare,visa fees,ticket and taxes,medical and travel insurance as well as transfers.The package is valid till October 31st,2009

High tip !

Before you set out on the road remember to check the rules about driving licences and whether you need to get an international driving licence before heading off on a holiday.

An idyllic escape

TRAVEL: The Lakshadweep promises to be the ultimate getaway for water sports lovers.

Could this be the countrys new tourist hotspot? Tourists who want to get away from it all have been making the long journey to the Lakshadweep Islands, those distant tiny dots in the Arabian Sea. Once you reach youre guaranteed the ultimate non-urban holiday.

    Its secluded and offers water sports,” says Cheriya Koya, assistant general manager, Society for the promotion of Nature Tourism and Sports (SPORTS), a nodal agency for the promotion of tourism in Lakshadweep. October to May is the best time to visit. 

    Lakshadweep is composed of 36 coral islands of which 10 are inhabited. Bang ram Island is a high-priced destination.

    If you want to fly, take Air India (the former Indian Airlines), which operates daily flights (except Sundays) from Kochi to Agatti (it takes about 90 minutes). Also, Kingfisher operates flights to the is-lands on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. 

    But nothing quite beats the thrill of sailing in one of the all-weather ships operating between Kochi and the islands, taking about 24 hours. There are also speedboats that take about six to eight hours. 

    And where do you stay? Accommodation ranges from pretty tourist huts to more expensive resorts. The four-star resort run by the Casino Group of hotels is on Bang ram. Take a look at the different places:

Agatti:

Its the only island with an airport and is the getaway to the islands. If you are up for adventure, the sailboat by day and fishing by night trips are popular. Tour operators also arrange a night turtle watch.

HOT TICKET!

Stick Travel Group offers Agatti Island Resort Packages, which includes accommodation at the four-star Agatti Island Beach Resort. The prices vary between Rs.10000 and Rs.12500 for double occupan-cy and include transfers to and from Agatti Airport, all meals, usage of health club and indoor games. Also includes complimentary stay for two children below five years and all taxes and entry permits. Valid till end December.

Bang ram:

The secluded island is uninhabited except for the CGH resort. Spread over 128 acres, theres a wide choice of water sports like scuba diving, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, kayaking and much more. You can even enroll in diving courses for beginners. The real thrill though is deep-sea big game fishing. The more adventurous can even hire local boats and cruise around with a trained crew. If you are a serious angler, bring your own equipment.

HOT TICKET!

The CGH Earth resort has 26 cottages in two categories: standard and deluxe rooms. Double occupan-cy in the standard rooms costs 300 euros per night. The deluxe huts where groups of up to four can stay cost 550 euros per night. This covers accommodation and all meals. Valid from December 21 to Jan 10, 2009.

Kavaratti:

Kavarotti is the administrative capital and the most developed of the islands. The tourist guides recommend seeing Ujra Mosque, which is special because the water of its well is believed to have curative powers.       

    Of course, there are facilities for water sports. Also, you can go out in a glass-bottom boat and watch the marine life.

HOT TICKET!

The Taratashi package is a four-nights/five days offering from SPORT, where you can stay in tourist huts near the beach. The trip their costs Rs.8000 per head in diamond class and gold class; Rs.6000 per head in first class and Rs.3500 in tourist class. The price includes transportation by boats like M.V.Tipu Sultan, M.V.Amindivi, M.V.Minicoy or the M.V.Kavaratti. Valid till December 31. Accommodation and meals is not included.

Kalpeni:

This is one of the most important tourist spots in Lakshadweep. One attraction is Cheri Yam Island. During low tide you can walk from Kalpeni to Cheri Yam.

HOT TICKET!

Coral Reef Package from Ebenezer Holidays in Kochi offers a three-night/four-day cruise that combines a visit to Kavaratti, Kalpeni and Minicoy. The island tours are organized during the day with lunch and refreshments ashore. Nights are spent on board the ship. First class: Rs.12150 + taxes with all meals. Tourist Class: Rs.8475 + taxes. Valid through October 2008 to May 2009.