Friday, 26 April 2013

TripAdvisor reveals Best Hill Station Hotels for Summer 2013!

88 per cent survey respondents plan vacations this summer
74 per cent respondents confirm holiday in the hills with their families
The rising mercury levels across the country make one long for the soothing and sylvan surroundings of cloud-kissed mountains. A recent survey by TripAdvisor® the world’s largest travel site reveals that for Indians, hill stations are the most preferred and popular destinations for a family vacation, with 74% respondents giving them the thumbs up.  
In time for vacationers to make the most of their hill station holidays, TripAdvisor has announced its list of Travellers’ Choice Hill Station Hotel Awards.  This year an additional category called ‘Lodgings’  was introduced as part of the awards, to include alternate accommodations such as B&B’s, boutique resorts and homestays which are more common in these destinations. The Travellers’ Choice award winning hill station hotels were determined based on hotels most highly rated by TripAdvisor travellers, in hill station destinations across the country.

Interestingly, while North India has been the traditional choice for hill station holidays with popular places in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and J&K – we see that majority (60 percent) of winning properties are from hill stations down south, compared to previous years.

According to Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager-TripAdvisor India, “The Travellers Choice Hill Station hotels list showcases the best properties for holiday makers retreating to cooler climes this summer. The winners in the new ‘Lodgings’ category are especially a revelation, as our community of travellers have helped identify quaint and charming escapes at some beautiful and less explored hill stations.”

The Celebrated Ones

Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh continue to mesmerise travellers, with six out of the top ten winning hotels from these hill states. Wildflower Hall, Mashobra makes it to the top spot again this year. Also, Chapslee and The Oberoi Cecil in Shimla maintain their presence on the list as favourites for travellers.

 India’s Top 10 hill station hotels:
  1. Wildflower Hall, Mashobra
  2. Atali, Rishikesh
  3. Soulitude in the Himalayas, Ramgarh
  4. Orange County Resorts Kabini, Nagarhole National park
  5. Devi Darshan Lodge, Auli
  6. Chapslee, Shimla
  7. The Regent Hill Side Resort, Yercaud
  8. The Oberoi Cecil, Shimla
  9. The Fern Creek, Kodaikanal
  10. Vivanta by Taj Madikeri, Madikeri

Hidden Gems in the Hills
Though famous for its sultry weather, backwaters & beaches, Kerala is also flanked by the cool and mountainous terrain of the Western Ghats which is home to some lush but less ventured hill stations. ‘God’s Own Country’ takes the top spot as the state with 6 winning properties in the list of top 10 hill station lodgings.

India’s Top Hill Station Lodgings:
  1. Royal Mist, Munnar
  2. Panthalams Homestay, Kumily
  3. Tranquil Resort, Kalpetta
  4. Thotadhahalli Home Stay, Chikamagalur
  5. Mundax Homestay Yoga Retreat, Thekkady
  6. Kalpa's The Grand Shangri-La, Kalpa
  7. Mount Pleasant Boutique Resort, Kodaikanal
  8. Camp Ganga Riviera, Rishikesh
  9. Kaivalyam Retreat, Munnar
  10. Devonshire Greens, Munnar

Other Traveller Choices This Summer
Although majority of Indians are planning domestic trips, it is interesting to note that despite the current economic scenario, 47% respondents claimed that they plan to head out for an international holiday this summer. Some of the top overseas destinations that travellers are likely to visit include Singapore, USA, Thailand, London and Dubai.

Goa, Kerala, Rajasthan, Kashmir, Ladakh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands figure among the most popular domestic holiday options this summer.  

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Families to travel as much & spend more in 2013, reveals TripAdvisor’s Family Travel Forecast

Parents acknowledge travel plays a key role in children’s education

TripAdvisor®, the world’s largest travel site, today announced the results of its India Family Travel Survey conducted across 1,400 online respondents, showing no decline in family trips this year. Undeterred by inflation and high interest rates that impacted the household budget in 2012, families look to maintain their holiday calendar with 89% planning at least 2 vacations in 2013.

According to Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager-TripAdvisor India, “The TripAdvisor family travel survey reveals that families will maintain their vacation plans this year even though 50% anticipate they will spend more compared to 2012. While this could imply an increase in family average holiday budget, realistically it is likely to be symptomatic of the prevailing trend of higher airfares, fuel prices, room rates and more recently even train travel.”  

He further added, ”An encouraging trend the survey indicates is that parents see travel as part and parcel of holistic learning with as many as 97% respondents saying they consider travel important for their children’s education with 70% among these claiming it to be very important.”

Further strengthening this perception, 67% respondents agreed that holidays should be a balance of recreational and educational experiences/activities for children. This doesn’t however undermine the importance of traditional educational as 55% parents said they always plan family holidays during school breaks so that their children do not miss classes.

The Privileged Gen-Y
Children in this generation appear to be more privileged with far more opportunities than their parents had. As much as 48% respondents said their children had already taken at least one international holiday, and 81% respondents acknowledged they got to go on their first international tour at an age much older than what their children’s age was on their first international trip.

It’s fun with kids
Though ‘train’ emerged as the most stressful mode of transport with children, 38% respondents said they don’t find travelling with their kids stressful at all.

While pacifiers may work for infants, travelling with older kids may call for other means of distraction. What comes as a pleasant surprise is that parents still find music (44%) followed by books (40%) to be the top 2 most effective things to keep kids busy on a journey, with iPads, portable DVD players and video games trailing behind. A majority of 91% respondents also claimed they have never given their children antihistamines to help them sleep on a long journey. 

Also, spending time with children obviously is a large part of the agenda of family holidays as 69% respondents said they don’t use childcare/babysitting services at their hotels and keep their children with them all the time. Only 11% parents said they take advantage of kids clubs, play areas and other supervised activities for kids when holidaying. 

Travel Postpartum
Along with joy, children also bring with them innumerable changes in the lifestyle of couples, including changes in travel preferences.

As much as 70% respondents acknowledged their holiday choices have changed since having children, with one-fourth owning up to drastic changes in holiday plans. Further, 37% agreed their holiday destination choices would definitely be different if they weren’t travelling with their children and another 39% said it affected their holiday destination choice only sometimes. 

However, over half of the respondents said they had taken the time to go on a holiday without their children as well.

Best Holiday Moments
Hill stations surface predictably as the most popular choice among top 3 preferred holiday destinations for families with 74% giving it the thumbs up followed by beaches, and safari/wildlife as a surprising third favourite destination.

Indian families confessed that one thing they enjoyed the most about staying in a hotel on a family holiday was the complimentary breakfast which 56% rated as their top indulgence. The other things they enjoyed most about a hotel stay were the ‘change in scenery from home’ (57%) and ‘visiting the pool’ (40%).

Some activities that rated among the must do’s with children on a holiday were visiting places of heritage (41%) and adventure activities (35%). However, fun, frolic and just chilling take precedence over everything else as the top activity on vacation with kids.