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Long weekend business booming for hotels, cruises, travel firms

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New Delhi: Jurgen Bailom, president and CEO of Cordelia Cruises, said Cordelia has a 100% sold out status for this Mahashivratri long weekend as well as for a cruise starting on Holi. Close to 4,000 guests will be on board for both the cruises.

“How Indians used to cruise has changed post the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bailom said. “One of our key strategies has been to ensure we cater to weekend travellers who would like to holiday without taking too much time off work,” he added.

The long weekends business has turned out to be a money spinner for hotels and travel companies post the pandemic, and most key properties in the north and west are sold out for the long weekends this month. Some are available at very steep rates.

A family suite at The Raj Palace (Small Luxury Hotels of the World) in Jaipur, for instance, is available for Rs 10.4 lakh plus Rs 1.87 lakh in taxes and fees for two nights for two adults this weekend. The Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa in Uttarakhand has a premium villa king bed available for about Rs 1.13 lakh for two nights.

Indians are leveraging every opportunity to take a “minication”, said Rajeev Kale, president and country head for holidays, MICE and Visa at Thomas Cook (India). The company’s data reflects a 25%-30% year-on-year surge for long weekend breaks across both domestic and outbound destinations, he said.

Daniel D’Souza, president and country head for holidays at SOTC Travel, said the travel company’s data for this weekend indicates a 30% jump in travel compared to previous weekends this year.Shahzad Aslam, head of sales at Leisure Hotels Group, said the chain’s flagship properties including the Naini Retreat in Nainital, The Riverview Retreat in Corbett and Aloha on The Ganges in Rishikesh are fully booked for the two long weekends this month.Wyndham’s properties in hill stations like Mussoorie, Kasauli, Dehradun, Goa and Jaipur are also fully booked.

Long weekends have become significant contributors to the overall financial performance of hotels, said Nikhil Sharma, market managing director, Eurasia, at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “Leveraging technology, hotels can effectively gauge demand patterns and optimise pricing strategies, leading to increased ancillary revenues,” he added.

Avijit Singh, owner of The House of Rohet that has properties such as Mihir Garh, Rohet Garh, and The Rohet House in Rajasthan, said post the pandemic, there has been a trend of property buyouts of boutique brands. “One of our properties is sold out for the Holi weekend and was booked a quarter in advance,” he said.

Certain room types in Hilton’s resorts in Goa are sold out for this weekend and the Holi weekend and the properties are seeing a stable flow of demand, said Akash Kalia, cluster commercial director, Hilton Goa Resort, Doubletree by Hilton Goa Panaji, Doubletree by Hilton Goa-Arpora-Baga.

“The extended duration and the high demand during such weekends allow us to maximise revenues through higher average room rates, dining, recreational facilities and other revenues such as laundry, transportation and spa, which provides a significant boost to profitability and better conversions on our bottom line,” he added.

Shekhar V Sawant, COO and general manager at The Heritage Village Resort and Spa in Manesar, said individual leisure travellers make up 77%-85% of total room nights on long weekends, compared to 30%-50% on a regular weekend. Waseem Karbelkar, director of sales and marketing for Novotel Goa Resort & Spa and Novotel Goa Candolim said both the properties are experiencing high bookings and a lot of family group travel is expected.

The Cordelia cruise this weekend goes from Mumbai to Goa and back while the next cruise taking off on March 25 till March 29 (Good Friday) covers Mumbai, Goa and Lakshadweep. “We are doing everything the Indian way,” Bailom said. “Guests can celebrate Holi with eco-friendly colours on board and besides Indian food across preferences, there are plenty of attractions on board.”

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