New Delhi, Apr 1 IBNS | 5 months ago

Parvez Dewan, Secretary, Indian Ministry of Tourism presided over the fourth edition of the Outlook Traveller Awards, which concluded on Monday, announcing winners across 40 categories from the world of the travel and hospitality experiences in India, at Dusit Devarana, here.


The Outlook Traveller Awards are aimed to bring out the best in travel and hospitality industry and give its readers an unbiased forum to choose for the most exotic location while planning their travel.

Every year, for seven years now, Outlook Traveller has been conducting a comprehensive survey of the readers to assess the very best of travel and hospitality experiences in India.

This year, the canvas of the survey was substantially expanded by introducing a whole range of new categories and sub-categories.

The distinguished members of the jury panel selected the nominees from a comprehensive list of options and also made additional insightful suggestions.

As with previous surveys, the survey questionnaire was published in the November and December 2013 issues of Outlook Traveller, besides being offered online at outlooktraveller.com, with a deadline of Dec 31, 2013.

The survey responses were collected, collated and analyzed by market research company, Ipsos.

This year, two Special Jury awards were instituted: one for Outstanding Contribution for Travel, and the other for the Indian Hotel Debut of the Year.

The jury for the awards comprised of historian and hotelier Aman Nath, co-founder and co-chairman of the Neemrana Hotels, who is widely credited with having pioneered the heritage hotels movement in India.

Travel writers and photographers Gustasp and Jeroo Irani - who, however, believe that the description 'travel junkies' suits them better.

Traveller and travel entrepreneur Gauri Jayaram, founder of The Active Holiday Company. She is the author of Wise Enough to Be Foolish, a fictionalized memoir that was released this year.

Travel bloggers Anurag Mallick and Priya Ganapathy, who writes extensively for leading newspapers, magazines and for books and films. They recently authored the Micheline Green Guide Chennai & Tamil Nadu

Veteran Himalayan photographer Ashok Dilwali, some of whose famous Himalayan panoramas were published recently in a remarkable collection called Inspired by the Himalayas.

Multiple award-winning photographer and travel writer Sankar Sridhar, author of Ladakh Trance Himalaya, a visual travelogue spanning a decade of walking across Ladakh and living with nomads and monks.

The winners of Outlook Traveller Awards are:

Favourite Hillstation : Munnar
Munnar surprises us all by rising to the top of the list of favourite hill stations in India. The verdant hill station in Kerala is best known for its picturesque tea plantations, rolling hills, wildlife and dense forests.

Favourite Beach Destination: Candolim, Goa
Candolim has always been a favourite among Outlook Traveller readers, seeing how consistently it shows up in the list of favourite beaches. Situated in north Goa, the beach has the best of the shacks, music, food, art and trinkets, not to forget the deep blue sea, warm sunshine and the sand.

Favourite Tourist City: Jaipur
Jaipur's regal splendour—which comes alive in its many forts and palaces—renders it the most preferred tourist city for the third straight year, and by an even larger margin than in previous years.

The Best Manages Heritage Site: Taj Mahal
There's something eternal about the Taj Mahal, and it appears to us that there's something eternal about the place it occupies in the annual Outlook Traveller readers' survey as the best-managed heritage destination. The 'teardrop on the cheek of time' has always been a must-see on every traveller's wish list.

Favourite Romantic Destination: Goa
Goa's enduring charms, which go beyond the sun-sand-surf images, make it the most romantic holiday destination, in our readers' estimation. After all, who wouldn't fall in love with the tiny state's beaches, luxury resorts, fresh sea breeze, cuisine and people.

Favourite Pilgrimage: Vaishno Devi
Devotees flock by the thousands to Vaishno Devi, their faith blinding them to the perils of the climb up to the shrine. In this year's survey, the site in Jammu and Kashmir has moved up a notch to become the most popular pilgrimage site in India.

Favourite Adventure Tourism Destination: Ladakh
Adrenaline junkies just can't get enough of Ladakh. And why ever not? Nothing—not the scanty oxygen, not the dust, not the distance—can ever beat the thrill of scaling those Himalayan heights.

Favourite Adventure Tour Operators: DiveIndia, Andamans
There has been a diving boom in the Andamans in the past few years, and leading the line with its affordable rates and expert guiding is DiveIndia, making it the best adventure tour operator in the country.

Favourite National Park: Corbett
After slipping off the charts in last year's survey, Corbett is back to being at the top of the favourite national parks in India. One of the best managed wildlife parks in India, the experience it offers has only gotten better with each year.

Favourite Eco Tourism Operator: Help Tourism
Based in West Bengal and focusing on eastern and north-eastern India, Help Tourism, in its third decade, continues to set a shining example of showcasing traditional lifestyles and involving local people too boost responsible and fun tourism.

Favourite Asian Destination: Thailand
Thailand is famed for the high hospitality standards it sets, which is why it has remained an eternal favourite among holidaymakers. This year, it tops the list of preferred international destinations in Asia.

Favourite European Destination: Switzerland
Switzerland is something of an evergreen tourist paradise. The Alpine country retains its allure among our readers, and has emerged as the most preferred international destination in Europe. It doesn't take much if you're the most picturesque country and, well, the queen of the world.

Favourite Foreign Destination in the Rest of the World: New Zealand
The land of the Kiwis has not only given us great cricketers and mind-blowing adventure sports, but also several great destinations in which to revel in her almost untouched beauty.

Favourite Travel Portal : MakeMyTrip
This is again a category that has many worthy entries, but MakeMyTrip, the oldest and the most experienced of the bunch, is also the most popular. From tickets to tours, it truly is a 'one-stop' portal.

Favourite Cruise: Royal Caribbean
With cruise ships that sail from over 30 ports around the world, and hundreds of destinations to choose from, Royal Caribbean is the ultimate word in cruises
World.

Favourite Upcoming Destination In India: Andamans
The Andamans have always had an alluring aura—being closer to South East Asia than to India gives it a fragrance of the exotic—but with a boom in adventure sports like scuba-diving, the Andamans are fast becoming a firm favourite.

Favourite Upcoming Destination, Overseas: Turkey
For the longest time, Turkey was synonymous with Istanbul, but with increasing focus on such stunning places like Cappadocia and the Black Sea, Turkey is emerging as a foreign favourite

Favourite Domestic Airline: IndiGo Airlines
In the eight years that it has been around, IndiGo has raised the bar for quality of service, even for a low cost carrier. Its on-time performance is rated the best in the industry, and its spanking new planes and on-board service have helped the airline corner market share.

Favourite International airlines with Best Business Class: Emirates
Founded in 1985, the Dubai-based Emirates has over the past three decades built up a strong brand name as a leader in the international aviation industry, particularly in terms of service excellence, and its very rapid growth.

Favourite International Airlines with Best Service : Emirates
Even by the heightened standards expected in the Business Class of most airlines, Emirates has distinguished itself with its exceptional service offering. For instance, the airline offers complimentary luxury chauffeur transfers to and from the airport for business-class passengers. Emirates' flight crews are renowned for their friendliness and speak more than 120 languages.

Favourite Domestic Airport: Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi
The sharp rise in India's air passenger traffic in recent years has meant that the nation's capital needed a world-class international airport. And the Indira Gandhi International Airport does an admirable job of it. It's justifiably emerged as India's best domestic airport.

Favourite International Airport: Changi Airport, Singapore
One of the region's busiest airports, Changi has also elevated state-of-the-art design

Favourite Inbound Tour Operator: Cox&Kings
The travel experience experience that it offers and the innovative itineraries it draws up make Cox&Kings quite simply the premiere international tour operator among those who bring foreign tourists to Indian shores.

Favourite Outbound Tour Operator: Cox&Kings
Cox & Kings again. The big strides the company has made in taking Indians to the world make it the best outbound tour operator in the country as well.

Favourite Boutique Tour Operator : Aquaterra Adventures
There are plenty of good travel operators in the country, but Aquaterra's wide reach—from climbing peaks to rafting the toughest rivers—and meticulous personalised planning makes it the best boutique operator in India.

Favourite Medical Tourism Facility: Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala, Malappuram
Founded in 1902 as an Ayurvedic medicine centre, the Arya Vaidya Sala is today 112 years old. But that is just a speck in time when compared with the millennial-old Ayurvedic health tradition. Started essentially as a village clinic, it has now grown into a multi-unit, multi-disciplinary and multi-crore organization with operations in different areas of Ayurvedic practice.

Favourite Brand Marketing Campaign: Gujarat
Hearing praises sung of this exotic land in Amitabh Bachchan's rich baritone voice is enough to make most of us drop everything and plan a visit to the state. An unsurprising winner.

Favourite Luxury Hotel In India: The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur
Udaivilas is most certainly the crown jewel of the Oberoi group of hotels. Set by the shimmering waters of Lake Pichola, by day the hotel, with its infinity pools looking out on the lake, is an opulent oasis of luxury. By night, it transforms into a dream from the Arabian Nights. There are people who come to see Udaipur. Then there are those who come to experience Udaivilas.

Favourite Indian Heritage Hotel : Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad
Once the haunt of the Nizams and European aristocracy, this ode to princely extravagance continues to be voted the best heritage hotel in the country. Beautifully restored rooms, Venetian chandeliers, royal gardens and palaces, this 120-year-old property never ceases to amaze.

Favourite Indian Mid- Range Hotel : Kurumba Village Resort, Nilgiris
Only two years old, the Kurumba Village Resort has done an excellent job to win the best hotel in the mid-range category. Set amidst the beautiful environs of Coonoor, the resorts cottages and suites provide a romantic settings and great hospitality.

Favourite Indian Boutique Hotel : Orange County, Coorg
Whether you want plantation walks or birding or coracle rides on hand or just want to relax and luxuriate with rejuvination therapies, or just kick back with a book in gorgeous surroundings, Orange County resort has it all

Favourite Indian Budget Hotel : Ginger
The budget hotel chain of Ginger, which is part of the Tata Group, has redefined the concept of 'Smart Basics'. The hospitality experience is centred around simplicity, convenience, informality, style, warmth, modernity and affordability.

Favourite Indian Hotel Spa & Spa Hotel : Ananda-In the Himalayas
India's first destination spa is set in enchanting environs: in a 100-acre estate in the Himalayan hills, overlooking the Ganga and close to Rishikesh and Hardwar. And it is considered among the best spas in the world.

Favourite Indian Hotel Restaurant: Wasabi by Morimoto, The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai
Opened in 2004, Wasabi by Morimoto has justifiably been rated among the top 100 restaurants in the world. Its unique feature is the strength of its vegetarian menu, created entirely by Chef Hemant Oberoi. It is probably the only Japanese restaurant in the world that offers vegetarians so much choice.

The nominees for Favourite Indian Hotel Chef are:

Favourite Indian Hotel Chef: Ananda Solomon, Vivanta by Taj President, Mumbai
Chef Ananda, as he is known, is something of a maestro. He is reputed for exploring new styles and innovating. And he has justifiably won many international awards for his endeavours

Favourite Indian Business Hotel : ITC Grand Central, Mumbai
The Grand Central is quite deservedly the best business hotel in the business hub of the country, but with its beautiful design and opulence, the hotel is also extremely luxurious. With a giant ballroom and excellent conference centres, it isn't surprising that the Grand Central is the best in the Business Hotel category.

Favourite Asian Hotel : Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, Thailand
The bright lights and fast-paced life of Bangkok come to a halt in the riverside oasis that is the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. Sophisticated to the core, the hotel is well-known for its excellent service, contemporary design and uber chic spaces.

Favourite European Hotel: Lausanne Palace and Spa, Lausanne, Switzerland
Set in picture-perfect Lausanne, the Lausanne Palace and Spa offers breathtaking views of the lake and the Alps. What better place to spend a vacation and what better choice for this award.

The Special Jury Award for Hotel Debut of the Year : The Khyber Himalaya Resort & Spa
Situated some 8,800 feet above sea level in the Pir Panjal range of the Himalaya in Gulmarg, the Khyber Himalaya Resort & Spa has taken luxury to new heights, literally. The property is spread over seven unspoilt, fir-laden acres, with majestic views of the Affarwat Peaks.


The Special Jury Award for Outstanding Achievement in Travel : Gouthami, Travel Another India
The India that most tourists see is the one with ancient architecture, busy bazaars and sunny beaches. There is another India, which is simpler (but the more beautiful for it), where the tourist actually meets the real charm of India: its people. The experience is of the huge diversity of cultures, cuisines, music and a thousand other small pleasures. Travel Another India aspires to bring this unique experience to the urban traveller, including those with disabilities.

(Posted on 01-04-2014)


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