“The world doesn’t really know the possibilities that India has to offer,” said PN Narayanaswamy of Travel Scope India, who began marketing India as a luxury destination in 1999. India vacations include “glamorous camping” in Ladakh, opulent palace hotels in Rajasthan, fancy train rides across the peninsula and village art appreciation walks. Professionals are constantly thinking of new ideas to wow wealthy travelers as Indian holidays are being cautiously crafted.
Today PN Narayanaswamy believes everyone desires a high-end lifestyle, which establishes about three percent of all world travelers. Industry experts stated less than ten percent of the 15.5 million who visited India in 2017 were willing to spend more than $700 a day. India constantly needs to repackage and remodel itself, experts say, in order to continuously lure in more millionaires’ year after year.
One new reinvention is the “offbeat luxury” that guarantees all the worldly pleasures for guests, along with a never before seen experience. One example is you are enjoying your hand-crafted tents, which are pitched at an altitude of 11,800 feet in Ladakh, while sipping your morning tea, provided by a personal butler, as you take in beautiful views of the highest peaks in the region.
“The purpose of the camp was to bring the hidden resources, the far-flung places in India to the luxury traveler,” said Rajnish Sabharwal, chief operating officer of the The Ultimate Travelling Camp, the company that runs the Ladakh camp. It also runs luxury camps in the northeastern state of Nagaland and in the south at the UNESCO world heritage site Hampi, overlooking 14th century ruins.
“Ladakh was viewed as a backpackers’ destination till ‘glamping’ began five years ago. At the time, the most expensive hotel in the region was priced at $250,” Shoba Mohan founder partner of RARE India told CNBC.”To see a snow leopard in the wild is a luxury in itself,” she said.
While the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan continues to lure in the wealthy, people such as Mohan are seeking little-known destinations within the state to market. Chhatra Sagar is one such property that is a tented accommodation built on the banks of a dam, between tourist hubs of Jodhpur and Jaipur. The former royals own the place and even personally look after the guests. The food served is from their family recipes, such as locally grown fenugreek, which is only available for 15 days out of the year.
“Today luxury is more curated and immersive. [You] hand-hold [tourists] through every stage of the experience,” Karan Anand, head of relationships for travel company Cox & Kings, told CNBC.
“The image of India as a luxury destination is still limited,” said Anand. However, experts say the potential is large for India, because of the experimentation that is happening and the diversity within the product. “There is a lot to keep us inspired,” said Narayanaswamy.