It isn’t often that we’re blessed with not one but three long weekends in the same month. Raksha Bandhan is just around the corner (this Thursday), followed by our 76th Independence Day the following Monday, and soon after comes Janmashtami on August 19, a Friday. Since they’re in such close succession, it also means that with a little foresight and planning, you can extend it into one long holiday, if you manage to take a couple of days off work here and there.
“Raksha Bandhan being a school holiday and Independence Day a bank holiday, our customers are making the most of this opportunity and extending their holidays to travel,” says Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head - Holidays, MICE, Visa at Thomas Cook (India) Limited. “Our consumer data reveals growing demands for short holidays/mini-cations. Over 66 percent of the respondents indicated preference for domestic locales, while 34 percent were open to short-haul easy-visa international destinations.”
Devendra Parulekar, Founder of SaffronStays, a hospitality collective of private homes and villas, echoes the sentiments, “We’ve seen a surge in bookings this month because of the three long weekends. For such holidays, people prefer destinations that are farther than the usual Kasauli or Lonavala, where they can spend at least a minimum of three nights.” He also notes that multigenerational families or groups of families are travelling together, now that Covid restrictions have been relaxed. “And they are opting for larger spaces like entire villas that can accommodate such big groups together.”
Destination and stay aside, the type of getaway is also varied for such long weekends. “Customers are seeking drivecations and bike trips to offbeat destinations to get away from the city,” says Daniel D’Souza, President & Country Head - Holidays, SOTC Travel. “Our consumer data indicates high demand for outdoor and adventure travel, hiking, camping and domestic cruises. The long weekend is also witnessing a spike in customers interested in exploring the wilderness of national parks such as Sasan Gir, Keoladeo and Kaziranga.”
With the luxury of time on your hands and choices galore, you can make the best of the long weekends this month and manifest that highly anticipated vacation. If you haven’t yet planned your long weekend getaway, take cues from the following list of travel ideas and snatch some great last-minute bargains along the way.
Wellness Retreat in Kerala
If you’re seeking peace, tranquility and the unadulterated beauty of nature, then there can be no place better than Kerala to rest and rejuvenate. With a selection of private boutique properties in some of the most stunning hideaways, Niraamaya Retreats is known for their bespoke wellness offerings. For the long weekends in August, they’re offering a special package with 35 percent off on your stay at their properties in Athirappilly, Kovalam, Kumarakom and Thekkady. It includes accommodation for 2 adults and 2 children below 11 years per room, complimentary breakfast and fruit platter on arrival, and 15 percent discount on food and soft beverages as well as spa treatments.
Bike Trip in Ladakh
If you’ve been eagerly waiting for the quintessential Ladakh bike trip, then the extended long weekend may just be the right time for it. Thomas Cook is offering a 5-nights-6-days ‘Leh In Leh Out’ bike trip package covering the must-visit destinations of Leh, Pangong Lake and Nubra Valley. Priced at INR 30,990 per person, the package includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner, excursions as per itinerary, and most importantly, a Royal Enfield Himalayan with petrol and basic gear such as helmet, knee and elbow guards. Mechanic services and a luggage van are also included in the package.
Cruise along the East Coast
A premium cruise liner, Cordelia Cruises offers various short seacations along the country’s vast coastline, with accommodation in luxurious staterooms and a host of dining and entertainment options onboard catering to the Indian traveller.
For the Independence Day long weekend, they are offering a 20 percent discount on cabin fare for defence personnel and 15 percent off for other guests on their 5-night round sailing from Chennai to Vizag. You’re also eligible for a free upgrade from an Interior Stateroom to an Ocean View room if you make the payment in full at the time of booking.
Family Vacation in the Himalayas
For a hassle-free family holiday, head to a hill town away from the din and bustle of popular destinations and choose a stay that can accommodate all family members under one roof. The SaffronStays Glasshouse Celeste tucked amidst nature in Ranikhet, offers a luxuriously-appointed three-bedroom glass villa with uninterrupted views of the Kumaon Himalayas. For INR 35,997 per night, you get the entire place to yourself and also enjoy yoga sessions and sundowners on the lawns, play a game of snooker or archery, pick vegetables from the organic garden, trek to the Ramganga river and try Kumaoni food prepared fresh by the courteous staff.
Romantic Getaway in the Maldives
With visa-on-arrival and many daily cheap flights, Maldives is a favourite of Indian travellers looking for a romantic getaway. There are stay options aplenty, but if you want privacy and seclusion amidst pristine natural settings, then the Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa is a good choice. Tucked away deep in the northern island of Dhonakulhi on Haa Alifu Atoll, it offers a choice of beach and ocean villas with pools, several dining options and sustainability initiatives, and activities ranging from spa, fishing and golf to scuba diving, watersports and more. For the long weekend, they’re offering an additional night’s stay for free on bookings of 3 nights.
Cultural Immersion in Azerbaijan
For travellers seeking offbeat places with unique experiences, Azerbaijan, which straddles the boundary between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, presents the perfect getaway. It has an easy online visa for Indians and frequent flights by Jazeera Airways from various Indian cities to capital city Baku.
Perched along the waterfront of the opal blue Caspian Sea in the heart of central Baku is the Four Seasons Hotel, which is offering 15 percent off on your quarantine-free holiday.
While here, take a guided walk of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Icheri Sheher, enjoy Azerbaijani cuisine at local restaurants, and go on an exclusive night tour of the architectural wonder of Heydar Aliyev Museum, amongst a host of other experiences curated by the in-house concierge.
Desert Adventures in Dubai
Summer may not be the best time to visit Dubai, but it sure is the most affordable international destination, especially if you’re looking to tick off some bucket list to-dos with your family or friends over a quick weekend holiday.
SOTC Travel is offering a Buy 1 Get 1 deal on several 4 nights 5 days Dubai packages, which include accommodation and daily breakfasts, half-day Dubai city tour, a Dhow cruise with dinner, a desert safari with barbeque dinner, and access to the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa with all transfers. Return airport transfers and travel insurance are also included.www.sotc.in