Saturday, Apr 20, 2019 | Last Update : 05:52 AM IST

Putting India on the ‘fantasy bucket list’

Published : Nov 1, 2015, 5:05 am IST
Updated : Nov 1, 2015, 5:05 am IST

A trip to India can be many things —exotic, spiritual or rejuvenating, but expensive

Humayun’s tomb in New Delhi, which will be a part of Neiman Marcus’ fantasy trip
 Humayun’s tomb in New Delhi, which will be a part of Neiman Marcus’ fantasy trip

A trip to India can be many things —exotic, spiritual or rejuvenating, but expensive Why not, ask the folks O’Harani Luxe Experiences, who have partnered with premium luxury retailer Neiman Marcus to come up with a ‘fantasy’ trip to the country that is priced at a whopping $400,000 (Rs 2.61 Cr). For such a price tag, one might believe that even the Taj Mahal maybe up for grabs as part of the platter. But while that may be a little too far fetched, the trip itself is nothing less than a sojourn straight out of a fairytale, claim the organisers.

Starting with a round trip on a private jet, the 12-day-and-night package designed for couples includes everything associated with luxury in the country, right from dinners with royalty to private classes in Bollywood dance and cricket. And with the package making it to the top of Neiman Marcus’ special list of 11 fantasy gifts for this Christmas, it might just be an indicator of India’s increasing significance as a luxury travel destination.

What does the trip entail to merit such a huge price tag According to Jitin Hingorani, co-founder of O’Harani Luxe Experiences, what makes it premium is the way all the experiences are curated to make the trip unique. “We travelled to India last year, and we leveraged our own personal relationships through our friends and family networks to create one-of-a-kind experiences that you cannot secure by calling a travel agent. That’s the unique selling point of our business model and the fact that our clients will only experience aspects of India that we have experienced first-hand,” explains Jitin.

Although India has reigned as a preferred travel destination for tourists across the world, it is still not known much for its luxury offerings. So what makes them certain of the demand for such an expensive trip Jitin says it’s the image of India and the curiosity about the country in the minds of foreign travellers. “India is known for its opulence and decadence. From its seven-star hotel suites to private aviation to its impeccable hospitality, for a lot of foreign travellers, luxury experiences have become synonymous with India,” he adds.

But while the royal palaces signify the opulence of India, it is Mumbai that still reigns as the capital of luxury travel, says Jitin. He reveals some plans of how they plan to use Mumbai as a luxury destination. “Since Mumbai is known for Bollywood and cricket, we have curated two special experiences for the Neiman Marcus traveler in the city. First, we will orchestrate a private cricket game on a field with tents and coaches, who will teach the couple how to play the game. That will be followed by lunch at the iconic Cricket Club of India. For the Bollywood experience, the lucky couple who buys this trip will spend a day at Film City with the head of Creative Artists Agency, followed by a Bollywood costume fitting and hair/makeup by one of the film industry’s iconic teams. Then the couple will get a private Bollywood dance lesson by choreographer Ashley Lobo, followed by a filming of their own Bollywood dance video with backup dancers. The entire experience will be book-ended by dinner with Bollywood producer/director/actor Viveck Vaswani, who launched Shah Rukh Khan’s career, and dinner with a famous Bollywood movie star, on the likes of Sonam Kapoor or Jacqueline Fernandes.”

Although known for its colours and its culture, one aspect of travel to India that has plagued tourists so far are the relatively strict regulations and safety concerns. But these too are not the things to worry about if you are paying $400,000, says Jitin. He adds, “We personally arrange for their visas, and our travel concierge, who will be with the tourist on every step of the journey, will be working with a local tour director and company on the ground. They will be handling on ground transportation, the private jets, the seven-star hotel suites, the English-speaking guides and the decadent meals. Every potential hurdle has been anticipated and managed already.”

While the target customers for the package are from among the high net-worth groups, the specific focus will be on those who have an interest in India, says Jitin. “Foreigners, especially Americans, are very curious about India, and they would love to travel there. But most of them just don’t know how to go about it. That’s where we come in and help them curate experiences that are based on their interests, desires and fancies,” says Jitin about which section of society their package is aimed at.

Speaking about what it means to be a part of the popular Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, Jitin says, “It is great to have our luxury trip to India included in the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. They are the number one luxury brand in the country, and they get hundreds of submissions each year from all over the world. The fact that we were one of the 11 fantasy gifts that they picked really shows that there’s a fascination about a trip to India.”

Image consultant Chhaya Momaya feels that the luxury segment has a lot of room to explore and the focus is on the experiential aspect. “Luxury holidays are definitely picking up in the country and it is not restricted to any one segment. But more than the destinations, the focus is now on experiences.”

AT A GLANCE The tour is through North-west India, beginning in Delhi and Agra, going through Jaipur, Udaipur and ending in Mumbai.

Travel arrangements for the couple will be made through private jets.

Highlights includes dinners hosted by royalties and Bollywood celebrities.

The couple will also take a private Bollywood dance class and will have their very own Bollywood song and dance number replete with background artists and sets.

Private cricket lessons from professional coaches and a special lunch at the Cricket Club of India.