Segway across New Zealand, Turkey and soon all over the world

Ok, this is an interesting one. Kevin Hey and a bunch of other guys now offer tours that allow you to explore New Zealand’s cities on a Segway. You remember the Segway Personal Transporter? Those contraptions that allow you to stand on them and move about on wheels.

Looks like Segways are catching on in Tourism. I came across a video that show Beach Resorts in Turkey using them (see the video on top). A friend of mine in the travel business in Goa tells me that a couple of resorts there are thinking of getting a few here too.

On my recent visit to Dubai, I happened to glimpse a chap tearing across a boulevard near my hotel on a segway, a sight which rang all the right bells in me. I would certainly like to have one, although driving one around in any Indian city is asking for serious trouble. In Bangalore, I will most likely disappear down a man-hole never to be heard of again. I can think of at least 3 people who would like that.  :)

Set Jetting to Sex and the City

(Photo from Destination on Location)

So you always wanted to DO New York? Here is your chance. For 15,000 dollars (US), you can spend 4 days & 5 nights traipsing across Manhattan, Soho, Chelsea & the Meatpacking district for an intimate journey through the world inhabited by Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda & Amanda of Sex and the City.

Highlights include meals at Balthazar, Pastis, Raoul’s & Cipriani, shopping at Jimmy Choo,  Scoop, Intermix and Versace, nights at Club Socialista et al. You can even choose your favourite character from among the girls and go for a ‘perfect saturday afternoon’. All of this, while you are escorted by people who know their NY stuff very well.

Brought together by a company that calls itself Destination on Location. As their name suggests, it is all about escorted tours to movie locations or as they call it, ‘Set Jetting’.

I have held for sometime now that movies and tourism will soon coalesce pretty forcefully and it will mean a tectonic shift in the travel experience, especially at the premium end. DOL is an interesting beginning.

Click here to read another post I wrote earlier on something similar.

Planning a holiday abroad? Book your hotel online.

Over the last few weeks I have had a number of people asking me various doubts on planning an independent international holiday & particularly about booking hotels abroad. So, till such time as HolidayIQ launches a comprehensive international section (don’t worry, that is coming soon & I promise, it will be a great planning tool), here is a quick primer on how to book hotels & resorts abroad.

I am an online guy, so my first preference is always to book hotels online. With both Travelocity and Expedia launching India sites, the widest international hotel inventory is available to be booked from India and paid in Rupees. So, it sure beats your neighbourhood travel agent hollow. And since both sites have an Indian call centre, one can also talk to a real person in India to double check your bookings, which is often a real comfort.

I stress-tested booking a family room (4 people, 2 adults and 2 kids) at Orlando – in or around Disneyworld – on both the sites. Both Expedia & Travelocity did a good job and threw up a number of options (although Travelocity gave funny error messages & repeatedly failed in my Firefox browser which was a disappointment). However, Expedia’s search methodology was a shade more user-friendly since it allows you to find hotels by naming the Attraction you want to go to and throws up hotels around the attraction. Of course, both Travelocity & Expedia also allow you to narrow the list of hotels in the search results by distance or ease of access to the attraction.

Both excelled in prices. Hotel room prices around Disneyworld started in Expedia at Rs 1386 per night and in Travelocity at Rs 1583 per night. Continue reading

Between Baby Sitter and Brain Doctor : A guide to guiding tourists & travellers

Recently I met someone who has the onerous job of helping first-time European tourists ease themselves into India. And who thought the job was ‘somewhere between being a Baby Sitter and a Brain Doctor’. Other than the fact that the phrase has a nice ring to it, it made me think about Tourism (you’d have thought that I have had enough, but obviously not).

I think this neat phrase actually captures the essential difference between the modern Tourist and the intrepid Traveller.

Tourists go to a new place to wonder at how different it all is. The idea is to somehow get to a point where you feel lost, baby-like and in constant need of looking after. And a whole paraphernalia has developed to cosset you in this place. Resorts, guides, concierges, charter flights – the works. The more I think about this, the more I can see its attraction. In a world that demands a lot from each person, a ‘touristy holiday’ is exactly what you need. To leave the cares of existence and move to the cossetting of childhood. In such a situation, I can see how the Baby Sitter idea works.

The Brain Doctor comes in when you meet Travellers. Travellers ‘go away’ for exactly the opposite reason. They go to conquer. Not for them the innocent pleasure of regression. Continue reading

Film Festival Tours – vacations for film buffs

I have often wanted to visit film festivals, but one experience with a film festival in Delhi has made me wary of its logistics. The interest is still there. So I was idly wondering whether there is anybody who can give me a vacation tour of the best film festivals and so decided to Google it up. Lo and behold, I found Film Festival Tours in Canada. In their words:

Purchasing and selecting tickets for a film festival can be a challenge, with its lottery system and routinely sold out screenings. But we here at Film Festival Tours take all the hassle out of the process for you. Continue reading