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Global Destinations May - June 2014

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Global Destinations May - June 2014 …

Global Destinations May - June 2014
Cover Story OMAN

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  • 1. E d i t Global DestinationsMay - June 2014 1 Dear Friends Oman is beautiful and I had the opportunity to spend 3 days in this wonderful country. Muscat often referred to as the "walled city", has a lot to attract tourists. To get a glimpse of the city a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour with the Big Bus Tour would be ideal. Not to be missed is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque - the third largest mosque in the world (accommodating up to 20,000 worshippers). In Muscat I stayed at Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa a property spread over 124 acres that has 3 hotels in its complex. Went also to the Wadi Shab and Wadi Bani Khalid. Tour Oman were kind enough to organize the tour. They are looking at the Indian market in a big way. With 10,147 exhibitors from 189 countries – more than two-thirds of whom came from abroad – were represented in 26 halls which were booked to capacity and some 114,000 trade visitors (2013: 109,616) travelling to Berlin it seems the global travel industry is once again on course for rapid growth. This year’s ITB Berlin reported a four per cent rise in trade visitors and an increase in business volume, which Messe Berlin estimates reached 6.5 billion euros. The focus of the world’s leading travel trade fair was on mobile bookings and on sustainable practices in tourism. We have reviewed this event. Express Inn has already been ranked number one in Nashik on Trip Advisor recently launched their Presidential Enclave wing. Built on the top-most floor of the property the Presidential Enclave provides a sprawling view of the city on one side and the famous Pandav-Leni on the other. The Presidential Enclave Floor consists of five suites, one Chairman Suite, one Presidential Suite, Freesia Lounge with a library and finally a Smoking Lounge. In near future they plan to have butler service also. It was quite impressive and surprised me that any owner would create such a luxurious suite in a tier II city. We have done a photo feature on the Presidential Enclave. ANMsoft Technologies provides low risk – cost effective solutions to address complex business requirement of its client. Established just a decade back, ONTRA the Travel practice division of ANMsoft Technologies is quite popular in the hospitality world. Ontra is supporting large scale tour operators / OTAs / Travel Portals with their online travel solutions. With 200+ members and presence in US and India, with 20,000 Sq ft Software Development Center in Mumbai, India they are able to cater to clients across geographies in diverse business and technology practices. We have interviewed Vikash Sinha, the CEO and Promoter of ANMsoft Technologies, a first generation serial entrepreneur and technocrat, who is largely responsible for the success of the company. Las Vegas is always a happening city but for 5 days of every year it becomes the hub of technology as techies from across the globe (including journalists) converge into Las Vegas for International CES – the largest technology event in the world. This year was no exception as visitors and the media witnessed amazing tech breakthroughs and thousands of new product introductions, innovation at the 2014 International CES. Owned and produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the International CES is the global gathering place for all who thrive on the business of innovation. With a record two million net square feet of exhibit space housing more than 3,200 exhibitors and over 150,000 industry professionals in attendance, including 35,000 from outside the United States, 2014 CES was the largest in the shows history. We have reviewed this show and also presented the latest gadgets that were on display – some yet to be launched and some from small but potential companies. Chandragupta Amritkar Editor chandraguptaa@hotmail.com Editor - Chandragupta Amritkar, Design - Manoj Durgam Contact - Global Destinations, B-701, Customs Colony, Military Rd, Marol, Andheri(E), Mumbai-400 059, India. Phone - 91-22-29252569, Mobile - 9223419060 / 9224339001 e-mail: globalfeatures@lycos.com / globalfeatures@rediffmail.com Annual Subscription Rates - India: Rs. 600; Overseas: US$ 100 (Rates include airmail charges). Printed and Published by Chandragupta Amritkar on behalf of Global Features B-701, Customs Colony, Military Rd, Marol, Andheri(E), Mumbai-400 059 and Printed at Sumangal Press Pvt. Ltd. "Sumangal" G-8 Cross Road "A", Near Marol Bus Depot, MIDC, Andheri (East), Mumbai - 400 093. Global Destinations makes all efforts to ensure that the information published is correct and reliable. However the publication holds no responsibility for any inadvertent errors, commissions or opinions expressed.
  • 2. C o n t e n t s Global Destinations May - June 20144 Magnificent Oman ..........................06 Technology ANMsoft Technologies ..........................16 Event Review ITB Berlin 2014 ..........................14 Cover Story Gadgets Luxury Express Inn ...........................20 Hospitality Keys Hotel Whitefield .................................26 Irvine ............................22 City Focus ...........................28
  • 3. H aving traversed the globe and visited 40 plus countries this was my first visit to Oman. It was again thanks to my good friend Hamed M. Al-Harthy, Country Manager – India, Oman Air that this was possible. I had been invited to cover ITB, Berlin and when I mentioned this to Hamed M. Al-Harthy, he saw an opportunity for me to visit his country and promote it through my publication to my elite readers. He decided to fly me down to Germany with a stopover in Muscat. Muscat was so impressive that now we are doing a cover story on Oman. His foresight has to be appreciated. I thought who would be the best tour operator for Oman and many said it has to be Tour Oman who are aggressively promot- ing themselves to the Indian market. Having met Sunil Prabhakar, CEO, Travel City and Travel Point LLC as well as Manoj Dass, Head - Tour Oman, a division of Travel Point LLC, I sent an email to them and they were kind enough to quickly reply that they will take care of the local hospitality as well as visa. All set to go I took the morning Oman Air flight which has a fairly good timing of 6.40am (unlike most other airlines where you invariably miss out on a good nights sleep). The flight was on time and I picked up the visa from the visa counter and cleared the immigration quickly. Coming out of the airport I spotted the Tour Oman placard. We proceeded to Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. It took us 45 minutes from the airport to reach the property. Had heard a lot about the property from both Hamed M. Al-Harthy as well as Sunil Prabhakar and I was not disappointed. The route from airport was so picturesque – the postcard images of buildings, the good roads, the greenery etc. Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa A fully integrated destination resort It’s difficult to visualise the size of the property (spread over 124 acres) till you start moving around the property in a buggy. It’s truly an amazing property giving some of the most scenic views. Located just 20 minutes from downtown Muscat the Resort is a fully integrated destination resort ideal for both fami- lies and business travelers, MICE and weddings. After a quick check-in I was guided to my room located in the Al Husn property. I was informed that Al Husn is one of Oman’s most luxurious hotels. My room was spacious and well located - facing the sea. Complimentary selected beverages from the in room mini bar were also included. On request an iPod is also pro- vided. After relaxing for a while I explored the area in close vicinity to my room. I found a nice cozy library with books from almost 10 languages. I picked up one for reading. Theres also a nice busi- ness center in the same room with computers and a printer - open 24 hours. I was scheduled to have lunch with Eihab Attia, Communica- tions Manager, Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. I could not meet Lori-Jean Collins, Director of Sales & Marketing, Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa as she was out of the country. (I had the fortune of meeting her at ITB Berlin a few days later). Over lunch Eihab Attia explained that the property com- prises of three hotels - the exclu- sive Al Husn (The Castle), Al Bandar (The Town) and the fam- ily-oriented Al Waha (The Oasis) – having a total of 640 rooms and suites all overlooking the Sea of Oman and providing guests with 600 metres of pris- tine coastline. After lunch Eihab Attia took me for a tour of the property starting with the Al Husn hotel. The hotel’s design reflects a fusion of Moorish architecture. C o v e r S t o r y Global Destinations May - June 20146 Magnificent Oman Oman is worth a visit thanks to its natural beauty says Chandragupta Amritkar
  • 4. All 180 deluxe guestrooms and suites face the sea. “Guests stay- ing at Al Husn can enjoy the facilities of the entire three hotel resort but the services and facilities within Al Husn are exclusive to Al Husn guests - butler service, private beach and beach bar, infinity pool, library and hospitality lounge. Access to the central courtyard which has just water and palm trees facing the ocean is also exclusive to Al Husn guests,” said Eihab Attia. From here we walked down to the Al Bandar hotel whose architecture is inspired by old Muscat, featuring buildings of varying heights and a variety of ornate balconies. The deluxe property provides 198 guestrooms with views of the garden, sea or swimming pool. “Al Bandar is the resort’s focal point. While the three hotels share 21 food and beverage outlets Al Bandar has 8 out of 21 F&B outlets. Our restaurants serve cuisines from numerous coun- tries including Indian, Asian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Italian, Mid- dle Eastern and even South American. On the MICE front Al Bandar has 11 meeting rooms including the spectacular Barr Al Jissah Ballroom, which spans 1,008 square metres and provides banquet-style seating for up to 850 people,” said Eihab Attia. With such a huge ballroom it can be an ideal destination for Indian corporate to hold their MICE events and also Indian wed- dings. There are also seven additional meeting rooms. Al Bandar is also the hub for swimming enthusiasts of all ages - a pool spanning 1,400 square metres, a Jacuzzi, children’s pool, as well as access to the Lazy River. The 500-metre Lazy River enables guests an unusual method to travel between Al Bandar and Al Waha by floating between the two hotels' main swimming pools on a controlled water current. From here we proceeded to Al Waha which comprises 262 gue- strooms. Its ideal for families with children as it features Cool Zone, one of the three children’s clubs within the resort offering a wide range of supervised indoor and outdoor activities for chil- dren up to the age of 10. There’s also a toddler’s pool with a rub- ber cushioned floor. I also had the pleasure of meeting and spending some quality time with Mark Kirk, the dynamic General Manager of the hotel. What amazed me was his knowledge on theindustry and his ded- ication to the group – he has been over 12 years with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts at various locations. Due to lack of time and a very busy schedule I could not enjoy the resort facilities like Scuba Diving & Snorkelling (which I was able to do on my visit to Maldives a fortnight later), Marina & Sailing – a private resort marina, with berthing for up to 80 boats and yachts. The resort also has a SPA – CHI, a secluded spa – one of the largest spa villas in Muscat. One can experience the unique CHI Water Oasis, featuring a vitality hydro pool, an herbal steam room, tundra and tropical showers, an ice fountain and a relax- ation area. A smiling Eihab Attia said, “This gives you a reason to come again and for us an opportunity to host you again.” Tour Oman Office Tour Oman had organized a chauffer driven vehicle that would remain with me during my stay. I paid a visit to their Muscat office. It was a pleasure to meet Manoj Dass again. He highlight- ed some specific points on the tour itinerary. Then we went upstairs to meet Sunil Prabhakar. After greeting the first state- ment that he made was, “It’s not fair. Just 3 days in Oman. You will not justice. You need at least a week to get a glimpse of our country.” I spent an hour with them knowing more about the group and their plans for the Indian market (see the exclusive Interview on page 12). Muscat Muscat often referred to as the "walled city", has a lot to attract tourists. To get a glimpse of the city Tour Oman organized a hop- on, hop-off sightseeing tour of Muscat with the Big Bus Tour. My chauffer drove me to the main starting point of the Big Bus - C o v e r S t o r y Global DestinationsMay - June 2014 7
  • 5. Mutrah Suq. The Day Tour can be boarded at any one of the tours 10 stops across the city. The ticket is valid for 24 hours during operating hours. The route takes you to the major landmarks and historic sights across the city as you listen (ear phones are provid- ed) to a recorded commentary (available in six languages) provid- ing information on the landmark as well as explaining the histo- ry and culture of the city. Included in the Big Bus ticket is a free shuttle service to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. On finishing the tour I decided to stroll around the Mutrah Suq (souk) - one of the oldest markets in the Arab World. There are numerous alleyways with shops offering a variety of traditional and modern goods - Asian spices, gold and silver, precious gems, antiques, souvenirs etc. It has also many cafes or restaurants. The Corniche Area with its promenade, markets, cafés and restaurants, is one of the highlights of the city. Stretching three kilometers with gardens and fountains adorning the area, it over- looks the port. The renovated Corniche area is a popular place for a walk and also for its eating joints. On the southern end of the Corniche you can view the Mutrah Fort raised high upon the rocks. The fort was built by the Por- tuguese during their occupation in the 1580's. If you are adven- turous then scale the fort to enjoy some incredible views. Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace is the office of Sultan Qaboos, the ruler of Oman. Though visitors are not allowed to visit the palace, they can take photographs at the entrance of the palace. Oman’s parliament building, locally known as Majlis Oman is a new parliament building which includes four major compo- nents; the council of Oman, the state council, the consultation council and common facilities. The iconic centrepiece of the par- liament building is the 64 metre high clock tower. Boasting four 4.8 metre clocks, it is the highest clock tower in Oman. Oman is full of beaches and Muscat is no exception. The Qurum beach located adjacent to the Mangrove Lagoon is an open public beach and a popular destination for locals as well as tourists for a swim or to relax under the palm trees. Another must stop is the Royal Opera House Muscat a premier venue for musical arts and culture. It reflects contemporary Omani architecture, and has a capacity to accommodate maxi- mum of 1,100 people. The opera house complex consists of a concert theatre, auditorium, formal landscaped gardens, cultural market with retail, luxury restaurants and an art centre for musi- cal, theatrical and operatic productions. Time and availability of tickets permitting do try to watch a concert. Do keep a couple of hours for the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. This is the third largest mosque in the world (accommo- dating up to 20,000 worshippers) and one of the few open to non- Muslim visitors – Visit from 8am to 11am - Saturday to Thursday. The Mosque is a work of art and its interior decor is exquisite. It consists of a main prayer hall, ladies prayer hall, covered pas- sageways, a meeting hall and a huge library (I liked the library which has numerous book on various topics and also over 20 computers to use for your research – all free). The walls of the main hall are covered with white and dark grey marble, decorated with murals of leafy patterns and geometrical designs. The dome is made up of spherical triangles inside a com- plex of sides and marble columns, crossed with pointed arches and embellished with porcelain panels. Timber panels stretch in a custom that reflects the architectural development of Omani ceil- ings. Must sees in the mosque include the Swarovski crystal chandelier, the second largest hand made persian carpet in the world and the marble panelling. Like in Thailand there are numerous Indian run tailors who stitch suits from excellent fabrics at a reasonable price. Wadi Shab After touring Muscat and a good nights rest in Shangri-La we proceeded to Wadi Shab. The driver informed me that Wadi Shab is one of the most spectacular of the easily accessible wadis in Oman. Located about 100 km southeast of Muscat its accessed from the main coastal road to Sur at the village of Tiwi. On the way our first halt was at Bimmah Sink hole (a sinkhole is a natural depression or hole in the Earth’s surface which may have various causes) situated at the Hawiyat Najm Park. The water in the pool is in a unique shade of vibrant turquoise, the pool roughly 550 meters from the sea, is 40 meters wide and about 20 meters under the surface. Quite a few people were swimming. Then we proceeded to Quriyat, Wadi Tiwi, and Fins beach. The place was a bit crowded and one has to take a small boat or wade through the water (which a lot of Europeans were doing). The wadi gives visitors views of aquamarine pools, waterfalls and ter- raced plantations. There’s a partially submerged cave. The hiking can be rocky and even slippery so a good pair of shoes is a must. Not having the right kind of shoes and not being very adventur- ous I just enjoyed the beauty of the place and the waterfalls with- out trekking. C o v e r S t o r y Global Destinations May - June 201410
  • 6. Wadi Shab Resort For lunch we proceeded to the Wadi Shab Resort. The GM there is an Indian and you get a lot of Indian dishes to relish mak- ing it an ideal place to stay over for Indians. The resort is truly beautiful and offers the serenity of mountains and the surf of the sea. The resort has 34 guest rooms and 03 luxury suites and all rooms offer a view of the sea from all its rooms. All rooms have flat screen LED television and guests are offered free Wi Fi access in rooms and public area. The resort offers guests boating amenities It is ideally located to visit Wadi Shab just 3 kms from the resort. The resort is built on the hill overlooking the blue sea near Tiwi. Sur town is approximately 47 kms from resort. The Tomb of Bibi Mariam, in the Ancient City of Qalhat is sit- uated approximately 4 kms from Wadi Shab Resort. Qalhat remains on UNESCO’s tentative list of cultural heritage sites and was Oman’s first capital. Sur After a good Indian dinner and a nights rest we proceeded to Sur, renowned as the Dhow City, approximately 70 kms from the resort. It is a placid sea coast town with striking traditional dwellings. The streets revealed many fine old houses with carved doors and arabesque windows. Its one of the famous cities in the Persian Gulf in building wooden ships. Even though the city is a major dhow-building town – the orders have steadily declined. Wadi Bani Khalid Wadi Bani Khalid is a wadi whose stream maintains a constant flow of water throughout the year. Large pools of water and boul- ders are scattered along the course of the wadi. As you enter the wadi there are two large pools of clear emerald water, a simple café and plenty of palm trees. Follow the sign 'cave' located after a km of rock climbing and relish some beautiful human beings swimming in the crystal clear water and narrow canyons. Reach- ing this cave takes a lot of effort and visitors should be prepared for the adventure. As a geographical area, Wadi Bani Khalid cov- ers a large swathe of low land and mountains. Caves form some of the interesting features of this wadi. Before going deep into the wadi do use the clean toilets at the beginning of the Wadi. From here we proceed to Muscat and reached by 6 pm. Since my flight was at 2am I stopped by at Muscat Dunes Hotel where Ajai Punj is the General Manager. Ajai Punj asked me to release the driver as he said at 11pm he will personally drop me at the air- port. Taking me on a tour of the property its quite noticeable that the hotel is quite new with all modern furniture. The rooms are big and clean though I felt the bathrooms were small compared to the room size. The location is convenient near the expressway and just 15 minutes from the airport. Being in a new development area it’s not easy to find the hotel (my driver had to call a couple of times to get exact directions). The pool on the roof gives good views of the neighborhood. Thanks to an Indian menu and a pocket friendly hotel it would be a good option for Indians. They also have extensive confer- ence facilities for board meetings, seminars and small conven- tions. We had a good Indian dinner and then at 11pm Ajai Punj accompanied me to the airport. C o v e r S t o r y
  • 7. Travel City LLC and Travel Point LLC have emerged as one of the most reputed and successful travel service providers in the Sultanate of Oman. This group underwent a management change in 2008 surging it to the top of the market. From a mere 9 member workforce, they now have a team of about 200 spread across the country. Travel Point LLC office represents all other travel solutions such as international product franchises, high quality leisure & hospitality products, Medicare tourism, pilgrimages, travel management partners, car hire, logistics and cargo and many more. Tour Oman is the Inbound Tours division attracting global visitors to experience in Oman. Spearheading the operations is Sunil Prabhakar, Chief Executive Officer of the Travel Group who has more than 29 years of experience in Oman. In 2008 when he became Group General Manager he enhanced the business network from only 2 branches, to 42 fully operational branches spread across Oman. Manoj Dass who is head of Tour Oman has been quite successful in getting FIT Travel, Leisure Groups, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) and even Bollywood. Had the pleasure of meeting both of them had their Muscat office and took the opportunity to Interview them. Excerpts What makes Oman such an attractive destination? Sunil Prabhakar (SP): Oman has so much of potential - 1700 kms of pristine coastline, over 500 forts and towers across Oman, the dry desert and the huge desert dunes , the wadis and moun- tains of over 9000 feet. Oman's beaches are major breeding loca- tions for various species of sea turtle. It’s a must for a visitor. Also as you will notice during your travels Omanis are most hum- ble, very friendly and helpful to tourists. Compared to most other countries Oman is relatively a safe country and serious crime is rare. How big is your group and reason behind its success? SP: We have grown substantially over the years largely due to owners blessings and a free hand given by them. Our USP is that we do things uniquely different. We have major plans to expand across GCC and India. Manoj Dass (MD): We have currently 42 outlets spread across the country making us the most widely spread travel company in Oman. This naturally helps our inbound tourists. MICE is a major revenue earner today. Your views? SP: Yes that’s true. We have successfully handled events rang- ing from just 30 pax to 1000 pax. Infact we had a group from India who had come to celebrate a birthday. There were 100 guests flown from all over India and Dubai. Thanks to Oman air network this was feasible. We had kept a staff 24 * 7 exclusively for the group. To all the guests we sent the SIM in advance so that they can share the num- ber with their friends and near ones. It was a grand success. Apart from that I think Oman can be a wedding destination. What potential do you see in India? SP: India is a very big market for Oman. Over the last three years hotel rooms have grown and are trying to attract Indian tourists. A lot of tour operators have promoted Oman as a stop- over destination. We are now trying to promote Oman as an inde- pendent destination. How do you plan to promote Oman in India? MD: We are participating in numerous exhibitions across India. We also have our own road shows. Currently we are hav- ing our own representatives in Mumbai and New Delhi. I can proudly say we are market leaders in India. What type of markets are you looking from India? MD: All types – FIT, Leisure, MICE, Cultural fusion, homes- tays, etc. SP: Another potential market is the Bollywood. Why go all the way to Europe or Australia when Oman can provide for most of your needs. We have some of the best shooting locations – untapped and awaiting Bollywood stars, top end luxury hotels like Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. For Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobaara we did all the logistics including get- ting permission for shooting and script approval. How economical can it be to shoot a movie and does the government give any incentives? SP: Its not very expensive. To give you a fair idea to do a film song in Oman with 20 crew members including stay and air tick- ets would be just Rs.15 lakh. For doing a full movie with 75 crew spread across 45 days – all inclusive it would be between 3 to3.5 crores. This I believe should fit into most budgets. On the incen- tive part we are still persuading the government and making them understand the full potential and the opportunity. What would you advise Indian tourists? SP: Plan a trip for minimum seven days. Thers a lot to see and experience in Oman. C o v e r S t o r y Global Destinations May - June 201412 “India is a very big market for Oman” Sunil Prabhakar Manoj Dass
  • 8. A recent period of relatively sluggish growth, particularly in many recession-hit countries was expected to have an effect on ITB this year. Instead this year’s ITB Berlin has sent out very positive signals for the international travel industry. With 10,147 exhibitors from 189 countries – more than two- thirds of whom came from abroad – were represented in 26 halls which were booked to capacity and some 114,000 trade visitors (2013: 109,616) travelling to Berlin it seems the global travel industry is once again on course for rapid growth. This year’s ITB Berlin reported a four per cent rise in trade vis- itors and an increase in business volume, which Messe Berlin estimates reached 6.5 billion euros. The focus of the world’s lead- ing travel trade fair was on mobile bookings and on sustainable practices in tourism. Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin: “Never before was there such an emphasis on innovation as at this year’s ITB Berlin. The mood among exhibitors and visitors at this year’s show was one of euphoria, which over the last five days could be felt every- where on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds. The world’s leading travel trade show had an even more positive impact on trade buy- ers and holidaymakers than in previous years.” On the first day of ITB Berlin, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker introduced the airline's new luxury First Class seats that will form part of the tri-class configuration on the airline's new A380-800. The seats feature a 90-inch seat pitch, transforming into a fully flat bed, together with an expansive choice of enter- tainment options displayed on individual 19-inch television screens. Among the countries on the Mediterranean Greece and Spain reported particularly high growth. In 2013, numbers visiting Spain reached a new record. Germany and Europe have become increasingly popular with travellers from Asia. At this year’s ITB Berlin numerous hotels and holiday resorts not only exhibited on the stands of the various countries and regions but also hosted their own displays in the halls. Around 5,700 accredited journalists from 81 countries and some 300 bloggers from 25 countries reported on events at ITB Berlin. Politicians and diplomats from Germany and abroad were present at the show. In addition to 125 foreign delegations, Thai- land’s Princess Ubolratana Mahidol also attended the show. 97 ambassadors from around the world, 44 ministers from abroad foreign a numerous undersecretaries were also present. In its role as a think tank, the ITB Berlin Convention has become a firm fixture for trend scouts operating within the inter- national travel industry. Luxury travel was a key topic that attract- ed keen visitor interest. The ITB Berlin Convention registered record levels of attendance. A total of 22,000 took part in around 200 lectures, discussions and workshops, over 5 percent more than in 2013. The matchmaking event for bloggers and exhibitors met with an extremely positive response. Social Media and Mobile Travel Services proved to be major visitor attractions. Once again, the matchmaking event for bloggers and exhibitors met with an extremely positive response. Over a period of two days 2,000 events took place attended by 120 exhibitors and blog- gers from 25 countries. More than 60,000 members of the general public came to find out about the wide-ranging information on offer from exhibitors at the weekend and were able to book their tours directly at ITB Berlin. A poll among visitors revealed that around 50 per cent intended to book a trip. On average, each visitor spent around E v e n t R e v i e w Global Destinations May - June 201414 An unpreceded 6.5 billion euros business at ITB Berlin 2014 With 10,147 exhibitors from 189 countries spread across 26 halls booked to capacity and 114,000 + trade visitors made ITB Berlin maintain its status as the world’s largest travel industry event. Chandragupta Amritkar reports from Berlin
  • 9. 2,000 euros on a holiday trip. Close to one-third of the companies exhibiting sold travel products to the end consumer. Christian Göke: “It was not only our visitors who responded positively to this new service. For exhibitors as well it makes ITB Berlin even more attractive and offers a ’test market’.” Taleb Rifai, General Secretary of UNWTO said, "I must con- gratulate ITB on another great success. ITB 2014 reflected the vitality of the tourism sector extremely well and I must particu- larly commend ITB for its Corporate Social Responsibility Pro- gramme which, year after year, reminds us all that with the con- tinuous growth of tourism comes a great responsibility.” ITB Berlin 2015 will be taking place from March 4 to 8. Sustainable Tourism Awards Next year ITB Berlin and National Geographic Traveler will be honouring support for sustainable tourism with a series of new awards. The awards will honour leading travel and tourism com- panies, organisations and destinations which drive the global transition of the travel industry forward by supporting sustainable principles and practices in tourism. The awards will debut at ITB Berlin 2015 and will be presented in five categories. The Eco Innovation Award recognises outstanding innovation in business practices and green technology. The Cultural Heritage Award honours efforts to protect historical buildings, support cultural events, the heritage of indigenous peoples and the legacy of the arts. The Biodiversity Conservation Award recognises outstand- ing achievements in conserving nature and protecting rare and endangered species. The Community Engagement Award hon- ours achievements in business and society which improve the livelihoods of people in local regions. Entries for the World Lega- cy Awards are invited as of 1 June 2014. Incredible India This year again at ITB Berlin the Indian pavilion attracted huge attention as India pavilion’s centre of attraction was the replica of one of the most significant and beautiful buildings in the world – the Taj Mahal. The Incredible India stall was spread across 700 sq mts in size and had 65 exhibitors from the travel and tourism fra- ternity from India. Apart from the India pavilion, 100 + India exhibitors participated with individual stalls. These included Indias leading hotel chains, resorts, tour operators State Tourism Boards from Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Odisha and Goa, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal. PATWA Awards Pacific Area Travel Writers Association "PATWA" awards cer- emony was held at ITB 2014 Berlin. The award is given to recog- nise governments, individuals, organisations involved in promo- tion of tourism from various sectors. This year again a lot of Indi- an organizations and Indians won the award. Veer Vijay Singh, Chief Operating Officer, Vivanta by Taj – Hotels & Resorts received the Hall of Fame Award for Life time achievement in Hospitality. Rajiv Duggal, Senior Vice President - Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure, Lavasa Corporation Ltd., received the award for 'Best Mar- keting Person' in Tourism. Goa Tourism bagged the PATWA Award for the ‘Best Destination in Relaxation, Watersports and Entertainment.’ Carlson Rezi- dor Hotel Group chair- man for South Asia, K.B. Kachru, received the Hall of Fame – Lifetime Con- tribution in Hospitality Award. Illustrious speakers included UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai, Alain St. Ange, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Sey- chelles, Mohamed Hisham Abbas Zaazou, Minister of Tourism, Egypt, Martin Craigs, CEO, Pacific Asia Travel Association(PATA) and Casimir Platzer, President, IH&RA. ITB Berlin 2015 In 2015 Mongolia will be the Official Partner Country of ITB Berlin. “In its role as the Partner Country of ITB Berlin 2015 Mongolia will be sending out a clear signal as an emergent tourism destination. We are confident that Mongolia with its wealth of cultural and natural attractions and its eventful history will successfully present itself to the international market and that it will attract keen interest from both trade visitors and the gener- al public“, said Dr. Christian Göke. Altangerel Purev, State Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Mongolia said, “In 2011 Mongolia was already the Convention and Culture Partner of ITB Berlin and as the Partner Country of ITB Berlin 2015 we aim to build on that success and promote public awareness of Mongolia as a travel destination. Germany is an important market for us. Mongolia has maintained diplomatic relations with Germany for the past 40 years. Furthermore, we regard tourism as a long-term opportuni- ty that diversifies our economy. Mongolian companies are also very keen to actively cooperate with the international tourism industry.” E v e n t R e v i e w Global DestinationsMay - June 2014 15
  • 10. T e c h n o l o g y Global Destinations May - June 201416 Located in Navi Mumbai is a software company that has rapidly created a niche for itself among the travel community. ANMsoft Technologies provides low risk – cost effective solutions to address complex business requirement of its client. With their domain expertise and stream- line process they ensure rapid application development with high degree of certainty in time and cost predictions. Though their core focus is in Banking, eRetail, eTravel and eMedia Domain, they also provide extensive solu- tions on latest web 2.0 technologies. Established just a decade back, ONTRA the Travel practice division of ANMsoft Technologies is quite popular in the hospi- tality world. Ontra is Supporting large scale tour operators / OTAs / Travel Portals with their online travel solutions. With 200+ members and presence in US and India, with 20,000 Sq ft Software Development Center in Mumbai, India they are able to cater to clients across geographies in diverse business and tech- nology practices. Largely responsible for the success of the company is Vikash Sinha, the CEO and Promoter of ANMsoft Technologies. He is a first generation serial entrepreneur and technocrat. With 17 years of on-hands experience he has successfully groomed the company. A graduate alumnus of ISM, he is a hardcore multi- domain enterprise technology expert , with years of experience, gained through architecting various Travel and Retail Banking products for customers in USA, Europe, Asia and West Africa. He has also successfully implemented projects on product design, development and implementation using web-centric and client/server technologies for global product companies. He had been instrumental to launch Shubhyatra.com as online travel- commerce portal during 2000-01. Employees of the company consider him an excellent technology administrator and he is known for his sharp technical acumen and organizational skills. In an e-interview he elaborates on ANMsoft Technologies prod- ucts and his vision. Excerpts At most travel expos the impact of big data and technology are being discussed. Your comments Big Data and Travel technologies are one of the best opportu- nities for enablement of sustainable and growth oriented busi- nesses. We have seen challenges on both side i.e. the client and the technology vendor. Travel industry has exhibited great inter- est for implementing technology but the success is still low. Selecting the right vendor is still a challenge for Travel Business. Similarly, Technology provides are facing challenges of right sense participation of Travel players. The best way moving for- ward is to consider each other as partner with shared responsibil- ities and benefit. Technology can help to automate process, reduce manpower requirement, better customer experience as DIY, increase profitability, launch newer markets and most importantly allow to implement never-thought-before ideas and business opportunities. Big Data is still at nascent stage and requires larger investment. Due to lower rate of technology implementation by service provider, the market is not yet saturated with opportunities as yet. Big Data helps only when all other basic technology enablement has been completed in a corporate environment. It will still take some time when Big Data will become a business opportunity and make right sense to the travel service provider. Ontra is head- ing in this direction and will be ahead of curve before require- ment of Travel industry. How did ANMSoft Technologies originate? ANMsoft was started in 2003 with a vision to become as a world-class Product offering company. Travel Technology was the chosen domain, as the promoters had pioneering experience in the eCommerce vertical. They established, Shubhyatra.com, which was India’s leading travel portal in 2000 dotcom days. This experience helped the promoters to envisage a world-class travel product suite, which could be used by any global travel service provider. Ontra, the flagship travel offering from ANMsoft has established itself as a pioneer product for advanced enterprise travel technology. ANMsoft offers its clients a true technology partnership model rather than a technology vendor relationship. ANMsoft has helped bring up some of the largest travel technol- ogy implementation when the companies have had lost hope due to their past experiences with earlier vendor. What’s your USP? ANMsoft offering Ontra, is an Advanced Enterprise Travel Technology Platform and has many unique business proposition which brings up a never- thought, never- done- before fea- tures and initiatives. In past, Ontra has been rated by Pho- cusWright as Top vendor worldwide in Travel “My vision is to take the Ontra product to pinnacle and help travel businesses leverage this platform in their growth, over the next decade”
  • 11. T e c h n o l o g y Global DestinationsMay - June 2014 17 Distribution technology. Ontra provides single-window solution for different models of Travel business Practices. Travel service providers use Ontra as low-cost, high efficiency solution for their business need. Layered-Architecture, Service-oriented approach and open-source Java technology positions Ontra as unique and vendor independent solution with future-readiness. Ontra doesn't require any investment in any other licensed or propriety technol- ogy buying, but can be configured on an average hardware. Omni-channel enablement is USP of Ontra. What are your main focus areas? ANMsoft’s Ontra is modelled around complete aspects of trav- el business process that are currently in practice. Having said that, B2B, B2C, Corporate, Suppliers and B2B2C are few models, which can be easily catered by Ontra. Ontra is focused on Cus- tomer-Oriented Travel and Leisure product as Airline Ticketing, Hotel Reservation, Car Rental, Cruise, Package, Tour and Trans- fer, Visa, Insurance and others in similar line. What products/ offerings have you indigenously developed? Ontra has all end-customer Travel and Leisure products, such as Airline Ticketing, Hotel Booking, Car Rental, Packages, Tour and Transfers, Insurance, Visa Processing, which are indigenous- ly developed by ANMsoft. Ontra is technically superior and future-ready product with state of the art architecture, to handle any new product configuration and Integration. What about your technology expertise? I have 17 Years of Technology Leadership and Administration experience especially in the web-based domains. I have great pas- sion for architecting Enterprise Technology products and in the past have created various large scale products in Banking, E-com- merce, Messaging, Retail and Travel Technology verticals, before bringing up our latest offering, Ontra. I have always been lucky to have passionate technology teams and enjoying their associa- tion for decade. We have also been the earliest adopter of cutting edge technologies, so that our customers always get the latest technology offerings. Today, our customers enjoy our association and consider ANMsoft as their technology-partner rather than a vendor. What verticals do you cater to? ANMsoft majorly cater to Travel and Hospitality domain. Apart from this, ANMsoft has advance and enterprising product for eRetailing. ANMsoft also provide Product Engineering serv- ices in BFSI Domain and high-end portal development. Who are your major customers? We have customers from almost all habitant continents. Ontra implementation ranges from leading Travel service provider in North America to Largest Travel consolidator in ME and Africa region. Some of Major Travel service providers in India also using Ontra Platform to power their travel business. How big is your network – domestic and International? Ontra is largely positioned for the Global markets. Our cus- tomer exists in all major geographical location. Today, Ontra gets compared and reviewed with worlds top travel products by tech- nology seeker. We have two offices in India and one in USA. Apart from this, we also have partners in North America and are expanding rapidly to other geography through distribution chan- nel and partners. All our development activities are undertaken at headquarter in Mumbai. How important is quality? ANMsoft is firm believer of quality in delivery. We have a ded- icated Quality Assurance Practice that tracks all our implementa- tion and deliveries. This team directly reports in to the CEO, who is the quality Champion of the organization. We follow ISO 9000 quality process and all this processes are formulated with 11 years of intensive practice and endorsed by clients with a 100% percent successful implementation of Ontra till date. What are your marketing strategies? ANMSoft optimally uses all marketing channels for brand awareness and customer reach. Being a technology company, Online digital marketing is prominent strategy as part of whole plan. Print media advertisement, Exhibition and Seminar partici- pations are other major marketing activities. We spend one-sixth of our yearly revenue on Marketing. How do you visualize ANMSoft Technologies in the next 5 years? After 11 successful years of operations, ANMsoft has set the stage for leap-and-bound growth. We have all ingredients to poise as one of the large technology players serving to the world by providing state-of-art products. My vision is to take the Ontra product to pinnacle and help travel businesses leverage this plat- form in their growth, over the next decade. Whats the main aim of participating at ATM? Our main aim to participate in ATM is to spread awareness within the travel fraternity about the advantage of Ontra as tech- nology platform for their respective businesses. We have also repositioned Ontra brand, by creating Enterprise suite of products and sub-vertically focusing on Hotel Solution, Car Rental Solu- tion, Travel Accounting Solution (OntrAcc), and Restaurant and Room-Services (eWineDine). I believe, ATM is the right platform to announce the new products and increase our customer base geographically.
  • 12. L u x u r y Global Destinations May - June 201420 B uilt on the top-most floor of the property the Presidential Enclave provides a sprawling view of the city on one side and the famous Pandav-Leni on the other. The Presiden- tial Enclave Floor consists of five suites (670 sq. ft.), one Chair- man Suite (1200 sq. ft.), one Presidential Suite (1800 sq. ft.), Freesia Lounge with a library and finally a Smoking Lounge. In near future they plan to have butler service also. The Presidential Enclave Floor was specifically created for the expats and top end clien- tele who come from across India and look for- ward for the same luxury that they get in hotels across the globe. It’s a niche and exclusive concept. The hotel has already been ranked number one in Nashik on Trip Advisor. With Kubhmela round the corner, they expect to attract to host most of the top notch and influential people visiting Nashik from across the globe. The 1800 sq. ft. Presidential Suite at Express Inn comes along with Secretar- ial Room. The suite is unique in its architecture and décor - a clas- sical European style of designing. The suit has a spacious living room with plasma television set, a dining room, an elegant bed- room, bathrooms with Jacuzzi, steam and other amenities, a large dressing area with full-length mirrors. Featuring antique feel fur- nishings, original artworks, fine flooring, wooden carvings, curios and artifacts, this comfortable living area includes a dining space and a bar as well. Freesia Lounge Exclusive to the resi- dents of the Presidential Enclave the lounge pro- vides a luxu- rious ambi- ence as guests enjoy their meals, snacks and coffee. The cutlery and crockery have been handpicked from Spain and Itlay and are gold plated. I had the pleasure of having both lunch and dinner at this lounge. The lounge has a well stocked library containing a rare collection of books and. The Smoking Lounge is adjacent to the Library. What a pleasure it was staying at Express Inn again. This time I stayed in the Presidential Suite located in the Presidential Enclave. It was quite impressive and surprised me that any owner would create such a luxurious suite in a tier II city. We have done a photo feature on the Presidential Enclave. Presidential Enclave@Express Inn
  • 13. M y engineering college batch mate and room mate Abhi- jeet Sarwate had been inviting me to visit his place in Irvine for many years. It was over a decade and a half since we had met. So this year when CES (a consumer electron- ics event held annually in Las Vegas) invited me I decided to fly Turkish airlines via Los Angeles and catch up with my friend Abhijeet. Being a journalist by heart I thought it an excellent opportunity to feature Irvine as a destination for my readers. Wendy Haase, Director of Tourism Marketing, Destination Irvine was kind enough to extend local hospitality and sightseeing. She organized an excellent itinerary covering most important destina- tions and an excellent lunch in an Indian restaurant. Flying Turkish airlines where I was upgraded again gave me an opportunity to experience their flying chef as well as their com- plimentary in-flight wifi on the Istanbul – Los Angles sector. Pro- viding me with excellent connections from Mumbai I arrived on time into Los Angeles. The immigration was quick and smooth. Abhijeet was waiting at the airport and we proceeded to his house first. Met his wife and two wonderful daughters. After chatting on those good old days and having some tasty Indian food prepared by his wife he dropped me off to my hotel - the ATRIUM Hotel. The ATRIUM Hotel located across the street from the John Wayne Airport (SNA) has 208 guestrooms and over 13,000 sqft in conference space. The hotel provides a free wifi to all its guests. I was also informed the hotel provides complimentary shuttle service within 3 mile radius. My room was large and spa- cious but I feel they can make the rooms modern and also tech savvy. The boutique pool lounge and private cabanas is an attrac- tion. The Pool area is beautiful at night. Relaxing in the cabanas near the pool is a great experience. One can enjoy different din- ing experiences within the hotel at Waterfalls and iLum Poolside Lounge. Irvine is one of the perfectly planned cities in USA. The arteri- al streets are very wide and have very generous speed limits. Irvine is very friendly to bicyclists with over 45 miles of off-road bicycle trails and 282 miles of on-road bicycle lanes provided in Irvine. The city has many national and international companies particularly in the technology and semiconductor sectors. Irvine is also home to many Universities. For a tourist or a business vis- itor Irvine has quite a few tourist spots. After a good night’s sleep and a decent breakfast at ATRIUM, I proceeded to Pretend City Children’s Museum. It's not really a museum; it's a cool place for little kids. Ideal for the kids between ages 3 to 9. It is actually a miniature city for lots of pretend play - library, dentist, doctor, restaurant, police station, dispatch cen- ter, fire department, beach, marina, house, construction zone, farm, grocery store, bank, etc. It’s designed to “build better brains” through purposeful play, hands-on learning experiences, role playing, and educational programming. Through 17 interac- tive exhibits and activities children learn foundational math, read- ing and science skills, while fostering curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, organization, teamwork, self-confi- dence and socialization. The ATM machines can be exciting for kids who don’t get frequent opportunity to handle money. The kids can be let loose (you can keep a watch from a distance) and not worry about them because everything is designed with all the little kid safety features. Unfortunately in India we don't have many such places for young kids. After spending a couple of hours I proceeded to Chakra – a classic Indian cuisine restaurant located in the University Center in Irvine. Wendy Haase met me our lunch – a nice buffet spread. From here we proceeded to the Lyon Air Museum. Founded by Major General William Lyon, Lyon Air Museum is located near the John Wayne Airport. The exhibits are comprised of authentic aircraft, rare vehicles and related memorabilia, with emphasis on the defining event of the 20th century – World War II. Docent led tours take visitors for a walk through history as they stroll among the machines and artifacts that helped define the 20th cen- tury. The Lyon Air museum is housed in a thirty thousand square foot hanger C i t y F o c u s Global Destinations May - June 201422 Irvine: Great place for family time
  • 14. designed to display William Lyons col- lection of historic aircraft. All the aircrafts have been restored. Planes on display include a B-17 Fly- ing Fortress which once ferried Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, A-2B Invader, North American B-25 and a DC_3 which dropped paratroop- ers on D-day. Mixed in between the historic planes are numerous antique automobiles including a 1939 Mercedes Benz German Staff Car which once carried around Adolph Hitler - used by the Fuhrer in Ober Salzberg, Berlin and Poland. The Lyon Air Museum is staffed with volunteer docents who show you around the museum and are quite knowledgeable about the his- tory and background of the exhibits. In addition to the planes and vehicles, there are a number of displays around the building with a lot ot historic documents and arti- facts. It is a must see for any aviation buff and keep at least one hour for exploring the museum. The amount of history in that building is amazing. After this we had a meeting with Dick Marconi at the Marconi Automotive Muse- um. But with some time to spare Wendy took me to the Irvine Museum. An ideal place to visit for those interested in impressionist painting or in the history of California art. There are several watercolors, and it's a great opportunity to see artistic interpretations of California scenery from the past two centuries. It is dedicated to the preser- vation and display of California art of the Impressionist Period (1890-1930). The cost is $5 with free entry for seniors, students, and children and for all on the second Wednesday of each month. It took us 20 minutes to tour the museum and then we proceed- ed to the Marconi Automotive Museum. And what a place it is. If you love exotic cars such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Ducati then this is the place not to be missed. We met the founder Dick Marconi who himself is a car enthusiast and a former race car driver. First opened in 1994 this non-profit automotive museum and special event venue displays an impressive collection of his- torical, exotic, and classic cars. “Our collection includes racing cars (both Formula 1 and Indy), american muscle cars, vintage racing and high performance exotics, super bikes etc. We estimate our collection is worth 35 million-dollar. Since we run a founda- tion for kids a major portion of all proceeds goes to charities for kids at risk. We charge a 5 dollar donation for over 12 years,” said Dick Marconi. The venue is also ideal for special events - corpo- rate meetings, product launches, holiday parties, weddings, birth- days etc. Wendy had departed and my friend Abhijeet came to pick me up from the museum. He also had a tour and enjoyed the cars. We proceeded to his house for some homely Indian food and to relax with his family. The next day morning Abhijeet came to pick me up from the hotel. We proceeded to the San Joaquin Marsh & Wildlife Sanc- tuary. This sanctuary is a hidden gem in the Irvine area. Visitors can walk along 12 miles of trails, watch more than 200 bird species that visit the marsh or simply relax and bask in nature. The Marsh is full of educational opportunities serving as a living laboratory for students, teachers and the public. I love coming here for morning walks. At the info counter we were provided with a map of trials and a binocular to watch the birds. There are a lot of random trails but you'll always find your way back. For bird watchers, this place is amazing. With multiple small bodies of water around, you'll always get a chance to see many ducks and variety of birds. After spending an hour we proceeded to an Indian restaurant pick up some Indian delicacies. From here we went to Irvine Spectrum Center where we were scheduled to meet Abhijeets family. Irvine Spectrum Center is certainly a place worth the visit as it offers many shops, good restaurants, and department stores as well as an IMAX the- ater. They have a huge ferris wheel and a great Merry-go-round for kids. There is even a small train to take kinds for a ride. But what we all enjoyed the most was the Ice skate rinks as it was fun to watch Abhi- jeets daughter and her friend skating. They were initially a bit nervous walking onto the rink and grab- bing the rails in- between. But soon they overcame it and were skating along with other kids and some eld- ers. Soon it become a bit cramped. Late evening Abhijeet dropped me off at the airport and I took my flight to Las Vegas. It was great hav- ing seen a new city and spent some good time. C i t y F o c u s Global DestinationsMay - June 2014 23
  • 15. H o s p i t a l i t y Global Destinations May - June 201426 Q uite a few budget hotels have come up across the country. Amongst these is the Keys Hotels, a new genre of execu- tive hospitality, that’s growing rapidly. The largest inven- tory of the group in a single property is the Keys Hotel and Serv- iced Apartments Whitefield, Bengaluru with 148 rooms and 74 service apartments. “We cater mainly to the business traveler as we are in close vicinity to most business estab- lishments in this locality. For our long staying guests we have service apartments. We also get quite a few leisure travelers - especially after a business traveler has experienced our hospital- ity and comes with his family,” said Anand Ramachandran, General Manager at Keys Hotel Whitefield, Bengaluru. The hotel looks graceful from the outside and the lobby is spacious. The basic category of room is 210 sq. ft. with a working desk that has an ergonomic chair, a relaxing couch. The Apartments Studio Suite is a serviced apart- ment which is a 295 sq. ft. suite with a fully equipped kitchenette, refrigerator, hot plates, crockery, cutlery and microwave plus the working desk with ergonomic chair. The One Bedroom Suite is 570 sq. ft. and has a separate living room, dining room and kitchen. All rooms also come fitted with 2 LCD TV's - in the living room and bedroom. The hotel does not pro- vide dental kits or combs which you have to buy from the vend- ing machine near reception. Apart from these standard rooms the hotel has Women's Secure Rooms. “You will find these in almost all Keys properties. These are specially created and designed for single lady travelers. These rooms are located near the elevator, in a separate wing with extra CCTV surveillance in the corridor. A Video Door Phone in the room helps to identify the person before allowing entry. We also have rooms for the differently abled which is slightly bigger than normal rooms with a bathroom specially designed to meet their requirements,” said Anand Ramachandran. On the F&B side the hotel provides a choice of buffet or a la carte meals. Keys Cafe Charming and contemporary is the coffee shop and restaurant meets catering to Indian, Continental etc. The buffet spread for both breakfast and dinner is substantial by most hotel standards. Unlock - The Restobar is a sports bar that serves a wide selection of spirits, wines as well as cocktails and mocktails. It also has gaming and lounging areas that are accen- tuated by music and soft lighting. “To cater to our customers both our residential guests, local- ities plus the corporate client - we are planning a poolside bar and a fast food restaurant,” said Anand Ramachandran. 'Food in a Bag' A unique 24x7 room service concept that serves your dish in disposable sealed bags which ensures that you only have to open the door once. Also the disposable bags help to maintain hygiene. "Breakfast-on-the- go" from 5 am to 11 am provides packed food and snacks to the guests leaving early to the air- port or office and want to save time. Theres also a State-of-the-art ultra modern gymnasium with cardiovascular machines and a 24x7 key card access, a pool sta- tion, dartboard electronic gaming stations, LCD screens for live sporting action For MICE the hotel has State-of-the-art business facilities with a fully equipped board room and conference hall with integrated presentation setup including teleconferencing, aquatic panels for noise reduction. The hotel is very well managed by smiling staff who are both cooperative and caring. But what impressed us the most was a comment by a guest who said, “The best part is that this hotel pro- vides complimentary drop facility to our offices in the Whitefield locality. It’s a boon especially during peak hours where getting a cab is not easy. I don’t recall any other hotel in India providing this service free.” When we questioned the GM on this he simply said but its our pleasure to do it for our guests. Truly the hotel goes a step ahead. A hotel that cares Located close to the IT and industrial area Keys Hotel Whitefield, Bengaluru is an ideal option
  • 16. G a d g e t s Global Destinations May - June 201428 L as Vegas is always a happening city but for 5 days of every year it becomes the hub of technology as techies from across the globe (including journalists) converge into Las Vegas for International CES – the largest technology event in the world. This year was no exception as visitors and the media wit- nessed amazing tech breakthroughs and thousands of new prod- uct introductions, innovation at the 2014 International CES. Owned and produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the International CES is the global gathering place for all who thrive on the business of innovation. With a record two million net square feet of exhibit space housing more than 3,200 exhibitors and over 150,000 industry professionals in attendance, including 35,000 from outside the United States, 2014 CES was the largest in the shows history. “CES is amazing, magical, hands-on, incredible, innovative and inspiring,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. “This year’s show was an energizing display of where the future is headed, bringing to life cool new products from every industry that touches technology. One-third of the world’s population interacted with CES in some way this week as we experienced the future. From curved and flexible Ultra HD TVs and next genera- tion smart phones to drones, robots, sensors, the Internet of Everything, Hi-Res audio, connected cars and 3D printers, it seems like the only thing missing from the 2014 CES was a time- travel machine.” Major tech breakthroughs and product launches garnered the world’s attention across 15 product categories and 25 market-spe- cific TechZones, including Engadget’s Best of CES finalists. “CES is the consumer electronics industry’s best event for show- casing new technology and new vendors,” said Mike Mohan, president, home business group and chief merchandising officer, Best Buy. “Surrounding our merchant and operations teams, it gives us the ability to meet, see and discuss business opportuni- ties with anyone.” The International CES will return to Las Vegas, January 6-9, 2015 Eye controlled tablet Tobii EyeMobile is a lightweight accessory that enables eye control capabilities on Windows 8 tablets. The Tobii EyeMobile was designed to provide individuals with arthritis, muscular dys- trophy, Rett syndrome, spinal cord injuries and other demobiliz- ing conditions with hands-free access to the full functionality of Windows 8 tablet devices. Tobii EyeMobile puts indi- viduals with physical and communication impairments at the forefront of consumer technology, allowing them to navigate and control modern, off-the-shelf Windows 8 tablets with the simple, natu- ral and relaxed movement of their eyes. In addition to pro- viding access to tablet devices and over 100,000 Windows 8 applications, Tobii EyeMobile can also act as a sup- plementary augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device that allows users with communication challenges to gen- erate speech via Gaze Interaction. Tobii Technology is global market leader in eye tracking and Gaze Interaction. Samsung Smart Home The Samsung Smart Home brand, a vision for a connected world, debuted at CES 2014. This will enable users to control and manage their home devices through a single application by con- necting personal and home devices—from refrigerators and washing machines to Smart TVs, digital cameras, smartphones International CES 2014 again garners global attention Every year CES seems to amaze me – while the big players did showcase their innovations, it was the creativity of the smaller manufacturers that left me impressed says Chandragupta Amritkar after a visit to CES 2014 in Las Vegas
  • 17. G a d g e t s Global DestinationsMay - June 2014 29 and even the wearable device Galaxy Gear—through an integrat- ed platform and server. Users can use customized settings on their mobile devices or Smart TV to monitor or control home devices —turning on air conditioning or activating lighting, for example—while inside or outside the home, or even while travelling abroad. At the touch of a dedicated Smart Home app icon on their device, the service enables users to control one or multiple devices simultaneously no matter where they are. Smart Home also offers a voice command function on all the controller devices. If a user says ‘going out’ to his Galaxy Gear device, home lighting and selected appliances are turned off. If the user says ‘good night’ to their Smart TV remote control, the TV will be turned off and lights dimmed and gradually turned off in readiness for sleep. With the service’s Home View feature users can also use their smartphone to get real-time views of the home via in-built appliance cameras; and Smart Home’s Smart Customer Service notifies users when it’s time to service appli- ances or replace consumables, and provides assistance in after- sales servicing. World’s lightest interchangeable lens camera The new Sony α5000 camera is the world’s lightest inter- changeable lens camera to feature the convenience of Wi-Fi con- nectivity. The new camera boasts a formidable amount of imag- ing power for its size. The new camera features a large 20.1 MP APS-C sized sensor that is paired with a new-generation BIONZ X processor. These key devices work together to deliver crisp, high-quality still images and full HD videos in all types of shoot- ing conditions. On-board Wi-Fi capabilities give consumers one- touch connection with Xperia or NFC-compatible Android smart- phones or tablets for instant image transfer and sharing. A single touch also activates Smart Remote Control, linking the camera with a smartphone or tablet to view shots. For devices without NFC one-touch capabilities, users can wirelessly transfer images and videos and activate Smart Remote Control with the α5000 camera through Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile application, available for the iOS and Android platforms. The new α5000 has a intuitive tiltable LCD screen that can flip upwards up to 180 degrees for easy self-portraits. The Sony α5000 is priced for about $600. Pebble Steel smartwatches Smartwatches were never attractive. The road to success is to make them both functional and fashionable -- some- thing of utility, and tempting to wear. This year Pebble managed to present a great-looking wristwatch with an excellent configu- ration. The new Pebble Steel channels the styling of a classic men's watch while also adding a number of new optimized apps to the mix. A new Mercedes one was particularly interesting. It provides stats like your current mileage, how much fuel is in your tank, and your current tire pressure, whether you're near the car or not. While driving, you can set the app to deliver vibration alerts to your wrist for different events, like if traffic is getting heavy ahead. You can also configure Pebble's three buttons for quick actions performed through the phone and over the car's dash system. It’s water resistant (safe in the shower or poolside). A slightly new magnetic connector for charging and an added three-color LED for showing charge status round out the new fea- tures. Most smartwatch displays shut off to conserve energy. The Pebble’s "e-paper" black-and-white screen stays active all the time. A side button adds backlighting at night, or you can shake your wrist to light up the screen. The drawback it only holds eight apps at a time is priced at $249. The DoorBot wireless doorbell How nice it would be if you can answer your doorbell from a wireless device say your smart phone. Well DoorBot wireless doorbell does exactly the same. DoorBot is a sleek, simple and powerful wireless doorbell that streams live video of a home’s front doorstep directly to a smartphone or tablet. It connects to your home Wi-Fi network. Other devices on the network can be used to view live video of who’s at the door. With the included app (for iPhone, iPad, or Android), you can see, hear, and speak to visitors even from afar—and even when it’s dark outside.
  • 18. G a d g e t s Global Destinations May - June 201432 Many times you miss an important delivery from FedEx, DHL because you are not at home or in the bathroom. You can also attach it to a wired doorbell, which will still ring if your Wi-Fi network goes down. It will run for over a year before needing to be recharged.A drawback intended to preserve long battery life is that DoorBot is inactive until someone rings the bell so it doesn’t let you view your doorstep if no one has pushed the doorbell. This wireless doorbell is priced at $199. World’s Largest Curved UHD TV Ultra high definition television (UHDTV) that includes 4K UHD (2160p) and 8K UHD (4320p) - which are two digital video formats is going to be the future. Samsung has come out with a broad range of UHD TVs, four of them Curved for a bold, theatri- cal experience. Samsung U9000 Series Curved UHD TVs – The World’s First Curved UHD TV - are 65-inch and 55-inch Curved TVs. The company also showed its “Bendable TV” concept, which allows viewers to switch between a curved and flat screen at the touch of a button. Samsung launched the World’s Largest Curved UHD TV, with a 105-inch screen and a truly cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio with 11 million pixels for a 5,120×2,160 screen resolution. Additionally, viewers can experience a 3D effect without glasses with the new Auto Depth Enhancer feature. Samsung’s revolutionary curved design creates the most immersive viewing experience and with its new Instant On feature, users will no longer have to wait for their TVs to power up. Oculus Rift: Virtual reality headset Virtual reality has captured the imagination of developers, con- sumers and businesses for decades, but there have remained a few deficiencies. The Oculus Rift is a new virtual reality headset that lets players step inside their favorite games and virtual worlds. Oculus presented one of the coolest gadgets at CES - its latest prototype, code-named "Crystal Cove," Oculus VR has taken a massive leap forward, eliminating the stomach-churning motion blur that has plagued previous generations of VR headsets, and adding sensors and a camera to track the position of both your head and body and provide more accurate simulated movement. The prototype has unbelievable head tracking, letting one lean in and out and look at objects from multiple angles. The Crystal Cove version's 1080p OLED display is amazingly sharp and bright. The Oculus Rift creates a stereoscopic 3D view with excellent depth, scale, and parallax. With the latest Rift, Oculus has created a device that may usher in an era of truly immersive gaming and entertainment, and even create new opportunities for businesses to use virtual reality in everything from manufacturing to medical environments. Intel RealSense 3D camera In an effort to make interaction with technology simpler, more natural and immersive, Intel in collaboration with other compa- nies, is bringing human-like senses to Intel-based devices in a new family of hardware and software products called Intel
  • 19. G a d g e t s Global DestinationsMay - June 2014 33 RealSense technology. The Intel RealSense 3D camera is one of the first products in the new family and is the world's first inte- grated 3D depth and 2D camera module that helps devices "see" depth much like the human eye. It features a best-in-class depth sensor and a full 1080p color camera. It has the ability to detect finger level movements enabling highly accurate gesture recogni- tion, facial features for understanding movement and emotions. It can understand foregrounds and backgrounds to allow control, enhance interactive augmented reality, simply scan items in three dimensions, and more. The Intel RealSense 3D camera will be integrated into a grow- ing spectrum of Intel-based devices including 2 in 1, tablet, Ultra- book, notebook, and all-in-one (AIO) designs. Systems with the new camera will be available beginning in the second half of 2014 from Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo and NEC. On stage, Intel showcased seven different devices with the integrated camera from Dell, Lenovo and Asus. Panasonics “Life+ Screen” Panasonics Life+ Screen is a new category of TV designed to take consumers beyond Smart TV to a new level of personaliza- tion and interaction. The hallmark of the Life+Screen line-up is the "Beyond Smart" concept that provides an easy-to-use inter- face with a variety of functions. There are so many things one can do with a TV these days - from watching TV shows and films, connecting with family and friends via social media, accessing video on demand and user-generated content via the cloud, gam- ing, and so much more. The new my Home Screen function offers a more intuitive and personalized gateway allowing users to personalize their screen with their favorite apps and content and access it all quickly and easily. The new my Stream feature enables seamless, automatic content recommendation. Pana- sonic Life+ Screens learn user preferences and automatically rec- ommend content that is targeted to each person. Voice Assistant lets the user easily search for their favorite content in a natural, conversational way. My Home Cloud makes it possible to down- load a wide variety of content and apps, and to gain access to places for purchasing accessories via Panasonic’s proprietary Cloud Technology. A new Remote Sharing feature also makes it possible to share video memos, messages, and other information from my Home Screen through smartphone devices while away from home. New Food Storage Solutions The days of opening the refrigerator and sorting through disor- ganized drawers and shelves are over with the Samsung Food Show- case Refrigerator (model: RH22H9010SR). With smart storage and orga- nizational solutions for the family, the refrigera- tor features an exterior door ShowCase com- partment divided into three family-friendly zones: An upper level cooking zone for cook- ing items like cheese and sauces, a mid-level fami- ly zone for drinks and snacks, and a lower level kids zone for juice boxes and fruit cups. The refrigerator also includes an interior InnerCase compartment for longer storage of larger, fresh food items. The Metal Cooling guard on the inside of the front door captures cold air and main- tains the optimal temperature within the fridge, so food stays fresh, even if the refrigerator door is opened frequently. Panasonic DECT telephone - KX-PRL262B Panasonic KX-PRL262B Dock-Style DECT telephone system is compatible with iPhone 5/5s, iPod touch and iPad mini models with lightning connectors. Designed for ease-of-use, the tele- phone system offers an array of unique features for rich function- ality including text message alert which notifies users when they have a new text message on their iPhone, transfer of phone book entries from the iPhone via Bluetooth technology, ring as cell which allows the handset to ring the same ringtones as the iPhone, and talking caller ID that announces incoming calls. By simply connecting the iPhone 5 via Bluetooth on the Pana- sonic KX-PRL262B Dock-Style cordless telephone system, users can play music or make and receive hands-free calls from their iPhone, through the phone’s built in Bluetooth enabled speakers. Conveniently, users don’t have to worry about their iPhone bat- tery dying during voice conversations because the dock is equipped with a lightning connector that charges the iPhone 5 for an uninterrupted experience. The Panasonic KX-PRL262B Dock-Style cordless telephone system uses the company’s popular Link2Cell tech- nology to con- nect a user’s iPhone with the unit’s handset, allowing users to make and receive cell phone calls anywhere in the home using the
  • 20. G a d g e t s Global Destinations May - June 201434 handset. To ensure important text messages are not missed, the phone offers a talking text sender alert that announces the name of the sender when a text message is received on the iPhone. The first Wi-Fi enabled camera The Polaroid Socialmatic camera, the first Wi-Fi enabled cam- era in the line will change the way consumers look at digital cam- eras with its unique square shape and vintage design. Consumers will have the choice of using the 14 megapixel front-side camera or 2 megapixel rear-side camera to capture and immediately post images to their favorite social networking sites, via built in Wi-Fi. If Wi-Fi isn’t immediately available, the camera will easily pair with consumer’s smartphones via Bluetooth to enable instant sharing from virtually anywhere. It will allow users to select, print and share images instantly on ZINK Paper featuring the ink- free Zero Ink Printing technology by ZINK Imaging. Prior to printing, images can be touched up, edited, and consumers can add clip art, icons, or text to any image prior to printing or post- ing. The Polaroid Socialmatic camera will utilize an Android operating system. The camera will feature a 4.5” touchscreen LCD display for easy navigation and an LED flash for great images even in low light. Consumers will be able to save their images to a Micro SD card or to the camera’s 4GB of internal storage. Lamborghini Veneno Roadster with Audio by Monster Monster created a unique audio system for the EUR 3.3m super sports car, the Lamborghini Veneno Roadster - only nine of which will be produced. Monster has designed a system that delivers sound with best-in-class dynamics and clarity. The Veneno Road- ster’s audio system uses Monster’s latest proprietary technologies and sonic innovations to bring the full experience of live music to the drivers and passengers of Lamborghini's masterpiece. Lam- borghini stands out for being the best Italian luxury super sports car manufacturer. Monster engineered the sound of Beats head- phones, and has since become the world’s leading manufacturer of high-performance headphones, all featuring Pure Monster Sound technology. It's a laptop, tablet and desktop PC The ASUS Transformer Book Trio is the first 3-in-1, 11.6-inch dual OS Windows 8/Android hybrid laptop with a dock powered by a 4th generation Intel Core™ i7 processor. The Asus Trans- former Book Trio bridges the gap between mobile tablets and tra- ditional laptops. It’s actually three devices in one - It’s a Laptop. It’s a Tablet. It’s a Desktop PC. It opens up like a laptop with a mouse and key- board with Win- dows 8/Android operating sys- tem or the screen which is detachable (and can function as a standalone tablet). Both “devices” share an 11.6-inch HD touchscreen - a 1920 x 1080 IPS display. The tablet has a dual-core 1.6-Ghz Intel Atom processor, while the laptop features a powerful Core i7 4500U processor. Theres a 2 GB of tablet RAM with the tablet in Android mode and 4 GB of RAM from the base laptop when run- ning Windows. It has an array of ports from USB 3.0 to micro HDMI to be connected. SkyBell - A smart Wi-Fi doorbell SkyBell addresses a specific need – to know who is at your door whether you’re at home or on the go – and makes managing homes and daily life a little easier. Manufactured by Sky- Bell Technologies, SkyBell Wi-Fi video doorbell was named an International CES Innovations 2014 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree. SkyBell is a smart Wi-Fi door- bell with video camera and motion sensor that allows users to answer their door from a mobile device no matter where they are or what they’re doing. When a visitor presses the Sky- Bell button, a live video feed is sent to the user who can see, hear and speak to their visitor from an iOS or Android mobile device.
  • 21. G a d g e t s Global DestinationsMay - June 2014 35 Panasonic cordless telephones Panasonics launched four new Premium Design Series of cord- less telephones - the KX-PRW120, KX-PRW130, KX-PRS120 and KX-PRX120. The KX-PRW120 and the KX-PRW130, include a Smartphone Connect feature, which requires a home Wi-Fi connection that allows consumers to make and receive landline calls throughout the home using their smartphone or tablet. As an added benefit, the Panasonic KX-PRW120 or KX-PRW130 handset can also be used as a home intercom in combination with smartphone or tablet devices. The Panasonic KX-PRW120 was designed with a unique lay-down style for an easy grab-and-grip and comfortable one hand or hands-free operation. The phone’s magnetic adaptor allows the handset to securely sit in place on the base so it can be placed on the coun- tertop. The Panasonic KX-PRX120 can also be used as a video phone via Skype using the built-in 0.3 Megapixel camera on the front of the phone. In addition to video communication, users can enjoy other types of communication including E-mail, SNS and schedule sharing on Google Calendar. The iSmartAlarm Doorfront Priced between $199 or $349 depending on the configuration, the iSmartAlarm Doorfront is a wireless doorbell, a new security and home control tool. Its a collection of wireless components that includes a camera, motion sensor, and a remote tag (for track- ing children or pets). The replacement doorbell lets you know when someone is approaching the door even before they ring the bell, and you can see, hear, and speak to visitors using the com- pany’s app on your iPhone. You can also view streaming video, take snapshots, or set the system to automatically capture activi- ty with the product’s built-in motion detector. The iSmartAlarm Doorfront is the first device to seamlessly integrate motion detec- tion, a high-resolution controllable camera, doorbell, and inter- com functionalities in an easy to use device. 3Doodler: The world’s first 3D printing pen 3D printing is all the rage. But its expensive as printing with plastic (or other materials) requires a complex machine that fol- lows a programmed design. 3D printers will become affordable soon. Though not a printer in the traditional sense, the 3Doodler does let you create physical objects using colorful plastic "ink" sticks. It's like a hot-glue gun crossed with a soldering iron: the melted plastic emerges from the tip, allowing you to "draw" objects. A company called Wobbleworks has come to the rescue of cre- ative spirits trapped by two-dimensional drawing on paper. The 3Doodler 3D printing pen helps one draw or trace plastic crafts, templates and other 3D designs. The 3D printing pen costs $100 and comes with 50 multicolored plastic strands when it ships this spring.
  • 22. For Your Information Global Destinations May - June 201436 May 02 -03 World Travel Market Africa, Cape Town, South Africa May 05 -08 Arabian Travel Market, Dubai, UAE May 06 -09 Travelweek Sao Paulo by ILTM, Bienal Pavillion, Sao Paulo, Brazil May 09 -11 WTF - WORLD TRAVEL FAIR 2014, Shanghai, China May 11 – 13 Germany Travel Mart 2014, Bremen, Germany May 11 – 13 Airport Show, DICEC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates May 12 – 13 Global Airport Leaders' Forum, DICEC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates May 15 -18 FIM - Foire International de Madagascar, Madagascar, Antananarivo May 20 -22 IMEX 2014, Frankfurt, Germany May 22 -23 Travel Distribution Summit Europe 2014, London, UK June 02 – 05 ILTM Asia, Shanghai Exhibition Centre (SEC), Shanghai, China June 02 – 06 Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum, Athens, Greece June 05 – 08 5th Northern European Conference on Travel Medicine, Bergen, Norway June 10 – 12 AIBTM, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, USA June 11 – 13 MITM Euromed, Meetings and Incentive Travel Market, Cadiz, Spain June 11 – 13 Istanbul Medical Tourism Fair and Congress 2014, Istanbul, Turkey June 12 – 15 ITE & MICE 2014, Hong Kong, China June 17 – 20 PATAcademy-HCD (Human Capital Development), Bangkok, Thailand July 06-08 Routes Silk Road 2014, Tbilisi, Georgia July 06-11 Int’l Congress of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, Edinburgh, UK July 11-13 India International Travel Mart, Chennai July 18-20 India International Travel Mart, Bangalore August 19 -21 IT&CM India 2014, Kempinski Ambience Hotel, Delhi, India September 03 – 05 IBTM India, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai, India September 10 – 12 The Global Spa & Wellness Summit, Marrakech, Morocco September 11 – 13 India International Travel Mart, Mumbai September 17 – 19 CIBTM, China National Convention Centre, Beijing, China September 17 – 19 PATA Travel Mart 2014, Phnom Penh, Cambodia September 18 – 20 Kerala Travel Mart 2014, Kochi, India September 20 – 23 World Routes 2014, Chicago, Illinois, USA September 22 – 25 ILTM Americas, Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, Mexico September 23 – 26 IFTM - International French Travel Market Top Resa, Paris, France September 25 – 28 JATA Tourism Forum & Travel Showcase, Tokyo, Japan Sept 29 – Oct 01 ILTM Spa, Café Royal, London, United Kingdom Sept 30 – Oct 02 IT & CMA 2014, Bangkok, Thailand October 06 – 09 Adventure Travel World Summit 2014, Killarney, Ireland October 21 – 24 Interbad 2014 (swimming pools, saunas and spas), Stuttgart, Germany October 23 – 25 ITB Asia 2013, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore October 27 – 30 International Golf Travel Market (IGTM), Villa Erba, Lake Como, Italy November 03 – 06 World Travel Market (WTM), ExCeL, London, United Kingdom November 18 – 20 EIBTM, Fira Gran Via, Barcelona, Spain November 21 – 23 India International Travel Mart, Pune November 28 – 30 India International Travel Mart, Hyderabad December 01 – 04 ILTM, Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, Cannes, France January 11 – 14 Hoga Nürnberg 2015, Nürnberg, Germany January 15 – 18 Ferien-Messe Wien, Messe Wien, Vienna, Austria Exhibitions and conferences not only give you an opportunity to see and hear about the latest destinations, servic- es and products but also becomes a venue to meet and interact with International partners. One should plan much in advance to participate in an expo so that he can get in touch with existing and prospective customers. We have compiled a list of travel related Exhibitions for 2014 -15. If your event is not listed, please e-mail us at globalfeatures@lycos.com. It's free! Your Dateline If you are organizing an exhibition/Conference not listed above please get in touch with us at- Global Destinations, B-701, Customs Colony, Military Rd, Marol, Andheri(E), Mumbai-400 059, India. Phone - 91-22-29252569, Mobile - 9224339001 / 9223419060 e-mail: globalfeatures@lycos.com