Ride the waves of Rameswaram, live the dream of Chettinad this festival

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No one is sure of a third wave, but many “avenging tourists” toss a surfboard in their luggage.
As the hospitality industry grows after the Covid-induced ebb, Rameswaram and Tuticorin have become the new surf destinations in Tamil Nadu. As for the less adventurous, there are the majestic bungalows of Chettinad which once hosted mostly foreigners whose flow has dried up since last year.
“Surf tourism in the pockets of Rameswaram and Tuticorin has gained ground in the adventure circuit over the past two months,” said Hari Ganapathy, co-founder of Pickyoutrail, a personalized vacation company. Monsoon may not be a good time to surf, but bookings are increasing.
A better option during the rainy season, as an increasing number of domestic tourists are finding, would be to experience royal life in traditional bungalows. Top choices include Chettinad bungalows in Karaikudi, Svatma in Thanjavur or Cocoa Lagoon in Pollachi.
“Domestic demand has increased by 330% for cottages and resorts in tourist places like Yercaud. Room prices are inflated by at least 30% (that is, from 10,000 to 13,000 per night, because even companies book rooms, cabins and beach houses at ECR and OMR, to meet their colleagues and friends, ”says Ganapathy.
Average stays are booked for two nights and three days. “Locked in for a long time, people have saved money and want to splurge at the first opportunity,” says Ganapathy.
Santhosh Kanna, Vice President of Holidays, Thomas Cook (India), says there is a higher demand from millennials for bike trips to
Mamallapuram and Pondicherry.
Mamallapuram, Puducherry, Coonoor, Kodaikanal, Yercaud, Ooty and Yelagiri are sold out on weekends. Branded hotels in Chennai and other cities are seeing pre-Covid occupancy rates.
“We are full on weekends and the occupancy rate is 80% on weekdays,” said ITC Grand Chola general manager Zubin Songadwala. “Once the restrictions are lifted, activity will be 20% higher than in 2019.”
Room rates are gradually increasing north as Covid remediation costs are added to the bill, and no one is complaining. Hygiene and dining are the top attractions as families and friends go on road vacations across the state. Ganapathy estimates the rate hike at 30 to 40%.
That’s because pre-Diwali demand in Pongal is up to 70% higher, says Daniel D’Souza, President and Country Head, SOTC Travel. “People book long weekends in Pondicherry. Young professionals come for vacations and jobs; multigenerational families are considering villa stays in the Coonoor tea plantations,” D’Souza explains.
Hotel managers say guests always ask if all hotel staff have been vaccinated, and often the answer is yes.
According to Shubhangi N, GM sales and marketing, GRT Hotels & Resorts: “There is a rush for beach property in Mamallapuram and our resorts in Yercaud and Kodaikanal. Between wedding bookings and the vacation rush, we have to turn down reservations every day.
It’s not that the offers are canceled. According to Thomas Cook’s Kanna: “Offers such as the One-Companion Purchase Offer and the Early Bird Discount for Families are driving bookings for the last quarter of 2021 through Pongal.”
Ramesh Ramanathan, CMD, Sterling Holiday Resorts, says its resorts, which are mostly occupied by club members, are receiving reservations from non-members this season. The fact that more than 20% of guests are from other states may indicate that Tamil Nadu is poised for another peak in domestic tourism.

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