First Published on January 22, 2018
If you have been reading the travel trends for 2018, you will come across this term “Experiential holidays”. They say that this is how new travel is shaping up. Indeed, travelers like us are demanding for more than just a “visit to a destination” option. We are looking for an immersive experience that allows us “feel” the place rather than just “see” it. Thankfully, there are companies like Sterling Holidays that have caught on this trend early to offer us a new option of spending our “Holiday Differently”.
What is Experiential Travel?
Experiential travel is best explained as Active Travel or Engaging Travel. There was a time that a destination was defined as a place that had points of interest for you to see. A lot of travelers would go to that destination, passively see what needed to be and return home. However, today, a new age traveler demands more. He wants to not just see the place, but engage with it. He wants to interact with the locals, take part in the cultural festivals, learn to cook and then eat local food or even learn the local art forms before he actually buys it for home. It is precisely this that is called Experiential travel.
Experiential travel goes much beyond the passive tick marks of a destination. It is a wholesome experience of discovering a new place, exploring and engaging it with all your senses. The entire bit allows you to breathe and live the place, creating meaningful memories for life.
Introducing Sterling Holidays
Sterling Holidays has been around since 1986 and has a network of around 29 resorts across 26 destinations in India. They are subsidiary of Thomas Cook India Ltd and are also, a part of the RCI hotels network. Sterling Holidays have been quite well known for its time-share holiday concept. In the last one year, the company has undergone a brand identity change with not just a different colored logo unit but a different brand proposition as well.
During our travelers’ meet in Bangalore, the CMO of Sterling Holidays – Mr. Peshwa Acharya share this new brand identity with us. He explained the new brand values of Sterling Holidays that essentially reflect a vibrant and energetic zest for life. The new brand identity is not just about colors and appearance but is evident in their new offerings based on their concept of “Holiday Differently”.
Holiday Differently with Sterling Holidays
When Sterling Holidays embraced the concept of Experiential Holidays, based on their own research and travel trends, they really took it seriously. They did not limit themselves to offering experiences at their resort – which is their prime business. They went beyond it to curate programs for these resorts to help their guests experience the place. Their stay experience is seamlessly merged with that of the destination to help their travelers actively engage with the place that they have actually traveled to.
The brand is attempting to share hidden facets or special aspects of every destination where they have a resort. These are curated into programs called as Sterling Discoveries which lead the Sterling guests away from the passive lure of the destination to an engaging holiday at it. Take for example – Ooty. Sterling Discovery in Ooty allows you to discover the elusive Toda Tribe, experience their traditional life, engage with them by way of demonstration of their traditional dressmaking, cooking and hair styling, take part in their life with their meal and a visit to their temple before you get back to the resort.
Meet Raja Rex at Sterling Holidays
One thing that the Sterling Holidays has taken care of is how to make these experiences fun for an entire family or couple. With their new fun mascot – Rajasaurus Narmadensis – a dinosaur of Indian Origin, there is a new world that they have created to make discoveries fun for any age group. And all through activities and adventures.
100 days of Joy at Sterling Holidays
One of the key things about Holidays in India is that most of them are on festivals. Given that, Sterling Holidays has created 100 such days of Joy that are about special events, celebrating the spirit of life. Should you visit Sterling Holidays on any of these special days, you are promised a unique experience.
Destinations Showcased by Sterling Holidays
Based on their new philosophy of “Holiday Differently”, Sterling Holidays have brought about a lot of changes to their resorts as well. During their presentation in Bangalore, they showcased several of their properties – each with their unique point. Sterling Musoorie offers you a dinner date with the famous Winter Line while the one in Darjeeling promises you a fascinating tea trail. However, the one that I personally loved was at Dindi. I loved the way the exquisite setting of the resort blended into the raw beauty of the place. Best explained by the video below:
Being a part of Sterling Holidays
There are two ways that a traveler like you and me can be a part of the Sterling Holidays. The first one is purchasing a Timeshare with them. This allows you to “Holiday Differently” with them without the worry of inflation. The cost of the timeshare is dependent on the points that purchased. Essentially, every year you will be credited those many points which you can either accumulate or choose to use. Depending on these points, you can choose the type of room. The points that you burn will also, vary as per the holiday season.
The second manner in which you can Holiday Differently is by booking a Sterling resort on the website or through any of the other travel websites. This is quite equivalent to the regular hotel bookings that we engage in. Even here, you can eligible for all the new offerings that Sterling Holidays have started.
Both these options have their advantages and disadvantages and depending on your lifestyle and requirement, you can choose the one that suits you. For me, having seen all that they do have to share, I do dream of trying them out at least once – maybe at Dindi. After all, who does not want to “#HolidayDifferently”.