Experiential Stays to Holiday Differently with Sterling Holidays

posted in: Asia, India, Stays, Tips | 60

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”.

Sterling Holidays Wayanad
Sterling Holidays Wayanad                                                                                                                                 PC: Sterling Holidays 

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.

Me breathing in the place – at Padar Island, Indonesia

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.

Peshwa Acharya of Sterling Holidays sharing the new Brand identity
Peshwa Acharya of Sterling Holidays sharing the new Brand identity

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.

Sterling Discoveries


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

Raja Rex - the mascot of Sterling Holidays
Raja Rex – the mascot of 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.

Sterling Holidays - Mussoorie with the Diner that treats you to the Winter Line
Sterling Holidays – Mussoorie with the Diner that treats you to the Winter Line

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”.


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60 Responses

  1. Claire

    Great to know that there are travel companies which are trying to catering to the ever-changing needs of holiday-makers 🙂

  2. saraessop

    I think that experiential travel is so much more rewarding and fulfilling than passive travel. Interacting with the locals, cooking with them and participating in their cultural festivals will give you a much better feel for their lives than just visiting their city. I would love to start traveling more experientially.

  3. Abigail Sinsona

    This is the first time that I’ve heard about the concept of experiential travel. But I do get the idea and I like the concept. It is also a great way to make the most of each travel instead of just being there! You have to live it!

    • Ami

      Far more fulfilling to live it than just visit. It leaves you with enriching memories. Thanks Abigail

  4. Henry

    This is a nice read for Sterling Discoveries. I wouldn’t book it myself, but you’ve done a good job showing their offerings

    • Ami

      Thanks Henry. A lot of other travelers are seeking this and it is best to put out information that can help them make the choice.

  5. Lisa

    I’ve never heard of experiential holidays before till now. This sounds like an interesting concept, so will keep an eye to see its progression this year. Thanks for introducing it to us!

  6. loisaltermark

    I totally agree about experiential travel. Rather than just stand back and look, it’s so much more interesting to get involved with local people and get to try out their customs and food. It really gives you a sense of a new culture.

  7. Ada

    I haven’t heard about Experiential travel yet but it seems pretty cool! I would love to travel more like that, meet the locals, take part of the celebration or learn how to cook. Unfortunately am always limited with time and never really get that opportunity. The program seems pretty cool tho, maybe one day I’ll try it!

    • Ami

      Even if you don’t sign up for the entire program, you can just try out one of their stays for it. It will give you the same flavor.

  8. MariellaMNoboa

    Wow – I’ve never heard of Experiential Travel before your post. It definetely sounds fun – something new to experience. Usually holidays are the same years after year – finally something good for a change. Nothing quite like to spice things up and try new things! Great read. I’ll definetely look more into this. – Ella

    • Ami

      Thanks Mariella. Glad I could introduce the concept to you. If you are in India, give it a try with Sterling Holidays. You might just discover the unknown 🙂

  9. Medha Verma

    Its a new concept thats picking up, experiential holidays and its good to know that Sterling holidays is working on creating such experiences for the travellers. I like the idea of 100 days of Joy. I think India is one such destination where experiential travel has a LOT of potential and people would love such ideas. Thanks for sharing this info about Sterling Holidays!

    • Ami

      That is actually true, India has so many experiences to offer and Sterling Holidays, having capitalized on it will have a huge advantage.

  10. Abhinav Singh

    I reiterate, this is the future of travel. I am glad Sterling Holidays are advocating for experiential holiday. Off late, I prefer slow and immersive travel which allows me to absorb things and not just see this, see that. I find the videos of Sterling holidays very cool, especially the Kalyan Verma video. I would love to check out their Dindi property. Heard it is easy to spot hornbills in Dindi.

    • Ami

      I agree, Dindi is quite cool and I hope I get to visit there too. Thanks Abhinav for stopping by

  11. Rachelle Gordon

    I like to see the evolution of travel. I’ve never been one who has been satisfied to just look at stuff in a new location and say that I’m done. I fit in the evolution of travel quite well, as I really like to experience the local culture and customs. It’s nice to know that Sterling Holidays picked up on the trend and is in a great position to cultivate better travel experiences.

    • Ami

      Glad to know that you have moved with the trend. It is definitely more wholesome to do the experiential stay bit. Thanks for stopping by Rachelle.

  12. Neha

    I liked that you shared that engaging is what travelers seek now. I am happy to see this amazing holiday option and to know it is across and around entire world. Which resort or destination is the best as per you ?

    • Ami

      I am a little partial to Dindi after seeing the video. Hope to get there. Thanks for stopping by Neha.

  13. Ramya Abhinand

    Hmm Ami this is interesting, Hearing about Experiential travel for the first Time. But yes, its all about experiencing the place, the food the culture and people. Its soaking a place in it entirety.

    • Ami

      Indeed. In some ways, a lot of us have been doing this but am glad to see companies taking it on.

  14. Shaily

    This is quite an innovative concept. Travel has evolved with time and Sterling Holidays have the best options to cater to the new traveller needs. Their properties look amazing especially the one in Dindi and the Mussoorie with its winter line. Looking forward to booking with them soon! Thanks for sharing such a helpful post.

  15. Clara

    Experiential travel is something very new, and probably is going to be more and more diffused in the next years. Your post is pretty interesting and Sterling Holidays offers a lot of options! Hope to try some of them one day or another!

  16. Miranda Knudtson

    This is definitely a great concept! I haven’t heard of this company before, and it was interesting to learn about what they offer.

    • Ami

      Hey Miranda, the company has just rebranded itself but is a fairly well known one in the RCI circles. Hope you get to experience them. Cheers

  17. Kevin Del Prado

    I kinda like how the way how ‘traveling’ progresses. It’s good that there is Sterling Holidays to change our perception when it comes to visiting places. Although in general there is no basic rule, it’s just how we want to make out of our travels. It’s the start of immersing ourselves to the community that we visit.

    • Ami

      Very true, immersing in the community makes travel so fulfilling. Thanks for the lovely comment Kevin.

  18. tanamerarumbai

    I would say my family is a half experiential traveler. We liked to talk with the locals, watched deeply live in the area, learning the history of the area, and sometimes tried the local food. I think part of it because I like learning different culture and people watching.

    • Ami

      Good to know that you have already embarked on the trend like Sterling Holidays. Now you can try one of their packages to see if it enhances what you already do 😀

  19. Anthony (One of FourFriendsOneWorld)

    It is a good move by Sterling Holidays to embrace the concept of Experiential travel. Many consumers have seen “time share” as a dirty word in recent years. At the same time demanding memorable experiences in everyday life. It only make sense that they also demand memorable experience on their vacations. After all, with the huge investments people make in vacations, they had better get a experience of a life time from it.

    Thanks for sharing. Keep travel blogging. Adventure is better shared with friends!

    • Ami

      The good thing about their new offering is that you can avail it without taking a timeshare. And that is a huge benefit for someone who does not want to invest to one long term commitment.

  20. Neha

    I am really excited about this new offering by Serling group. Since, it absolutely doesn’t make sense for me to travel passively, just see some locations for the sake of seeing and not really engage with them. I guess this is a really mature step to understand the needs of the next generation travelers and serve them better

    • Ami

      And some of their properties and offerings are indeed interesting. Hope you visit one of them Neha.

  21. Sandy N Vyjay

    Travel is undergoing a sea change and travelers of today are more demanding wanting something different in their holidays. More and more companies and resorts are today seeing how they can add value to their proposition. Sterling has been a company that has pioneered many concepts including Time Share in India and now are geared to offer holidays of a different kind to its guests.


    It is good to see travel companies adapting to the new demands of travellers. Experiential itinerary is the need of the hour. I quite liked that Sterling holidays have acted as per the new age travelers taste. I will be experiencing one of their properties soon. I hope they live up to their changed theme and new found focus.

    • Ami

      Would love to hear from you after your stay. Have a good one. I have a feeling you will like it.

  23. kimberly erin

    I have seen this before 😛 I like the idea of traveling to a familiar place yet experiencing something different than expected. its a great idea

    • Ami

      It is open to non members as well. The Jarawa tribe trail is quite different and is not right as well for they are not really welcoming. These guys invite you to their homes, which does not make it as intrusive. 🙂

  24. Yukti

    I also believe in experiential traveling now. After traveling cities superficially, now I want to travel and interact with locals to know and feel the place. Sterling is providing this kind of facility which is appreciative. I would love to meet Toda tribe.

    • Ami

      Sterling definitely makes it easier for a slow experiential travel and has some interesting stuff in store. Go ahead and book yourself in for Ooty, I would love to read about your experience with the Toda tribe

  25. Kavita Favelle

    Yeah I went to a travel conference last spring and that was one of the buzzwords of trends coming into play. Worked for me as I’m very much about finding the best experiences when I travel, the ones that let me really feel I’m in that place and nowhere else!

    • Ami

      It does work for us and with these guys, they seem to have got the Programs in place to make it happen. Thanks Kavita for stopping by.

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