In our new series ‘Young and Inspiring’, we feature young talent from the events and travel domain whose job involves helping couples plan their celebrations of love. Here, honeymoon travel planner Pritish Shah, founder of Kolkata-based ‘A Travel Duet’ tells us about his venture and shares tips for couples planning their honeymoon travels.
Q) Tell us more about A Travel Duet (ATD).
We have been in the travel fraternity since 2006 but A Travel Duet came into existence only in 2012! While doing my Masters in Tourism from Bournemouth University in 2011, I realized that there was a huge gap in the travel industry and that honeymooners deserved way better than what was being offered to them at the time. I started my homework for ‘A Travel Duet’ by visiting off-beat destinations, couples-only hotels and researching on new experiences. The idea was very simple – to add value to each couple’s honeymoon trip. This came from the realization that a honeymoon is not an ordinary trip, there are a lot of dreams attached with it and we have to make them come true.
Q) What are your clients looking for today?
Couples these days are looking for diversity, they want to experience a variety during the course of one holiday. Today, trips are not limited to beach vacations or sightseeing trips to touristy spots. They would rather go beyond the usual and explore different cultures, cuisines and adventure activities. In the process, they end up learning a lot about each other’s choices, tastes and preferences. Self-drive holidays are also a great way to spend time together and get to learn more about your partner. The trend nowadays is moving to experiential travel and couples are requesting us for offbeat honeymoon destinations like Portugal and Morocco.
Sandbank exerience, Sonevafushi Maldives
Q) What is the typical duration of travel for those who are travelling abroad?
All our honeymoon clients usually opt for a holiday of more than 10-11 nights. There are also those who prefer longer honeymoons that last for about three to four weeks. Couples usually try and fit in two destinations in one trip. More often than not a primary destination is clubbed with a nearby beach destination. For example, New Zealand with Fiji or French Polynesia, Mexico with Caribbean, and South Africa with Seychelles are popular combinations.
Q) How does your interaction start? Do most of your clients start with telling you where they want to go?
For a true handcrafted itinerary, it is important to go deeper and understand the bride and groom’s individual preferences. And in order to achieve this, we first send out a questionnaire before we commence their honeymoon travel planning. This helps us get a grip on their tastes, budgets and preferences. Based on their inputs we start designing the trip. So, it’s highly appreciated it if both are involved before we start planning.
Q) Which destinations do you usually recommend for nature lovers and thrill seekers?
For adventure and nature seekers nothing beats New Zealand and Australia. Both destinations have great options for adventure activities and boast of fantastic safety records. At the same time, we see a growing demand for trips to South and Central American destinations such as Mexico, Costa Rice, Argentina, Brazil and Peru.
Pavilion at Lizard Island
Q) What do you recommend for the luxury loving couple or food and wine lovers?
Winery visits have really picked up among new age travelers. It’s a beautiful experience where you get to relax in the vineyard and learn more about wines from the region. A major part of such a trip involves sitting back leisurely and discovering these wines through tastings, seven course meals or interaction with the vintners themselves. We have had instances of couples who have traveled to Martinborough in New Zealand, Bordeaux in France, Barossa Valley in Australia, Napa Valley in USA and Mendoza in Argentina to experience a ‘food and wine’ honeymoon. This shows that there is a growing demand for winery based experiences among Indian honeymooners.
Barossa Valley, Australia
Q) Do shopping and nightlife figure prominently in a honeymoon couple’s must-experience list?
Most couples who go to nature and adventure destinations don’t particularly list shopping high on their itinerary. Some of them are interested in picking up things authentic to the region. For example, in New Zealand we have many takers for natural and honey based products. Couples nowadays enjoy visiting local markets and boutiques native to the country to get a firsthand feel of the place. For those who want to enjoy nightlife and shopping, our recommendations are countries like Spain, Mexico, Singapore and Dubai where they can enjoy shopping and clubbing till late in the night.
Jungle reserve Villa, Maldives
Q) What is the most unusual request you have received till now?
One unusual request I remember was from a bride who really wanted to experience a ‘white wedding’ in an island resort in Fiji.
Q) And an experience or stay you’ll always recommend?
For those who can afford it, I would definitely recommend a stay at the First Light Villa in Eagles Nest, New Zealand. It offers one of the most romantic stays in the world and is considered a 7 star experience.
First Light Villa in Eagles Nest, New Zealand
My other favorite recommendations are Areias Do Seixo near Lisbon which makes for a perfect romantic getaway. It has a love room as well. Other romantic resorts are Jade Mountain in St Lucia, Soneva Fushi in Maldives (Barefoot luxury), Lizard Island in Australia, Delaire Graff Estate in Stellanbosch, South Africa; they offer fantastic views of the winery from your private pool in the room.
Love Room, Areais do Seixo, Portugal
For booking A Travel Duet as your honeymoon planner, click here.