- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 12, 2008

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

My travels within India were arranged by Micato Safaris, one of the world’s best safari organizers, and equally thorough at planning visits to India.

Micato’s expertly arranged details included flights from New Delhi to Chennai and back to New Delhi for the return flight to Washington on Austrian Airlines, with a convenient change of planes in Vienna.

Austrian Airlines on Thursday announced special business-class fares that include flights from Washington Dulles International Airport to Mumbai (formerly Bombay) via Vienna. The round-trip fare, $4,744, includes taxes, but certain restrictions apply, such as advance purchase dates.

Business-class passengers are treated to a chef onboard their flights. As Vienna is famous for its coffees, Austrian Airlines continues the tradition with a coffee menu on which the Viennese names for coffee preparations are listed in translation.

Micato Safari’s arrangements also included being met at each airport and driven to a hotel, pickups at the hotels with driver and guide, then taken back to the hotel after sightseeing. Breakfasts and dinners were usually at the hotels, with lunches at outside restaurants.

All of the guides engaged by Micato were excellent.

Not once did we have to wait for someone to greet us at an airport. There usually was a representative of Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces to greet us and guide us through check-in as well as connecting with our driver.

Hotel arrangements were made through Taj, an organization almost legendary for its superb, thoughtful service as well as accommodations. A beach hotel naturally is not as elegant as a palace or business hotel, but the Taj Fisherman’s Cove was quite relaxing, and the Taj Garden Retreat in Madurai was a notch above that. Clean rooms, nicely furnished and with comfortably firm mattresses are a given at a Taj property. For information or reservations, visit www.tajhotels.com or call 866/969-1825.

The Taj Coromandel is among my favorite hotels anywhere, a building from Chennai’s — and India’s — colonial past that survives today as an oasis in a huge city. There is something different, something special about the Coromandel that whispers welcome.

For more information about Chennai, go to www.chennai.com.

Madurai information: www.madurai.com

Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces: www.tajhotels.com; 866/969-1825

Micato Safaris: www.micato.com; 800/642-2861

Austrian Airlines: www.austrian.com or www.aua.com; 800/843-0002

Richard Slusser


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