Readers of Travel + Leisure magazine just named an obscure (from a U.S. perspective) resort in India the 2015 Best Hotel in the World. But if you knew how good India?s homegrown luxury hotel brands were, you would hardly be surprised. The Forbes Travel Guide star rating system does not cover India, but if it did, the nation would be awash in 5-Star hotels and resorts, plus too many 4-stars to count. Unfortunately, just as the ratings skip over Indian hotels, so do many unaware American luxury travelers, who are missing out ? and not just in India.
I?m just back from a trip through the country, a country full of surprises ? good and bad. Travelers go to India for a lot of reasons, from the cuisine to yoga, wildlife safaris to world famous sights like the Taj Mahal. And of course, lots and lots of travelers go for business, especially in the technology and software industries. I?m very well-traveled, but I encountered a lot of things that were new to me, and my trip had a lot of highlights. But what really blew me away were the hotels. I?ve stayed in top luxury lodgings all over the world, hotels that have been ranked among the best in existence, and my takeaway was that India has a glut of properties that easily hold their own in this elite company.
From the moment you arrive at the porte cochere of the opulent Leela New Delhi, you know it?s a world-class luxury
Here?s the crazy thing: while there are a lot of great luxury hotel brands, and the sector has been booming around the globe for years with tons of glitzy new openings, the top companies have almost completely ignored India. In addition to being a major international business destination, one out of every six human beings lives here, with a population four times that of the U.S. and just slightly smaller than China?s. India has 46 cities of over a million people (the U.S. has ten), yet Four Seasons has less hotels (just one, in the finance capital of Mumbai) in the entire country then they have in Istanbul. Ritz-Carlton also has just one hotel, in the technology capital of Bangalore, India?s Silicon Valley, a solidly business destination. St. Regis? Just one, in Mumbai ? and it hasn?t even opened yet. Peninsula and Mandarin-Oriental, perhaps the two best known uber-luxe brands, are completely absent.
For the American luxury traveler familiar with all these top tier brands, India suddenly becomes a daunting proposition when it comes to choosing hotels ? unless you consider the country?s trio of simply stupendous home grown chains. Taj, Oberoi and Leela have over one hundred properties throughout the country ? and many more around the world. If you love to travel in high-style, these are important names to know even if you have no plans to visit India, as the deluxe brands are slowly but surely growing in all directions.
Read more at?FORBES