If post-pandemic travel trends are anything to go by, a trip with your girl gang before the wedding will be a close-knit affair that is also experiential and engaging. By Satarupa Paul
It’s no secret that 2020 has been a particularly strange year for everyone, but it has been especially hard on those who had grand plans to tie the knot this year. While many had to
postpone their weddings until next year, those who’ve chosen to go ahead are finding themselves veering away from their original plans—courtesy the safety rules and restrictions that one has to keep in mind now. For 28-year-old Naina Goel, a Bengaluru-based banking professional who is slated to marry her college sweetheart in December, this has meant cancelling her dream bachelorette trip to the Philippines with her girlfriends and planning an intimate getaway within India, instead.
“Among all the compromises that we’re having to make with our wedding—from guest list limitations, choosing which ceremonies to do away with, changes in venues, catering constraints and what not—the one thing that has saddened me the most was cancelling my much-awaited bachelorette trip to the Philippines,” says Goel. “My 11 girlfriends and I had
plans to spend a week there—island hopping, scuba diving, swimming in the lagoons, and partying to our hearts’ content.” While those big, bashful bachelorette trips may remain a distant dream for the time being, it doesn’t mean that you have to entirely give up on a
fun getaway before your D-day. Intimate bachelorette trips are here to the rescue. Make note of these expert insights that we have gathered in five key points below, and you will be able to plan just the perfect one for you and your girlfriends.
1. MAKE SAFETY YOUR TOP PRIORITY
We don’t need to be told twice about how important hygiene practices are for our well-being now. Which is why as per Amish Sud, owner and director of The Chalets Naldehra, a luxury boutique resort in Himachal Pradesh, “Safety and sanitisation procedures being followed by a property will be the major deciding factor for brides-to-be planning their bachelorette trips this season.” Look out for safety protocol updates on the websites of properties and only shortlist that which best meets the state and federal safety guidelines. Many properties reopening after the lockdown like The Chalets, for instance, have trained their staff in special safety programmes and are strictly implementing all possible hygiene measures—regular hand washing and cleaning of touchpoints, installation of hand sanitisers at strategic locations, the mandatory wearing of masks, regular disinfection of guest service areas, and adherence to social distancing norms, among others.
2. KEEP IT SMALL AND COSY
A bachelorette trip may be unimaginable without all your girlfriends—and maybe even a few siblings and cousins, too! However, right now, it’s important to keep it small and intimate as large groups will not only be difficult to manage on your part but also won’t be allowed in many places yet. “We are expecting smaller groups of perhaps the closest
friends opting for slightly extended stays, as opposed to larger groups and shorter stays on bachelorette trips this year,” adds Sud. This makes sense as an intimate bachelorette getaway would also mean more private and personalised services and activities for the group—and hence, a safer experience. According to Ethan Barman, founder of HostSphere India, a management company for vacation rentals across 20 locations in the country, “Such closed group travels can also be tailored more efficiently with in-house chefs, personal butlers, self-service stations and activities to ensure limited interactions with outsiders.”
3. CHOOSE AN ACCESSIBLE DESTINATION
For the foreseeable future, international travel is likely to either remain closed or cumbersome for Indian travellers for some time. But with state borders reopening and quarantine rules being relaxed, more women are expected to opt for road trips to nearby destinations that can provide an intimate, yet engaging bachelorette experience. “Luxury and secluded destinations within driving distances from the cities will be preferred by brides-to-be for their bachelorette trips this season,” says Kavish Khurana, owner of Elgin Hall, a luxury boutique stay in Dalhousie. Choosing a destination accessible for everyone in your intimate group would also mean less time spent on logistical nightmares and more time on actually enjoying your bachelorette.
4. PICK A STANDALONE VILLA
A smaller, standalone property has better chances of maintaining all safety protocols and providing a more intimate and personalised experience for your bachelorette, than a large hotel or resort catering to hundreds of guests. According to Khurana, “Quaint properties such as cottages, villas, bungalows, and boutique stays are going to be the first choice for private, intimate bachelorettes where the guest can book the entire place for herself and her friends.” Barman echoes the sentiment and adds, “With such standalone properties, you will have exclusive access to the whole property without any outside interference.”
A plethora of such standalone properties has mushroomed all over India in recent years, many of which are located in stunning settings and boast world-class facilities and services. All you need to do is pick the one that best suits your interests.
5. INDULGE IN ENGAGING EXPERIENCES
Drinking, dancing, and going wild with party games may be the ultimate requisites for a successful bachelorette party. But the current situation being unconducive to such traditional must-dos, indulging in more engaging and wholesome experiences is the way to go. For instance, at The Chalets, you can go on forest walks or a heritage village walk, and charter a private speed boat at the nearby Tattapani. At Elgin Hall, a high tea or cocktail party can be set up in the lush gardens.
Event planner Sahiba Puri, founder of Events by Sahiba, has recommendations galore on how to jazz up an intimate bachelorette trip in these times. “Pack a picnic and go for a scenic hike; opt for a rafting or biking tour if your destination allows. And if traditional is what your heart is set at, then host a perfect high tea, followed by a fun cocktail evening, with maybe a masquerade-themed ball thrown in,” she suggests. And to wrap it up, she says that “an outdoor movie night is always a good idea, with films such as My Best Friend’s Wedding or Bride Wars screened exclusively for you and your bachelorette crew.”
#TnLRecommends: Top Destinations for Intimate Bachelorette Trips In India
Easily accessible from Delhi as well as Chandigarh, the scenic Kangra Valley located in the lap of the mighty Dhauladhars, with lush tea gardens and numerous streams and brooks, makes for a beautiful and secluded destination for a fun getaway with your girlfriends. Choose a homestay-style retreat at the largest tea estate here and enjoy a host of experiences such as cycling around the tea gardens, learning about the journey of tea from leaf to cup, excursions to Kangra Fort and Masroor rock-cut temples, riding the Kangra mini-train, and learning pottery at Andretta, amongst others.
GETTING THERE: Kangra Valley is about 480 km by road from New Delhi, and about 220 km from Chandigarh.
STAY: The Lodge at Wah, Palampur.
This erstwhile French colony and one of the most fascinating union territories in India makes for a wonderful bachelorette destination from Chennai as well as Bengaluru. Live in a French-style boutique hotel and enjoy some chill time with your girls at the numerous chic cafes and artisanal shops. Things to keep you engaged include beach hopping, cycling along the cobbled lanes, heritage walks to the two contrasting quarters of the colonial White Town and the local Black Town, visit Auroville, and more.
GETTING THERE: Puducherry is a beautiful three-hour drive from Chennai and about 6.5 hours from Bengaluru.
STAY: Palais de Mahe by CGH Earth.
Perched on a ridge above the gushing River Teesta in the foothills of the Himalayas is the
quaint hill town of Kalimpong—a serene escape from the milling city crowd with mesmerising views of mountains, sprawling tea gardens, and crystal-clear lakes. A bachelorette trip here could include a visit to the Cactus Nursery, watching a sunrise against the mighty Kanchenjunga, going on guided walks, and visiting an ancient Buddhist monastery, all the while staying in a British-era mansion that looks straight out of a fairy tale.
GETTING THERE: Take a flight from Kolkata or Guwahati to Bagdogra and then you can hire a cab to Kalimpong, just about 75 km away.
STAY: Morgan House.
No one can escape the charm of Goa when it comes to getaways of any kind, and it’s
especially enticing when considered as a possible bachelorette destination. The best thing about Goa though—apart from the beaches, food, drinks, and parties—is that there’s always something new to discover on every trip here. The stunning riverside village of Siolim, located slightly inland from popular Anjuna, is one such place with densely forested lanes and charming Portuguese houses nestling amongst palm trees, that makes for a unique bachelorette getaway.
GETTING THERE: Siolim is about 45 km from Goa’s Dabolim Airport and takes around 1.5 hours to reach by cab.
STAY: Helios by SaffronStays.