Review : My Vistara Airlines & premium lounge experience

Vistara Airlines is a New Delhi-based joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines. It marked its second anniversary of operations on 9 January 2017. However I had not used their services till date. Knowing the quality of Singapore airlines, which I consider the best in the world (out of all the ones I have tried), I really wanted to try out flying with Vistara Airlines. My expectations were based on whatever I had experienced with SIA. So when Vistara Airlines reached out to me for a women’s day extravaganza, It took me absolutely no time to get on board. Literally 😉

Vistara has recently launched flights to Amritsar and Leh. So on this women’s day, I was invited to join a group of excited women to try out the Delhi<->Amritsar sector, which included a 3D/2N all inclusive stay for all of us at a plush property (More about this property later). Some women from this group came on the inaugural flight from Bombay<->Amritsar (It’ll always be Bombay for me 🙂 ).

Checkin experience with Vistara airlines

So on 8th March, I reached the T3 terminal, Delhi to board my Vistara flight to Amritsar. I had already done the web checkin and chosen a window seat. So all I had to do was drop my baggage and collect boarding passes. The counter specifically meant for this was busy with one confused passenger. The normal checkin counters were fairly empty, so I got my boarding passes from one of them. The staff was smartly dressed, friendly and swift in their job. I proceeded from here to the Signature lounge of Vistara airlines.

Signature lounge of Vistara Airlines

The Vistara Signature lounge is the only lounge in India, that exists near the boarding gates at the airport, more specifically Vistara’s boarding gates. All others exist in the inner area. So it was a relief to know that one won’t have to trudge all the way to the gates after having a relaxing period. Entry to the lounge is complimentary for Vistara’s Business Class customers, Club Vistara Platinum and Gold members. . Premium Economy Class customers can also use the lounge by purchasing a lounge access pass for INR 1,000 only.

Vistara Signature lounge at T3, Delhi

Seating area at Vistara Signature Lounge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facilities available at Signature lounge of Vistara Airlines

The signature lounge packs a lot of stuff into the limited space. This lounge has a dedicated business centre with seamless connectivity, including tele/fax and video conferencing, reserved meeting space, Exclusive VIP room, A ‘Do Not Disturb’ room, Reading zone for the bookworms, Buffet area, a Fancy shmancy bar, standing counters and of course a large seating area with storage and Laptop charging points/USB Ports at every seat! The charging capability is a boon for on the go travellers.

Standing counters

Reading area

Bar at Vistara Signature lounge

 

Mocktails at the bar

The bar at Vistara Signature lounge

Comfy seating

Individual seats with charging points & USB ports

Decor matching the brand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meals at Signature Lounge of Vistara airlines

The meals are complimentary for all the guests who have access to the lounge. There is a lot of choice in the buffet. Ranging from quick bite that can be grabbed immediately to proper meal that can be had leisurely.  Both vegetarian & non-veg options are there. The meals are a mix of Indian and Continental cuisines.

Vistara also offers street food of India at the lounge, which is typically difficult to serve on  flights; this includes Bhel Puri and Golgappe. There are 4 cycles of the menu every day (Breakfast, High Tea, Lunch, Dinner) . They also have a snacks bar and well a “real bar” :). As of now, The liquor license is awaited and will be there soon. I quickly grabbed some Thai curry with rice before my flight was to depart.

The In flight experience

The flight was very comfortable. The economy class leg room was surprisingly a lot! It didn’t feel claustrophobic and my knees didn’t knock on the front seat. The seat was pretty comfortable without having to recline it. I didn’t have to hunch into a convex shape while getting into my seat because there was enough space between two rows. Usually with other airlines, one can simply not stand straight due to lack of space. Here are a few images that describe the experience.

 

Our cabin crew

Sharklets on the wings

Snack during the flight

In-flight magazine

Didn’t get to sit in them but Business class seats do look comfy!

Economy class seats have PRETTY good leg space!

Our cabin crew, pilots and some of my colleagues

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the return flight, we were seated in Premium economy seats. The seats were of course very spacious. The service included a hot towel and a juice box apart from whatever is offered in the Economy class. The meal was same as that in Economy class because it was a very short duration flight (45 minutes). For other sectors meals are more pronounced.

Leg space in premium economy seats

Seats in Premium Economy easily span more than 1 windows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I sure look forward to flying Vistara again!

 

Tweet: Review of @airVistara Airlines & their signature lounge - via @twilightfairy #travel https://ctt.ec/68bfs+

 


The Orb – One of the most visually striking lounge bars in Delhi

Recently Radisson Blu Plaza, Delhi Airport, opened ‘The Orb’ – a new and very visually striking lounge Bar.

With the opening of  this avant-garde lounge bar, Delhi now has a new venue for all fun loving people and party animals.  They have an exquisite collection of innovative cocktails, sumptuous relishes, and live events that add to one’s evenings.

Paneer Mushroom Pinwheel, mint mayo, tomato chilli marmalade_

Paneer Mushroom Pinwheel, mint mayo, tomato chilli marmalade_

Phuket Chicken'- green onion, wild ginger, thai chilli

Phuket Chicken’- green onion, wild ginger, thai chilli

Oreo Cookie Baileys Cheese Bar, mango & blue berry sauce

Oreo Cookie Baileys Cheese Bar, mango & blue berry sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Achari Fish Tikka, pickled baby shallots, lemon mint foam _

Achari Fish Tikka, pickled baby shallots, lemon mint foam _

Hazelnut Mousse Fudge, chocolate ganache

Hazelnut Mousse Fudge, chocolate ganache

Roasted Beetroot Salad with goat cheese, orange & caramelized walnut

Roasted Beetroot Salad with goat cheese, orange & caramelized walnut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Orb has an extensive cocktail menu, and enough live performances to keep you coming back for more. Their drinks menu has a lot of variety unlike many other places and includes everything from signature cocktails, Martinis, Jagerbomb, Tequila, single malts, blended whisky, vodka, gin, rum, champagne and various wines. Basically one is spoilt for choice.

The cocktails have rather intriguing names like Chamba Booti, Khopdi, Masala T-Knee, Rajkumar, and Orb Marry.

Apple cinnamon

Apple cinnamon

khopri

khopri

12 slaps

12 slaps

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Caprioska

Orange Caprioska

Orb Mary

Orb Mary

Reflection

Reflection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

True to its meaning, “Orb”, that means a sphere or more literally a spherical celestial body, the lounge bar showcases exactly that. The interiors are very trendy and lit up in shades of blue. At The Orb, the seating is arranged around a circular table, which is a very welcome change from regular linear bars. The ambience is also very “electric”. It is not a very big bar and with its circular core,one can feel like one’s partying on an island in the middle of a hotel. Apart from the live DJ performances every evening, there are mid-week blues (on Wednesday) and special performances every Friday night. In the month of March, the line-up of artists includes Soham Mallick, Namrata Nath, Jive Can, Anahita Dawar amongst others.

THE ORB

THE ORB

Keeping in mind the rising spate of crimes against women at venues that serve alcohol, The Orb guarantees  a fun and safe outing. The management and staff has been trained & sensitised to extra care for women.

Images in this post have been provided by Radisson Hotels.

Here are some more details of this bar

Address

Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport, National Highway 8, Near IGI Airport, Mahipalpur, New Delhi

Phone number

26779191, 2677 9045, 9899115508.

Social media

Twitter, Fb, Instagram, Youtube

Cost

₹3,500 for two people (approx.) with alcohol

Opening hours

 5 PM to 1 AM



Highlights of India Design ID 2017

This year, India Design ID celebrate​d​ 5 years and I was invited by them to attend the same. Even though I am not a designer per se, any creative individual can benefit from attending such shows. A different perspective of things is what it takes to open up one’s “Creative eye”.

So this year, India Design ID 2017 was as usual showcasing a lot of decor brands, architects, interior/exterior designers along with ID symposium featuring eminent speakers from India and abroad. The latter was the most exciting part. I would have attended all 3 days of the talks, had the venue not been extremely far from my place.

Most brands at such shows have stalls which present a “vignette” of what a consumer’s space would look like. They can replicate that exact look if the consumer wants or one can buy a la carte as well. Established names such as Arttd’inox,  Antonio Lupi, Beyond Designs, K2India, Roca, BoConcept, The Pure Concept etc were present at the show. A few brands like Apartment9 gave a “complete experience” where one would enter a stall and get transported into a completely different world, which was a result of dim lighting, appropriate music, various vignettes along with mannequins performing their roles, snacks, champagne, attendants – the works!

There were a number of pop up cafes at the India design venue, Including Nomad cafe by Park Hotels, a pop up by Le Meridien and many others.

Without further ado, here are images of some of the things that caught my eye at India design.

 
“Images from India Design 2017”

From India Design ID 2017. Posted by “PSpective” – photography by Priyanka Sachar on 2/18/2017 (30 items)

Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher 2


I attended a couple of talks at the ID symposium. One of the most interesting was Humberto Campana’s furniture design with things as quirky as chairs made out of bubble wrap or stuffed toys! Have a look.

Chair made with bubble wrap!

Chair made with stuffed toys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He also likes using a lot of raw natural materials like cane and bamboo. One must check out more of the Campana brothers’ work here and here.

After the ID symposium got over, Asian Paints announced “Intense Ocean” as their Colour of the year. At the after party, the theme was clearly various shades of blue as we were served cocktails with a blue curacao base :). I had a good time, met a lot of creative people and it definitely gave me a few ideas for my own work as well.

 


Where to travel on long weekends of 2017 2

There are 14 long weekends in 2017, so it’s more than one long weekend every month! Even though one long weekend is already gone , there are still many others in 2017 to plan your travel for.

1. Republic Day – 26 jan weekend

Even though this long weekend has already gone, one can still visit relevant destinations that are enjoyable this time of the year. For eg. Dubai. Shop to your heart’s delight, try the grub, admire the man made islands, take a desert safari or just check out the souks.

 

2. Mahashivratri : Fri, 24 Feb

MahaShivratri is a holiday in most of India. Add to it the weekend of Sat, 25 Feb and Sun, 26 Feb and you have a long weekend. One can visit Agra (Taj Mahotsav) , Andaman Islands, Goa (Goa carnival) , Landsowne , Ooty. Wildlife sanctuaries in Rajasthan – check out  Jodhpur or Udaipur or Jaisalmer or Pushkar or Alwar for the lovely weather.

Udaipur : By: ivosandoval/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

 

3. Holi weekend: 11-13 Mar

11th and 12th are the weekend and Monday, 13th March is Holi. Celebrate Holi in Mathura, Visit Coorg to catch the white coffee flowers in bloom or again cities in Rajasthan (Jaipur , Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Pushkar, Alwar) before summer kicks in.

Jaisalmer : By: zedzap/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

 

4. Gudi Padwa : 28th Mar

25th, 26th is the weekend, Take leave on Monday, 27 March and add Gudi Padwa holiday on 28th – you get 4 days! You can visit Rishikesh for white water rafting or Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangkok.

Bangkok : By: stuckincustoms/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

 

5. Ram Navami : 4th Apr

The weekend is on 1st and 2nd April. Take leave on Monday, 3 Apr. Ram Navami is on 4th April. With 4 days, you can visit Cappadocia, Turkey for hot-air ballooning, Tokyo for cherry blossoms, Srinagar for tulips, or Hong Kong for family fun time in Disneyland.

Hongkong : By: sprengben/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

 

6. Baisakhi/Good Friday/Easter weekend

Thu, 13 Apr: Baisakhi
Fri, 14 Apr: Dr Ambedkar Jayanti, Good Friday
Sat, 15 Apr : weekend
Sun, 16 Apr: Easter weekend

IF you can take leave on Mon, Tues, Wed (10,11,12 apr) then it becomes a REALLY long weekend for international travel.
You can visit Amritsar for Baisakhi, for the food, Wagah border change of guard ceremony ; Phuket for the Phuket Bike Week (11–16 Apr) and Bangkok for Songkran Festival (13–17 Apr)

Bangkok : By: michaelsarver/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

 

7. Labour day : 1 May

29 Apr & 30 Apr is the weekend. Monday, 1 May is May Day or Labour day. Travel to the north east to get relief from the heat. You can visit Shillong, Mashobra or Landour to beat the heat; Tadoba or Ranthambore to spot wildlife; or take a quick break Colombo in Sri Lanka.

Colombo : By: nazly/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

 

8. Eid Weekend : 26 Jun

24th and 25th June is the weekend and Eid is on 26th Jun

Travel to Hyderabad/Lucknow/Delhi for Ramzan Eid; Munnar for the monsoon; Dharamshala for camping/trekking. Try a different kind of Goa in monsoon. It is very cheap and also very lovely. Or Visit Srinagar for the cool climate.

Srinagar : By: gulfu/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

9. Janmashtami/Independence Day weekend : 14 Aug/15 Aug

12 Aug, 13 Aug are the weekend, 14 Aug is Janmashtami, 15 Aug is Independence day, Take leave on 16 Aug & 18 Aug, 17 Aug is Parsi New year, and 19, 20 Aug is again the weekend. Now this is the LONGEST weekend ever for travel!

Travel to Ladakh for picturesque views, Uttarakhand for Valley of Flowers; Salzurg, Austria for the Salzburg Festival (21 Jul–30 Aug); Tanzania for the great migration.

Salzburg : By: beuel_sued/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

10. Ganesh Chaturthi : 25 Aug

Take the Ganesh Chaturthi holiday on a friday and add the weekend to it. Visit Pune or Bombay for Ganesh Chaturthi or Bali for a beach break or Cherrapunji to watch water falls!

Guwahati : By: rao_anirudh/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

11. Gandhi Jayanti : 2 OCt

Weekend + Gandhi Jayanti . One can have a quick visit to Munich for Oktoberfest (16 Sep–3 Oct); Bhutan for the Thimphu Tshechu festival (30 Sep–2 Oct); Bandhavgarh for wildlife season; Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh for the pleasant weather, Gangtok for clear views of the Kanchenjunga

Bhutan : By: jmhullot/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

12. Diwali holidays

14, 15 Oct are the weekend. 16 Oct is Dhanteras, 17 and 18 Oct are Chhoti and Badee Diwali, Take leave on 19 Oct, 20 Oct is Bhaiduj and 21, 22 Oct is again the weekend! 9 days are long enough to visit exotic locations far away!

Visit Sydney/Melbourne for summer on the beach; Vancouver/New York for fall, Bhutan for the perfect season.

Sydney : By: pedrosz/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

13. Eid Weekend  : 1 Dec

Along with Eid-e-Milad, you get the weekend of 2/3 Dec. Travel to Nagaland for Hornbill Festival or Bharatpur for spotting migratory birds.

Dimapur : By: abrinsky/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

14. Christmas Weekend : 25 Dec

This is the Holiday season! 23, 24 Dec are the weekend and 25 Dec is Xmas. If you can use all your remaining leaves of the year then you get Holidays till 1st Jan! One can travel to Maldives/Australia/Singapore/Goa for New year festivities or  Manali for the snow or Pondicherry for a winter break.

Sydney : By: clintsharp/flickr.com used under Creative Commons License BY-SA

So what are you waiting for? Get out your travel boots on and travel away!


 


 


Fight demonetisation woes with AxisPay UPI app

These days everyone is going through a tough time receiving money or sending money, thanks to the Vaahiyaat demonetisation rules imposed on us. Why vaahiyaat, is stuff for another post. However, till the time the instant removal of 86% of our cash flow is dealt with slowly and painfully, we can surely ease the pains we go through every day to pay for various services and goods.

Going Cashless can be done in many ways. Apart from paying through credit or debit cards and mobile wallets, one such option is UPI apps. UPI stands for Unified Payments Interface , a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund transfers & merchant payments – all into one. This system was launched by NPCI (National payments corporation of India) in April’16. Now all banks have started sharing their particular UPI enabled apps from August’16 onwards.

In this post, I will share some details about the Axis Bank UPI app, called AxisPay that I had the pleasure of using and experiencing lately. Axis bank was one of the earlier banks to come out with their app. It is very simple to use. Instant payments can be made vis this app, by using a Virtual Payment Address (VPA). One does not need to remember beneficiary details like account number, IFSC etc. Just Send money or Ask for money using a Virtual Payment Address. 

Here’s a very quick 20 second intro of what all Axis Bank’s Axis pay UPI app can do

And here’s how to do it.

 

 

As you can make out, the steps are really simple. No matter which bank account you have, using this app, you can send payments directly to any other bank account holder as long as they are using any UPI app (similar to withdrawing cash from any ATM irrespective of bank account). So here are the steps.

  1. Download the Axis Pay app from Google Play Store (iOS version coming out soon)
  2. Select your preferred bank account
  3. Create a unique ID (example – yourname@axisbank)
  4. Verify your account & set a PIN

 

To send money:

  • Select your & receiver’s unique ID
  • Enter amount
  • Send money by entering PIN

To receive money:

  • Select your & sender’s unique ID
  • Enter amount
  • Receive money when sender approves transaction on his app

The best thing about making payments through the Axis Pay UPI app is that the money doesn’t go to a wallet with an additional step (and some charges) to transfer it into your bank account. It also uses two factor authentication, keeping it absolutely secure. As compared to NEFT, RTGS etc, this mode of money transfer is instant and can be done 24X7X365 without any fees to use your own money. One app can be used to make payments to anyone anywhere, as long as they are using any UPI app. You don’t even need an axis bank account to be able to use the Axis bank UPI app. Besides, there’s no need to remember or fumble around for bank account numbers and IFSC codes. You can even pay merchants & even do online shopping using this app. In fact, Freecharge has partnered with Axis Bank to launch UPI enabled payment on its Android app!

So go ahead and download Axis Pay UPI app to make your life easier!