. 5 Incentive-Quality Hotels in India | Northstar Meetings Group

5 Incentive-Quality Hotels in India

Recent upscale hotel and resort openings are helping India capture its share of the incentive travel market.

Taj Rishikesh India

India has the fastest-growing economy in the world, according to the World Bank, which says the country's GDP will grow by 7.3 percent this fiscal year, and by 7.5 percent in each of the next two fiscal years. That's ahead of Brazil, Russia and even China. Among the reasons for this is a booming tourism: In 2018, India welcomed 10.04 million foreign visitors, an increase of 14 percent year-over-year, according to India's Ministry of Tourism.

It's not hard to see why: Along with world-renowned attractions like the Taj Mahal, the Indian subcontinent is home to beautiful beaches, exotic jungles and thriving cities, not to mention a colorful culture, a storied history and a thriving culinary scene. The sum of all that is a destination that appeals to travelers of virtually every stripe -- including incentive travelers, for whom India is an aspirational location with increasing appeal thanks to a rapidly expanding selection of incentive-quality hotels and resorts.

One such resort is the brand-new Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa, which debuted this week in Uttarakhand, India.

Located approximately 20 miles from Rishikesh -- a city in northern India known as a spiritual and yoga center since the 1960s, when the Beatles stayed at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi -- Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa occupies 12.5 acres of terraced gardens on the banks of the river Ganges, at the foot of the Himalayan mountains. Along with 79 guest rooms, there are three dining outlets -- an all-day diner, a pizza bar and a specialty restaurant specializing in Himalayan cuisine -- as well as a 20,000-square-foot spa and a beach, plus activities such as white-river rafting, rock climbing, rappelling, kayaking and hiking.

"Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa is ideally located to enjoy nature while also staying connected to the pulse of Rishikesh," says general manager Derag Singh. "I am looking forward to welcoming our guests to this spectacular new resort with its exclusive villas and secluded beach." 

Four More Incredible Indian Incentive Properties

Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa is ideal for outdoorsy adventurers, but if that's not the right vibe for your group, don't fret: India has many different options that will appeal to a variety of different incentive recipients. Here are four, each of which is newly opened within the last few years:

• The Oberoi Sukhvilas Resort & Spa. Indian hotelier Oberoi Hotels & Resorts opened The Oberoi Sukhvilas Resort & Spa in December 2016, but didn't debut its full-service spa until winter 2018. By most accounts, it was worth the wait. Totaling 12,000 square feet, it includes hydrotherapy pools, aromatic steam, an infrared sauna and a heated Tepidarium, not to mention days- and weeks-long Ayurvedic wellness programs that are led by a resident physician and include Panchkarma, yoga and a healthy eating regiment. Located in the North Indian city of Chandigarh, the resort is surrounded by over 8,000 acres of protected natural forest in the Himalayan foothills. Named as "One of the World's Greatest Places" by Time magazine in 2018, it has 60 accommodations -- including guest rooms, villas and luxury tents -- as well as a bar, two restaurants and a 2,800-square-foot meeting room that's adjacent to 8,300 square feet of outdoor function space.

• Hilton Goa Resort. A beach destination on India's western coast, Goa is a favorite getaway for Bollywood celebrities, New Age devotees and yogis. Set away from the busy Goan beachfront -- yet still close enough to enjoy it -- is Hilton Goa Resort, which opened in December 2018 in the village of Candolim. Nestled in a tropical forest on a terraced hillside, where it's enveloped by quiet orchards and lush paddy fields, the property has 104 guest rooms and 11,500 square feet of meeting space, not to mention three restaurants, an outdoor pool with five soaking pools, a 24-hour fitness center and a full-service spa with five treatment rooms, a steam room and a sauna.

• Alila Fort Bishangarh. Opened in February 2017, Alila Fort Bishangarh is part luxury resort, part historical attraction. That's because it's located inside a 230-year-old fort that took 10 years to transform into a five-star hotel. Situated atop a granite hill in the North Indian state of Rajasthan, just three hours from New Delhi and one hour from Jaipur, it has 59 guest rooms with marble floors and stone walls that perfectly capture the fort's original character. There's also an outdoor swimming pool, a spa, a gym, a library, five bars and restaurants, and nearly 5,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, not to mention an expansive lawn for outdoor events.

• Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center. When it opened in April 2018, the Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center was Marriott International's 100th hotel in India. Located in the technology hub of Bengaluru -- India's "Silicon Valley" -- it's a meetings property with plenty of leisure perks for attendees who want to combine business and pleasure. Along with 61,443 square feet of meeting space for groups of up to 2,000, the 360-room property has three restaurants, two bars, a fitness center, a spa and an outdoor pool.