FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Mumbai: Reality Show

Feb 1, 2008
2008 / February 2008

Mumbai is the dynamic, sleepis- for-the-weak New York City to Delhi’s stolid, wheredoes- everyone-go-after-office-hours Washington, D.C. You go to Delhi to do politics; you go to Mumbai to do business. And to have fun.

It’s been that way since the 19th century, when the British developed the settlement’s natural deep harbor into one of Asia’s main ports. Traders came from all over the region to set up shop. By 1875 Bombay, as it was then called, was home to Asia’s first stock market, the Bombay Stock Exchange.

India’s controlled economy started to open up in the early 1990s and since then it has grown at close to double digits annually. The BSE is now one of the top exchanges in the world and the city is a major global economic driver — what Shanghai is to east Asia, Mumbai is to south Asia, and beyond. In some ways. Unlike Shanghai, city planning hasn’t been a strong point in Mumbai and the wonderful mess of a sprawling metropolitan area is now closing in on around 20 million people, with very little idea of what to do about transport and other infrastructure concerns.

Regardless, Mumbai’s energy and draw are undeniable. Investment is pouring in from all over the world including, increasingly, the Middle East. Commercial property prices, already high, have gone up around 100 percent in the past year alone, and the city’s cost of living is one of the highest in the world. Locals may complain, but most don’t move unless they have to. Mumbai is the sort of city that you can love and hate and love again, all in a walk around the block. It’s a place of slums and soirées, of sidewalk scribes and starlets.

It is, fundamentally, a city of dreams and, fittingly, one of Mumbai’s major industries is the dream factory that is Bollywood. But most of Mumbai’s output is much more prosaic. The city is home to some of India’s largest companies, such as Reliance, Tata and the State Bank of India. Business is just as likely to revolve around oil, steel and automotives as it is to involve DVD distribution deals and computer animation software.

Mumbai has been attracting people who want to do business ever since there was business to do in Mumbai. First they came from all over the region. Then they came from all over India. Now they are coming from all over the world. Everyone has a dream and in Mumbai anything is possible. But nothing is guaranteed.


LODGING

THE GORDON HOUSE HOTEL

The Gordon House is a tasteful boutique hotel on a quiet side street in Colaba, within walking distance of some of the city’s main tourist attractions. The rooms are themed, with woods and clean lines in the “Scandinavian” rooms, and ambercolored tiles and sea-blue detailing in the “Mediterranean” rooms. To make working easy, guestrooms include thoughtful amenities such as a small “office in a box,” complete with rubber bands, ministapler, tape, eraser and paper clips. For entertaining, Polly Esther’s (get it?), a popular dance club, is on the main floor. Miraculously, the oh-so-funky music doesn’t travel up to the rooms.$$$$
THE GORDON HOUSE HOTEL
Colaba
tel 91 22 2287 1122
http://www.ghhotel.com

THE GRAND CENTRAL

The Grand Central is a towering luxury hotel in Parel, an area of Mumbai only now coming into its own as a business center. There is excellent attention to detail, with a modern and inviting health club and spa, local Ayurvedic lotions in the bathrooms, a pillow menu, U.S.-friendly wall plugs and two floors exclusively for single female travelers WELCOME SITE: Gateway of Indiahas several bars and restaurants, including the rooftop Point of View lounge that gives sweeping views of the city and is a popular location for relaxed meetings.$$$$
THE GRAND CENTRAL
Parel
tel 91 22 2410 1010
http://www.starwoodhotels.com

LE ROYAL MERIDIEN

W ith traffic, it can sometimes take up to two hours to get from the airport to downtown Mumbai. As a result, a wide range of high-end accommodations are located near the airport. Among them: Le Royal Meridien. The hotel looks like a Maharaja’s summer palace, and the staff does its best to make you feel like a visiting monarch. On the Royal Club floor, personalized service extends to dedicated butlers, midnight buffets, an art gallery, a soap menu, and teddy bears, rubber duckies and a goldfish bowl with live fish in your room. The public areas are made for relaxing and meeting, and include a too-cool-for-school lounge with live jazz and a walk-in humidor. $$$-$$$$
LE ROYAL MERIDIEN
Airport Area
tel 91 22 2838 0000
http://www.starwoodhotels.com


DINING

RESTAURANTS OF THE TAJ

The landmark Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was built in 1903 and is pure colonial opulence — a home away from home for princes, presidents and movie stars. The hotel is a medley of alabaster, onyx, crystal and silk. Its restaurants reflect the wide range of modern commerce (and expense accounts) passing through the city and include Golden Dragon, one of the city’s best Chinese restaurants; Souk, a rooftop Mediterranean-style restaurant with views over the Arabian Sea; Wasabi by Morimoto, Mumbai’s first high-end Japanese restaurant; and Masala Kraft, an Indian dining restaurant with a modern edge.$$-$$$$
RESTAURANTS OF THE TAJ
Colaba
tel 91 22 6665 3366
http://www.tajhotels.com

THE OLIVE BAR & KITCHEN

This mellow celeb hangout brought New Mediterranean cuisine to Mumbai, with creative mixes of pasta, fish, organic veggies, homemade cheeses, and lots and lots of (optional) olive oil. The mood varies from hip bar on a Thursday night, to hangover-friendly relaxed Sunday brunches. There are quiet corners, candles, live jazz and hookas, but the real attraction is seeing who’s at the next table. Previous patrons have included Oliver Stone, Shahrukh Khan and Tommy Hilfiger. The Olive has parlayed its legendary status in Mumbai to open equally popular branches in Delhi and Bangalore.$$
THE OLIVE BAR & KITCHEN
Khar
tel 91 22 2605 8228
http://www.olivebarandkitchen.com

SEIJO AND THE SOUL DISH
This is ultra-hip Mumbai, like a Zen garden with a dash of Bollywood crimson silk. It is really two spaces, a funky bar, complete with red floors and manga art on the walls, and a spacious, airy Asianinspired restaurant. The menu offers bites like sushi, noodles and, for the carnivores at the table, New Zealand lamb with water chestnuts and garlic foam. This is a largely 20- and 30-something crowd, for whom the dream of Mumbai has become a reality. $$
SEIJO AND THE SOUL DISH
Bandra
tel 91 22 2640 5555
http://www.seijoandthesouldish.com


INFO TO GO

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM) is the city’s main air gateway. The two international terminals are located in the suburbs; the two domestic terminals are in another location altogether and there is shuttle service between the two airport sites for passengers making connections within India.

Over the years, the seven separate islands that originally made up the settlement of Bombay were cobbled together through landfill, drainage, bridges and time into one long peninsula. That means there are lots of traffic bottlenecks, and taxi rides from the international airport terminals to the city center can take up to two hours. Book a prepaid taxi at the kiosk in the arrivals area of the airport and don’t worry about the time.

Once in town, the easiest way to get around is taxi, but make sure the meter is on at departure. If you will be traveling a lot, it may be worthwhile to book a car for the day. Have your hotel make the booking, it might be a bit more expensive, but it will at least be reliable.


DIVERSIONS

There are many Mumbais, each with its own distinctive feel. The main tourist area is the southern tip of the city. This is where you can see the Gateway of India, a triumphal arch, built for the visit of England’s King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.

From the Gateway you can catch one of the small boats that will take you an hour away to another place, another time. On the island of Elephanta are the UNESCO World Heritage 7th and 8th century rock-cut cave temples, many dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Their beauty and complexity remind you there was a world flourishing here long before the British arrived.

Across the narrow peninsula from the Gateway, within walking distance (if it is not too hot), is an area that is classic Mumbai: the imposing colonial and Art Deco buildings lining the graceful curve of Marine Drive, a wide boulevard with views out over the Arabian Sea, and the ports that made the city what it is today.

Another UNESCO World Heritage site is the soaring Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus. Built in 1888, it is a pure Anglo-Indian flight of Gothic fancy — a Victorian dream of an exotic train station come to life. The craftsmanship — many of the details were done by the students of the Bombay School of Art — is superb, right down to the colorfully painted tiles, delicately chiseled masonry and finely carved woodwork.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Daily
Mar 30, 2020

Seoul Convention Bureau Enhances PLUS SEOUL Program in Response to COVID-19

Seoul Convention Bureau is poised for a strong bounce back from the COVID-19 virus. The company rolled out a new PLUS SEOUL program to offer extra support to the meetings, incentive, conventions and exhibition industry in response to the virus.

Athens: A city that charms its guests and stirs their emotions

The city took its name from Athena, goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, and protector of the city. The financial, political and administrative center of the country and an all-powerful city-state in antiquity, Athens is a major center of culture. A visit to the first-ever museum dedicated to Byzantium, a stroll around the National Garden and a trip to the Olympeion archaeological site will take you back through time.

Daily
Mar 30, 2020

Virtual Travel Opportunities Around the Globe: Japan and Chicago

Japan National Tourism Organization While would-be travelers around the world are self-isolating and putting travel plans on hold, Japan Nation Tourism Organization sends the fun home. While everyone’s wanderlust grows, JNTO offers virtual experiences showcasing the best of the island country.

Daily
Mar 30, 2020

Luxury Hotel Brand NH Collection to Make New York City Debut with NH Collection New York Madison Avenue

NH Collection is set to enter the New York City market and North America for the first time with the opening of NH Collection New York Madison Avenue. The hotel takes inspiration from 1920s Renaissance Revival architecture and channels New York’s Golden Age of Advertising to create an elegant, vintage vibe. The brand brings along its European flair for additional touches of eclectic elegance throughout the property.

The Perfect Fit

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs and account for nearly 48 percent of the U.S. private sector workforce. And small- and medium-sized businesses outpace all other sectors as one of the fastest-growing in the United States. InterContinental® Hotels Group (IHG) goes above and beyond to create opportunities for this segment with its IHG® Business Edge program, voted Best Small- to Mid-Sized Business Program in Global Traveler’s 2019 GT Tested Reader Survey awards.

Daily
Mar 30, 2020

7 Minutes In Saint Lucia

Virtually escape to Saint Lucia with a new social media series, 7 Minutes in Saint Lucia. The twice-weekly Instagram live series takes home-bound travelers to the beach and to the dining and island culture of Saint Lucia — all from self-quarantine.

Daily
Mar 25, 2020

Genting Cruise Line Rolls Out Flexibility Initiatives

Genting Cruise Line is just one of the many travel companies implementing ways for travelers to change plans easily to provide peace of mind.

Adventure of a Lifetime with Volvo

Looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own adventure of a lifetime. Volvo allows you to custom order your new automobile tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.

eFlyer Lead
Mar 25, 2020

FXExpress Publications, Inc. Staff, Readers and Writers Share COVID-19 Experiences

For the next several weeks, we are compiling the thoughts and experiences of our staff, writers and readers about the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. As a travel publication, we’ve all been affected during these difficult times, as have many of our clients, friends, partners and more.