India's Rich Girl’s Club Lives it Up
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It isn't quite 'Thelma & Louise' redux—remember that 90s flick of two women on the run and on the road in a 66 Ford Thunderbird—but Megha Bhatia is planning a perfectly legitimate road trip with her friends in a fleet of BMW Mini Coopers. "The plan is to drive down to royal places like Jaipur and Pataudi in a group of around 30, mostly women," says the wife of Bird Group director Gaurav Bhatia, who helps in the family business of high-end luxury retail, hospitality and travel.
It's not just the well-heeled Indian male who is living la vida loca; a bunch of affluent women—not only wives of loaded businessmen but senior professionals and entrepreneurs too—is taking a walk on the wild and splurge-y side as it seeks to break away from routine. Kitty party and pot luck afternoons, and manicures at the friendly neighbourhood spa, are slowly but surely making way for all-girl luxury binges, which range from spa parties and wine-tasting sessions to adventure sports like skydiving and roaring out of town on a Harley.
"A lot of women have started taking lessons to ride a Harley-Davidson bike," avers Sonia Deshmukh, head marketing, Quintessentially Lifestyle, a firm that provides luxury concierge services.
If some of these upper crust women are in an exploratory mood, others stand out for their sheer extravagance. The wife of a Delhi publisher recently hosted a party for her "girl friends" at a spa in Greater Noida. Organising a party like that can cost up to Rs 90,000 for a group of eight for a few hours. "The event may well be for 3 to 4 hours, or full day or two or more with overnight stays," says Samir Patel, managing director, Six Senses Spa, adding: "We see the social spa culture flourishing in India, because as a society we believe in bonding."
According to Urvashi Sahay, founder, Excluzen.com, an increasing number of groups of women are booking trips to countries like Spain, with yacht parties and sky diving thrown in. A week-long trip costs around Rs 10 lakh per person, says Sahay.
Shabnam Singhal, a page 3 celebrity and entrepreneur, is currently holidaying in Barcelona in the company of a few like-minded friends—all women. "All of us are from same background and belong to established industrial families. We have had such trips a few times earlier," says Singhal, adding: "We will do a lot of fun things."
They are not the only ones. Fun can be had in India as well. For instance, Sahay's company is set to fly a group of five women from Hyderabad to the capital to experience the adrenaline rush at the F1 Grand Prix being held in the NCR this month. The trip will cost roughly 50,000 per person for a day inclusive of a business class ticket, five-star hotel stay, the races, and lavish after-parties.