Variety

Luxuria Bus review - Travel First Class…by road

Anushya Mamtora | Updated on August 03, 2011 Published on January 25, 2011

Luxuria bus   -  BUSINESS LINE

For every economy seat there is an exclusive business class. For every general compartment there is a first class, or even a Palace on Wheels. For every compact cabin there is a sea view premium suite in a cruise.

Every mode of transport offers an upgrade option for those who want to up their travel experience, make it more luxurious and as memorable as possible. It’s unfortunate then that the humble bus hasn’t been able to elevate its status to cater to the discerning traveller. Yes, there are buses which offer comfy seats and sleeping coaches are popular for overnight travel. But the fun lasts till your stomach grumbles at your choice of ‘bhindi do pyaaza’ and ‘tandoori roti’ at the roadside dhaba, till you realise that your back aches like it has broken by the time you have reached the destination, and till you visit the smelly and downright dirty highway loo in sheer desperation.

And if you have to head straight to office after alighting from the bus, God save you.

I have always had a love-hate relationship with long bus rides, and when an invite to review a bus service landed in my inbox, my stomach churned in protest. However, flipping through the pictures of the ultra suave and super comfy bus put up in the online brochure of Luxuria – Travel Redefined, seemed to indicate that there is still some hope for frequent bus travellers. The first luxury bus for the roadies. At last!

With features that are one of a kind, I knew I couldn’t have taken a better ride from Chennai to Bangalore, and back, in a span of less than 24 hours.

Swank bus, swankier features

Blue Hill Logistics’ Luxuria bus is striking at the very first glance, thanks to its olive green colour. There are a total of four multi-axle Volvos stylishly designed by India’s ace designer Dilip Chhabria. Stepping in only reaffirms its luxe status.

Awaiting you is a classy 21-seater with high-grade leather reclining seat with electronically operated calf support, individual screens for on-board entertainment with a choice of movies, music and satellite television and even an in-built toilet.

A boon to travellers, the Luxuria bus accommodates a functional ‘aircraft like’ toilet which includes a closet and a wash basin. The bus also boasts of a refrigerator and microwave if you want to chill or heat some homepacked food. That is, if you don’t want to snack on some yummy short-eats the bus operators have lined up for you!

I boarded the bus at eight in the morning from a hotel in Chennai, after downing a hot cuppa coffee and nibbling on some cookies that was offered complimentary for Luxuria travellers.

The princely treatment package included a salute by a white uniformed driver and a personalised greeting by a steward. The moment I sank into the plush seats and ‘fastened the seatbelt’ a cold towel was handed over for a refreshing start. Soon I was offered hot beverages and a choice of snacks.

I devoured the plum cake as I switched on the screen for some entertainment. ‘Signal not found’. Okay, I thought to myself, teething trouble. Not finding a good Bollywood flick on the movie list and with a problem with my earphones, I decided to take a nap, and didn’t regret it one bit. With ample legroom, I stretched out with the press of a button and reclined with the help of another and woke up when we reached the Luxuria Lounge in Bengaluru five hours later.

Thoughtful touches

What is Luxuria Lounge, you might ask? Well, the first of the company’s interesting touches to their luxury service, you don’t get down at some bustling bus stop. Instead, you are welcomed at its lounge in Bengaluru where you can wait or organise your pick up, freshen up at the rest room and even sip on some tea or coffee.

The company plans to open up more such lounges in the cities they operate.

Making it seem like airline first class travel, Luxuria has some fascinating features thrown in for added comfort. From the pre ‘take-off’ announcement to an in house magazine, pillow and blankets to LED aisle lighting, aircraft-style overhead cabin luggage bins and individual light adjustments also at the press of a button, the service is nothing like you will get in a regular tour bus. There is also a signal to inform the driver if a passenger is in the toilet so that he can drive with more caution.

They also have a Luxuria cab service for its guests, if they are the only ones travelling from one drop-off point in the city to another, with specially designed seats and entertainment.

Blessing for corporate travellers

Chennai-Bengaluru being a busy route for corporate travellers who mostly head for just a day’s work, Luxuria has hit the nail bang on with making the bus Wi-Fi enabled, providing plug points and even a laptop tray, giving passengers ample scope to work on their laptops unhindered. Even their lounge in Bengaluru is Wi-Fi enabled and has a computer with internet connection.

Luxuria takes the corporate nexus a step ahead by arranging pick up and drop points at IT hubs of Chennai and Bengaluru, Sholinganallur and Whitefield, respectively.

Pankaj Rampal, COO of Luxuria however plans to take this facility to a whole new level, by revamping some features, sprucing up the lounge and also by looking beyond the corporate traveller by extending the service to cities like Hyderabad, Mysore, Tirupati etc.

With a few more Luxuria buses plying on the road by the year-end and 30 more next year, the group hopes to target corporate as well as individual travellers.

Priced at Rs 1,800 per ticket (Chennai-Bengaluru), it aims at those who are looking at a reasonable and hassle free alternative to flying (what with early check-ins, serpentine security check queues and increasing airport-city travel time) and a more luxurious and comfortable option to trains and regular buses.

My return journey that same night was blissful. The earphones worked fine and I slept like a baby only to reach Chennai, fresh as a daisy.

Being hardly a month old in this brand new venture, Luxuria has done well in capturing the attention as well as the hearts of premium travellers in the Chennai-Bengaluru route. How well it will replicate the same for other long distance routes, is something we have to wait to see.

But Luxuria sure feels like hitting the road in style.

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Published on January 25, 2011
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