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‘Las Vegas Is The Ultimate Stress-Buster’

Not only does Pooja Shetty, director, IMAX Adlabs Dome Theatre and Multiplex, successfully run India’s first IMAX theatre and multiplex but she is also counted among the rising entrepreneurs of India. In conversation with Raadia Mukadam, she dwells on issues that feature foremost on her travel itinerary

Being a theatre owner, which destination dominates your travel plan?
My line of work takes me frequently to USA and Canada, primarily because the IMAX headquarters is based in Toronto and also since most of the distributors from whom we lease or buy films are based in Los Angeles, Utah or other parts of the USA. The country therefore dominates my travel plans. I am required to visit this part of the globe at least three times a year.

What do you like about Toronto?
As a destination, not much. Having lived and studied in places like New York and Chicago, Toronto does not excite me as much in terms of activities and night life, but what sets this destination apart is that it is a very IMAX-rich city. There are five IMAX theatres in Toronto alone and I get to view at least ten films when I’m there. No other city offers so much.

Which is your preferred leisure getaway?
Without a doubt Las Vegas. There is no city that can match the vibrancy of Vegas. At Vegas it’s carnival time everyday. Though I am not an avid gambler and only experiment with slot machines, I am passionate about the entire ambience and aura that goes with casinos. Despite being very judicious with the stakes, I have been fortunate enough to win most of the times. I find that a visit to Vegas is the ultimate stress-buster. My favourite casino is MGM Grand which has an artificial volcona erupting every ten minutes or so.

But if I am in India and had only a short getaway to plan it would definitely be Udaipur in Rajasthan. The ancient exotic architecture of the havelis and palaces offers a totally unique experience.

Which is the best international airport?
Frankfurt airport, not just because of its expanse but also due to its perfect blend of modern day facilities and an aesthetically designed ambience. I never get weary of this airport. Besides plush lounges with state-of-the-art facilities, it has one of the most exhaustive duty-free areas. Another impressive feature is that while most airports have a few forex counters, the Frankfurt airport has many forex counters located conveniently for the business traveller.

What do you eat when travelling abroad?
I prefer Italian cuisine when I am abroad. Italian food is good because even at your experimental best, it is a cuisine that one really can’t go very wrong with. Amongst my favourite eateries abroad is an Italian restaurant chain in the US called ‘Olive Garden’.

Which international airline tops your priority list and why?
From my early childhood, I have been flying Delta Airways and have no reason to complain about its food or service. But as a business traveller my best flying experiences have been on British Airways and Singapore Airlines. According to me, what contributes to a great flying experience are comfortable seats, pleasant staff who can be caring without being intrusive, commendable cuisine but, most of all, good in-flight entertainment, which is an imperative on long-haul flights. If a business traveller arrives feeling good, chances are his day will be far more productive than otherwise.

What influences your choice of hotels?
It is important that the interiors of the rooms are really pleasing. If I have to stay away from home for a few days, it is vital that the rooms are cosy and comfortable, and make you feel at home. I do not particularly favour grand and imposing interiors, they befit a lobby far more. There are several boutique hotels today that have less rooms but have ultra comfortable interiors, in fact they may look like an extension of your own living room. Another important criteria that influences my choice of a hotel is the presence of a spa. Back after a long day’s work, I would not like to get onto the treadmill. On the contrary, health and beauty treatments offered at in-house spas can be very rejuvenating.

Being a lady often travelling alone, how important are matters of security and do you take any special precautions?
Having lived abroad for the better half of my life, I am extremely at ease when I travel. However, if you are travelling alone it is vital to ensure that you are being picked up at the airport by a known person, be it a colleague or affiliate manager or your host. Several regional carriers in USA and Europe offer special fares on midnight flights, but if you’re a single woman travelling alone, pay an extra buck but avoid late night flights. This will ensure that you don’t arrive at any airport at an unearthly hour.

Pooja Shetty’s Tips
  • Sleep as much as you can on your flight, it will minimise jet lag
  • Try and stick to a vegetarian diet, which is much easier to digest, while flying
  • Avoid coffee and alcoholic drinks, they can exacerbate your jet lag. Instead you could substitute it with plenty of water and juices
  • Women travellers must remember to use a moisturiser as frequently as required depending on skin type to avoid a totally haggard look on arrival
  • It is better to be cautious with co-passengers, more so when you are a woman traveller. ‘Be friendly, not familiar’ is my motto.
  • Try to plan your agenda before arriving on business, this would help you to manage your time much better and extract much more out of your day.