Destination: Happiness

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SRK’s penchant for Paris, Kareena’s Swiss temptation, Aamir’s escapes to the hills... Bindi Shah trails the stars’ frequent and favourite holiday destinations.

Stars might have day jobs like no one else’s – a cycle of hectic work schedules, promotions, media interactions and more. And naturally, when they choose to get away from it all, their vacations become iconic, possibly even infamous, splashed across media with pictures and as many details as can be garnered, be it varied locations or the same sandboxes year after year.

While most of them have their all-time favourites, some stick to their idea and setting of the perfect holiday even though the destination may vary. For Emraan Hashmi, Maldives tops his list of favourite destinations, “The moment I think of going on a holiday, the first thought that comes to my mind is locating an ideal beach getaway. No surprise, Maldives tops my list of frequently visited places,” says Emraan. Besides the obvious scenic beaches, it’s the natural wonder of the place that seems to sweep him off his feet, “This small island nation is blessed with immense natural beauty… the beaches are not just breathtakingly beautiful, they are very clean and well looked after.” On another occasion, he slipped off for a 10-day holiday with wife Parveen and son Ayaan to a secluded island off the coast of Malaysia where all he wanted to do was “relax, eat and shop with my wife and baby.”

Thinking of beaches, you cannot not include the numerous sojourns of our celebs to Thailand and its romantic beach locations right from Phuket to Koh Samui and even the extremely exploited Pattaya. Maybe it’s the proximity to the home country or possibly the fact that, despite being a short flight away, it allows for anonymity, or simply the spicy Thai food, but this country has been wooing our stars for a while now; and most names that come to your mind when you think Hindi films, have vacationed there some time or other.

Phuket, which is considered among the best tourist destinations in the world, became immensely popular after Hrithik Roshan and Ameesha Patel’s hit title song in KAHO NA PYAAR HAI was shot at this picture-perfect island, causing flocks of Indian filmmakers and holiday-planners to make frequent trips there. The islands are now the Roshans’ favourite destination as they are frequently reported to be vacationing there; this March too, Hrithik Roshan along with wife Sussanne and sons Hrehaan and Hridaan flew there, holidaying for a week, to bring in Hrehaan’s 8th birthday, along with close buddies Arjun Rampal and wife Mehr, and their two daughters, Mahikaa and Myraa.

When Imran Khan shot to fame with JAANA TU… YA JAANE NA and promptly got married to his sweetheart he whisked her off to honeymoon at their “favourite holiday destination – Phuket,” where he had booked an entire island for his ladylove.

Koh Samui, on the other hand, became an instant must-do place when a few years back news spread that Kareena Kapoor vacationed there with then-boyfriend Shahid. Last December Katrina, who always spends Christmas with family, reportedly flew in from London to this serene and scenic island to join her siblings. Around the same time, the reclusive Aamir Khan with wife Kiran Rao Khan and year-old son Azad too vacationed there for about 10 days. Booked into a private villa, far from the madding crowds, the family indulged in water adventures including scuba diving and exploring the seaside. As Kiran was quoted, “Chaweng beach is the favoured location. But we chose the quieter side of the island, because we want a genuine break from the mayhem. The intention is to take part in some water sports and have a relaxed time as against being part of the noise and revelry.”

Nature and beaches aside, there are others who prefer the excitement of wandering among crowds and being just another face among them. One of HiFI (Hindi Film Industry)’s favourite couples - Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri - love spending their time in the fashion capital, Paris. Rich in culture and heritage, the plethora of eternally enticing artistic creations, architectural formations and a strong fashion sense, is what draws them there. Of late, thanks to their son Aryan who is now studying in London, the couple has been frequenting this royal city, where supposedly Shah Rukh owns a home in the posh locality of Park Lane in Central London.

London also happens to be a personal pet pick of Chote Nawab Saif Ali Khan, although the missus – Kareena, prefers the Swiss Alps, which she calls her “second home.” Bebo loves visiting the picturesque cities of Berne and Zurich so much that the couple visits this Alpine state almost thrice a year! Seems the Nawab is left with little choice or say in this matter.?

When Ajay Devgn and Kajol tied the knot back in 1999, the couple took off for a two-month vacation driving through Europe, and also Egypt and Australia. How romantic, that one!

Mountain belle Kangna Ranaut loves travelling and the south of France is one of her favourite destinations. She often Googles places to visit and so zealous is her travelling bug that she has been on a Roman holiday all by herself! The excited traveler even blogged about it, “I ate good food, visited beautiful places, fell in love with Michelangelo’s art, made wishes throwing coins in the fountain. I loved the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and Raphael, by far my favorites.” Otherwise her all time favourite place is hometown Manali which she visits as often as possible to relax; understandable, given her love for the mountains.

With its rich resplendent history, Europe draws people of all tastes and types, be it for the romance of Paris, the buzz of London, or the quiet peace of an Alpine valley.

Not far behind, the Far-West – USA – also tops the fave destination list of HiFI hotties. The Big Apple is the preferred getaway of Aishwarya-Abhishek where they move to whenever they get the opportunity, recently even celebrating five years of togetherness in NYC. Karan Johar has mentioned time and again how he would love to go to New York as often as every two months if he had the time. Starlet Shraddha Kapoor who loves the city says, “What I like about the place is that you can get lost amidst the tall towering buildings... Nobody knows you, nobody there cares who you are, and you can be just yourself.”

Actor and philanthropist Salman Khan’s top holiday destinations involve Dubai and London. The star is even said to own a house in Dubai, where he prefers spending quality time with his family, when he gets bored with his routine schedule. Bhai, who is famous for the way he keeps his family close and well-knit, planned a major chill-out vacation when he booked a 75,000 Dirhams a week resort on an island in 2012 taking along his brothers and sisters, for some relaxation in the sun and shine of Dubai.

Despite the fact that all the above are foreign destinations, there are a few local picks too. Milan Luthria owns a house in Mahabaleshwar and loves indulging in horse-riding there. Aamir has a heritage property nearby in Panchgani which became big news when he married Kiran Rao there. The couple are said to be frequent visitors to their own safe haven, which is just a few hours away from the city. In one of his blogs Aamir describes, “I’m sitting under a tree, on the edge of a valley, approximately 5000 feet above sea level. The river Krishna flows far below us snaking its way among the Sahyadri mountains. A cool breeze is blowing, jannat ki hawa… What more can I ask for?”

Farhan Akhtar is one of the few who seems to be struck by and thus stuck to national beauty – his idea of the perfect holiday is “a driving holiday within India with my gang of boy buddies. I like to keep on moving and going to different places. The best drive was to Ladakh.” His favourite getaway is his house in Conoor which he drives to while his family flies in and joins him later. “It’s absolutely relaxed, with fresh air, great weather throughout the year,” he explains. His favourite destination though is Goa.

And so is this small state, scattered with remains of Portugal and Anglo-Eastern influences, on the top of the list for a few others. Dusky Bong Bipasha Basu has an endless fascination for the westward shores of Goa while Rohit Shetty heads there every time he gets some time for himself, “which is very rare, hence I shoot a majority of my films in Goa. I simply love Goa and its atmosphere!”

While stars’ destinations might be grander than our simple getaways, the vacations themselves might not be so different after all—filled with relaxation, adventure, and an opportunity to leave the pains of everyday celeb-dom behind. And if you get lucky the next time say, you are in Goa you may just be able to boast, “What’s the big deal… I just vacationed with Kareena Kapoor!”…Who, by the way, loves this laid-back, yet full of character getaway too.

This article first appeared in the May 2013 issue of Cine Blitz magazine

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