Places like Lonavala and Matheran are usually the most sought after by city dwellers and, this year too, they top the list. "The response is good as it is a long weekend and people usually opt for destinations which are closer home as they need to get back to work on Wednesday," said Mahesh Pathak, a travel agent.
However, as usual, the rising cost of rooms has acted as a dampener on the holiday spirit. "Rooms that are usually available for Rs 1,200 or so are now available for Rs 3,000," a Fort-based tour operator lamented.
"People are cashing in on this long weekend and are making the most of it. However, the cost has doubled with the New Year approaching and those who are booking at the eleventh hour might have to pay a sky-high price," he added.
On the other hand, another tour operator from Fort said that the demand was not as good as last year. "All nearby hill stations such as Matheran, Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar and Goa are in demand. However, rooms are still available which is generally not the trend," said Suhas Padte, a tour operator from Fort. "A few people have applied for leave long back whereas a few have decided to celebrate the weekend at the resorts and plan to be back home on December 30."
"Rooms that are available for 1,000 to 1,500 are now available at Rs 3,300. Kids room that is available for Rs 800 is now available for Rs 1,600," businessman Prashant Singh, said. "We had to book the rooms as we feared that the rates would rise further," he complained.
A change in trend is also being noticed. A Lonavala-based hotelier said that they had more bookings from families rather than couples. "People are looking for family outings. Hence many hotels are making the most of this," he said.