Championing Destination India

Breast cancer surgeon, Dr Felicia Tan is passionate about promoting India as a great holiday destination. Her Ravishing India Holidays offers customized itineraries and efficient concierge services that will make your trip memorable.

6/30/2017 2:12:00 PM
written By : Nithya Subramanian Print

It is not often that one comes across a doctor, that too, a breast cancer surgeon excitedly talking about the joys of travelling in India. Dr Felicia Tan, Director and Chief Surgeon of FeM Surgery is an exception. A full-time surgeon, she is a serial entrepreneur too. For besides her surgical group practice, she is involved in other companies dealing in property, primary healthcare, travel and tourism.

An all-rounder who excelled in academics and extra-curricular activities, she held multiple leadership positions and volunteered in UNICEF. During medical school, she worked part-time selling flowers and giving tuition to pay for the expensive school fees despite having an intensive study schedule.

But it was the tragic death of her mother, who was killed in a fatal road accident that led her to study medicine. “As a child I always wanted to be a vet. I loved animals and the thought of being able to treat them when they are unwell... then a life-changing event took place in 1989.” She witnessed doctors and nurses trying to save her but it was all in vain. “I decided then that I was going to do medicine and never looked back since.”

Travel is another passion that Felicia takes seriously for a change in air does wonders for your spirit and body. Her first visit to India and a chance encounter with her partner R K Pandey led her on another journey – setting up of Ravishing India Holidays (RIH) that makes the dreams of an exotic Indian vacation a reality. A proficient team personalises your travel itinerary according to your preferences, provide insider tips on the best deals and meals in the country and even has a local concierge accompany your travelling group throughout your trip.

India Se: What prompted you to start RIH and focus on India as a destination?

Felicia Tan: I have travelled widely but never entertained the idea of getting involved in the travel business until a chance encounter with my co-founder, RK Pandey, during my first ever visit to India. My pre-travel mood was one of fear and suspicion as many of my Indian patients and friends had scared me, so much so that I was hoping that my visa to India would not be approved!

My trip turned out to be one of the most amazing trips in my life - I experienced extremely high standards of hospitality in hotels in Delhi and had a truly magical glamping experience with my family on safari. We enjoyed the cold winter climate, had the best Indian food ever and the turning point was the exciting safari drives where we saw four Bengal tigers. That got me talking to our naturalist about the misconceptions Singaporeans and even overseas Indians had about India. We came up with ingenious ideas to meet the needs of travellers without compromising on authenticity. There is a certain way and style to enjoy this country - what we now affectionately term the “ RIH way”. I think we are on the right track seeing that our business has flourished based largely on word-of-mouth marketing by our guests and we have many returning guests whom we have now termed as our “RIH junkies” - they get the best deals and insider knowledge from our team!

India Se: What makes RIH different from other tour operators? 

Felicia Tan: RIH distinguishes itself by being more than a tour operator - we don’t just organise a tour and leave the guests to figure out the itinerary when they get there. The key lies in the quality of our concierge service. We look after all their needs and offering local authentic experiences that they would never get on their own. The concierge to group ratio is very small and we never mix two groups. In this way, all our trip itineraries are highly personalised. Our concierges are trained to know when to be around and when to leave the guests for their time alone.

India Se: Why do you think tourists should visit Ranthambore?

Felicia Tan: Simply because one must not leave the world without coming face-to-face with a wild Bengal tiger! A safari drive into the vast Ranthambhore National Park is a treat in itself - you will first pass the majestic Ranthambhore fort. At the park entrance, you’ll be greeted by langurs (monkeys) and flocks of peacocks (and peahens). A drive in the park will take you through varying landscapes - around three huge lakes, waterfalls, streams, luxurious foliage and the backdrop of the Aravalli ranges. You will definitely get to spot chital deer, sambar deer, antelopes, blue bulls, wild boars, crocodiles and if you’re lucky you’ll see owlets, sloth bears, leopards, hyenas, caracal, jackal and the jungle cat. But of course, the real deal is to see the Bengal tiger. We have a saying in the jungle, that you don’t have to ask if someone has seen a tiger, you just have to look at the smile on their face and glisten in their eyes!

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