Travel : Alaskan Retreat

Dr Om Manchanda, aged 50 years, is a whole-time Director and Chief Executive Officer of Dr Lal Path Labs Ltd. He is an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad. He has about 25 years of experience in the field of marketing and general management. After graduating from the IIM in June 1990, he was selected as a management trainee for Lipton India Limited now amalgamated into Hindustan Unilever Limited, (HUL), under the management trainee scheme of Unilever Group of Companies in India. He worked with HUL for nearly 10 years. In November 1999, he joined Monsanto as National Marketing Manager. In January 2003 he joined Ranbaxy Laboratory Limited in their Global Consumer Healthcare Division and worked initially as General Manager - Marketing, Consumer Healthcare (India) and then General Manager - International & Innovation before joining Dr Lal PathLabs Ltd in October 2005

Here he gives an insight into his favourite travel destinations...

Which is your favourite holiday destination?

Being a vivid traveller and explorer by heart, I completely adore Alaska, New Zealand and the beautiful high-altitude Himalayan Range. These three destinations have been my eternal favourites for long and I never think twice about going here after juggling my schedules and finding time between work and home.


Well. I have an utter proclivity towards ‘Mother Nature’ and the above hotspots bring one really close to nature. I am a strong believer that nature can inspire a soul in so many ways and whenever I step out for some quality time to places like these, I want to come back rejuvenated and high-spirited.

When did you visit last?

My ‘deal’ with Himalayas was fixed years ago and I make it a point to ‘date’ them at least once, every year (laughs). The Himalyan ranges are one timeless beauty that can always surprise you. Even if one treks the same roads, it is so different. I fall for them all the time!

Meanwhile, I went to Alaska in 2011 and New Zealand was in 2009. I plan to explore some more destinations that can bring me a little more close to the nature’s lap.

What do you like about the place?

All these places have a few things in common - extremely scenic, away from mad rush and hustle and bustle of commercial cities, wildlife, quietitude, peace, serene and endless beauty.

Alaska has beautiful wildlife. I miss seeing lots of moose, which can be seen in the Anchorage city limits and in South Central Alaska in general. In Juneau, there are lots of black bears, grizzlies, glacier bear, wolves, eagles, sea birds, ravens, harbor seals, stellar sea lions, otters, different kinds of whales and I could go on and on...

The laid-back people, quirky charm and wild scenery... New Zealand can be defined in so many ways. It is so varied you can see beaches, volcanoes, rainforest and even desert in one day. It’s a safe, easy place to travel with friendly, creative people and endless walks for nature lovers like me.

Not to forget is the cruise to Mokoia Island on Lake Rotorua where one gets an authentic insight into Maori culture as you hear the moving love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai. One of the most happening experiences was to wander through the dense Kauri forest at night where moon-light guides you to the giant Tane Mahuta – Maori legend has it that this tree is the Lord of the Forest and father of all living forest creatures.

Tell us the highlights of the destination, what should not be missed, what do you recommend to see and do?

Well there are three favourite destinations here—Alaska, Himalayas and New Zealand.

I will talk about Alaska here:
  • Exploring the Alaskan wilds such as Denali and Kenai Fjords National Parks
  • Taking a close view at the glaciers with ‘glacier viewing’ at the Tracy Arm Fjord. One also gets to see the whales and seals that inhabits, these waters
  • Kenai Fjords National Park – This is one of the ‘Not to Miss’ things in Alaska. This national park offers some of the best sight-seeing in Alaska and breathtaking panoramas with glaciers of the Harding Icefield and an uninhabited coastline.
  • The Alaska Highway
  • The Alaskan Cruise at the South Island. Southeast Alaska offers incredible scenery of glaciers, mountains and the ocean. The area is also inhabited by the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples. Along the coastal passage, the Tongass National Forest includes islands, mountains, glaciers, ice fields, fjords, and waterfalls. Not to miss is the Prince of Wales Island, one of the largest islands in the US, in the forests.
  • The up-sides to Alaska’s long dark winters is the glowing Northern Lights that appear on many nights from September to mid-April. Some of the best aurora borealis viewing happens in the Fairbanks area.
  • The Magical Arctic Circle where the summer solstice brings 24 hours of daylight and the winter means 24 hours of darkness.
  • Finally, the Mendenhall Glacier. Beautiful glaciers and icebergs. One can indulge into rafting and kayaking to be with the bergs.

“Southeast Alaska offers incredible scenery of glaciers, mountains and the ocean. The area is also inhabited by the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people. Along the coastal passage, the Tongass National Forest includes islands, mountains, glaciers, ice fields, fjords, and waterfalls”

To sum up everything, the only advice or recommendation I have to the readers is - be it any place, just ‘Be You’. Forget the hardships, the tough days, the failures, success and for sometime give up the materialistic world and let your soul indulge, the way it is. This will give one utter satisfaction and something that I call as “Self Happiness”.

Which restaurants you like to visit over there? Why?

The top three eating places in Alaska would be - the Mexican Asian fusion restaurant – ‘V’s Cellar Door’, authentic Russian food at ‘The Samovars’ and the best Indian Cuisine at ‘Saffron’.

Which are the good hotels to stay there? Which is your favourite hotel to stay?

My favourite place to stay in Alaska would be on the highways under the sky but to keep one warm, it would be Hotel Alyeska.

3 tips you can give to fellow travellers for that place?

Forget where you have come from, forget who you are and enjoy a new you.

How, according to you, can that destination be improved?

I love this place the way it is.

What can other destinations learn from that place?

Liveliness and respect for nature.

What kind of a traveler are you – planning well or more impulsive?

Well, both. So it depends... if I’m going with family, I make it a point to plan well otherwise impulsive.

Lastly, what tops your mind when you travel – `sightseeing, food, shopping or...

Mountains, lakes, wildlife

By Sharmila Chand