Our homestay host Sunil, with mother, wife Reena, children Meenakshi and Suryakiran readily agreed to my request to pose for this shot. Sunil had earlier taken our pictures for his album – ‘we keep photos of all our guests’.
I sensed in it a personal touch. And I guess it is the personal touch that makes a homestay different from a hotel stay. Our hostess Reena’s parting words to my wife were – ‘do visit us again’. Whether or not we do, the words had a sincere tone, and gave a personal dimension to what is essentially a hospitality business model. Which, they say, has worked very well in promoting Kerala tourism, particularly, among foreign visitors. They rely on Trip Advisor or word-of-mouth recommends.
Wayanad district alone has 136 homestay units, says Sunil, whose two-cottage homestay – Treasure Trove – is located within a family-owned coffee/rubber plantation at Meenangadi . Sunil’s family has owned the 25-acre plantation for three generations, but it wasn’t until two years ago that Sunil ventured into this line of business. It wasn’t that Sunil didn’t think of homestay on their premises earlier – ‘when I suggested it to our family nearly a decade back, elders simply wouldn’t listen’.
I discovered Sunil – rather his homestay was discovered for me, by Shivya Nath of India Untravelled. Shivya was his guest and Sunil recounted how she used to stir out into the plantation after dark, to listen to the forest sounds and to look for god-knows-what. Sunil led us through the same path around the plantation that Shivya took, but we did it at an early evening hour.
Sunil also took us to Uravu – a bamboo crafts centre – where they turn out an amazing range of bamboo products. Uravu is also into developing bamboo processing skills among rural women through training programs and introduction of appropriate tools, technologies and processes.
The bamboo cottage in which Sunil put us up was designed and built by craftsmen from the Bamboo Village. Asked if they could make a bamboo bike, master craftsman Lenin agreed to give it a try. I promised to send him, via Sunil, relevant info. that is available on the Net. The bamboo products they make at Wayanad are handcrafted, and, in many cases, made to order. Sunil said, if they accept our suggestion, he would book the first bamboo bike for use of his guests at Treasure Trove.
OnYouTube : MyTakebyGVK
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