World Tourism Day 2021…Tourism for Inclusive Growth
Tourism for Inclusive Growth is truly the need of the hour and it holds absolute relevance in the post pandemic world. On World Tourism Day 2021, we at Reemarkabl firmly believe it’s time to celebrate remarkable tourism and hospitality professionals who are championing this very cause of Inclusive Tourism. Namaste viewers and welcome to Reemarkabl, a platform for stories of Sense and not Sensationalism.
Let’s welcome our Inclusive Growth Champions, Vasudha and Sanjay Sondhi, co-founders Parvada Bungalows, Uttarakhand, India. Let’s hear it from the Founder herself.
Hi, I am Vasudha Sondhi and along with my husband Sanjay, we both are co-founders of Parvada Bungalows and VS fruittree Estate.
Our estate is spread out roughly in 3.5 acres and we have 4 kinds of accommodation. We have more than a 1000 trees in our orchards, which are still fairly young. Largely, we have apple trees, followed by peach, pears, plum, apricot, walnut, almond, cherry etc.
We acquired the land in 2015 and we started the project in 2016 to complete it 90 percent by 2018. Sanjay and I had a big hand in designing all of the project, how the look and feel would be, how the sizes of the rooms would be and we actually went and looked at some of the local buildings, the village homes and we tried to incorporate of a lot of what they do because they are very practical in how they build their homes.
The one change that we did is that we have these large picture windows in all our rooms, whether public or bedrooms because we have this beautiful 180 degrees view, we wanted that view to be available for everyone, wherever they were on the estate. So, that’s one change that we made. We insulated the interiors with pine wood. Pine wood wears very well in this region.
The wild fig villas have 5 bedrooms and it is so called because of the wild fig trees around it and right to the wild fig villa is the Quinta, which houses our Yoga room on the top floor, dinning, kitchen and a dining terrace on the middle floor and a library on the ground floor. The Oak cottage is so called because of the Oak trees that line both sides of the path towards the cottage. The cottage itself has a bedroom and a living room and a kitchen. The Pine Cottage has a bedroom, dressing room and a really nice open but covered sitting area. One of my most favourite places is this Gazebo, with its really really quaint fireplace. The Deodar cottage has two bedrooms, one on the top floor and one on the ground floor. The ground floor also has a beautiful Al Fresco seating, with a kitchen and a pantry and the first floor has a living room as well.
While we built it in 2018, we were conscious of involving local labour, so already it became inclusive from that aspect. Then we got an opportunity to participate in an employment-generating opportunity in a village quite close to the place where we were developing our homestay. That really set off a chain reaction. We then decided to set up as a homestay, we decided that we would only use local labour, local material and train people who would be working with us, so they would be the chefs, housekeepers.
All of our workers, our contractor, our masons, our contractors, everyone involved with the project, other than Sanjay and me and Sanjay’s friend, who helped us design the project, everyone were sourced locally, all our staff is also from Uttarkhand and most of them from the village where we are located. We very much liked the local cuisine when we tasted it. We consciously decided to be a vegetarian retreat because we try and do our little bit for being sustainable. The local cuisine supports vegetarianism a lot. We experimented with first some of the more popular dishes like Bhat ki Dal or Gahat and Churkani, or the Pahadi Raita, using a lot of Ragi, what is known as Madua here, which is also their staple flour. Our Kheer is made of Jhangora. Now we have also started looking at other dishes. Infact we invited some of the older ladies to our place and we are asking them to teach us the various dishes.
We wish to offer our guests an understated luxury experience, which is responsible and sustainable. A lot of our guests feel like they are leaving the place lighter. We aim to bring up the local community in any way possible through creating village meal experiences, village stay experiences, sale of handicrafts etc.
We had to learn a lot, just about everything, the landscape, weather patterns, food, dealing with the locals and we continuously learn from our guests. Therefore everything we do, we sometimes have to tweak or even get back to the drawing board. We are blessed that we have a lot of support from the local community so that really helps.
I look forward to welcoming you to our piece of heaven. See you soon.