As lockdown restrictions ease, resorts outside the city are bustling with guests as families drive in, searching for a place to relax amidst Nature. With strong Wi-Fi.
In Hyderabad, families are out for sunshine, picnics and revenge. A wave of ‘revenge tourism’ is keeping resorts outside the city busy. After months of lockdown, often spent in compact city apartments, families are finding safe ways to relax and meet, despite the pandemic.
The work from home culture, which has grown to be the norm in many offices, has moved workspaces from offices to home, cafes and any place with good internet connectivity. With post-lockdown restrictions eased and life limping back to normal, cafes and working spaces are getting crowded. Also, after more than a year with no outings and vacations, people are looking for getaways that are a short drive away.
Farm stays, resorts with tents, jungle retreats, places that offer trekking, hiking and bird-watching or anything that engages the outdoors are much sought after. The cost at these spots can range from ₹2,000 to ₹6,000 per night. It includes treks and farm walks.
Back to business after the lull, resorts are noticing a change in the customer profile and pre-booking enquiries. Grasswalks, a getaway in Vikarabad (70 kilometres from Hyderabad), is a hot pick as it offers stunning views of the Vikarabad jungle. Syed Mohammed Najmuddin, owner of Grasswalks, says that he had to make quick arrangements for working desks and chairs in all the rooms and tents. Reason: Most bookings came with a request for a comfortable workspace. Syed adds, “Unexpectedly, we saw a lot more families that were keen on their children experiencing the outdoors and connecting with Nature. With the steady flow of requests for a working desk, we made arrangements for it in almost all our tents and rooms.”
As enquiries for bookings and reservations steadily go up, the staff is rushing to sanitise and prepare rooms for their guests. While business is good, it is also important for everyone to remain safe, says a housekeeping staff at Trance, a resort in Moinabad. The last couple of months have been busy with wedding events there.
Resorts on the outskirts are making all efforts to ensure families return as repeat guests. Prakash Dantuluri, the proprietor of Gamaya at Vikarabad, says, “In an experiential break, children learn even while they are holidaying; they go back talking about it and sometimes it helps them understand what they read. Here, at Gamaya, which is still under construction, we have tractor rides, fishing and a canal with which we show how irrigation happens.”
Explaining why families are choosing experiential getaways on the outskirts, Mahati Chittem, a parent and professor with IIT-Hyderabad, says, “After being cooped up in our apartment for fear of COVID-19 last year, I couldn’t think of a hotel for a staycation. I wanted my daughters to roam free and learn to respect Nature. Online classes only made it easier to decide on taking them to a muddy place, where we can see a clear sky and not have to look at another building for a view.” Mahati chose The Getaway, an organic farm in Godamguda because she wants her daughters to grow up being aware of where we get our food from.
Activities at Nature-driven getaway spots like Neeraja Farm Stay, Hornbill Farm Stay, Farmville Stay and Grasswalks include treks and understanding farming.
Syed adds, “Rather than parents, it is the children’s curiosity and enthusiasm that motivates the elders.” Such treks and Nature-centric activities are planned to fit into school and work schedule, so that everyone gets back to their tents/ rooms to resume their work and school-work online.”
Prem Anand of The Hidden Castle in Siddipet has a different experience. Designed as a replica of Takeshi’s Castle (the popular Japanese wipeout game show), his resort was a popular destination for corporate team-building outings. This four-year-old resort is set in a medieval-style castle, complete with a moat.
Anand says, “Schools and colleges, apart from a corporate crowd, were my biggest clients, largely because of the games we tried to replicate from the Takeshi’s Castle game. Now there is a shift in clientele. The family category is our biggest revenue generator. Since we are not too far away from the city, crowds come during the weekdays as well. In the evenings, when the resort is lit, children feel it is like a real castle.” Occupancy at The Hidden Castle is 70% during the week and goes up to 90% on weekends.
Organo Nandi, a collective farming community in Moinabad, houses 73 villas that serve as weekend/holiday homes and activities like workshops on permaculture, slow cooking on firewood, gardening and talks on snakes and wildlife. A net-zero energy community, with organic farming, a goshala, earth air tunnel draft system, zero disposal of organic waste, zero wastewater discharge, in-house production of natural fertilisers and pesticides, usage of local materials and bamboo for construction, 15 acres of afforested land, along with many other closed-loop systems.
Rakesh Koti, head of sustainability at Organo says, “Guests treat Organo Nandi as a holiday home. Low occupancy and a community kitchen makes it easy for them. Families are also staying back for weeks before they return rejuvenated.”