For Experiential Travellers

In today’s Indian tourism and hospitality industry, experiential holidays and offbeat destinations can hold considerable attraction for the new-age domestic and inbound tourists, especially those who are having an intrepid streak within them.

There is a section of travellers in India and abroad (whose numbers are now enough to be recognised as an independent market force), for whom travel is not only about new places but also about novel experiences and uncommon memories.  When they visit a new destination, they not only want to marvel at its tourist attractions but also want to experience the place’s special food and its various other facets of culture and heritage first hand.

In the backdrop of such a market scenario, we can safely say that our hospitality industry badly needs to promote more offbeat tourist destinations within the country. The industry also needs to develop more resorts or retreats in pristine and preferably unconventional locales. The architecture of these resorts or retreats should reflect an unmistakable local touch and these properties should provide experiences in sync with the local ethos and culture. If our hospitality industry doesn’t work towards these twin objectives vigorously, it is likely to lose huge untapped revenue opportunities.   

Space for Stupendous Growth

V Resorts, a new-age Noida-based travel solutions and resort management company, is playing a significant role in this regard. It is managing hospitality properties in quaint locales; properties whose construction and the experiences provided for the tourists are in sync with the local culture, environment and ethos. 

V Resorts is led by the company’s dynamic and visionary CEO, Aditi Balbir, who also founded the company in 2014, with an investment of Rs.13crore (majority of the funding was provided by Seed Fund, India’s leading early stage venture capital funding company and some came through internal accruals). Today V Resorts is already having 100 hospitality properties within its management ambit, and presence across 17 states of India.

From hills to beaches, from deserts to wildlife sanctuaries, and from heritage sites to adventure hotspots, the resorts within the purview of V Resorts cater to diversified tourism experiences. According to Aditi, “The gamut of travel experiences on offer by V Resorts can be demarcated into eight categories. They are Heritage, Desert, City Breaks, Wildlife, Romantic Gateways, Farm Stay, Hills and Beaches.”  The destinations covered by V Resorts not only include popular tourist destinations like Goa, but also offbeat ones like Ramgarh, Sattal and Panna among others.

Till 2015, the company was managing only six properties. This stupendous growth story may sound unbelievable amidst not so encouraging growth of the Indian hospitality industry during the recent years, but it happens to be true.

The Business Model

All the salaries and other day-to-day variable operational expenses of these 100 hospitality properties under the management of V Resorts are incurred by V Resorts only and V Resorts is involved in addressing the customer queries and problem/s pertaining to these resorts, if any.

The properties under the ambit of V Resorts range from 2-30 rooms and some of them have the provision of suites too. Their daily rents range from Rs.2500-Rs.7500. In the revenue sharing model between the respective owner of the hospitality property and V Resorts, the owner of a given property gets a revenue share, which, according to Aditi, varies between 15-20 percent.

Sustainable Hospitality

According to the enterprising lady, V Resorts always choose those hospitality properties to manage whose construction reflects the local culture and/or architectural styles of the place where the property is stationed. “For example, if we have to tie-up with a property in Goa chances are we may go for an old Portuguese structure, whereas in hill stations built by the British, we may go for stone cottages, which are reminiscent of the colonial era,” pointed out Aditi with relevant examples. For example in Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh, V Resorts presents eco-friendly bamboo huts.

“And once we take up those properties for managing, we ensure that the  experiences we provide for the guests there are in sync with the local culture, environment and ethos of the destination where the given property is stationed,” she added further.

 “Our resorts’ standardised elements include V Canvas, which comprises aesthetically designed artworks that give a tantalising visual glimpse into what we offer; Spice Walk, which is our exclusive range of dining options that emphasise on local and regional cuisines; Pitara, which comprises a range of items procured from local communities, packaged by us; V Unwind, which comprises our in-house infotainment and leisure activities; and V Indulge, which has in its ambit our spas and massages for pampering our guests. While our corporate office is in Noida, the V Resorts family is truly spread across the length and breadth of the country, committed to finding new ways to delight our guests,” elaborated Aditi.

 “About 90 percent of the personnel, including the Chefs, employed in these properties comprise of local people, and to train them in the finer nuances of hospitality we did set up a training school in Noida, in 2014,” she informed.  As far as procurement of day-to-day products for these resorts goes, V Resorts relies on local vendors, which further strengthens the sustainability character of V Resorts. V Resorts also practice environmentally-friendly policies at its managed properties, which include conservation of water and the use of solar power.

“Both our corporate philosophy and values fit in perfectly with the central government’s pro-tourism agenda, which stresses the role of tourism in boosting employment and economic growth, and contributing to skill enhancement of local communities,”  disclosed Aditi.

Regional Flavours

One of the interesting reflections of these initiatives in sustainability, according to Aditi, is the complete lack of standarisation of F&B options at V Resorts. With V Resorts, the culinary offerings differ from property to property and they have a strong local flavour associated with them. “While staying with us, one can savour lesser known regional delicacies like bhang ki chutney, and honeycomb, which you cannot get in a conventional hospitality property,” said Aditi.

While bhang ki chutney is a delicacy from Uttarakhand cuisine, honeycombs are cooked and eaten by people in Sunderbans, West Bengal. Kafuli from Uttarakhand, madra from Himachal Pradesh, gatte ki sabzi from Rajasthan, Kerala prawn curry from the God’s Own Country and sabudana khichdi from Maharashtra are some of the regional delicacies being offered at properties managed by V Resorts. The culinary offerings of course depend upon the geographical location of the resorts. Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Goa and Himachal are the states where V Resorts have more presence.

Activities Galore

The guests are also offered interesting activities with V Resorts, which can enhance and enrich their holidaying experience. “Whether it is angling on Lake Sattal or a wine tour in Nashik; whether it is a puppet show with lunch at Jaipur  or a mud pit dinner at Kotabagh we are helping you discover each location in a unique, fun and memorable manner,” proffered Aditi. Village walks, meals with the villagers, trekking facility, horse riding, cycling, picnic in the orchard, tea garden visit, temple tour, skiing, afternoon tea by the lake, wildlife safari are some of the activities provided at the properties.

These activities of course, vary according to the geographical area of the resort/s. For example, only a resort in a destination which has trekking opportunities to explore would have trekking facility for the guests, and similarly a resort with a tea garden in its proximity can provide tea garden tour. 

Miles to Go

However, despite scripting such an enviable success story, Aditi is not at all interested in resting on her laurels. “We have still miles and miles to go... Except Sikkim, we are yet to have presence in the relatively unexplored north-east. We still do not have presence in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh,” rued Aditi.

She informed that her company was striving hard to further expand its presence in India. If her yesterday’s growth story is fascinating, her future endeavours are nothing short of jaw dropping. “We have planned to expand our network from 100 to 1000 resorts within two years, and also to have considerable presence in South Asia by 2019,” Aditi disclosed with a ravishing smile.

The fact that the resort management company recently raised 4 million USD from Seed Fund and the Singapore-based RB Investments is expected to give an impetus to V Resorts’ expansion plans. “This financing will go towards expanding our footprints across the country and also to enter the overseas markets,” maintained the savvy entrepreneur.   

 

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