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Vicky Rawat is an architect and a product of prestigious School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, India. He went to USA for his post graduation in Solar Architecture and Energy Conservation in Buildings. Vicky Rawat returned to India in 1994 after finishing his post graduation and working there for over a year. Till now besides general architecture he has been practicing sustainable architecture and innovative design as an alternative to the traditional design practice. His architectural firm has designed buildings that have been awarded the LEED and GRIHA certification.
Besides running his own architectural firm, he wanted to give shape to his college dream and work for the betterment and improving the conditions of his own people back in the state of Uttarakhand, India to ensure active involvement of local community in eco-tourism and thereby supplementing income from the existing livelihood sources.
India has been blessed with scenic locations and that is clearly justified by the throngs of tourists who frequently visit our country. India offers numerous serene getaways which are constantly explored and appreciated by people from different parts of the world. The numbers of tourists visiting our picturesque country swells up every year and ditto for Uttarakhand which makes it a befitting location to start a homestay business.
Homestays are typically small, simple, aspirational places of 2- 6 that have unique settings and offer personalized services and are becoming a rage nowdays. These homestays are located in remote areas away from the humdrums and pointless luxuries of the city life making them a befitting place for a calm vacation.
While homestays may not have the big banner brand with certain guaranteed service standards but with technology online search and booking, travelers’ reviews on websites discoverability of homestays has become a lot easier and cheaper. Homestays have the nimbleness and willingness to cater to this trend.
Vicky Rawat along with his wife, owns and runs a home stay with 6 rooms by the name of Ullaar at Jaiharikhal, Uttarakhand, India . Their home stay is rated Gold category and first to be approved in District Pauri Garhwal by the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of Uttarakhand. The couple had always yearned to retire to their roots in Lansdowne-Jaiharikhal and by setting up a homestay there with a compelling experience satiates their ambition in a way no job could have.
He believes enduring architecture springs from a deep understanding of the place, the needs of the project and the desires of occupants-to-be merged with integration of sustainable best practices. While planning his homestay, he focused on the careful integration of buildings with their environment — a focus that operates at several levels — in harmonizing buildings with their surroundings, and in the integration of building and natural systems, such as wide openings in the north for admitting light, 450mm thick natural stone walls and environment friendly AAC blocks for preserving warmth in rooms during winters, cooling through natural ventilation, rainwater collection, and harnessing energy from the sun (2nd phase). After all, in the near future all buildings would be green. He believes this to be inevitable.
During the time of construction he faced a lot of problems: getting workers and building material to the hills. He would work weekdays in Dehradun and on Saturday early morning head to the hills to supervise work,” he recalled. So much so that when he got his first booking for May 2017, electricians, plumbers were at work, room furniture was not ready, which went on till August. One day he slumped into a chair in the terrace, stared at the Himalayas in front and wondered whether building this kind of homestay was a good idea. “Suddenly, two little sparrows came and started building their nest in the stone wall,” he recalled. That was the turning point. “Just for that moment, everything suddenly felt worth it,” he said.
He strongly believed that one couldnot start with a place that’s average. “It took him five painstaking years to get to a product he was happy with using local resources for everything from décor to staff. Take time to build a place you’d love to stay in yourself. “It’s a dream vacation home, not a hotel or a resort,” He says.
Unlike standard structures and processes that hotels deploy he pushed for personalized service that would exude the warmth and comfort of a home. Every customer call is handled by him personally. “It is important for him as it helps him understand his guests and their needs better. But at the same time he wouldnot bend over backwards to woo guests either; at times he would politely decline a booking if he thinks the guest(s) may prove a misfit.
The sheer joy of creating a unique experience for the guests amid nature give him a high that no salary or job could give. He insists he is not doing this for money nor he has done too much of cost-benefit analysis. Breaking even is not of concern, though “he doesn’t know if he would ever recover the costs, but what he does gives him satisfaction.”
Before putting word out there, he got his friends, families and influencers—travel bloggers, journos for instance—to try out the property. While he believed that word of mouth was the best way to go—it meant better quality of people. Some guests and friends approached him requesting to celebrate their anniversary or a birthday in a quiet way. Being a good cook himself along with his support staff, we planned and put together a special evening followed by a dinner, privacy ensured. It is an experience no money can get you in big hotels and resorts.
We strongly believe that not every day, one gets to meet people from different parts of the world, with different cultures and who speak a different language. Having your own homestay, you get enough opportunities to meet new people and interact with them.
We stress on the importance of keeping in touch with former guests, as repeats and referrals contribute to a majority of guests at a homestay.
Looking forward to see you at Ullaar soon………………