Santadeep Mazumder, a software developer from Kolkata, is looking for homestays in Himachal Pradesh where he could spend the rest of the year. Somewhere he can combine work with a change of scene, and have a semi holiday in the process. All that the 26-year-old needs is good internet connectivity for work-related video calls and high standards of hygiene. “I feel more alive in the hills. The pine-covered roads are amazing and hills have their own energy,” he says.
It’s been a while that working professionals have been locked up in their homes. After spending three long months within the same four walls, they now wish for a change of space, and a break from household chores. With pleasant weather, green environs, and open landscapes, states like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have been witnessing a surge in the long-term staycation model. From Rs 15,000 per month to Rs 2,500 per night, there’s a wide range of homestays and resorts available for everyone.
Organisations like Homestays of India are promoting the workation model through their platforms. Shailza Dasgupta, co-founder, Homestays of India, says that her company is trying to help homestay owners by training them and providing them with online visibility. “We are connected with 150 homestays and we have specifically made some of these suitable for work-from-home requirements,” she says.
Dasgupta says they have been getting many enquiries for a workation lease in not just the mountains, but also in places like Chikmaglur and Coorg.
It’s been raining calls for Coorg’s Porcupine Castle Resort ever since they announced their workation package. “On an average, we receive 200 calls every day; we have had calls from Bangalore, Hyderabad and even Mumbai,” says Anila Paul, Director, Marketing, Porcupine Castle.
When the resort reopened after the lockdown, they had only three bookings in the first week. This made Paul come up with a workation package. “People are fatigued and need a break from the monotony of their homes. They don’t want to lose their jobs either. So we rolled out this new package from June 17,” says Paul. The response has been tremendous so far and the resort has hosted software professionals, lawyers and even teachers, who have conducted online classes from the property.
Vicky Manral, who runs the Eco Haryman’s Homestay in Nainital’s Pawalgarh village has received enquiry calls from over twenty professionals. “From businessmen in Gujarat to our old clients from Gaziabad, a lot of people are interested in making our homestay their workstation for the next couple of months,” he says.
Manral’s homestay receives a good Jio network and power cuts have never been an issue. He says the six acre property will allow city dwellers to work in the lap of nature. “Our homestay is surrounded by mango and amla orchards and we also have a kitchen garden and an organic farm. Guests can get an open space to work and the freshly grown produce will boost their immunity."
Santosh Joshi, who runs Joshi Cottage in Binsar, has received several calls from Bengaluru and Kolkata professionals who want a separate room with a kitchen and bathroom. “People can make money in cities but they can’t find the kind of peace that hills offer,” says Joshi, who has hosted several writers and artists for long periods even in the pre-COVID world. “Our village is home to only 25 families and would be perfect for a long-term stay. We also receive an internet speed of around 1200-1400mbps."
Panki Sood of Sunshine Himalayan Adventures, informs that homestays in Tirthan will open after August 15 and when they do, long term guests will be a high priority for all hosts. Akash Mohla, who works with a global leadership building organisation in Delhi, could be Sood’s first guest. “My office is not reopening this year, so I am planning to move to the hills,” says Mohla, who is inspired by his friend Ambika Bhardwaj, who gave up city life in 2018.
“The city glitters started fading for me when I experienced Manali for the first time. The following years were all about transitioning from the city hustle to the village life,” says Bhardwaj. “Living on a lonely mountain top was a dream come true, and soon I realised that hosting people in my cottage would be a great source of alternate income,” says the travel writer, who also runs a homestay.
Bhardwaj feels that this is a great time for folks who have been yearning to bid adieu to city life and work from the mountains. “If it is work from home, then home would be so much better somewhere in the middle of a forest with clear blue sky, with a river nearby and music of birds instead of the city traffic!"