300-Year-Old Homestay or Fancy Hotel? Indian Tourists are More Likely to Pick The 'OffBeat' Option

News18.com

David Menezes stands in the middle of one of the rooms of Casa Menezes holding an over 300-year-old sword. As tourists look on, David explains how he found it while cleaning up the property, without knowing what value it held.

"I'm always discovering old stuff," says David. "The house is full of antiques." The delicate china stored in glass shelves and ornate vases from around the world is a testament to that.

There's something unique about David's 300-year-old house in Goa. Besides being a symbol of heritage, it also doubles up as a hotel.

"What we essentially provide is a more local, customized experience," says David. "Not all tourists come to look for the places to party at, where everyone goes. Often, people want something else."

David also owns the second oldest car in all of India, a 60-year-old Mini Morris, which is fully functional. He often takes his visitors out on a ride in it.

"When someone books a room at the hotel, we tell them a brief history of the house. Then we ask them what they want to do. Based on that, we give them options. If they want to go to clubs, we provide the cabs and the names of the places. If they want a bakery we recommend the one down the road, we tell them places to go bird-watching, and if they want to go to a beach we recommend one of the less popular ones, like Siridao, the one with less tourists," he adds.

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David isn't the only hotel owner who is looking to provide alternate accommodation to tourists.

Santa Terra in Candolim, Goa owned by Sunaina K. is also an 'alternate accommodation.' The furnished and serviced 'Stay–Home'is like living at home, just in a different city. It has a kitchen, bedrooms, living spaces, gated security, parking spaces, a pool - it doesn't feel like you're not in your space.

There's 24x7 hour help around, and a grocery shop which deliver the goods right to your doorstep.

"Usually, we let each apartment out to guests for two weeks, after which if they want to renew their stay, they can choose to," says the managing director of the property. "Usually, people stay for less than two weeks."

"The concept is that some tourists want the same comforts of home while they travel. Hotel services are too impersonal, so they would rather pick a service apartment," she adds.

"Indian tourists are moving on from just hotel rooms," says a MakeMyTrip spokesperson. "While earlier people looked at hotels for their vacations, people are now looking at other options - homestays, hostels and heritage properties."

While the concept of home-stays and AirB&B's are fairly new to India, tourists are looking to turn to the 'less used' options and switching to them from their usual fix of hotels.

For tourists who value their private space more than just hotel services, and are willing to splurge, luxury serviced Villas are their best bet.

Arlinda Villa by Iksha in Candolim, is one such place. Essentially a villa version of a service apartment, the place equipped for about ten people - with five bedrooms, a rooftop swimming pool and a breath-taking view of the city.

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To cater to tourists who want to feel fancy, Le Bougainvillea, a luxury villa where the Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt starrer, 'Dear Zindagi' was shot is probably the 'alternate stay' is what works. A big 5-bedroom villa and the warm hospitality of the villa’s staff along with their rawa fish, omelette poi and watermelon juice is what sells the place. All of this is in addition to the pool and a courtyard with a fountain fitted inside a tree!

"We see people book everything from luxury villas, to hostels, to private homestays, because they all provide different kind of experiences depending on budget and social setting," MakeMyTrip spokesperson added.

However, not every traveler wants to splurge on accommodation - for them, alternate stays like hostels work. Siddhesh, the owner of Woke Hostels in Arpora mentions how they are "usually booked out." People wanting to share communal space and pay lesser than a thousand bucks a night is how the place operates.

"This is actually my second stay here," says a traveller. "I came back because of the warm vibes this place gives me."

While vacations may have earlier meant choosing between hotels, now staying at a new place can also be part of your experience, as tourists would much rather pick something other than a boring, mundane hotel room.