The popularity of homestay service in Kullu-Manali has outrun luxury star category hotels. Having no effect of off-season, homestay units are flooded with advance bookings from every corner of the world.
No doubt, some villagers have beaten the management of hotels with their innovative strategies and earning handsomely providing accommodation to tourists in a home away from home. Situated amidst villages, clean rooms, freedom to cook the food of choice, watching TV along with family members of house and homely and secure environment is giving tough competition even to five star category hotels in Kullu district. 116 homestay units have been registered only in Kullu district.
The Tree House Cottage in Kullu was the first registered homestay unit of Himachal and is one of the most popular homestays of country. Built on an oak tree, the beautiful cottage, only one of its types in north India, is the result of hard work of a farmer, Ambrish Upadhyay. Tourists are dying to book a room in tree house cottage but some lucky ones get the chance to stay here as it remains fully booked most of the times. “Not only domestic but tourists from Germany, Norway, Denmark, Russia and many countries are loving their stay with my family, cattle, apple orchards and village atmosphere. My local pure Kulluvi dishes are doing miracle on tourists,” Upadhyay said.
Upadhyay Cottage homestay in Jong village is another hotspot for tourists. High end tourists, mostly families and couples are enjoying their stay here. Rajeev Upadhyay, owner of the cottage and an apple grower said his family’s devotion towards guests has earned applaud internationally and now he is unable to handle the enquiries from tourists. He adds, “However each room is attached with kitchen where tourists can cook food of his choice but they like to dine with us our very own dishes. They feel like their own house here and enjoy TV and gossips with us. I’m introducing new gadgets and decoration materials to compete the hotels without tampering with its village look.”
The Apple House, Manali Meadows, Tree Top Cottage and Hamta House homestay units too are attracting number of tourists for their unique hospitality and location. Most of the units in Kullu claim that they do not have any effect of off-season and getting regular guests. While, reeling under lean season, hotels in Manali are reporting only 20 percent occupancy rate.
“The thing I loved the most is home cooked food and homely environment. There is no need to stay in commercial hotels when we get even better service at homestay along with the fragrance of real Indian village,” said a Danish tourist Astrid who is staying in Upadhyay Cottage.