The new buzzwords in travel and tourism are ‘experiential’ and luxury. Elements are meant to be stitched together into a single holistic experience, each appealing to our senses, each one of them. Some could be opulent, others could be essays in simplicity. These could be engagements with local communities, going back into nostalgia over a bygone era, music festivals, even the experience of attending a literary festival. Where, the setting is just right, invoking the creative spirit.
Such unique experiences are the backbone of heritage hotels, each one of them so unique! No two experiences among heritage properties are the same. If attention to personal detail is a pre-requisite, a royal lineage of service and hospitality can have no equal. If a holistic approach is required it is there in each of these experiences!
Within India, every destination is vying to create such opportunities, some are creating simply out of nowhere, one of them could be around a 500-year-old tree! Beyond the tree much is imagination, and also generic. It may not be so unique to the location. If you are looking for a grand totality of unique features, these are best provided around heritage experiences – each is a total product, coming down generations, with a history composed of its many parts. It has its own story, a strong narrative that often has travelled over centuries! Where else on earth can you find a few hundreds of such century old stories? This is the power of Indian heritage, represented through such hotels built around forts and palaces, truly unique, truly Indian.
Given the lust for such experiential travel, fast dawning upon Indian travellers as well, especially in the post-covid era, this is the time for a true Renaissance of Indian heritage through experiences at heritage properties!
The opportunity exists, loud and clear. As owners and custodians of independent stories, this effort is not so much as new creations but pressing the refresh button, bringing alive again what has been truly a unique history! This is also a massive challenge. The cost, the wherewithal, the time and effort. And yet there is also see the new age passion, untiring efforts, a new sense of pride as part of a national effort to revitalise all things Indian. In the 21st century, as modern-day testimonies to age old traditions.
Tourism alone can provide sustainability to such efforts! After the effort and the cost, where else can the revenues come from, where sustained incomes are needed as guarantees? Happily, many of the families, are also in various stages of passing on this legacy and passion onto the younger generations. They are live wired, more informed and aware than the outgoing generation or those before us. They are fired with the new imagination, especially as we knock on the doors of ‘Make in India’, ‘Made in India’ and ‘Start Up India’. All such programmes apply to this new era when money and effort can be used to nurture passions built around our heritage.
In a fast-developing digital age, communication has become easy, cost efficient and global in outreach. It is the best time to harness the new technology and build a new future. To stand on their own, proud of the product and ability to deliver.
At a time when we are saying go vocal about local, such products should reach out to the world, each one of these must and can compete globally and must encompass international best practices.
What more befitting tribute can there be to the essence of such expressed belief that the Golden Age, a Second Renaissance, is here! Than to spend a weekend at Tijara Fort and Palace, not any ‘ancestral home’ of Aman Nath, the builder of such experiences, along with his late friend and partner, Francis Wacziag. His passion and creativity are most visible in these walls, many of them imagined around that mound of flat ground, atop the hill in the long-forgotten landscape, a three hours’ drive from South Delhi.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Navin Berry, Editor, Destination India, over five decades has edited publications like CityScan, India Debates and Travel Trends Today. He is the founder of SATTE, India’s first inbound tourism mart, biggest in Asia.