Last week, when city-based entrepreneur Sahana Singh, 33, reached Monterey in central California, the small city along the Pacific Coast had already called it a night. But the owner of Gosby House, a home-stay her family had booked, had left the keys to her room on a bench outside and some light snacks for Singh and her family.
A small but growing number of frequent travellers from the city are picking home-stays over the formal, run-of-the-mill hospitality common to hotels. “On a holiday you don’t want a bell boy hovering around for instructions,” said Singh.
Earlier, home-stays and farm-stays in foreign destinations were restricted to backpackers but now they are drawing small families too, said city tour operators. Europe has proved to be the most popular destination for home-stays, said travel agents while the garden route in South Africa is also slowly becoming a popular choice for farm-stays.
“It is now being seen that those who indulge in a lot of business travel avoid staying in five-star properties on holidays,” said Subhash Motwani, director, Compact Travel.
Thane-based architect Tuhin Ganguly, 37, had sufficient membership points for a luxurious five-star stay in Cape Town during a family vacation earlier this month. But he chose to live at a local farmhouse close by. “The smell inside a big hotel reminds you of business meetings and deadlines. On a vacation, you don’t want to get up at seven for breakfast,” said Ganguly, who spent hours sipping local wine on the quite verandah, sampled local cuisine delights and went fishing in the farm’s backyard.
Motwani said that such travellers prefer staying in small towns and going to big cities on day trips. “Many people going to Italy choose farm-stays in a small town called Tuscany which is a few hours’ drive from big cities such as Florence and Rome,” he said.