A vacation abroad and clubbing is out of question on a New Year's Eve. So, people are flocking to private holiday homes instead.
Rashmi and Rohan Menon decided to rent out an apartment in Dehradun after winter break in school of their two children. The reason was simple. "While it will still be the four of us, we will have a change of scene and we will be able to maintain all the safety protocols (due to COVID-19)," says Rashmi. The Menons are taking a two-week break where the family will enjoy a vacation in December and will work in the first week of January.
"A lot of people today don't have their usual options for international travel or a night out but they still want to celebrate the festive season," says Devendra Parulekar, founder of SaffronStays. He adds that earlier a lot of friends would rent villas but now the trend is common among families.
Their 200 homes in and around Mumbai and Pune are at 90 per cent occupancy. "The prices have been increasing by 20 per cent month-on-month since October, and we are at 2.5 times the revenue of last December," he says.
But, is the demand only for value for money properties?
Not necessarily. SaffronStays recently launched its uber luxury segment with eight large estates from the rich and famous near Mumbai. While the starting price is from Rs 1 lakh per night, the company claims they are sold out for entire December.
The 400 properties managed by Vista Rooms are seeing similar growth. "We have villas from minimum of Rs 20,000 that goes up to Rs 1 lakh per night and we are seeing demand from across all categories of alternative accommodation segments whether it is farm stays, villas, bungalows, estates," says Pranav Maheshwari, co-founder of Vista Room. Their business is 1.5 times that of last December.
"Since people want to avoid public transport, places which are within a drivable distance from metros are a big hit," says Maheshwari. Near Delhi, places such as Kasauli, Manali, Mussoorie, Dehradun are attracting travelers and it is Mahabaleshwar, Lonavala, Nashik, Alibag, Karjat near Mumbai. Goa, of course, remains an evergreen travel destination.
What is new is that group sizes have become smaller as people want to travel with their immediate families or known group of friends. "Earlier their villas would see an average group size of 10-12 people, now it has reduced to 6-8 people," he adds. Also, this year number of trips has reduced but duration of stay has increased. The average stay is at least five days per group. With professionals now working remotely, they are spending extra days in holiday destinations so that they can work during the day and have evenings for themselves.