“I am a passionate traveller myself. Having been to so many new places made me feel the gap in how people connect with the place. Hotels confined us within its walls and we wouldn’t know the culture, food and people of that place. That’s when I decided to start a homestay,” says Naresh Kumar, owner of Aastha Homestay in Shimla. Not only did he start his own homestay back in 2007, he started to create a community of hosts. He motivated, trained and even initiated the first customers to his neighbouring hosts. All the hard work paid off in 2010 when the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh awarded our super host with the ‘Best Homestay Award’.
When asked about the delight of hosting, Naresh says, “Hosting not only brings employment, it educates you in a way no book can”. He recalls the moment when the notable Commissioner of Patiala and cricketers like Joginder Sharma and Kuldeep Hooda stayed with him. He has welcomed several guests from abroad too. Not only did they like the nature and beauty of Fagu but also enjoyed each and every luxury of the serenity of life in the hills that city people are deprived of. His wife, Nisha is happy to open her kitchen out to the guests. When the couple treats their guests to organic and authentic Himachali food, they learn Maharashtrian, South Indian or Chinese dishes in return. This process of cultural integration is another most loved part about hosting.
“Hosting not only brings employment, it educates you in a way no book can.”
Initially, Naresh felt a little hesitant. Would people from the city, so attuned to the comforts of a hotel stay at his homestay? He soon realised that all kinds of people want to experience the joy of unadulterated life in the hills. When his guests come back and tell him that experiences like plantation walk, fruit plucking, nature walk and milking are more worthy than a stay at a 5-star resort, he was thrilled.
This process of cultural integration, exchanging stories and dishes, is another most loved part about hosting.
Inspiring other Hosts
When asked what he would like to suggest to the other hosts, he answers with a smile, “Just stay true to your guests. Be honest.” He believes that people are not only looking for comfort, they are looking for an experience. Guests might not appreciate LCD TVs in their room, but they are sure going to remember a sumptuous home-cooked breakfast, bursting with local flavour.
He believes that people are not only looking for comfort, they are looking for an experience.
Enhancing the Experience
Taking things a step further, our super host initiated a special project named Agyat Vaas, 7 km from Aastha Homestay. This traditional Himachali Mud House is full of wonders of nature and soulful experience. To drink, bathe or cook, there’s only natural spring water to use. This secluded place is also perfect to practice meditation and yoga.
“This place is such a heaven that we can talk to trees and birds here, while in the city, we barely talk to humans,” says one of his guests astonished by the beauty of the place.
Naresh remembers a time when he would stand outside hotels, waiting for their inventory to drain off so that he could pitch his homestay to travellers. And today, Aastha homestay is so in demand, that they are out of rooms for months together! Many of his guests call him to their homes to return the hospitality. “There have been times when we haven’t been able to communicate much with our guests due to a language barrier, however, the smile says it all.”
Naresh feels a deep sense of fulfilment as a host entrepreneur. Not only is he generating an income, he is creating valuable experiences for himself and his guests. Experience this hospitality at his homestay here:
If you want to experience the same sense of pleasure and content as our super host Naresh Kumar, why not join our 8000+ community of hosts at Rightstay? Provide the second home to the guests and earn a second family in return.