Feeling Burnt Out? Plan A Workation To Beat The Blues
Remote working options in scenic homestays, beach villas and wildlife retreats are offering harried office-goers a perfect balance between work and play
In the classic fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, a princess is cursed by a wicked fairy and, as a result, slips into a long, enchanted sleep. Happy endings aside, one wonders how the princess may have felt after being woken up from her long slumber, by the true love’s kiss. With the global situation as it stands, people across the country might relate to this classic story, now more than ever. For several months, a wily virus has led us into a state of enforced stupor and ennui, but unlike the princess in the tale, who woke up to a renewed, joyous world, our curse continues. Work-from-home responsibilities and handling daily household chores, all set against the backdrop of pandemic paranoia, employee layoffs, pay cuts and collapsing economies, have led to widespread burnout and fatigue.
Today, as lockdown restrictions ease, and after months of self-imposed isolation, the urge to break out is strong. But while travel and movement restrictions are lifted, our anxieties about COVID persist. However, there’s hope! Office-goers with a lust for travel could head to hotels, beach villas, home stays and wildlife retreats in India that are offering ‘workations’—a work/vacation combo—in scenic yet COVID-sterile settings. Special deals, stunning views, crisp, clear weather, nutritious meals, and a safe, hygienic environment make the workation model an attractive option for the COVID-weary.
Indeed, picturesque resorts offer seclusion amidst natural surrounds to help harried office-goers disconnect from the daily grind, think clearly and work better. Put together your marketing strategy as you gaze at a river while ensconced in a charming villa, a forest retreat or a mountaintop cottage. Unlike tightly structured office off-sites, workations help the creative juices flow, say hospitality professionals. In addition, Wi-Fi- connectivity in the rooms (and in some cases, public areas too), work desks, abundant natural light and secluded nooks for Zoom calls and meetings are part of the bouquet of amenities.
Safety and hygiene protocols are assiduously followed by these properties. A COVID-19 test certificate and details of recent travel history must be submitted by the guest. Transportation from the airport can be arranged and most hosts request that guests install the Aarogya Setu app on their phones. Zero-contact check-in and payment facilities, sanitizing stations and masked staff are the norm. The temperature and health of guests and staff are closely monitored and rooms are regularly disinfected after the departure of and prior to the arrival of guests. Accommodation is rented out again after a ‘rest period’ of 24 to 48 hours. Here are some of the destinations in India that offer just what you need to keep up with work and fun, far from the confines of your home and COVID concerns:
“Initially, destinations within driving distance of major metropolitan cities will see the first signs of resurgence,” says Faiz Rashid, director of the Bhopal-headquartered Jehan Numa Group of Hotels. The Jehan Numa Retreat, on the outskirts of Bhopal and located at the edge of Van Vihar, a leafy zoological park, invites guests with the catchline: Let nature be your new office address. In this faux rustic getaway, you can do yoga amidst tropical vegetation, go for nature walks or cycle in Van Vihar or play golf and croquet. Relish farm-to-fork meals or an al fresco dinner by the light of paraffin lamps.
Deer in the Van Vihar nature reserve (Photo courtesy Gustasp and Jeroo Irani)
The Grand Dragon Ladakh in Leh will let you swap the sight of dreary high-rises with heart-fluttering panoramic views of the snow-kissed Himalayas. Soak in the views with Ladakhi butter tea and momos or savour a traditional Ladakhi meal in their speciality restaurant and share it on Zoom with your colleagues!
Traditional wooden balconies at the Grand Dragon, Leh (Photo courtesy Gustasp and Jeroo Irani)
Working in silence
In the secluded surroundings of Satoli, Uttarakhand, focusing on work can become easier. One Partridge Hill, a 4-bedroom boutique luxury cottage located in the Kumaoni hamlet of 300 people, rooms with sit-outs and verandahs let you enjoy the views of flowering lawns and mountain vistas. The fact that Satoli is COVID-19-free contributes to one’s peace of mind, says Seema Kundra, who oversees the running of her luxurious and intimate family home.
View of misty mountains from One Patridge Hill (Photo courtesy Gustasp and Jeroo Irani)
A hidden gem with easy access to Calangute and Candolim beaches, a workation at Summertime—a three-bedroom, single-storeyed villa in Goa, which offers private wilderness—comes with free broadband Wi-Fi and 24-hour power backup, says owner Sucheta Potnis. Special packages are available for travellers seeking a quick weekend getaway or a longer relaxed stay. Long-staying guests can access the kitchen and even bring their own staff, within the holding capacity of the villa. There are two pools, as well as indoor games and books, and an opportunity to watch birds, stargaze and explore the local village.
Work from forest
‘Work from the wilderness’ is the clarion call of Pugdundee Safaris whose jungle retreats in Kanha, Pench, Panna, Satpura and Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh are workation-friendly. Cottages and tree houses enveloped in the forested stillness enable you to work, and unwind. On offer is a smorgasbord of activities for some after-work entertainment—cycle in the meadows and woodlands, nurture your green thumb in their organic garden or embark on nature walks with naturalists.
Treehouse in the Denwa Backwater Escape, Satpura, Madhya Pradesh (Photo courtesy Gustasp and Jeroo Irani)
So while we wait for our version of a prince’s kiss in the form of a vaccine to lift the COVID curse, workations, with their scenic locales, can let us sample the nearly-forgotten taste of freedom—perhaps the next best thing!