Rajeev Samant, Founder & CEO, Sula Vineyards speaks about the popularity of his hospitality business and the groups’ further involvement in the area in an interview. “It’s been a tumultuous year, there’s no question about it. But, in the midst, of course, the overall incredibly very sad picture, a lot of positive things have emerged for Sula with regards to our hospitality business,” said Samant.
Pre pandemic, their resort in Nashik—which was a favoured destination for the source markets of Mumbai and Pune—last year were recording occupancies around 65-70 per cent. They had just added twenty new rooms to The Source, their resort which was set within vineyards in February 2020—possibly the nicest vineyard resort in India, Samant said.
“Once things opened up, demand just rubber band back to a totally different paradigm. We bounced back to a 90 per cent-plus occupancy for the last six months of the year including the additional rooms,” Samant said about both The Source as well as Beyond at Sula, the two resorts run by the company.
And though again things were down, “The future looks very bright. I think people have understood that this experience is something unique—It’s world-class. So, we are sold out, our villa is sold out months ahead. That’s really the one that’s the big hit and we’re going to add a couple more of those,” he said adding that hospitality had bounced back really well post the lockdown being repealed in 2020 and he had high hopes for going even further in the future.
The company has expansion plans, where each year they add a few rooms and more importantly add experiences for guests to have. As of now, Samant said, guests could go bicycling on the bike trail, trek on another trial, go birdwatching, or even do photography. There’s even demarcated routes for those who want to go motorbiking or drive around the beautiful surroundings of the resorts.
“We’re looking forward to Karnataka. The pandemic, set everyone back in terms of cash flow and projects just having to be stuck in the gestation period, and we are no exception. But, notwithstanding that for six months there was 90 percent occupancy, let’s not forget that for five or six months, there was zero revenue. We would have loved to have opened our resort doors in Bengaluru by now, but we’ve pushed it out by a year or two. But that’s a very exciting thing on the horizon,” Samant he said.
His resorts have also been using fresh produce grown on the premises as well as in the area to maximise the back to nature, farm to table experience.
“So there’s going to be an expansion of our hospitality because clearly the whole thing of wine, vineyards, rural setting, close to an urban centre with great hospitality and good food really works,” he added.