Village Ways is keen on the homestays movement, which at its best can provide both guest and host an enriching experience. Our trips are not based on homestays, though, but small village guesthouses, where the hosts come from their own homes to offer hospitality, and return to their own homes at night. We feel this gives guests more independence, while not disturbing the regular family life of the village communities.
Occasionally, our partner communities are asked about homestays. For example, as part of a programme to identify suitable homestay venues, the Uttarakhand (a state in North India, covering our partner communities in Binsar, Saryu and Pindar) Tourism Department recently approached the Kathdhara (Binsar) committee to see if they could promote use of the Kathdhara Village Ways guesthouse (shown in image above). Purran responded on behalf of the committee to say ‘no’ unless bookings are made via the Village Ways office and that potential guests abide by our booking and cancellation terms. As an alternative, they offered five homes in the village for homestays, if the Department assists with improving toilet facilities and sets a mutually agreeable charge rate.
As Purran (shown in the image above, with coordinator Pooja) explained: “We do not want any old guests using our guesthouse! Moreover, from experience, we know that we cannot prepare properly if guests book at short notice and that we risk losing money if they cancel. These risks are avoided through the Village Ways booking system”. However, the committee agreed to apply their skills developed through Village Ways to offer homestay accommodation. Nevertheless, Purran remained wary of homestays, which can sometimes disrupt family life: “The Village Ways guests enjoy their stays in the guesthouse without disturbing us, and we do not disturb them!”
These are interesting views and, after 10 years of operation, the Kathdhara committee obviously has a great sense of loyalty to Village Ways and respect for the community-owned guesthouse approach.
Keith Virgo, Director, Village Ways Partnership