In conversation with Noufel Anamala
of Anamala Homestays in Kerala
Noufel Anamala is the founder of Honeycomb Creative in Bangalore. He founded the company in 2008 with two employees – today, Honeycomb employs 70 professionals across offices in Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad. This integrated design hub offers a host of services including graphic design, web design, digital marketing and corporate video production. So how does Noufel come into the picture here? Noufel has a vintage home in Kerala that he has converted into a homestay. And he has done that by retaining the original look and feel of the place, while making it convenient and comfortable for his guests.
We now share excerpts of our conversations with Noufel on how he moved into the world of hospitality while keeping cogs and wheels turning at Honeycomb. This is one story that’s going to make you start packing your bags.
How and when did you widen horizons, to explore the world of hospitality?
There comes a time when your core venture reaches a comfortable level of growth and is running smoothly in the desired directions. That’s when you look back and wonder if there’s something you always wanted to do - something different and meaningful. For me it was going back to my roots to explore opportunities.
And that is how Anamala Homestays was conceived in my mind and soon took shape in my quaint little hometown in Thiruvilwamala - in Kerala’s Thrissur District.
Over the last two years we have had guests from different backgrounds, places and countries - and each of them has taken back impressions of our culture, our traditions, our ancestral values, and our warm hospitality. We present a beautiful melting pot of heritage and history at our homestay.
Does going back to your roots provide a theme for your homestay??
Yes, it most certainly does and becomes a key differential. Our homestay took its origins as a traditional heritage home in Kerala – my ancestral home. It is over seven decades old, and is located in the heart of a little town called Thiruvilwamala.
Over generations my uncles, aunts and their children have lived here under one roof - and we sometimes had as many as 28 people staying together as a joint family.
A few years ago, I inherited this house and wanted to do something meaningful. I wanted to share the experience of living in a traditional Kerala Tharawad with tourists and travelers - and that’s how Anamala Homestays happened.
Could you describe the appeal of the location, and some unique aspects of the property?
Our beautifully restored property resides within a lush green setting that has a vast expanse of eucalyptus and coconut trees. The backdrop is even more picturesque, with hills reaching up to the skies and rivers flowing down majestic valleys – a setting that’s best described as God’s own Country.
A visit to Thiruvilwamala is like traveling back in time, because the town still retains much of its period setting and architecture. Our homestay for instance has walls made of mud blocks, and athankudi floor tiles sourced from the Chettinad. The furniture and fittings (over 100 years old) have been lovingly restored to retain some of the old world charm. Every nook and corner has a story to tell from the days gone by.
How would you describe cuisine plans at the homestay?
This is probably the most interesting part of the story. You can expect to be treated with the unique flavors of Kerala – an experience put together with farm fresh produce, organically grown ingredients and locally harvested coconut oil. While we use refined coconut oil, guests can indicate their preference (sunflower oil, if that is more familiar in terms of taste.)
But whatever your choice you can look forward to being pampered at breakfast, lunch, tea-time or dinner - with cooking that comes to you from the heart. And that’s a promise.
Oh yes, you can also start your day here with traditional black coffee - Annamala style. It’s a flavor so uniquely different, you’ll want a decanter by your side.
What activities would guests be able to experience at your homestay?
Guests often ask for traditional ayurvedic spa therapies and that is something we can arrange for you within the comfort of the homestay. We have experienced and trained therapists available to you who have years of experience in holistic treatments.
Another big draw at the homestay is our in-house library with books on a variety of subjects. In addition to books and board games we can also plan leisure time activity for you with outdoor games such as badminton.
What activities would guests be able to experience outside your homestay?
Some of our overseas guests love the idea of discovering places in and around the homestay on bicycles – and that is something we can arrange for you. For the really adventurous we can organize trekking, camping, fishing and backpacking trails along safe and tested routes nearby.
We can also organize discovery walks and guided tours to the temples and other tourist locations nearby. Kuthampully village is known as the weavers’ paradise, and guests can visit handloom weaving centers there to view the entire weaving process. The village is also known for traditional artisan pottery – local potters will take your orders and get to work straight away, while you watch their magical hands giving life to clay.
What do you think of timeshare, as a vacation format?
Timeshare is an interesting concept and I am happy to see members of AIRDA promoting the concept through their communication efforts - and following that up with a wonderful experience for guests at their properties.
This is a concept that offers long term benefits for customers and protects them from price escalations due to inflation (during their term of membership.) It is also a good holidaying option for people with large or extended families.
What does an AIRDA membership mean to resort owners and developers? AIRDA comes in as your industry partner, conscience keeper and business catalyst - with a wide portfolio of support services.
What does AIRDA mean to holiday seekers and prospective customers? AIRDA comes in to provide information and offer guidelines on making the right timeshare decisions.