"Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going."
- Paul Theroux

Views & Interviews

Q&A: In conversation with global sourcing consultant,
A. V. Ramachandran

June 2019

A.V. Ramachandran is an Independent Sourcing Consultant based in Bangalore, with business interests in Tirupur and Sri Lanka. He has over 20 years of experience in apparel buying and sourcing with a delivery focus that is largely on exports. Over the years, he has built strong associations with leading international companies and their brands, and is considered a reliable source-point in India for globally based importers – handling a range of finished products and in-process supply lines.

There are two reasons why we talk to Ramachandran this month. One, the fact that he is widely travelled – his line of work taking him to focus markets in Europe, Africa, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Two, he’s been on a timeshare vacation along with his extended family – almost every year, for the last ten years.

So how does he look at the need to take time for a vacation, especially since his work involves travel in any case. But as we’ve seen, most people who travel on work find it difficult to include small detours for brief touristy stop-overs. Even if it can take the mind off the stresses and strains of today’s fast paced world.

Over to our conversation with A. V. Ramachandran.


Does your busy work & travel schedule allow time off for vacations?

I think it all depends on what is actually tying you down - six months ago, I would have found it difficult to take even one day off from work. As luck would have it, I am currently in a transition zone having switched business streams - which means I have some time on my hands. (In fact, I’m just back from a nice vacation with our inner circle family group.)

But to answer your question, it all depends on the situation and all the pressing issues in front of you. We need to sequence, we need to prioritize, and we need to put things in proper perspective. Because it is important that we make time for a vacation at least once in the year - to refresh mind, body and soul. (I try and do this as often as possible.)

Having worked in Sri Lanka for a while, did you consider that one long vacation?

In a way, being based in Sri Lanka is like one long vacation. By default the pace can be nice and easy, and it can be useful to plan your getaways within your work schedules. Unfortunately, my wife and kids were in India for logistical reasons - and one thought constantly on my mind was bringing the family down to Sri Lanka for a break – at least a weekend at a time.

Vacation time with your family is extremely important – you can reconnect with each family member and spend quality time. They too get the opportunity to see another land, another culture and another people. So when someone says, Dad Knows Best, I really hope he knows the family too has a place on the calendar.

Have you visited any popular tourist vacation spots in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is a small country and it becomes easy for you to drive down to virtually any holiday destination. That’s how convenient things can be – even the roads are beautifully maintained making it nice and easy – it almost always is a delightful drive to your destination.

So yes, I have been to Galle, Bentota Beach, Unawatuna Beach and Trincomalee among other tourist attractions. Sri Lanka is a truly beautiful place, and it’s closer than next door as far South India is concerned.

Have you been to a timeshare location in India for a holiday?

I don’t own a timeshare plan – my brother does. And he dutifully gets the inner family circle together every year at one of the Club Mahindra resorts for a vacation treat that we all look forward to. In fact we have just got back from a reunion at their affiliate resort in Wayanad – The Vythiri Village Resort.

Looking back at the many vacations we have enjoyed over the years at a Club Mahindra property, I must say that their resorts in Coorg and Wayanad are really nice.

What is it like to be on a vacation with a really large family?

I think it can be a lot of fun! And really nice to see family members taking a break from their routines to actually spend that one week – just bonding, coming together and enjoying themselves. For us it was a reunion of three generations – grandparents, parents and the children. (In fact I was so pleasantly surprised to see how much my nephews had grown in the last one year.)

 

What did the older people do at the holiday resort?

You will be surprised at my answer to your question. The older ones almost matched the younger ones on the activity index – they came close and scored valuable points. Strangely (actually, not so strangely) I decided to relax, put my feet up and give those tired bones some well deserved rest.

I am not exactly a busy body on vacation – I usually like to laze around and take in the holiday nice and easy.

What else did the family do at the resort?

Speaking for myself, I did enjoy swimming in the lovely pool at the resort. I also took in Mother Nature’s greenery on long walks in the morning. And then I visited a few see-worthy places that were within walking distance. Some others in the family went on sightseeing trips to nearby tourist attractions.

The children of course did a lot of swimming, trekking and went around exploring local eateries to explore unique cuisines. I could also see the excitement on their faces – it was great fun for them just to be together and doing things together.

What did you think of the F&B options at the resort?

Sometimes the food at these resorts gets very “predictable” – very cookie cutter in terms of planning and spread. I don’t know if I am asking for too much, but a little bit of creativity and newness would help. It will also be a good idea to blend in with local cuisines to offer guests some unique local flavors. YES, that would help.

One other point that I must mention here. The common impression or perception at timeshare resorts is that the food will be priced sensibly. Personally (and this is my opinion) I found the prices on the higher side, so if a large family of 14 dines out at a restaurant at the property, you would end up paying big bucks per meal. (I hope something can be done about this…)

What do you think of service levels at the resort?

The service levels at the resort were really good. On a 10-point scale, I would give them a neat 9-plus. And I’m not exaggerating one bit, or being kind. The service standards are really good at Club Mahindra properties and affiliate resorts.

And I’m talking about service levels across the board – reception, room service, housekeeping, public area assistance. Their support staff anticipates your every wish, desire and request – and they are there to help you.

Are you a potential customer? Would you recommend timeshare to others?

I am fifty plus now, and I guess on the wrong side of the profile curve when it comes to being or not being a potential customer. Having said that, I must say that I have experienced and taken delight in the timeshare experience “served up” by Club Mahindra for so many years.

I would assume all other players in this league would be comparable when it comes to the delivery spectrum. But for me now, timeshare is not an option – especially since I have access (through my brother) to the best of what Club Mahindra has to offer.

If someone is young, around 30 – I would most certainly recommend timeshare to him, or her. That’s the segment that works hard and plays hard – and they need all the breaks they can get.

 

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