Q&A: In conversation Shashidhar K.G. -
independent automotive professional
Shashidhar K.G. is an independent automotive professional, based in Bangalore. He has an engineering background and retired from Bosch India (MICO) as the head of their Special Purpose Machine Division. At Bosch India, Shashidhar has worked at senior technical and management positions at several locations in India and abroad.
Coming to his other interests, Shashidhar has represented the junior cricket team at the state level in the early seventies. He was also a member of the Friends Union Cricket Club, founded in 1937 - the club that produced the state’s first test cricketer, Venkatappa Musandra Muddaih who represented India in two tests. To keep in touch with the game, Shashidhar continues to be associated with the club in a supportive and advisory capacity.
Our conversation with Shashidhar here is about his passion for travel, enabled through his membership with Club Mahindra. In the early days of his career taking time off from work was difficult, he says – even for a well-deserved vacation. We now share excerpts from our conversations with Shashidhar, where he talks about “timeshare” redefining the concept of vacations - for him and his family.
During my early days at BOSCH they introduced holiday plans for employees – the company had an arrangement with select hotels in the country where they could stay, and take a well deserved break from work. Much later, the company got into an arrangement with Club Mahindra, where the employees were given vouchers that could be redeemed at Club Mahindra resort locations.
I became an independent member of Club Mahindra when the family was on vacation at their Munnar Resort. Someone from their marketing team met us individually to explain the long-term benefits of taking on a membership.
I have been a member since 2006, with a studio plan for the white season. Looking back, I feel we may not have used 100% of our entitlement, but we have often gifted our weeks to family members and friends.
As the children grow up and go their own way – as it happened to us – the parents end up going on vacations by themselves. I must say though that it is nice to go with an extended family, or a group of friends.
Come to think of it, I have been to several resorts on the Club Mahindra network. Let me try and recall some of the locations – Wayanad, Munnar, Coorg, Madikeri, Virajpet, Cherai, Varca Beach, Astamudi, near Trivandrum, Kannathal in Uttarakhand, and Sikkim. There is another resort near Gangtok that has been taken over by Club Mahindra where you can find some really stunning views.
A few months ago, we were at Club Mahindra Baiguney in Sikkim – it’s a location by the river side, allowing a wonderful opportunity to walk along the waterfront in the mornings. While we really enjoyed ourselves we managed to return to Bangalore in time – just before the whole country went into shutdown mode on March 23, due to the pandemic.
Club Mahindra, Wayanad – image courtesy, Club Mahindra website
There’s one thing I notice at all Club Mahindra properties – there is a tried and tested standard of service. And that includes the facilities, the food and the customer experience. I know this for a fact because I have been to several of their properties.
Let me add here that they have done a very good job of choosing their locations, in popular and scenic parts of the country. From my own personal point of view, sometimes the challenge can be in terms of reaching your location – unless you have your own form of transport which can make things convenient.
Club Mahindra, Madikeri – image courtesy, Club Mahindra website
Like I mentioned earlier, if you have experienced Club Mahindra hospitality and comfort at one location, you know what to expect at any other location on their network. They have really set the bar really high on customer comfort.
To answer your question, the rooms are tastefully done up, the interiors are nice and comfortable, and you have practically any kind of convenience in your room that you would need. Interestingly, the inside of your room can be so cozy and comfortable that you want to just curl up with a book or listen to music – and do nothing else.
Though we have a studio membership, we have often been upgraded to a larger room or suite if it is available. And when you check in, your “room buddy” accompanies you and helps out with all that you need to know inside the room - how things work, how to dial in for assistance and things like that. We find this extremely useful.
When it comes to a choice in cuisine options, I have seen that they take a lot of trouble to make the customer really happy – for all three meals in the day. I am a vegetarian, and at Club Mahindra resorts I can see some effort to keep people like us happy. Even if it means cooking up something special for us.
We have travelled to locations across the country and many of these resorts also showcase their local delicacies and specials, which can be interesting - as it gives you an opportunity to try something different. That’s another thing about “Incredible India” – there is always a pleasant surprise for you wherever you go.Club Mahindra, Gangtok – image courtesy, Club Mahindra website
Years ago, when we first got onto our timeshare plan, the scope for activities was limited – you did not have the elaborately planned activity charts that you see today. For us just going to a nice relaxing place for a week was a treat in itself. Nowadays, resorts on the Club Mahindra network take a lot of trouble to plan some very interesting activities around your interests, or the age group you belong to.
From what I have seen, get-togethers and fun centre activities can occupy you for a day or two – the rest of the time goes in sightseeing, exploring local interest and things like that. For me exploring the area around Munnar lake was wonderful, and the visit to the organic tea factory was also nice. To give you another example, the enchanting view of Kanchendzonga from Tiger Hill, Gangtok was during an outing from our Club Mahindra Resort.
But there is always room to improve and resorts can try and do things differently to sustain interest. For instance (this is a suggestion from me) resorts could have “Yoga by the Pool” – instead of yoga in a conventional setting. This makes things very engaging from the customer point of view.
I think timeshare is a good model for those who can take that annual vacation without fail, every year. And the long time frame of your relationship with the company (in our case, Club Mahindra) gives you a feeling of belonging – you get to feel that they care for you and will look after you during a vacation. I am saying this going by what I have seen, enjoyed and experienced over these years.
Before this interview, I was not aware of the All India Resort Development Association (AIRDA) – I am happy to see serious, committed resorts coming together to work out a fair, supportive and constructive approach to the customer. There was always a need for this and AIRDA could be filling that gap.
Yes, everyone looks forward to going on a vacation – it’s natural. But I don’t see us venturing out anytime soon, because of the logistics involved – the resort will go to great lengths to make things safe and comfortable, but how would you reach there? By train? By air? By road?
But we are most certainly looking forward to our annual vacations through our timeshare membership with Club Mahindra. Hope that happens (in a safe manner) in 2021.
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.