"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 James George, Consultant (Middle East & Africa) at Euromonitor International

May 2020

James works within strategic fmcg research and competitive analysis at Euromonitor International in Dubai. His focus areas here also cover public policy literature and research, specifically surrounding excise and VAT tax streams. Over the years James has handled a slew of categories across dairy, personal accessories, tobacco, and pet care. He has helped build strategic recommendations for client organizations, leveraging the power of storytelling by combining data analysis and unearthing consumer trends.

James has lived and worked in varying capacities in the UK, UAE, Jordan and Kuwait. These stints were personally rewarding, he says – exposing him to multiple working styles in fast-evolving and globally oriented markets. One of his primary objectives in the present role is to actively engage with major industry players through trade press and speaking events. He has also played a large part in curating knowledge and insights for the largest food and beverage show in the region, - #gulfood for the years 2017 and 2018.

We now present excerpts from our interview with James George, where he talks about his long overdue visit to India, and the surprise trip his brother had planned just for the two of them – it was destination Kodagu.



How hard does it become to take a break for a vacation?

My brother Joel and I look forward to the great outdoors, together - because I live and work in Dubai and he is based in Bangalore. Oftentimes, life gets in the way and the time we do eventually spend when we meet is with other family members at home. When I came down this time, he had planned this trip so we could spend some quality time together and really unwind. Naturally we wanted the quality of our destination to be enhanced by the locale of our stay.

But, taking a break isn’t easy – you need to align calendars and make concrete plans that you can stay with. I am glad we were able to make this trip in the beginning of February - before more than half of the world’s population went into lockdown due to Covid19. Since the experience is recent, I have fond memories at our resort in Virajpet, of the Club Mahindra experience.

What made your holiday out of the ordinary at Club Mahindra Virajpet?

Service or rather attention to detail was the ingredient that made the experience enriching for us. The on-site manager was quick to pick up on a parallel conversation I was having with one of his colleagues on my needs and immediately addressed it. His solution was clear, structured and flexible to accommodate me.

I think this could be said of all members of the staff I came across during my stay. Apart from the service, the property itself is well maintained and I appreciated the small opportunities to learn about the various species of butterflies after which each block is named. I think the overall experience of a property is in its details and these details add up. The property does well on most metrics in my book.

One of the walkways that takes you around the resort property

Doesn’t your room become your very personal space during a vacation?

Yes, it does and we stayed in a cozy one-bedroom offering of the property. The outer façade of the portion that leads up to the room is inviting and designed well - going with the theme of naming portions of the property by different species of butterflies.

Furthermore, the lush greenery and well-manicured front portion of the building was inviting. The room was spacious, although the anteroom to the toilet serves very little purpose. The couch which unfolds to a bed, the drinkable tap water and the interior lighting made things comfortable. The overall experience was good.

The front facade of one of the villas - warm and welcoming

When you’re holidaying, isn’t food something you really look forward to?

Yes, it is because you’re always hungry. The main restaurant at the resort offers a multi-cuisine spread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We were spoilt for choice and I wouldn’t say that all items on the menu were stellar, but I would say that there was a baseline quality that could not ignored.

I especially loved the filter coffee and the South Indian offering. I was disappointed by the pork options, but that was a minor detail in the overall quality of what was on offer. We were particularly impressed by the restaurant staff constantly checking on us to see if we were satisfied.

Doesn’t good service always make you feel very special?

I can’t rave enough about the quality of service at the property. I had the pleasure of conversing with several staff members and what comes across is the sense of urgency and body language that tells you that they genuinely want to help and ensure your comfort.

Right from the front office staff, room service, those in charge of your safety at the activities, as well as those that worked at the massage center - all of them ensured that we were kept informed and were proactive in their approach to us.

There's a lot of green out here - hedge art and well-manicured greenspaces

Isn’t there more to a vacation than lounging around at a pool?

I would agree with that – there’s always more to a vacation than the pool – on our part we had our trekking gear ready and waiting, to explore the exciting heights of Kodagu.

The resort has a dedicated events team that coordinates activities such as the obstacle course, coffee plantation tour, dirt biking and other adventure activities in and around the resort area. Guests with young children can relax and unwind knowing that there is a dedicated activity-and-play area for them – with swings, see-saws, ropeways, merry-go-rounds and slides.

The resort also has facilities for indoor games including table tennis, carrom, chess and few other activities that will keep you entertained.

James George gets a photo-opp on the Tadiandamol Trek

One final question – what do you think of timeshare as a vacation platform?

I do not have a timeshare plan as yet, but would consider investing in one to spend quality time with family.  A key consideration for me is to be able to visit properties that are located across the breadth of India - from the mountains, to the backwaters of Kerala - albeit with quality of service and stay that remains consistent and above par.

Joel George reaching new heights on the Tadiandamol Trek

 


James George

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