In conversation with advertising professional,
Ramakrishnan is a veteran advertising professional with big-agency experience. He started his career in the early eighties with leading agency MAA in client servicing. Over the years he switched lanes to work with RK Swamy and Hindustan Thompson - gaining the kind of client-side experience that helped him return to MAA, to head a very key branch in the network, at Coimbatore.
Eventually, as most people in advertising do, Ramakrishnan ventured out to start his own consultancy in 1998 and has since been running it with clients who have stayed with him and drawn from his extensive communications experience.
Ramakrishnan is passionate about travel and is a long-standing member of Sterling Resorts. He describes timeshare as an innovative, convenient vacation format that gives members practically the whole world to explore, with interesting exchange options. “If it weren’t for my timeshare membership, I wouldn’t have clocked so many travel miles,” he says.
Let’s start with your first question – tell us about your home resort on the Sterling network?
I am a member of Sterling’s Ooty resort in Tamilnadu. And I am really happy I picked a timeshare plan with them a little over twenty years ago.
And as you can see, that is a long time in terms of my member relationship with Sterling. I have seen them grow, expand, modernize and widen their footprint in the country – and of course world wide as well through the exchange companies they are associated with.
Have you used your annual vacation weeks regularly during these years?
I am in the field of advertising – which is described as a 24/7 (365) kind of space to be in. What complicated things further was the fact that I was heading branch office operations, which meant that I was the last person who could go on a holiday.
But I have gone on many vacations with my wife and children, and taken trips with others in our family circle. I have also taken colleagues from my office a few times, and they enjoyed themselves thoroughly. If for some reason I felt that we could not take our annual vacation, I would pass on the week to other members of the family, or close friends – which was a nice feeling in itself.
On the whole, what has your experience been with Sterling as your vacation company?
Sterling was one of the early entrants in the timeshare space in India, and what you see evolving today is the result of a lot of groundwork done by them. In those days, timeshare was a concept that was new to India and lead players like Sterling did a good job of adapting a global trend to the travel and vacation needs of Indian prospects. The timeshare blueprint is largely the same, but the spinoffs were appealing to Indian customers such as me.
Sterling is and has always been a very professionally run organization and this in itself impacts almost everything concerning your vacation – the properties, the facilities, the quality of staff, the food, and a unique service culture that you can only associate with Sterling.
What do you particularly like about the location of your resort?
The location of the resort is a big draw for people across the country – especially young honeymooners who have seen the romance of Ooty in Bollywood films.
Sterling Ooty, which is also our home resort, has many places of interest nearby which appeal to each member of the family. A big plus those days, when we had teenagers in tow.
I am a hill-station kind of person and would look forward to vacations at Ooty, Yercaud and Munnar. Ooty was always on top of the list because it was closer home and meant a nice scenic drive with the family.
What do you like about the rooms and cottages that you normally stay in?
To answer your question, this is where Sterling Ooty scores once again. The rooms and cottages are well appointed and very comfortable. Their housekeeping staff goes into a lot of detail to make your stay a dream, right from room linen to all the accessories in the bathrooms.
And yes, the kitchenettes did come in useful during a vacation to make several cups of tea that you enjoyed - sitting with your family in the balcony area.
What do you like about the restaurants and the kind of food they serve there?
I must say that F&B is another key function area that Sterling has taken to international standards. Right from the layouts of restaurants, move-around spaces, and food display areas for their buffets – which I always find rather exciting.
So, to answer your question, food as a topic of discussion gets interesting at a Sterling resort – because you have varied cuisine options from across the country, in addition to a choice of local specials. Now, what more can you ask for?
What do you have to say about the activities at the resort?
The concept of activities on a vacation is another key component in any timeshare plan. Activities need to be done well and done in an interesting manner – to engage people of different age groups. So you can expect outdoor games, walking and trekking tours, plantation visits, local shopping, and things like that.
I love early morning walks in and around vacation properties – we usually do this on our own. I particularly recall our morning walks in Kodai and Munnar - which means your vacation day starts early and nice.
I must add here that I liked the ayurvedic massage facility at Munnar – other members of the family liked it as well. All Sterling resorts have something to offer in the spa and fitness space, and are managed very well.
Finally, what do you think of timeshare as a vacation format?
As I mentioned earlier, I am a committed subscriber to the timeshare vacation format. I honestly prefer it to the ‘stay at a hotel’ kind of option where the hotel is just a place to stay, not a destination with vacation perks attached.
After a while your stay at a hotel can become monotonous – especially when you are looking for things to do beyond the four walls of your room. There’s more to timeshare than that - with Sterling, I can also swap my week within their network, or outside the country through their exchange partners. That’s practically a whole new vacation horizon on your plate.
All images (Sterling Ooty Fern Hill) used are courtesy of P. Ramakrishnan
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.