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

Views & Interviews

Q&A: Talking to Jayashree Bhat of Mumbai

March 2019

Jayashree Bhat works as a Senior Manager, Data Management, at Syneos Health Limited. Currently single, she enjoys travelling and connecting with new people. On a vacation she particularly likes to understand and experience the culture, the customs and local flavors – yes, that combo can make things really special for her.

Jayashree has a Club Mahindra membership that she picked up in 2014, and over these five years she has criss-crossed the country on several vacations – some of them outside of the timeshare platform as well.

Along with her friends, Jayashree has been to some really exotic locations such as Ladakh, Saputara/Hatgad, Odisha, Tadoba-Pench, Egypt and Bandhavgadh. According to her, these vacations largely happened because her friends were doing all the planning and coordination – all she had to do was pack her bags and join the gang.

For the AIRDA content team, it was really interesting chatting with Jayashree, because here was someone who looked at travel as an interesting learning experience.

Over to Jayashree Bhat ...

Something tells us you don’t look forward to planning vacations?

I’m afraid I have to agree with that. Because of time constraints and my hectic work schedules, my holidays usually happen when there is a travel itinerary already in place. (Thanks to my well organized friends.) It’s a big load off my mind when someone else has ticked off all the boxes and answered all the questions. (Where? How? When? And how do we get there?)

If I were to take charge, the onus of planning that vacation would be entirely on me. And I would have to plan every minute detail for the holiday - across activities, places to visit, local transportation and a hundred other things that need to be looked into. I find this time-consuming, and a real challenge. That’s why I would welcome it if someone else takes care of the grunt work.

What do you really look forward to on a vacation? What do vacations mean to you?

This might sound cliché, but I love traveling and seeing different places. It gives me an opportunity to experience places, people, and different cultures. It also helps me get away from my daily routine to relax and de-stress. And of course, it’s an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. (On group tours you usually start off not knowing anyone.)

I once even tried a uniquely different vacation format in Ladakh, linked to a volunteering programme. There were dual benefits out here – a basic purpose for the visit, with the fringe benefits of seeing a new place and discovering a whole new world.

Strangely I am not too fussy about food, when I am on vacation – I am quite happy with simple food as long as it tastes good and doesn’t affect my health. (Oh yes, I am a vegetarian – so something local and different would be nice here.)

Please tell us a little more about your experience with Club Mahindra

As a matter of fact, I think Club Mahindra’s set of options is not bad at all. Because it gives you the convenience of an “end destination” where you can just relax and do nothing whatsoever. (Unlike other prescription vacation formats where you have to go along with a plan.) Personally, the freedom of choice is nice.

The Club Mahindra experience is really first class, though I don’t expect too much as such in terms of accommodation and food. Anything spacious and comfortable is just fine; of course with clean washrooms and hygiene which is essential. If I can get personal space for myself even with shared accommodation, it will be a real bonus.

I also look forward to being outdoors and close to nature. Hikes or walks are always welcome, which is possible at a Club Mahindra location. Club Mahindra also takes the trouble to organize activities such as dance classes, but I sometimes prefer using a spa or a sauna to relax.

When was the last time you took a holiday with your family?

In 2015, I did a vacation at a Club Mahindra resort with my brother, Rajesh. He was in the process of recovering from a spine surgery and this was an acid test of sorts - for him to assess whether he was capable of getting to near-normal mobility once again. In 2016, I did a vacation outside of timeshare – five of us did the trip to Saputara/Hatgad – this included close family like my aunts and uncles.

When we did our Puducherry holiday with Club Mahindra, I found the stay nice and comfortable. We had a good time exploring and getting to know the place. The food was nice and back then I felt that it was a little expensive. Much later, with a little more travelling around, the pricing seems reasonable – not all that expensive.

There are times when I really can’t take time off for that annual vacation – that’s when I wish my brother could make more use of my membership. (Rajesh happens to be a co-applicant on the membership.) I am not too sure how I can take extended family, and friends on a Club Mahindra holiday – I must check this out with customer support one of these days.

How different is a vacation with family as compared to a vacation with friends?

It’s the variation in age that makes the difference between a vacation with your family, and a vacation with friends. It’s probably a little easier with friends due to the common factors of age and interests, I guess. With friends, there’s the possibility of flexibility, freedom and the fun element – which are important ingredients.

Vacationing with the family could include travel with senior citizens – which means we need to give their needs a clear preference. If there are elders who aren’t physically fit for instance, we need to keep safety in mind as well, right through our stay.

What is your advice to people who find it difficult to take time off for a vacation?

From personal experience, I think it’s all about planning well, and planning carefully – it’s about deciding on the time, the place, the reason – and how you can make things happen for everybody. And believe me, even with email, messaging and mobile phones, getting everyone to agree on dates and locations is one big challenge.

But when you actually get going, it’s worth all the trouble you take. It really is.

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