"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 Namrata Kothari of Upword Media

Fenruary 2021

Namrata Kothari is the Founder and CEO at Upword Media Services, a solutions integrated content production startup in Bangalore, with a dedicated team of writers. Upword Media handles a wide range of content needs for clients in individual verticals - ranging from startups to SaaS companies. Their content inputs also cross over to strategy articles for YourStory, Entrepreneur, and Inc42. Namrata says it has been rewarding to be among the Top 10 most promising marketing startups in the city.

Life in the city (and everyday work pressures) can take its toll. That's why Namrata eagerly looks forward to short breaks and holidays - to enjoy the quietness in nature, and spend quality time with her family.

Q: Here’s our first question, Namrata - how would you categorize your travel experiences?

I like to believe that I am a hard-working person on work days, and entitled to the privilege of transforming into a lazy traveler on a vacation break. Might sound strange, but I don’t ideally look for a place where there’s a lot to do or see – I would rather go along with the choices made by the rest of the family. But to answer your question, my kind of travel mostly includes a lot of beach, mountain, and yes, a national park if that is possible. I also like being outdoors, making nature discoveries on my own - without a pre-defined agenda for the day.

Food is really important for me, especially when I am not cooking. I like to try local cuisines and enjoy simple flavors - not a complicated foodie. Food has a different place in my memory for every place visited - one of my travels to Chikmaglur permanently changed the way my family drinks and enjoys coffee. (There is a prescribed formula for making and enjoying your coffee.)  

If we are travelling with the family I look for resorts with indoor amenities that we can enjoy together. Club house, swimming pool, spa and yoga centers are useful, with nature trails thrown in for good measure.  All this can add to the vacation experience and make your resort a place to unwind with the family.

Q: Can you re-live one experience that is linked to a dream vacation?

Until I started travelling on my own, I believed that I liked adventure travel – and when I eventually headed out I discovered that peace, quiet and solitude was what I had in mind.

One of the first holidays with my husband was at a beach house in Virginia – this is one holiday that will always remain close to my heart. This dreamy, romantic rental location was right on the beach, but cozy and private - so you could go on long walks late in the night, and truly enjoy sunrise all by yourself - without any distractions. For us, it proved to be the perfect romantic getaway in a luxury ocean-front setting – really unforgettable. On this holiday we also found other things to do like visits to the aquarium, hiking and kayaking – totally relaxing in waters that were crystal clear.

Q: Can you re-live one experience in that is linked to a vacation that is out of the ordinary?

A trip with my sister to Las Vegas in 2019 was out of the ordinary, given the city’s reputation. But like we discovered, Vegas is for everyone – and we even roamed around the city on our own. We walked till our legs were hurting, ate gourmet meals, and then got back up to walk some more. (It was just a great way to bond and do what girls like to do.)

I must add here that we tried our luck at the tables at more than one casino, but you need to be wired differently to actually go on a winning streak. We also went for the city’s Cirque du Soleil show – often described as an experience to ‘invoke imagination, provoke senses and evoke emotions.’ It’s a trip to a fantasy world of acrobatics, music and vibrant colors.

Q: Can you re-live one experience that is linked to a vacation not far from home?

Our holiday at a Club Mahindra resort in Coorg is one experience I may want to relive. This was a large-family-getaway (more than 20 people) and one that will be cherished for a long time. The resort is nestled in the misty Western Ghats and a place where contemporary lifestyle meets modern facilities.

As a large group we needed rooms that were close together and yet private – and we managed to book a number of cottages with independent rooms and kitchenettes – the kitchenettes were a welcome bonus. Interestingly, the resort offered a variety of amenities in-house for every age, so that we didn’t have to head out for any activity. The food from their theme restaurants was another attraction, in terms of quality and taste. All these features combined with a picturesque setting and great hospitality made it a vacation to remember.  

Q: Can you tell us about your travels in and around religious destinations?

For the summer of 2015 we made plans to visit the enchanting, mesmerizing Kashmir – with an itinerary that included a visit to the Vaishno Devi Mandir near Jammu.  And Kashmir was nothing like we had visited so far. It was right out of a travel documentary, both culturally and visually. Was so untouched at places and so rugged for us city dwellers, it’s an experience that I would recommend to all.

We spent a night in a Shikara – mostly awake and playing in the snow. Other highlights included the Mughal Gardens in Srinagar, a gondola cable car ride in Gulmarg, and a genuine attempt at skiing. I think we also managed a rare visit to some saffron fields, which was truly amazing. The trip offered us so much to remember and so much come back to.

We ended our vacation with an arduous 13-kilometre trek from Katra to Vaishnodevi. I think this trek, amidst chants of “zor se bolo jai mata di,” keeps you going, and makes you appreciate and enjoy the darshan even more. 

Q: During the pandemic, what’s it like to be stuck at home, with vacations on “doubtful” mode?

In the beginning we were all trying to get used to the idea of a workout-and-office routine under the same roof. And in maintaining this balance we kind of forgot about holidays, or taking a break. It was all about getting your bearings on the situation and playing safe.

But as time passed we started getting anxious about increasing workloads and the uncertainty of how long we would be contained indoors. And within three months we started craving for a break – to be in the middle of a serene environment and surrounded by nature. So we did head out to vacation spots within a 100 kilometres in distance – locations we could drive to by ourselves. And having done that comfortably, we now plan to push the horizon on these getaways – to go further and find new places for our breaks.

Q: What would you expect from your hotel or resort in terms of safety precautions?

Safety and security has always been a top priority for our family as we travel mostly with our kids. While it was earlier about our privacy, COVID has redefined the meaning of safety and now it is more about hygiene, adherence to disinfection protocols, reduced touch points, use of prescribed protective equipment by the staff, and physical distancing. The level of expectations have risen way higher now in comparison to pre-COVID times.

Q: How soon do you think things will take to come back to normal?

We have become paranoid about safety measures and it is going to take some time to get back to normal. These days our children seem to be better conditioned mentally, as I saw on a recent flight with my daughter. It was a complete role reversal - she kept instructing me about playing safe when it came to moving, sitting and touching things at the airport. While I welcomed this interaction with my daughter, I can see that it will take a long time to get back to normal, or near-normal.

Q: What are your views on timeshare – as a vacation format?

My uncle has a timeshare plan with Club Mahindra and we have largely used his membership for vacations at some of their resort locations in the country. I think timeshare gives you the complete vacation experience – the location, the food, the setting, the service, and a wide range of activities that keep you busy from sun-up to sun-down.

People who are members and familiar with the timeshare format love the concept, but I have come across many people in our circle who are not too familiar with timeshare and the long-term benefits that come with a membership. I think some consumer education needs to be done to increase awareness levels.

My uncle still has many more years on his membership, so I’m not complaining.

All images used are courtesy of Namrata Kothari.

Namrata Kothari


Content Disclaimer: The views expressed in our interviews and stories do not necessarily reflect the official policies, practices and guidelines of the All India Resort Development Association, or its members. These views are based on personal experiences, private opinion, or open source information. (Images used here are either "paid-for" stock photos, images shared by the people we interview, or images under one of the open source licenses such as Creative Commons and others.)

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