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IRTA 2017 Gold Winner, Best Built Heritage Conservation
Arco Iris (“rainbow,” in Portuguese and Spanish) is a Colonial Portuguese Manor dating back two centuries, and had been abandoned for 40 years before being restored by a family from Bangalore. The original plan had been to create “a cosy holiday home for friends and family” realising that what they had created was too large for occasional visits, the family “relocated to Goa, turned our house into a boutique homestay and invited travellers from all around the globe to experience our very own cloud nine.” The judges were impressed by the way in which the decision to restore a ruin had resulted in a sustainable boutique homestay, tourism being used to maintain cultural heritage which otherwise would have been lost.
Konkan Explorers, Morjim
IRTA 2018 Silver Winner, Best Outdoor Operator
The experience of crossing a forest and experiencing the wildlife and habitat in 90 minutes - they promote soft ecological impact nautical activities, to weave a more proper relation with the environment. Each experience is customized according to the wishes of the client as well as their physical and technical skills. The judges were impressed by this approach to low impact ecological experiences. Drawing on Brahmanic socio-religious thinking, they seek to create through Grass Roots Ecology a closer relationship between their clients and the natural environment. The act of beaching on a virginal desert tidal island has a major emotional impact. The unsinkable kayaks they use are exceptional tools for delivering proximity to nature and to wind, tides and currents. Where outboard motors are used they operate with 40hp outboards, the lowest safe in that environment. Rather than use a houseboat from Kerala they use a Goan trawler, all the employees are Goan and 40% are women… The judges also recognised high level of training provided for the guides and the company’s expectation of personal fitness when taking clients into the wild.
Wildernest, Chorla Ghats
IRTA 2018 Silver Winner, Wildlife Property
Sixteen eco-cottages designed out of eco-friendly acacia wood, Wildernest has strived to make living in the wilds a totally new experience to cherish. They actively market both the winter and the monsoon experiences. With foot trails, hides and machans (tree platforms), guided close encounters and talks the judges recognised that Wildernest offers a special wildlife experience; combined with an Ayurshala, local ethnic traditional food, cultural experiences and visits to traditional sanctuaries, holy forests conserved for generations by local people. A mere 10 acres of the private sanctuary of 700 acres sustains the flora and fauna of the sanctuary, and supports 200 families, directly benefitting seven villages.