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Biksthang Heritage Farmhouse
IRTA 2017 Gold Winner, Best for Community-Based Homestay
Biksthang is an ancestral 18th century house which has been developed by the family into a “destination”, bringing tourists to a remote and undeveloped village. The aim was to preserve the legacy of an ancestral property, restore the dying agricultural heritage and give visitors a genuinely authentic experience of the rich culture, tradition, history and cuisine of west Sikkim. Biksthang is leveraging the cultural assets of the village and rural area to create sustainable livelihoods though local sourcing for the homestay, handicraft sales to tourists, guiding and transport services. The ambition is to encourage young people to stay in the village and to see that there are opportunities for them there too. One of the referees wrote of the owner “Dekyi has effectively created a safe space for curious minds to learn about a disappearing legacy, immersed in nature, in spirituality, without compromising on authenticity and the freedom to choose how best to engage with it.”
Daragaon Village Retreat, Gurung Homestay
IRTA 2017 Silver Winner, Best for Community-Based Homestay
This is a family owned and run homestay with seven rooms in Darap Village home to Limbu people originally from Tibet. The judges were impressed by the way in which the opening of one homestay offering a village and birdwatching experience has resulted in the formation of an association and the development of more locally owned homestays which has brought an additional income stream to the village, raising living standards.
Mayal Lyang, Dzongu & Bhoramdeo Jungle Retreat, Near Kawardha
IRTA 2019 Gold Winner, Best Homestay
This homestay offers an immersive experience of the warmth and hospitality of the indigenous Lepcha people in the Dzongu reserve, to bring sustainable development and empowerment to local communities in a way which enables them to thrive without endangering the pristine nature of their environment. The accommodation is authentic, and one-third of the food served is foraged, guests are encouraged to wash their own clothes. The judges wanted to recognise the replication of this initiative in Passingdang Village, which now has ten homestays and across the state.
Glenburn Tea Estate & Boutique Hotel, Darjeeling
IRTA 2020 Gold Winner, Best Hotel
A luxurious boutique hotel with only eight suites offering walking and a tea experience modelled on vineyard experience offered in France. In 2002 The Burra Bungalow was restored revealing and retaining the style of a colonial planters' bungalow. Sixty members of the local community are employed as chefs, drivers, guides, gardeners, bearers and housekeeping ladies who have delivered an extremely high level of service over this period. They have refrained from employing any "trained" hospitality staff from out of our tea estate or our region. They support three government primary schools, and a scholarship programme that has 50 estate children enrolled in private schools in the region. Their Glenburn Kalakendra is a Music and Dance Academy that supports the local culture of the Nepali community that lives in this region and their Annual Workers Festival is an initiative that celebrates the talents of our community and its achievements through the year. Waste is separated and recycled items are sold or re-used. Single-use plastic is minimal and discouraged. Waste metal and glass is taken off the property and sold and they are looking for a machine that will help us convert glass to sand for local building projects. The bin liners are attached to the bin, and re-used by transferring the rubbish and not the plastic bag to the larger refuse collection point. In the rooms, bin liners are not used. Room bins are washed and sanitised before the next guest arrives.
Eshab Homestay, West Sikkim
IRTA 2020 'One to Watch', Best Homestay
The main objective of Eshab Homestay is to make people aware of the Sikkimese lifestyle which was fading away by attracting tourists and showing them their rich culture to conserve and preserve it. The main focus hs been on saving the tribal lifestyle, the bees, birds, trees and plants which their ancestors used for herbal medicine.
Dominika Hagarová, 'Travel around Darjeeling'
IRTA 2020 ‘One to Watch’, Best Communicator
Only recently self-published on Amazon as an e-book, the judges recognised that this was one to watch. Written for off-the-beaten-track travellers the book has yet to prove its circulation. Dominika is active on Facebook and has presented at the Slovak trade festival “Cestou Neceston.” Her work is interesting in that it is addressed to both hosts and guests in the remote areas that she enjoys travelling in.