They learned that the bungalow was under the ownership of a missionary trust, which was planning to sell it due to a lack of funds. The couple didn’t want the property to be sold to an uncertain fate.
So they suggested that the concerned persons lease the bungalow to them. They would then set up a homestay and invest the money to restore and maintain it on behalf of the missionary. The missionary trust agreed to lease the property for 33 years.
Sunita and Amarjeet quit their respective jobs and sold their apartment in Mumbai. They liquidated stocks to raise capital for the restoration work.
“We fought extreme weather in the mountains, battled chilly nights, and struggled with logistics to establish the property. Finally, it was ready to welcome guests in May 2011,” says Sunita. Today, ‘La Villa Bethany’ hosts guests from across the globe, even from the Barrow — the last habitable village in the arctic.
With no marketing budgets or skills to promote their homestay, word of mouth helped them attract visitors.
“We never treat guests as outsiders. All of us have dinner on a single dining table like a family,” says Sunita.
The duo integrates sustainability in everything they do and also supports local communities and NGOs. “We have set up a rainwater harvesting system with a capacity of 1.3 lakh litres for our daily use. We use a solar heater with a capacity of 1,000 litres to heat water and cook food,” says Sunita.
They have helped five other people establish successful homestays.
“In all these years, we have lived a healthier and less complicated lifestyle. I can say for sure that we have never missed city life,” Amarjeet says.