Architect Sneha Mahashabde and economics degree holder Anuja Phadke left their jobs to build a homestay — The Kokum Tree — in 2019.

Anuja says, “After working for a decade, we felt it was the right time to quit. If we failed, we would return to Mumbai and our jobs.”

Instead of investing in a new property, they decided to use her ajji’s (grandmother) house, which the latter had been tending to for years.

“With love and hard work, she had grown a forest and we wanted others to experience the same,” says Anuja.

While they had no experience in hospitality, interacting with clients and colleagues in their previous jobs did help them get started.

They also travelled to homestays across the Konkan belt to understand the process and make their offerings accordingly.

From learning to say no to a guest with unreasonable demands to curating an enriching experience, the duo carried out almost all activities by themselves.

The villa is an amalgamation of modern amenities and an eco-friendly lifestyle. It has four rooms with attached bathrooms, a kitchen, common living rooms, and a veranda.  They have also built a bamboo cottage for guests with furry friends.

The duo grow their own food on their farm, practice waste segregation and composting, and discourage use of plastic on the premises.

“For adults, we organise several activities like yoga, cycling, trails, and pottery,” says Anuja.

The guests are also taken for farming activities and shown hiking sites and can enjoy sunsets from a wooden deck atop a pond.

“A typical Maharashtrian thali is served for lunch, which includes dal, fried items, koshimbir, fish fry, roti, bhakri,” shares Anuja.