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Transforming a destination

With experiential tourism and demand for unexplored locations on the rise, Phaltan in Maharashtra is an ideal destination for weekend getaways and unique experiences. Jakson Hospitality directs efforts towards the destination’s promotion and development. By Mohit Rathod

Transforming a destination

With experiential tourism and demand for unexplored locations on the rise, Phaltan in Maharashtra is an ideal destination for weekend getaways and unique experiences. Jakson Hospitality directs efforts towards the destination’s promotion and development. By Mohit Rathod

A state renowned for its weekend getaways, Maharashtra still houses unique unexplored locations. About a five-hour drive from Mumbai and two-hour from Pune, lies Phaltan in Satara district. Unknown to many, Phaltan has historical significance, due to its association with Maratha warrior Shivaji Maharaj. Offering attractions such as Aundh Museum, Ajinkya Tara Fort, sugarcane farms, pomegranate orchards, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in Baramati, and Pusegaon windmill farm; Phaltan is ideal for eco-tourism, agri-tourism, heritage tourism.

Sustainable tourism

Although the destination enjoys presence of numerous attractions, it remains unexplored among travellers, in the wake of which, Jakson Hospitality aims to promote Phaltan as a destination, by creating an awareness and developing new additional attractions. Established in 2011, Jakson Hospitality, through its recently opened hotel Jakson Inns, is promoting sustainable tourism in Phaltan, alongside highlighting the places of interest in and around the place. A 75-room three star property with LEED India Gold Certification and American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, Jakson Inns adopts sustainable practices such as solar power, rain water harvesting and efficient waste management.

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Elaborating on the destination, Gautam Banerjee, general manager, Jakson Inns, says, “Every destination has its own USPs. Unfortunately, the USPs of Phaltan are not yet being highlighted. Fortunately, Jaksons is here, but this place can’t survive merely on it, so we have to build Phaltan as a destination and work on the marketing factor. There’s KVK, where people can learn about various agro products, farming techniques, organic farming. People hardly know anything about the historical significance of this place. We have heritage, but it is not utilised to make this place
recognised.”

“Another thing that can make Phaltan grow as a destination is farms. There are sugarcane farms; sugarcane factories, where tourists can learn about the various products that are produced; and brick factories among others. Everyday one cannot go to the mainstream destinations such as Lonavla and Mahabaleshwar. There lies a population that wants to explore something different,” he adds.

MICE focus

The region has significant presence of industries and corporates. Many IT companies are situated in Pune, which is one of the major target segments for Jakson Inns. The hotel aims to leverage the presence of corporates and industries to grow MICE tourism in Phaltan. Jakson Inns, being the only hotel in Phaltan with facilities to meet varied requirements, also expects business from this segment. Banerjee comments, “Pune, having a huge IT presence, is the nearest market for the hotel. As the IT sector has a lot of young people, it is one of the important target segments for us – the younger generation wants to explore different places; hence we are developing this destination to provide them new experiences.”

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In terms of families, weddings, eco-tourism and agri-tourism segments; Banerjee wants to let people know about Phaltan’s offerings, whilst setting up facilities and arrangements to cater to these segments. He infoms, “Visitors can also watch flemingos for a period of eight months in Baramati, which is not known to many people. There’s also a sanctuary coming up in Baramati. So we are trying to see that we can promote these things to attract more visitors to this region. Then there are hundreds of windmills. These are the things that people have not explored.”

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The hotel is also coming up with a small waterpark, through which, it aims to attract families, weekend travellers, and corporate employees. Banerjee sees this idea beneficial for the destination and the hotel, as there is no such facility around Phaltan. He mentions, “We have 27 varieties of plants, and we will be setting up a green shade to grow apples. Additionally, we are also planning a spice garden. Our capital budget has a significant proportion for landscaping. Currently we grow our own vegetables, so that guests are served with healthy organic food. We organise Dosa Festival, which features 24 different types of Dosas; Mango Festival, where we have everything prepared with mangoes; and Paratha Festival, offering 56 variants of parathas. This will hopefully attract more visitors,” while pointing out that weddings can be arranged in unique settings such as farms, pomegranate orchards, forts, under the windmills and more.

On the marketing front and business expansion, Banerjee states, “We are pumping in big marketing efforts. We have tied up with several wedding planners. We are also looking at tie-ups with travel agents, and are in talks with Thomas Cook, Kuoni, Kesari in Mumbai; and several travel agents in Pune. Alongside, we will also participate in trade shows. Shortly, we are planning to set up three more hotels in different regions. We are a new chain, with different ideas.”

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