Women are no longer relegated to the behind-the-scenes of travel and hospitality. Instead, they are increasingly levelling the gameplay by joining male counterparts in the foreground. These six inspiring Airbnb hosts are a small example of this big change. By Bayar Jain
1. Pari of Happy Chimes Luxury Villa in Goa
Finance professional Pari’s foray into becoming an Airbnb host dates back to 2017 when she took this path to divert her mind from her cancer-stricken reality. Since then, this amiable personality has expanded her inventory to 12 homes, each done up with immense detailing and elements chosen personally. Besides being a host, Pari also runs her own homemade soaps and wax melts venture called The Chiming Soapery.
2. Rita Sharma of Colonel Sharma’s Home Stay in Agra
Following retirement, people-loving Rita Sharma and her husband, Colonel Sharma, faced a dull period. Their kids leaving the nest in pursuit of their dreams further fuelled this void but instead birthed a new opportunity–becoming Airbnb hosts. With three listings in Agra alone, they have since opened their door to over 1,000 guests from across the globe. The secret to their success? Customisation. Despite being located in a popular tourist destination filled to the brim with hotels, Sharma focuses on bespoke packages, which factor in the guests’ dietary needs, safety needs, and flexible checkouts.
Peppered with pillars from Thanjavur, tiles from Kerala, and furniture from Rajasthan all backdropped by Goan hospitality, Carmen’s villa Ikshaa is like a page straight out of her countless travelogues. This former art-curator-turned-full-time-Airbnb-host sashays down the streets of the sunshine state hunting for drool-worthy joints when not pampering her guests with delicacies of her own.
4. Suchandra of a studio apartment in Kolkata
For superhost Suchandra, creativity and aesthetics form the basis of one’s existence—a vibe prevalent throughout her studio apartment in Kolkata. A programme producer for Doordarshan, this artistic individual has acted in films, worked as a lyricist, and designed costumes for movies. Now, her imaginative mindset resonates throughout her Airbnb home, which adorns natural, beautiful, yet inexpensive objects. Moreover, Suchandra floors her guests with traditional Bengali dishes, which her family has cultivated for generations.
5. Prabha of The Loft, The Granary, Perch, and Cloud 9 at Souland Estates in Kodagu
Hosts since 2012, Prabha; her husband, JP; and two daughters—Jyosthsna and Jyothi—call the colonial-style Souland Estates Bungalow their home. Dating back to 1955, this 22-acred coffee estate comes with separate private cottages for its guests, namely The Loft, The Granary, Perch and Cloud 9. Determined to gift their guests a homely stay, Prabha (and her family) offer beautiful morning coffees, delicious homemade delights from a secret recipe book handed down over generations, estate walks along elephant corridors, long conversations under the night sky and bonfire evenings.
6. Valiben from Valiben’s Homestay in Vadu
One of the first SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) Airbnb hosts, Valiben’s foray into the organisation dates back almost 20 years. A self-reliant leader in the making, this entrepreneurial woman—despite not being formally educated—supports her family, courtesy earnings from her homestay offerings. Set in Vadu, a remote village in Gujarat, Valiben’s home is designed for the slow traveller. Apart from strolling through the acres of farms and devouring traditional meals here, guests can explore the tree grower’s cooperatively-run organic eco-tourism centre.