Zostel, Asia’s largest chain of backpackers’ hostels, today announced the launch of their new sub-brand ‘ZostelX’ -aimed to bring handpicked offbeat alternate accommodations under one umbrella for the evolving travellers in India. The new offering will cater to the growing class of new-age travellers seeking a more immersive & authentic travel experience by offering local homes, farm stays, chalets and other such alternate accommodations options.
The brand is aimed at extending the company’s tried and tested Zostel-local entrepreneur collaboration model for backpacker hostels into the alternate accommodation space. Through ZostelX, the company plans to handpick and brand alternate accommodation properties in lesser known locations.
It will also be responsible for training & handholding the local micro-entrepreneurs while helping them reach out to modern, responsible travellers. This is an extension of Zostel’s hospitality offering to the young, adventurous travellers looking for a secluded yet immersive getaway with their families or friends away from the mainstream tourism hotspots. To begin with, the company is foraying into the alternate accommodation segment with four beautifully located, offbeat homes in different valleys of Himachal Pradesh at Laida, Dabbi/Kothgarh, Cheog and Rumsu.
The company has been in the business of providing quirky, secure, hygienic & affordable backpacker hostels to young travellers at new destinations for over 5 years and is known for its high-rated, popular hostels among the millennial backpackers. The company, touted as India’s first chain of backpacker hostels, primarily works on a franchise model and runs 32 hostels across India and Nepal.
As per the company, the idea of ZostelX emerged from the constant demand from travellers who wish to travel beyond the run-of-the-mill destinations and the willingness of local communities to host them albeit in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. With Zostel Hostels and ZostelX, the brand will be able to cater to a wider audience including backpackers, families, groups and more.
Commenting on the launch, Akhil Malik, chief executive office and cofounder of Zostel, says, “We wanted to build a new range of offering to attract the audience who are not into backpacking. A hostel setup works very well for a typical 18-30 year old solo traveller or even for smaller groups of friends. However, being a youth hostel, we had to leave out families and bigger groups to maintain that youthful vibe at our hostels. Through ZostelX, we will be able to cater to a wider group of travellers, that are seeking thrill or solitude away from the popular destinations. Simply put, ZostelX guarantees a comfortable stay at a beautiful location away from crowds, clubbed with authentic experiences organized by the local, rural communities topped by the quality promise of brand Zostel.”
He further adds, “This is going to be a pilot project at the moment. We are targeting a whole new category of responsible travellers that includes families as well. The locations have been carefully chosen by the team in a manner that they are secluded yet accessible. Further, the properties have been handpicked and local owners trained in hospitality to facilitate superlative experience for the guests.”
Before launching, the company recruited a local team from these valleys in Himachal Pradesh to do the ground research w.r.t. talking to and understanding the pain points and apprehensions of the villagers, of women and of every stakeholder involved. The homestays hence selected have good infrastructure, fantastic natural views and active, friendly hosts.
In Akhil’s words, “At Zostel, we have always believed in responsible tourism. All our properties have local ownership and local employees and we promote Green Travel. Leaving these places off the tourism map and making them suffer financially just because we, the travellers, can’t be responsible is injustice to these people. Infact, this is one of the major reasons behind the fact that almost 10% of the 15,000 odd villages in Uttarakhand are now ‘ghost’ villages – a lost paradise, something that could have been amazing, had we been able to introduce responsible tourism there in time.”