An interaction with Cherian Ramapuram, Executive Director, Evolve Back Resorts, on their new upcoming property Stone Lodges in Wayanad, Kerala. Stone Lodges is an only by invitation Serviced Private Residence project that thrives to keep the environment and nature in its purest form. These luxury villas are built in an expansive spread of 13 acres of wilderness. It is strategically located to provide a home away from home for people looking at second homes in natural environs. What’s more, Stone Lodges speaks for a concept of the Second Life – away from the city, in homes that intertwine harmoniously with the mountains and blend seamlessly into surrounding natural landscapes. With excellent connectivity from both Calicut and Kannur International Airports, it is just a five-hour drive from Bangalore.
What was the idea behind your newest venture – Stone Lodges?
Considering the changes in lifestyle associated with today’s work culture, a second home amidst nature and far away from the city is gaining in popularity. Today, with internet connectivity making ‘work from anywhere’ possible, many in senior management positions are considering taking advantage of this development to plan both an early retirement and a second life close to nature.
Stone Lodges, welcomes you to your second life, away from the city in a luxurious gated community spread across 13-acres of forested hillside, where each lodge intertwines harmoniously with the mountains and blends seamlessly into the natural landscape.
What was the reason behind choosing Wayanad as the location for this project?
Wayanad was an obvious choice, after all it is rated by National Geographic as one of the ‘50 must see destinations in the world.’ Besides that, Wayanad is in the wilderness, yet not totally disconnected from the wider world. Calicut international airport is 85kms (2 hrs), Kannur International airport is 114.2 kms (3 hrs) and Bangalore is 278.7 kms (5.5 hrs). There are also restaurants, grocery shops, medical stores, hospitals etc. nearby.
In Wayanad one has the luxury of having a UNESCO world heritage site called the Eddakal Caves, wildlife sanctuaries, trekking peaks and other beautiful sightings right at one’s doorstep, making it the perfect place for a second home
Who are your target customers/ audience for these serviced private residences?
Stone Lodges is an ‘only-by-invite’ project which is targeted mostly at people who have visited our resorts at Coorg, Kabini and Hampi.
Besides them, we are also targeting select senior officials from the corporate world, who would like to have a place amidst nature and unwind with their family. They could also follow their passions and hobbies like wildlife photography, gardening, trekking, etc.
What is the USP of Stone Lodges?
As mentioned earlier, our USP is in providing a Second Life or Second Living, for people who are burned out from their regular lives and would like to take a sabbatical and spend time in tranquil locations. While the demand for a second home is on the rise, the houses that are on offer are merely run of the mill generic structures, lacking in both character and imagination.
Our concept is that of a Mountain Lodge, which is built using natural materials that seamlessly blend with natural backdrops. Last but not the least- it is serviced and maintained by world renowned Evolve Back Resorts.
What according to you makes Stone Lodges stand out amongst other serviced residence projects?
Location Location Location. The importance of location cannot be overstated. Wayanad provides a wilderness setting with accessibility to all amenities. Be it beautiful locations, airport connectivity, internet, restaurants or daily needs.
Secondly, the world renowned Evolve Back service that will be provided to the owners of the lodge, cannot be matched by any other serviced residence project. Thirdly, natural materials are used to construct Stone Lodges which makes it very different from rest of the villas in its competitive level. We have also worked out a small return on investment for those looking at making some returns, though our primary aim lies in providing a second life.
How do you plan to imbibe Evolve Back’s values and standards to this new project?
We have already imbibed many of the values. We use only natural materials to build the villas so that it will age graciously. We continue to do our bit towards environment sustainability, apart from the already existing flora-fauna we have planted 8,000 more local trees at the estate in order to attract bird life.
We are building lodges ‘around’ nature rather than ‘on’ it and we have built bridges that are connecting each level of the villa so that people can move around and experience living in wilderness. A very minimal amount of rocks and trees are cut/moved in the process of building the lodges. Evolve Back’s values such as eco-sensitivity has been maintained, as well as elegance, which can be seen in the design, the service and the materials used to construct.
Could you tell us a little about the architecture and the amenities being planned in these nature rich settings?
Earthitects, is the architectural division and a subsidiary of Evolve Back. Stone Lodges has been designed and constructed by the same team that designed and constructed all our 3 properties at Coorg, Kabini and Hampi.
Earthitects believe in using natural materials that age gracefully and blend in with natural settings. Along with this, facilities such as 24-hour security, 3 years of maintenance by Evolve Back resorts, water and electricity, rain water harvesting, harmony, serenity and intimacy deck for resting and entertaining guests is also provided.
What has been the response from the market so far and who are the kind of people who are interested in such offerings?
Bankers, equity fund owners, young entrepreneurs, information technology professionals and corporate leaders are the people who are interested in a project like ours. So far, all those who are pioneers in their field of work have shown us good response.