Chatting up with Huma Quresi, Mandira Bedi and the brand heroes at Airbnb's latest campaign in Goa
It was a nod to the unique spirit of travellers who seek and explore, fearlessly, feeling like a local all the while.
Goa instantly evokes mental imagery of shacks and sand as far as one’s eyes can see. But during monsoons, this coastal state makes for a different kind of postcard prettiness with cloud-laden grey skies as a backdrop for tall palm trees. We discovered that for ourselves as flew down there recently to celebrate the launch of the campaign, That’s why we Airbnb. During our drive to the hotel, we did a quick search and were surprised to read that the San Francisco-based hospitality portal has approximately 150 million users covering more than 65,000 cities worldwide. The campaign was launched with the ‘brand heroes’ and avid travellers, Karuna Reddy and Malvika Poddar from Bengaluru, who also happen to helm wedding planning outlet, The Mogra Collective. That apart, we were looking forward to the panel discussion with Mandira Bedi and actress Huma Qureshi — both frequent Airbnb users.
Before the next morning, we decided to soak in the homestay experience ala Portuguese style at Lar Amorosa Boutique B&B. We reached the quaint villa located near Calangute — established in 1934 — after a 45-minute drive from the Dabolim airport, crossing the pristine Mandovi River. At the doorstep, our host Collins Mascarenhas ushered us in. While looking around, we spotted the hand-carved sculptures such as the climbing horses made from a single log of wood, antique furniture, a well-stocked bookshelf and a cottage overlooking a pool. We loved our room with vintage brown cupboards and an oversized work desk. The verandah opened to countless hills covered in swathes of bottle green. (Rs 3,900 onwards executive rooms.)
When we met Malvika and Karuna, we understood how staying in Airbnbs have helped them see places like Sri Lanka and Berlin with a fresh perspective. It has also enriched the couple’s relationship as they have been travelling together for a while now. “Our Airbnb at Galle was a 17th Century building, renovated recently. We were so happy to see that nature was preserved and the animals weren’t disturbed,” shared Malvika. Karuna was quick to add, “We can’t forget our stay at Berlin either! Our host’s pet dog Luna had us in splits the entire time.”
The next day was all about the panel discussion at Bay 15 in Dona Paula with Mandira, Huma, Karuna and Malvika. They joined photographer and travel enthusiast Nolan Mascarenhas, who knows every nook and corner of the beaches. Mandira and Huma narrated their travel tales, from which we gathered why staying in such a homestay can be such a unique experience. Mandira shared, “I stayed in an Airbnb in Delhi, which had a beautiful treehouse covered in flowers. I remember there was also a trampoline and the set-up was so unique.”
When we met Huma, she wanted to highlight the idea of feeling safe and a sense of belonging while one travels. “If you stay as a single woman traveller or with your group of girls, I feel Airbnb is safer because there’s a sense of community. My friends and I had gone to Rome and one of them recommended Airbnb, and I wondered if we would be safe. However, when we looked at the old Italian house, it had so much charm and you could see the whole skyline from the top. I was awestruck and thought that there’s nowhere else that we can stay,” said the actress, adding that such experiences allow a peek into someone else’s life in a way that a hotel never can. Huma is also an advocate of solo travel for women. “In 2013, I was supposed to travel with a bunch of friends, to go to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo. After my friends cancelled, I was faced with the dilemma if should I cancel or go alone? I had never gone mountain-climbing before and once I reached the top, I looked around the snow-capped peaks, feeling almost invincible,” says Huma, recalling the memory from her travel diaries that helped shape the person that she is. We feel it summed up the spirit of Airbnb’s campaign in a nutshell — to seek and explore, fearlessly, feeling like a local all the while.
The writer was at the campaign launch on invitation by Airbnb India.