From adventure sports to a beach spa: Live it up at a luxury camp on the beach in Odisha

How does camping on the beach sound?

And no, we don't mean one of those ramshackle affairs where you clumsily pitch a lone tent and then fend for yourself.

No. We're talking about a luxury beach-side experience where you have luxury tents, delicious food and constant cultural activities to entertain yourself with. And should you feel the urge to wade into the sea - it's the view from your tent - well, that hardly takes a minute.

Odisha Tourism has set up a new initiative, and now, you can enjoy glamping (which can be broken down into glamorous camping) - a first in eastern India - at the Ramachandi Beach near the Konark Sun Temple.

Now, the Sun Temple itself is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site. Add to that, you'll essentially be living on the beach.

This festival began in mid-December, 2019, and will go on till January 31, 2020.

Vishal K Dev, the Secretary of the Tourism Department of Odisha, believes that the concept of glamping has "caught on with not only the current generation but also people of different age group".

And the Marine Drive Eco Retreat, he opines, has something for every kind of visitor.

Stay in one of the 50 luxury cottages with delectable options when it comes to food. Relax at a beach spa or indulge your inner adrenaline junkie with adventure and water sports, or simply take up one of the available nature trails and day itineraries.

As Dev mentions, the nature trails to the Balukhand sanctuary are "the best way to resettle you to your instinctive and natural best".

The sporting options incidentally range from jet skiing, and parasailing to archery, rifle shooting and beach volleyball.

Your evenings can be spent relaxing at the camp while watching cultural programmes. Here, the options range from listening to folk artistes from across Odisha and India to swaying to the beats of rock musicians and celebrity DJs and known Bollywood voices. There are also folk stand up comedy events.

"Apart from the exclusive facilities, the Eco Retreat comprises a food festival, a beach market, and an events venue for mega evenings which s enticing everyone," Dev says.

From adventure sports to a beach spa: Live it up at a luxury camp on the beach in Odisha

Now, how much would such a holiday cost you?

Dev says that it starts from Rs. 10,000 onward, with everything inclusive.

According to the discounted rates given at present on their booking website, it can cost you even less.

To elaborate, in January, a Classic Cottage is priced from Rs. 6,000 per room per night, while the Deluxe Cottage is priced slightly higher at Rs. 9,000 per room per night.

A Premium Cottage is available for Rs. 12,000 per room per night, while a Royal Cottage is available for Rs. 18,000 per room per night. Booking a Presidential Villa will set you back by Rs. 22,000 per room per night.

Keep in mind however, that not all the rooms are available for every day.

From adventure sports to a beach spa: Live it up at a luxury camp on the beach in Odisha

Setting up the festival has not been an easy process though. Towards the end of April 2019, an extremely severe cyconic storm laid waste to large swathes of Odisha, killing 64 people and injuring many others.

Dev says that the recovery process was lengthy and tough.

Damages borne by the public sector tourism properties amounted to about Rs. 25 crore, while the private sector suffered damages amounting to over Rs. 130 crore. The total revenue loss for the tourism sector was pegged at over Rs. 1,300 crore.

"We lost around 10 million trees in Bhubaneswar alone and it almost broke the tourism backbone of the state. However, the state has come back strong in order to revive tourism," he explains.

The Marine Drive Eco Retreat, Dev explains, has been developed as an environmentally sustainable model "incorporating best practices in material utilisation, zero liquid and sewerage discharge and holistic waste management".

Now, with the festival having successfully taken off, we asked Dev how the feedback has been so far.

"The reception has taken us all by surprise," he says.

"In terms of check-ins, we have registered an occupancy of 58-60% of cumulative room nights, with last two weeks registering almost 100% booking. By the conclusion of the event, we should reach a cumulative occupancy of well over 70% of the total 2400 room nights."

The daily footfall, when you include day visitors, clocks in at over 5,000 during weekends. Weekdays see about 2,500 to 3,000 people coming in to "enjoy water sports, food stalls and having a good time at the beach shacks".

We say, if you're on the eastern coast, or are looking for a new travel destination, take a closer look at this one. After all, there probably can't be too much of a good thing, when it comes to travelling.

And if so many people have checked in, perhaps you don't want to miss out either?

Free Press Journal