I recently had the honour of being invited to an Achievers’ Retreat by Sterling Holidays along with nine other travel-minded folks from various industries. This retreat followed an unconference format, conducted by my friend Kiruba Shankar where each of us spoke about different facets of travel that turned out to be a super interesting two days.
I was also pleasantly surprised at how Sterling Holidays have turned around, especially after all their troubles in the 2000s. The Sterling Ooty Fern Hill property is extremely well maintained and the icing on the cake is the service quality which has improved by leaps and bounds.
Here’s a quick two-liner of each talk in no specific order.
T. Chendil Kumar: CK, as he is popularly known, requires no introduction. He is well known in the public speaking/professional speaking circles and also teaches at IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore. His topic was “Humour in Travel“, and his talk was based on his experiences right from childhood when he travelled within India to his speaking career which took him across the globe.
Nikhil Chaudhary: Nikhil wears multiple hats. He deals in fire fighting equipment and doubles up as a nutritionist as well, apart from being a professional speaker. His topic was “Why is travel healthy for you“. He spoke about how travelling reduces stress and also helps us in strengthening our parallel immune system (which is the bacteria and microflora living inside and around our body).
Caroline Radhakrishnan: The first time I shook hands with Caroline, this was her introduction: “You can never forget me.
I am Caroline, a Mangalorean Catholic married to a Tambrahm, Radhakrishnan!” Caroline’s topic was aptly titled “Heritage Cuisine and Travel“. Quite the adventurous eater, she enthralled us with stories from across India about eating grasshoppers and what not!
Indu Divya: Indu was the classic example of being the most silent person in the room. Usually speaking when spoken to, she completely transformed the moment she took the stage. Her topic was “Turning Travel Experiences into Powerful Storytelling” and there’s a sentence of hers that still rings in my head – “Listen attentively and carefully. Life is always talking to you.” She had the audience hooked for the duration of the time of her talk.
Venkatarangan Thirumalai: At an age where people try to fit in as much as they possibly can, Venkat’s talk was a relief. A relief because his topic was diametrically opposite – “Slow travel” 🙂 In his own words: “I would like to see this as “Lazy Travel” – not hurrying to finish the items in your checklist – certainly not about camping or long travel – but to plan for spending reasonable time to do justice to a place that you are going.” I’d definitely like to try this sometime in the near future.
Ami Bhat: Ami caught all of us by surprise. Given that she was talking about “Safety while travelling“, quite a few of us assumed that this was going to be focussed towards women and women safety, but it wasn’t. It was about all around safety which included something as simple as ensuring we are carrying tool kits when going on a road trip, especially when using self-drive car rental services such as Zoomcar (Use code NjA0MzU5 to make your first booking with Zoomcar and get 30% off!).
Pravin Shekar: Pravin runs market research firm Krea, and one would expect a serious talk from him, but those who know Pravin well know that they should expect just the opposite! Pravin topic was “Smart ways to juggle work and travel” and he was at his enthusiastic best! The key takeaway from Pravin’s talk that I’d like to pass on is to get a job that allows you to travel. If a job ties you to a desk, that isn’t for you.
Nameesh Rajamane: Nameesh was our official selfie guy during our trip. If he wasn’t shooting photos of food, he was taking selfies. It doesn’t come as a surprise that he has over 45,000 followers on Instagram. Nameesh’s topic was “Successful travel blogging strategies“, and his session was quite informative.
Jugdish Ahuja: Juggi had the hardest job during this Achievers’ Retreat Unconference and he absolutely aced it. He was the last speaker and at the end of two busy days, he had the audience taking in every single word and responding to him continuously. Juggi who was perhaps the youngest President of any stock exchange across the world spoke on “Smart ways to finance travel“, with tips on how to make money work for you, instead of we working for money. It was FIRE all the way 🙂
My topic of choice was “Smart ways to plan your vacations“, which included tips right from packing right (that starts from using packing cubes to choosing the right backpack). And for those who come up with excuses to NOT travel, stop everything you are doing and read this lovely piece by Preethika on why every Indian should travel more.
About Sterling Ooty Fern Hill Resort:
Beautiful property with excellent views, but it doesn’t stop there. The rooms were spacious, clean and everything one would expect from a resort. Words don’t do justice, so I’ll let some pics do the talking here.
Special mention goes out to Richard who knew in and out about Ooty, right from its history to the various coffee plantations to the tribes of the region to the secret waterfalls and trekking spots. We were given to understand that all the 33 properties of Sterling Resorts have such knowledgeable staff, which is definitely a big plus point when one is considering a property for family vacations.
The Sterling Fern Hill Resort at Ooty definitely has our vote as a good place to stay for a family vacation.