Sometime last year IT industry veteran Tiger Ramesh went for a trip to Kabini forest reserve in Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka, along with his long-time friend Vinay Luthra. It was there that the former chief executive officer of IT services company CSS Corp realised that there were no caravan tourism services in the country and decided to start one. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the travel and tourism industry, Ramesh sees an opportunity to help people go on vacation and has launched Campervan Camps and Holidays India Pvt Ltd. The startup has introduced India’s first commercially approved premium motorhome called LuxeCamper, and offers vacation on wheels to exotic destinations in the country.
“Initially we were shocked and disappointed (due to Covid-19 crisis). But what has happened is that there are a lot of people who want to travel in a safe and confined way and maintain social distancing,” said Ramesh. “People are tired of the lockdown.
They want to go somewhere, but are worried about safety and handling the destinations. Road travel is going to be the preferred way of holidaying over the next few months to come. Using caravan people can travel safely with family without having to mingle with anybody,” he said.
An alumnus of Madurai Kamaraj University, Ramesh had co-founded a few startups between 1999 and 2009 and made successful exits. He is also a wildlife enthusiast and a keen photographer. His new venture has attracted marquee angel investors, such as cricketer Anil Kumble, international musician Vijay Prakash and TaxiforSure co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishna. Other investors include IT honcho Phaneesh Murthy, serial entrepreneur Jawad Ayaz and former Infosys global sales head Subhash Dhar.
“As there are no readymade motorhomes available in India for tourism purposes, we decided to design and manufacture our own motorhomes,” said Ramesh.
Built using German design coupled with innovations that suit Indian conditions, LuxeCamper has received approval from the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI). These motorhomes are equipped with living and sleeping areas designed within a compact space that can accommodate up to 4 people. The vehicle consists of a motorised suspended queen bed, wardrobe and thermal controls for both heating and cooling, and smart televisions. Other facilities include Wi-Fi and a fully functional kitchenette including microwave and fridge. The LuxeCampers use solar energy for charging the inverter batteries and powering the equipment. It is also fitted with 360-degree cameras, fire extinguishers and a GPS tracker for safety.
The company has also built a tech platform that allows guests to choose from a set of recommended trails, as well as, customize and configure their own trails to various destinations.
“At many of these locations, electricity may be an issue. So we had to bring in the solar concept and we had to add extra batteries so that enough power is available,” said Vinay Luthra, director and advisor, Campervan Camps and Holidays India Pvt Ltd. Luthra (IFS) is a former principal chief conservator of forests and head of forest force at Karnataka Forest Department.
The company has partnered with small lodges, homestays and select campsites of Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd., at exquisite destinations for camping. The firm said these camping locations situated near beaches, historical and yesteryear monuments, hill stations and wildlife safari spots, are pre-screened for safety and cleanliness.
Currently, the company provides personalised travel experiences to exotic locations in Karnataka and will very soon expand to the rest of India. As part of the initial trails offered, the firm has tied-up for camping sites at locations such as Aanejari, Bandipur and Bheemeshwari. The other places include Hampi, Kabini and Kodagu.
“When people use our service and say ‘wow, what a view’, those kinds of ‘wow’ moments that we are trying to create, make me very happy,” said Ramesh. “Our aim is to provide travellers with the opportunity to deep dive into unexplored destinations by personalizing their travel trails and activities.”