At the young age of 13, Ankush Kakkar (now 38) took on the responsibility of helping her father run his woolen shawl business in Ludhiana, as the family’s income was not stable enough to hire a helping hand.
Remembering the good old days, Ankush says the family struggled a lot and he had to manage both his studies and help with the business. Right after school he would go to his father’s store and help supply products to customers and keep helping like that for two years in a row.
But he realized that something had to be done to make the business financially stable. So, after three years in 2000, the father-son duo decided to install a dhaba near the Ludhiana bus station. Ankush was in Class XII and had acquired the skills to run the business.
“We have a piece of land to farm a small dhaba where we would feed the bus and truck drivers. It gave us a boost enough that in two or three years we would buy another property to build a small hotel with 20 rooms, ”he recalls. Things happened and in 2006 Ankush and his father bought another hotel in Ludhiana.
Going the extra mile and fighting tooth and nail to achieve his dream of growing his business, in 2020 Ankush built a 33,000 square meter complex called Treeoise in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh.
Treeoise Resort, Baddi, Himachal Pradesh
From running a dhaba at a bus stop to building an upscale resort, Ankush has come a long way. A few years ago he received formal training in astrology and is also a renowned astrologer in the city.
He says he has invested around 3 crore rupees in the resort from his savings over several years and the income generated from his hotel business in Ludhiana.
The 20-room resort is built on a rented property and also offers four banquets, four cabins, a restaurant and resto-bar, cafe, gym, playground, and outdoor seating area.
Designed in 2019, Treeoise opened on February 28, 2020. Ankush says that at the time it built Treeoise, it had another 42 bed hotel in Ludhiana.
Treeoise is located on top of a hill surrounding the industrial health care zone in Baddi, where Ankush says it operates among the main competitors, including Lemon and Portico of Sarovar.
Beating the pandemic
In February 2020, when Ankush inaugurated the Treeoise station, he had no idea that the COVID-19 pandemic was about to take the business down. He says SMBShistory,
“I remember that on March 22, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed the ‘Janata Curfew’. We had a feeling that an extended lockdown would be enforced and we protected the staff staying at the resort with the essentials; however, successive blockages have posed serious challenges. “
The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a report, In 2020, the hotel occupancy rate in India was 34.5%. The year started with an occupancy rate of 57 percent.
This figure was significantly lower than in the first quarter of 2019, when nearly 70% of rooms were occupied. Due to the lockdown and travel restrictions, the rate fell to 15% in the second quarter. Towards the end of that year, the occupancy rate slowly increased again.
Treeoise Resort restaurant and cafe
Amid the lockdown, Ankush says traveling from Ludhiana 120 kilometers to Baddi to support its staff of 35 at the station was a challenge. “No one came home because we were providing them with housing, but reaching them was a task, but somehow, after getting the clearances from the government, I was able to handle this. But the business was zero, ”says Ankush SMBShistory.
After two to three months of lockdown, the Treeoise station could start operating when Ankush offered the space as a quarantine zone. “We linked up with the nearby Malhotra hospital who would refer patients who needed a quarantine facility to us.”
When the lockdown restrictions were lifted, Treeoise’s operations began to run smoothly. Today, Ankush claims that in March 2021, the Treeoise complex had sales of Rs 1.2 crore with a net profit of Rs 13.44 lakh.
The complex has also been hired by the entertainment industry to shoot videos of Punjabi songs.
The path to follow
Speaking of future plans, Ankush says he wants to develop the resort further and plans to open an on-site spa and swimming pool soon by early next year.
Banquet hall at Treeoise Resort
He also plans to open a shawl factory by next year to further develop his father’s old shawl business which is still run by his father and operates from the small store in the busy lanes of Ludhiana. .
When asked to summarize his entrepreneurial journey so far, Ankush recited an idiom in his native language, Punjabi – summing up his story from rags to riches.
“Jamde koi ped nahi hunda, banada beej toh he hai (No one is born like a big tree, we must only feed on seeds). “