Introduction: Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
At 25 years of age, I run both, my Manali-based hotel (Urvashi’s Retreat) as well as my Delhi-based publication (Rajputana Collective). I am an alumni of Mayo College Girls’ School, Lady Shri Ram College for Women (Delhi University) as well as the London School of Economics and Political Science, where I did my schooling, Bachelors in Political Science Honours and a Masters in Gender, Media and Culture respectively.
Apart from work, I am also an amateur photographer, avid sportsperson and motorcyclist. I also enjoy spending my spare time listening to music, cooking, reading and watching movies.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
At present, I am running my 23-room boutique hotel property in Manali, which is a unit of ITC WelcomHeritage. I am also bi-annually publishing my magazine, Rajputana Collective. While Urvashi’s Retreat is a hospitality venture, Rajputana Collective is an independent media venture that strives to promote and highlight the Rajput community in its contemporary facets through an approach that is both, organic as well as authentic.
Apart from UR and RC, I am also working on reviving the Himachali dhaam cuisine by serving my personalised version of it at UR, for which I am presently crafting a dhaam menu that will be available for my guests upon prior request. Further, I am also crafting an organics and sustainability labels, known as UR Organics, which will soon produce a homemade range of products such as nut butters, granola mixes and jams.
Through this initiative, I am also looking to cut down the plastic waste produced by my hotel by replacing house keeping amenities with re-usable terracotta dispensers. I am also actively promoting the cultivation of our very own vermicompost pit, such that a significant amount of kitchen waste can be recycled to produce organic manure. In the near future, I also hope to be able to serve a sustainable handlooms collective for the women of Shanag (the village where UR is based) such that they can get maximum gains out of their handloom produce.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
For every venture that one sets out to pursue, there are bound to be challenges. Challenges never end, instead, they metamorphose from one to another and their constant existence in our lives will always be. I do not intend to portray the challenges that I have faced in a negative light, but rather, they have served as factors that have further added fuel to my professional impetus. For one, when I started out, I was only 21 years old.
Several people in the hospitality industry undermined my discretion and work due to the fact that I was relatively young, inexperienced and a girl.
My vision and determination wasn’t taken seriously initially, I was considered naïve. Those very people had greyed their hair serving in their field so by all means, they were sceptical and a tad bit biased. However, at that moment, what mattered to me most was my own vision and determination to take things forward, and that drove me.
Another challenge is the shifting nature of manpower and human resources, which is constantly a battle for those serving in the hospitality industry, which is a thoroughly service-based industry first and foremost.
Lastly, time in itself can be a major constrain for those who envision to do so much but never have enough time for it. Hence, prudence serves to a great extent where one is bound to choose wisely as to what they want to pursue in the limited time that they have, in the wisest and most efficient way.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
I am at a relatively nascent age wherein I have most of my life ahead of me, with miles to go before I sleep. However, when seen in my present subjectivity, my greatest personal achievement has been to follow my heart, in what I truly believe regardless of its consequences. The foremost guide according to me is that of self-truth, for if one cannot be true to themselves, they cannot be true to anything/ anyone. Hence, the courage and grit to stay true to myself and in everything that I do is a place where I draw immense strength and encouragement from.
It might not always be easy, but it sure is right and bears unparalleled virtue. It also makes me fearless in a way because when one’s mind is made up to follow their heart and pursue their dreams, nothing that anyone else says/ thinks matters anymore. And self-truth, if perceived till the end, with a clear conscience and a resolute mind, inevitably brings personal victory.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I would have either been a nutritionist or a film maker. To be honest, I stumbled upon hospitality by chance. My family is filled with hoteliers and when I was completing my masters, my father thought of it to be the ideal time to introduce me into the field of hoteliering, where he believed I would blossom. Journalism came along the way as my heart always lay in writing, and we tend to find ways to the places where the larger part of our heart resides. I am grateful to have found a balance between hospitality and journalism in a way for them to complement one another.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My mother, for simply being herself. She has never used conventional yardsticks to measure herself or her life, and I think that is beautiful. Ever since I was little, I have seen my mother go her way, delving deeper into self-introspection and reflection with such dignity and grace. She is a person with the least amount of ego that I know, and that in itself is such a big gift because she is never in the way of herself. She perceives every struggle/ challenge with so much strength and a silence resilience of sorts, and always taught me that nothing/ no one in this world is worth one’s health or well-being- physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. For her timeless simplicity, large heartedness and child like wisdom, she is my mentor, guide and hero.
What does the future hold for you?
I don’t think I or anyone can answer this question aptly. The future is full of uncertainty and surprises, and the one and only thing that I know that the future holds for certain is boundless challenges. I hope to garner enough strength and wisdom to counter every challenge that unfolds my way in order to adapt to it, bear it and overcome it in a way that only adds to my personal growth and understanding. Speaking in more simplistic terms, the future holds tireless hours of hardwork and determination without awaiting immediate results. Most of what I am sowing right now will harvest long-term results, but those are the ones worth savouring the most I guess, and I look forward to the journey that leads to that direction.
An independent publisher, hotelier and new-age entrepreneur, Urvashi Singh runs her business and media ventures with immense passion and creativity. Her hotel, Urvashi’s Retreat is amongst the leading luxury boutique resorts in Manali and her publication, Rajputana Collective recently completed one year. Rajputana Collective is a novel journalistic attempt by Urvashi which, apart from being the first-of-its-kind media publication to be solely produced, edited, designed and published by one single person.
Moreover, her writings have also been in frequent circulation across social media and her personal blog, wherein she writes across a range of sociocultural topics pertaining to the Indian society. The International Journal of Gender and Women’s studies recently published one of her academic essays as well, which she had written as a masters’ student at the London School of Economics. Apart from her work, Urvashi enjoys motorbiking, photography, culinary arts, poetry, music and squash.
WEBSITE: www.urvashisretreat.com; Instagram: @urvashisretreat
WEBSITE: www.facebook.com/rajputanacollective; Instagram: @rajputanacollective