How some boutique hotels in the South spent lockdown and now, as virtual becomes ‘actual’
When the pandemic hit, Instagram went back to its roots: being a platform where people were sharing the food they had cooked or baked. Meanwhile, the hospitality industry turned to wellness — live sessions with yoga instructors, mental health conversations, work from home tips. But when travel restrictions were laid down indefinitely, they were in dire need of content not just to keep their social media handles active, but also to stay fresh in people’s memories. More so for single-owner properties that have carved a niche for themselves with their signature menus, personal attention and Insta-friendly interiors.
At The Bangala in Karaikudi — known for their home-style, traditional Chettinadu cuisine — the daily menu is decided based on the produce from their garden. During lockdown, the Facebook page had notes on their single-origin spices and coffee. A video of the charismatic founder Meenakshi Meyyappan, 86, discussing Chettiar history with Live History India was a popular addition.
Traditional food at The Bangala
“We’re encouraging guests to recreate the dishes from our cooking sessions, and share videos and photos of their efforts. Same for those who own The Bangala Table cookbook,” says manager Yacob George, who also handles the property’s social media. Going forward, we can expect live cooking sessions with their in-house chefs, but there will be no influencers or self-appointed food historians. “Our USP is the authentic Chettinad experience brought by our staff. We would like to highlight that,” he explains.
At Arjun Motha’s Aqua Outback in Tuticorin, apart from kite surfing and kayaking, post-pandemic offers include celebratory dinners and seafood specials. Anantya Resorts near Kanyakumari shared IGTV videos of their signature dishes like karimeen pollichathu and Kerala chicken roast. Always marketed as a photo-op destination, their new floating breakfast, ideated by directors Lakshmy Ashok and Lavanya Ramachandran, is served in the pool villas overlooking Chittar Lake.
Anantya’s floating breakfast
At Svatma in Thanjavur, general manager K Sridhar says traditional variations of immunity-boosting juices were a big hit, as were live cooking sessions with their chef, Raghu Babu, and nine varieties of sundal for Navratri. Now that they are open for business again, they will continue sharing food-related posts as they have brought in more interest, adds Sridhar. Even if you choose not to travel and experience these culinary delights in person, tune into the social media platforms to get your fill.