Every year right about now, a group of painters arrives to Kerala from England. They are led by a professional artist who also teaches, and during their several days’ stay at Cardamom County we enjoy watching their sketch books fill up. The watercolor above is an example of what we have seen in the past, and we are looking forward to this year’s new collection.
It is not only the colors and impressionistic views of our property we enjoy seeing, but the learning process itself. Each of the last few years, as Raxa Collective has expanded the number of properties in its portfolio, Cardamom County’s unique value as a learning laboratory has become more and more clear. Interns, trainees, and most of all guests–many of whom, while still at Cardamom County or after returning home, choose to share news about their experience with us, or on the themes of community and/or collaboration and/or conservation from around the world) are all essential components of the learning laboratory’s chemistry.
Today, we welcome a group of nearly one dozen new employees to Raxa Collective. They have just arrived in Thekkady after completing their hotel school in Darjeeling, and will be in training at Cardamom County before moving later this month to Spice Harbour in advance of its opening. While they are here, they will begin to specialize their career plans by department–some in food and beverage service, some in reception, some in housekeeping, etc. But starting this morning, they will hear all of us, their new colleagues, share our own views of what Raxa Collective is all about. What do we mean when we talk about community, conservation and collaboration? What does that have to do with working in a resort? And, what does it mean for a resort to serve as a learning laboratory?
It all goes back to the decision to form Raxa Collective a few years ago as an alternative to a more standard approach to being hoteliers, a craft we are proud members of but also contributors to. Recently, a few of us present at the time that decision was being made had the opportunity to reflect on the actor Peter O’Toole. Best known for his portrayal of T.E. Lawrence, whose repeated line “Nothing is written!” could just as easily be one of our mantras, the actor was also well known for his colorful life off screen and offstage. As it happens, a post on this site recently coincidentally brought to our attention a bit of early O’Toolery (from a chapter in that book called “Peter O’Toole On The Ould Sod” based on time Talese spent with O’Toole in 1963) that suits perfectly as we welcome the Darjeeling crew to our team and share with them what we do, how we do it, and why:
At 18 years of age, he had copied in his notebook the lines that would be his credo, and now, in this bar in Dublin, tilting back on his barstool, he recited them aloud:
“I do not choose to be a common man…it is my right to be uncommon — if I can…I seek opportunity- -not security…I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed… to refuse to barter incentive for a dole…I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence, the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopias….”
Welcome to our team, Darjeeling crew, and welcome to the uncommon, the opportunities, the risks, and all that comes along with those…