We have been posting “If You Happen To Be In…” stories since March 30, 2012. They are, like many posts on this site, incidental stories about exhibitions, readings, and other events that we believe are of interest to travelers who relate well to Raxa Collective’s mission. Coincidentally, that was about the time when we first briefed a team of architects on our plan to restore and revitalize a property in Kerala’s historic harbor town, Fort Cochin. Today, the last day of the current fiscal year in India, a day before the Fools’ pranks of April, we considered to be an auspicious day to open our doors. So, after two years of recommending other places, openings and things to see around the world, today we welcome you to visit on our turf. It is a quiet opening. No fanfare, no parties; just genuine welcome and hospitality.The architects captured the concept well, we think: we want to be respectful to history without being a slave to it. Some heritage is best preserved through an act of creative recycling. Spice Harbour is an example. Two buildings which, built in the early 1940s, had been thoroughly utilized for most of seven decades were at the end of their useful lives two years ago. Both buildings had originally been built to warehouse spices and food staples such as rice–these types of buildings are called godowns in Indian English. One of them had become, in later years, a form of lodging for ship captains called a chummery; and then in its final years had opened its doors to tourists for overnight accommodation. That building now has 16 state-of-the-art guest rooms.
Art, and the state of that art, is beautiful or not in the eyes of various beholders, starting with Raxa Collective. We started with a premise developed in the late 1990s when some members of the Raxa Collective team were establishing the first professional hospitality management company serving small, conservation-oriented lodging properties: we offer “hospitality with sense and sensibility” and the built space should reflect that notion. We told the architects we wanted revitalized buildings that simultaneously looked backward and forward, histori-aesthetically; beautiful but practical; the smallest carbon footprint possible under those conditions. Come see what resulted.