Marcus Cotton and Jhalak Raj Chaudhar
Marcus and Jhalak – a human and authentic approach of hospitality
The Lodge has a long history, going back to the late 1950s when an icon of Nepal Tourism, Lt. Col. Jimmy Roberts (Gurkha officer, war hero, climber, the first Defence Attaché at the British Embassy and founder of the first trekking company in Nepal, Mountain Travel), stood on the site of the lodge while assessing sites for radio masts to transmit the impending election results back to Kathmandu. Moving forward in time, he remembered the site and ridge-line walk with dramatic mountain panoramas while preparing possible routes for the first trek of HRH the Prince of Wales in 1979. Finally, this route was selected and the “Royal Trek” took place. With Prince Charles’ subsequent engagement to Diana Spenser, coupled with publicity from the BBC Holiday Programme – the whole world wished they too could do the Royal Trek.
The lodge was designed and built in 1998, using local materials, craftsmen and labourers . The lodge set new standards for hospitality in Pokhara, and continues to pioneer Responsible Conservation Tourism today. It also diversified the tourism products of Nepal by initiating a lodge with day walks, as opposed to classic trekking.
The lodge is not an hotel; it is home and haven for the guests. Nepali say ‘Atithi Deva Bhava’ - Guests are Gods.
Marcus Cotton and Jhalak Raj Chaudhary are the two main faces of Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge. Marcus Cotton comes from England, brought up near Oxford in a traditional, Buckinghamshire farming village. Jhalak Raj Chaudhary was born and raised in Meghauli village on the edge of Chitwan National Park, the point of arrival for guests visiting Tiger Tops. Both men equally embrace the vision for Responsible Conservation Tourism and this commitment is reflected in all they do. Their focus is to keep the Lodge grounds natural in order to enhance the range of beautiful birds, butterflies and other native animals, ensuring the habitat is what these species require in order to thrive. The men share their values towards conservation and the preservation of the local environment with their team and their guests, and as well as their desire to enjoy life to the full!
Seeing the development and increased confidence and professionalism of the staff at Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge has been both a goal and a wonderful, deeply satisfying reward and aspire pass this level of passion and integrity on to succeeding generations of managers and employees.
Talkative but also good listener, Marcus says “There is something in the genius of the place – it is a real haven or byoul, a spiritual sanctuary that clams and restores the soul. This atmosphere infects staff and guests alike, the former being thus even better able to empathise and serve the latter. Amidst the clatter of modern existence, taking time out to meditate is necessarily difficult; at the lodge, even the most hyperactive minds find the inner tranquillity to stop the noise and rest.”
The appeal of Secret Retreats for Marcus and Jhalak, is joining a community of diverse individuals who share a common passion to develop and sustain unique, creative and challenging travel experiences that capture the imagination of travellers and reward the soul. “I hope we continue in that tradition and add value to the community too” adds Marcus.