When your daily lives are super active and at times even stressful, I think gifting yourself a weekend getaway can add a lot of punch. Wife and me were keen that this time it will be a new place after the regulars like Mahableshwar, Matheran, Lonavala, Khandala or Pune. So Lavasa it was.
Lavasa is slated as Independent India’s first man-made hill station. It’s located at a 4 hour drive [about 180kms.] from Mumbai city. Thanks to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway the journey isn’t tough.
How did we get there
For starters we decided to use the map at Lavasa’s website. I must say the map is not perfect to the T, so besides a small error it’s good to go. After you take the turn at Chandi Chowk exit, you should be able to find your way thanks to multiple sign-posts put up by Lavasa. The last 5 kms of the drive are beautiful and breath taking. The roads are narrow but some spots will give you the chance for a pit-stop, so get off and take in the nature and capture the moments from the top.
Where did we stay
Lavasa for now has a couple of decent lodging and boarding options. The cheapest stay is available at Ekaant. Although an average resort, I believe they have a wonderful view. Ekaant was full, so we choose to stay at Waterfront Shaw which is on the lake and in the centre of all the activity [much more recommended to stay here than Ekaant]. The problem with Ekaant is that although on a hill-top with some fabulous view they are about 4.5kms away from the town centre and limit the eating options to the hotel’s restaurant which I was told is very average. Also most of the activities are around this hotel.
Waterfront Shaw is a cute little property spread across many blocks and the building also houses many of the eating outlets. Staff was very warm and helpful giving us a good idea on what to do around the place, what are the freebies and what needs to be paid etc. The rooms are clean and well-maintained. Room-service was prompt for most of our basic needs. I love how they positioned their room-service. Yeah, they’ve got free Wi-Fi in their rooms. Not a very stable connection but got my work done. I like the little touch of offering guests free car wash so that you don’t drive out with a dirty car on your trip back home.
And then there was the food
Lots of options to eat around. We choose to have lunch at Chor Bizarre. A beautifully decorated Indian cuisine restaurant with some very exotic antiques. Our table was made up of an old sewing machine with a wooden top. They don’t have masala papad and instead you should try the kakada papad. Very interesting. Wife and me decided to try it at home. Their veg platter for starters is very wholesome and gives you a good taste of all that’s nice from the tandoor. And when on holiday treat yourself to some of their Indian sweet offerings. We had the Phirni and it was bliss. I am sure the gulab jamun and rabri too should be nice.
At the Fortune Select Dasve, there is a breakfast, lunch & dinner buffet at the 24 hour coffee shop Zodiac. We had the dinner buffet and were very happy with the food variety and taste. Better than most of the average buffets put up at such fancy properties. At Rs.550 per head [includes a beer or soft drink] it’s a bit of luxury but I think the offering makes it worthwhile.
Then there is the All American Diner – which is ok, but it’s fun to have a meal in a very typically decorated American restaurant. Pizza Vala is small so there is limited seating so we just ordered and it was delivered to our room. Yes, most of the outlets will even add the tab to your room.
Tabaka serves some nice shawarma rolls and falafels. No seating but pick it up and enjoy the lakeside walk.
For coffee and desserts – try Granmas and Brewberry. Lots of quick bite options – sandwiches, cookies, croissants, pastries and cakes. Just avoid the softy ice-cream at Granmas. Looks nice but tastes horrible.
And if you happen to be there on a Sunday, do check out the wine/champagne brunch at Dasvino club. Looked very tempting but we had to give it a skip thanks to the long-drive back home.
How did we spend time
For the lazy lot, the beds at Waterfront Shaw are super sexy so you can spend a lot of time sleeping or lazing in bed. And there is the Tata Sky with an almost full package so lots to see. And if that’s not enough there is the free wi-fi also. For the active sorts there is the Dasvino club which lets residents of Waterfront Shaw use the swimming pool and gymnasium for free.
Then there is the water sports like jet skis, motorboats and some more. Pricey but the wife says that the rates were better than Goa, so go try it. Also ask for the nature trails, trekking activities. Most of them require a group of about 15-20 people.
The WOW! moment
Has to be the super awesome service and hospitality across the various outlets. And I got this feeling right from the security guard at the main entrance. The staff is very warm, welcoming and helpful without being asked for it. The steward at Chor Bizzare ensured that we were attended every moment of our meal. None of the runner boys waited or expected a tip and disappeared even before I turned around to tip them. Pizza Vala offered us a free portion of Garlic Bread because he delayed our order. How often does this happen, without the asking?