The good people from Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa called in the middle of last week. Would I like to go to check out their property in Mahabaleshwar, they asked. Given that I’d spent the better part of the past two months travelling in and out of the city for various book related events, the last thing I really wanted to do was travel. But the offspring had been whining incessantly about how it was not fair, and how he was stuck at home while I travelled all over the place. And perhaps this would be a good break for him before school reopened and he got back into the grind. And so I accepted.
He packed his own bag, one with his clothes and a smaller one, for his toys. His WWE action figures. “In case I get boredt.”
We set off on Friday morning at the crack of dawn from Mumbai, the pitstop at Lonavala food court to refuel had me cautioning him to stick to the idli sambar given I knew his propensity to become a projectile hurling device when confronted with mountain roads. When we finally reached Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa, in an Avomine induced sleep haze (the offspring’s, not mine) the hunger pangs were striking, and striking hard at that.
The first thought as we turned in from the road into the neatly paved path leading to the reception was the number of buggies that were parked along. So many buggies, asked the offspring. Bud wai? We would soon find out, we realised. A smooth check in later, we were directly off to the restaurant Latest Recipe for lunch. Latest Recipe and the Indian dining restaurant, Chingari, are situated in a building a little away from the reception, reached by an imposing stairway. The best thing about the stairway I realised, is that it has been thoughtfully designed, so part of the stairs morph cleverly into a zig zag ramp way for either prams or wheelchairs, enabling access to everyone.
The cafe, cheerful done up in white and pastels, had interesting steel thermos flasks set in niches in the wall, wall murals of plated settings, mixed seating that ranged from six seaters to intimate armchair seatings for two and three, was just what hungry souls wanted after a long drive.
The offspring discovered on offer his personal all time favourite Rogan Gosht and having confirmed plain steamed rice was available, he got down to the task of dingle handedly demolishing the contents of the chafing dishes.
After lunch, we discovered exactly why those buggies were so omnipresent, we needed them to get around in the property, because all the food we’d just eaten had put us into a complete food coma.
Villa 5 was ours, a lovely room done in greys and purple and metallics, with a lovely little sitout shaded by trees, looking onto a path. The bathroom had a huge bathtub and that was invitation enough for the offspring, who has to normally be sent in for his daily bath at gunpoint to state that he was very dirty after the journey and needed a proper bath.
Post which, we were off to High Tea where Brian Povinelli,Global Brand leader for Westin and Le Meridien hotels and resorts, spoke about the ethos of the brand world and their expansion in this region. “Families are somewhat forgotten in this industry,” he said, “What we wanted to create is a multigenerational experience, where the entire family can find something to interest them.” Their programme is called #UnlockDestination, that aims at helping an entire family holiday together, and discover a destination. All their properties are based on the basic premise that people want to feel that they’ve been somewhere. Elements of the local culture find their way into every element of the hotels designed, whether through the decor, the cuisine or the various elements that make up the property. For instance, at Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa, the ubiquitous local strawberry finds its way into the dessert tray, the signature éclairs and even into light crisp sandwiches.
A tour of the property was called for and we went walking through the infinite paths that comprised the property, stopping to see the little touches at the corners, a thoughtful gnome in a garden somewhere, a man sitting on the stairs at another.
The evening was a lovely sit down dinner at the Henry Lawns, with Samantha Edwards performing some fabulous jazz vocals. The nip in the air was just right to be pleasant without being chilly. The next morning, after a lovely breakfast, we set off again to explore the property. We discovered the Kids Club, where the offspring had a blast.
The Kahaani festival was also on, with storytelling workshops by children’s authors Shabnam Minwalla and Jerry Pinto and a theatre session for children by Tom Alter which had the offspring quite enchanted. There was puppetry, dance, music, baking and what have you to keep the offspring completely busy –allowing me to take time out for a Swedish massage at the Explore Spa. An hour long massage with a blend of rose and lavender had me relaxed, refreshed and completely de-stressed.
There was also strawberry picking at a strawberry farm, a visit to the ‘Unlock Art’ Partner, Devrai Art Village, which made the most divine brass and wood artifacts, and a visit to an ancient temple. Dinner that night was at the Indian restaurant, Chingari, which had the offspring completely bowled over by their mutton biryani and the seekh kababs which he declared were the best he’d ever tasted, and trust me he’s tasted a lot of them.
We left the next morning, most reluctantly. In fact, the child was insistent he would stay back, all I needed to do was to leave my debit card behind with him. But alas, school was reopening the next day and he was led away, very very reluctantly from the resort, promising himself he would come back again, and very soon at that.
Thank you Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa, for a lovely weekend.
(Disclaimer: We visited this property on invitation from Le Meridien)