Raj Resorts, Bogmalo Beach, Goa

“Here the welcome is warmer than the weather”…well, it indeed is! This is the tagline engraved at the entrance of Raj Resorts. For us it was a home away from home, a countryside place we city-rats crave for.
Gate

Situated at a distance of only 15 minutes walk from the crowd-spared Bogmalo beach, 10 minutes drive from Dabolim Airport and around 20 minutes drive from Panjim, Goa’s capital city, Raj Resorts offers you the perfect peace and tranquility amidst nature.
Exterior
Reception: You are guaranteed a warmest welcome here. Its this place where you leave all your worries and queries behind…thanks to Mr. Vivek Gupta, the owner and the manager of this property.

Reception
Accommodation: Room categories include the Superior, Premium, Terrace and the Studio Apartments.
We’d booked the Premium Room for 2 nights. The room is basic but quiet spacious, ample of natural light and comes with a balcony facing the road. Elaborately furnished and has facilities like AC, Telephone, Tea/Coffee maker, Refrigerator, Wi Fi, Wardrobe and an Electronic Safe.

Room 1
The pint-sized old-age TV sitting atop the fridge cabinet specially caught my attention…reminiscent of my childhood Bush TV days 🙂
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Toilet: Spacious but dimly lit. Hot/cold water is available throughout the day.

Toilet2All the bath products like shampoo, soap, etc. are provided.
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View From The Room:

Room view
Dining: the resort has a multi-cuisine restaurant cum bar overlooking the swimming pool. We had most of our meals outside except a light dinner of Veg Hakka Noodles and Potato Cutlets, which were delectable.
Restaurant

Breakfast menu is limited. We had a choice of ordering the breakfast in our room, so we did. We specially loved the local made guava jam.

Amenities: Swimming pool, steam and sauna, restaurant with bar, room service, laundry, indoor games, 24 hours hot/cold water, generator backup, doctor on call, Wi-Fi availability, money changing, car/scooter arrangement and sight-seeing arrangement.

Swimming Pool: Its a small, clean, cutesy pool that looks up to the Mango tree standing close by.
Pool
Commuting: The resort can arrange for scooter/car, even sight-seeing and fishing trips…and at a reasonable cost. One day rent of a scooter is Rs. 350/-. Cost of petrol is to be borne by you. Rent of a car with driver- Rs. 1500/-. Self-driven car – Rs. 1200/-.

Our purpose for this visit was to attend the Goa River Marathon which was to start at 6.30 am from Baina beach in Vasco. We were pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Vivek (2 days before our check-in) stating that the resort had arranged a bus for the marathoners till the venue which would leave at 5.15 am… so well before time.

Service: Raj Resorts pampers you with a personal touch…and a professional too. Ring a 9 and you are attended to within no time. Mr. Mahesh Goyal, the care-taker is immensely helpful and on his toes all day.
I liked the way the resort guidelines/rules were mentioned on the last page of the in-room menu. Makes life so much easier for everyone 🙂

Special thanks to Mr. Vivek Gupta:
After hectic 15 hours in the bus and being completely exhausted, it was Vivek who bailed us out. He ensured that we were ensconced to our room first, leaving the check-in formalities for later. Although it was quiet past the lunch time, he arranged to feed our famished guts.
The man is immensely resourceful, a thorough professional with an experience of over 27 years behind him. This baby called “Raj Resorts” is his heart and soul. Festooned with lighting bulbs and lanterns, he has made the resort stand out and pour life into the otherwise hushed surroundings.
Lighting
How To Get There:
By Air –  
Dabolim Airport is less than 10 minutes drive from the resort. The resort provides complementary airport pickup and drop.
By Train –
Madgaon Railway Station is around 25 kms from the resort. Hail a cab and reach within 30 minutes.
By Bus – Get down at Panjim and hail a cab.Its a 25 minutes drive to the resort. Frequent public transport is also available.

My Say: Rooms, Amenities, Entertainment, Service…all fabulous. But its the hospitality here that’s laudable. No wonder its has its loyalists in India and abroad coming back for the past 15 years…or even more.

It was a pleasure staying here and being pampered. Absolute tranquility is just a weekend away.

Thank you Vivek, for all the pleasant memories we brought back home 🙂

 

GS Resorts, Velankanni, Tamil Nadu

Away from the clattering of vehicles yet situated on the main road, your search for peace and tranquility ends here. Wake up to the chirping of some rare winged-fauna and see the sun rise in its full glory from straight across the road. Squirrels prance and chameleons cavort, giving your eyes a lovely visual treat.
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Reception: Mr. Bose, is a kind gentleman. He helped us with our early check-in.
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Villas: There are around seven villas, strategically spaced out with around five rooms in each villa.
Villas1There’s ample parking space.
Villas2
Multicuisine Restaurant: Amutham Restaurant serves buffet meals. A la carte option is supposedly available for lunch and dinner. However, it was stopped for that weekend during our stay. Long weekend could be the reason.
Breakfast has the traditional South Indian favorites – Uttappam, Upma, Puri Bhaji, etc.
They charge Rs. 300/- pp for buffet lunch which comprised of veg and chicken soup, mutton  curry, a paneer vegetable, Chettinad fish curry, rice, chapattis and payassam for dessert. Most of the items were cold and bland. A total turn-off even for a humble gastronome!

Thumbs up for their coffee which makes up for all the drawbacks above. Its fabulous and a must-have!
Restaurant The top right corner area near the bricked wall is the buffet area.

Rooms: Categories are Deluxe, Superior, Executive and Suite. All the rooms are AC.
We’d booked Deluxe Double AC with an extra chargeable mattress for two nights. The room was pleasant with view of lush green fields and swaying coconut trees. Sole relief from the sweltering heat outside!
Room1
The satellite LCD TV plays mostly all the South Indian channels.
Room2
Toilet was spacious. Toothpaste, toothbrush and hair oil were provided apart from the bath linen. Attention to detail, must say!
Room3
View from the room:
Balcony view
Amenities:
Ample parking space, 24 hours water, hot water during specified hours, generator backup, laundry, children’s park, STD/ISD facility, free accommodation for drivers, auto/cab on request.

Commuting:
The sole purpose of  our trip was to visit the Velankanni Church, a holy basilica, which according to the website is just 2 kms away from the resort.
It was when we actually traveled in the auto and spoke to the auto-drivers that we realized, its around 4-5 kms. Autos charge Rs. 150/- one way and cabs Rs. 200/-. That make commuting expensive unless you have your own vehicle. The reception can reserve them for you on request.

Summing Up:
Rooms are cool and pleasant. Room service is excellent, staff is friendly, prompt and helpful. Amenities are adequate. Food is pathetic. Commuting expensive (not if you have your own vehicle).

Vythiri Resort, Wayanad, Kerala

It was our Keralite friend who literally sold Vythiri to us. It was also the first time when we heard about Kerala’s hidden treasure, Wayanad, the tropical rain-forest. The guy painted the entire picture in such a way that we not only had Wayanad on our Kerala itinerary, but we also booked us for 2 nights at Vythiri.
Vythiri Logo

Vythiri is an exquisite, ecofriendly jungle resort situated in the heart of Wayanad. Its in the interiors, 3 kms from the main road. We had the resort vehicle pick us up and it was a bumpy ride in the erstwhile Mahindra jeep. I wholeheartedly enjoyed it.

Blanketed by the lush green rain forest, the resort is in perfect harmony with nature. Once you are in there, nature is all you have at your luxury. Sounds of flowing streams, fluttering of leaves and chirping of birds was I all that I heard for those 2 days. Its like, the ringtones of your cellphones are forbidden here in this realm of nature.

Rapture explodes, the moment you enter.
The reception oozes an old world charm with the tiled roof and seating made out of ruggedly cut log of wood.
Reception
There’s a small wooden bridge which leads to the reception area. The natural pool under the bridge is home to hundreds of colourful Koi fish.
Reception Way
Accommodation: They have 5 categories of rooms – Tree House, Honeymoon Villa, Pool Villa, Vythiri Haven and Vythiri Habitat. We’d booked the Habitat Room. There are only 4 rooms in this category.
HabitatRoom3
The room is spacious with an exclusive balcony which opens to the view of the stream flowing below. Pale warm colours with wooden flooring and interiors blend well with the natural surroundings. Can anything be more blissful than standing in the balcony, wreathed in the cool jungle breeze, listening to the humble songs of the stream and spotting varieties of those beautiful birds you’ve never seen before. Could I be any luckier!
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Dining: The buffet is an expansive scrumptious spread served in earthen pots. The resort kitchen whips up a host of local culinary specialties, many of which are unseen and unheard. There are variety of pickles and salads. Payasam is a must in every buffet. Its the food to feed your soul!
Buffet1
Dining area is massive. Look at the lush green surroundings! You literally eat out of the hands of nature, don’t you!
Dining
Activities:
I remember talking to the receptionist, asking her about the sightseeing in Wayanad. To which she humbly replied, “Mam, our resort is so vast that you’ll need an entire day just to explore the resort. The second day you can do the sight-seeing”.

She did mean what she said. The resort has a host of activities to do and explore. We spent one whole day just to explore the resort and then relaxed in the evening to soak it all in.

Walking up and down the long suspended rope bridge is an adventure in itself 🙂
SuspendedPool
There are an array of other options as well. You can start your mornings with timed Yoga sessions. Saunter around snapping as many birds as you can or laze by the stream and get mesmerized by its frothy white waters. If you are in luck, you may even find a Nilgiri Langoor. Feeding monkeys is strictly prohibited here.
Visit the nearby waterfall or take a leisure walk around spotting the famous and the resort’s very own Malabar Squirrel. This is a must-have shot and the coy lady does oblige by posing, although hidden amongst the greens. You need a real good lens to snap her.
Malabar Squirrel
They have an hour long informative session in the evening at 6. This is a slide presentation which takes you through the area’s flora and fauna, the traditions, culture and festivities of the place.
The resort also arranges a guided trek to the tropical rain-forests in the surrounding area.

All done and explored? Just sit at the natural pool area and watch the rain-drops hitting and disappearing in the pool water.
Sitout
Amenities: The resort is well-equipped with spa, health club, ayurveda centre, swimming pool, games room, kids park, multi-cuisine restaurant and coffee shop.

There’s also the souvenir shop from which we bought T-shirts and some curios.
Sovenier shop
Lastly, a special mention of the sturdy jeep that ferried us. These jeeps have been the thing of the past…long forgotten. Posting the pic here. Nostalgia!
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I wholeheartedly thank our dear friend for introducing us to Vythiri. The ambience, hospitality, room, amenities, food… every single moment at the resort was worth every penny paid for.
The entire experience was fascinating! A must-visit for everyone visiting Wayanad 🙂

Ocean Palms, Goa

Ocean Palms is a 4 star eco-friendly resort that’s situated off the main Calangute road. Being in the midst of the hustle-bustle yet away from the noise, this resort is a perfect getaway for a comfortable, affordable and leisure stay.
Its just a few minutes walk from the Calangute beach, 45 kms from the airport, 16 kms from the nearest railway station and around 12 kms from the capital city, Panaji.
We’d been here in the month of February for our anniversary which collides with the Valentines Day. So got to be a part of the wonderful celebrations that the hotel had planned to celebrate love!

HotelExterior
We had booked the Palm Room for 3 nights. The rooms are spacious with ceiling to floor windows promising a view of the lush green trees in the hotel compound. The intention is to welcome more of natural light inside the room and thus save electricity. You can spend hours lounging on the sit-out, doing nothing but enjoying the view with a cuppa coffee.
PalmRoom1
Rooms are painted in pale colours that add to the brightness. The golden-brown upholstery gives a regal look to the rooms. The rooms are well-equipped with AC, mini-fridge, wardrobe, ironing board with iron, LCD TV, tea-coffee maker, electronic safe and complimentary bottled water.
PalmRoom2
The toilets are done up well and squeeze in as much natural light as they can. We were told that the soap and shampoo provided here were all herbal, a produce of the local market. That’s what I call, an eye to every minute detail of eco-friendliness!
Washroom
Amenities include Nautilus, a multi-cuisine restaurant with attached bar and lounge area. There is also a fitness centre, kids corner and a spa.

This spa room has my story to tell. I befriended Marie who had attended to me. She was a native of Kerala and was employed here. In that 2 hour spa session, I learnt a lot about Marie and her background. She used to visit her family in Kerala only once a year for only  for couple of weeks. That’s a major commitment to work, isn’t it!
The next day, I looked out for her, but she was on leave. So I left her the Valentines gift that I’d received from the hotel – a chocolate hamper, something I otherwise wouldn’t part with 🙂 . I also wrote her a letter and left her my mail-id.
Couple of days after returning to Mumbai, I received a mail from Marie acknowledging my letter and the gift. She loved the chocolates and also shared them with her colleagues.  Such things are my way of finding true happiness 🙂
SpaRoom
If this ain’t enough relaxation, there’s the swimming pool to laze around or have a dip in its clear blue waters.
SwimmingPool
The hotel, specially the pool area was all decked up with red, heart-shaped balloons for Valentines celebrations and red-dress code to match.  A DJ and emcee completed the do. There was also a lavish spread of a multi-cuisine buffet. Para, Goan-style pickle made of sun-dried, salted mackerel with some exotic spices, was the one I relished the most. You wont believe, but even now, while writing this, my mouth is watering already with the memory of its hot and tangy flavour.
Love was all around in the air. I wished my hubby had proposed to me again. Here’s a pic of me at the do….
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The hotel has 24 hour in-room dining facility. The staff are very courteous and helpful.

I loved all the three days of my stay here. The room, amenities, food, accessibility, staff and last but not the least…the Valentines party… everything here was super-amazing.

Thank you Team Ocean Palms! 🙂

Hotel Regal – A Woodside Retreat, Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar is now a perennial tourist destination. Its undoubtedly beautiful in winters, but in monsoons its heaven. We are just back from our weekend trip on Sunday and the smell of oxygen-loaded fresh air and the pitter-patter of rains are still afresh in my memory.

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After a lot of thoughtful consideration, we’d booked ourselves at Hotel Regal – A Woodside Retreat …literally! It’s serene and tranquil, away from the noise and in the lap of nature. The only sounds you hear are of chirping birds and crickets.  The moment you are in the hotel premises, you are welcomed by fog and the lush green trees…. A scene we always see in the movies. The hotel is just a kilometer away i.e., a 20 minutes walk, from the main market area.

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The hotel boasts of 45 rooms in various categories.

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We’d booked the Splendid Room on the ground floor and facing the woods (In the pic, its the 3rd one from the right). This included the ‘All Meals’ plan. The room is spacious, equipped and brightly lit up with a small wardrobe. There’s also an AC. But who needs an AC when it’s so chilling already. The room has a large sliding window with a mosquito mesh. So you don’t really miss the balcony. It was nice to sit on the window sipping a hot cup of ginger tea and enjoying the rains.

Room1

The bath/ toilet is also quiet big and clean. Hot water is timed from 7 to 10 am.

Room2

Facilities include a huge, clean and well-maintained swimming pool, a lawn, children’s play area, table tennis, carom board, a big dining area, laundry, car on rent and an almost 24 hrs help desk. There is an ample space for car-park.

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Mr. Amol, the Manager had been very helpful right from the time of booking till the check-out. The check-in time at the hotel is 10 am. Our bus was pretty fast and we reached at 5.45 am, which was almost 5 hrs earlier than the check-in time. It was very thoughtful of Mr. Amol to leave the keys of our room with the care-taker the previous night. This saved us from cooling our heels in the already biting cold.  He is at the reception around 7 am till after 9 pm. I couldn’t stop myself from asking him how he did this with the same energy throughout the day. We were amazed by his service… not a single call made to the reception went un-attended. The room-service is also really fast. They are on their toes to serve. A type of hospitality every tourist dreams of.

Speaking of food, we had 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners. You have to trust me on this…not a single item on the menu was repeated. The food is tasty without any compromise made on the quality. I was astonished to see veg clear soup, dum aaloo, malai-kofta, veg fried rice, kheer, soft chapaties smeared with ghee, etc… and served with so much of love. The guys attending the food counter are simple but so very eager to serve.

Hotel Regal hits all my checkboxes – room, service, food, facilities and entertainment. I give a 10/10 for this hotel.
Last but not the least, it’s the captain of the ship, Mr. Rahul Shah, the owner, who deserves the credit for everything. Thank you Mr. Rahul for the wonderful and memorable experience we had. We’ll visit you again…

Again, a hearty ‘Thank you’, Team Regal and all the very best!!!