Christmas Lunch at MoMo Cafe, Courtyard By Marriott, Bhopal

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For a Bengali who has spent all her winter vacations with a heavy dose of Christmas celebrations, moving to a part of India where celebrations are pretty dull meant a visit to the Church for midnight mass and that’s all. This year incidentally, we were having a lazy Sunday and ended up at MoMo Cafe, Courtyard by Marriott really late, for lunch.

The buffet was mid-way and towards completion but as is always the case at this place, the staff was more than welcoming. Assistant Restaurant Manager Amit and his team assured us that we can have our fill and ensured that we don’t hurry through our meal.

The Sunday buffet at MoMo Cafe includes unlimited alcohol, which sets the mood for the meal as a relaxed one. The starters, like always were delectable. Since we’d joined the lunch quite late, the pictures of the food displays might seem somewhat empty. But, despite being a regular at the place, I had to click pictures of the place and the foods, because this was a hearty Christmas meal! Special complements to the chefs for cooking up such a heart-warming meal.

 

The Thai Green Curry deserves special mention as it was exceptionally good! Watch out for this dish if you are at MoMo Cafe next.
The Shepherd’s Pie melted in the mouth and had just the right flavours.
Citrus glazed fish with black bean salad. Perfect – would be an under-statement!

The dessert counter was a treat and in accordance to the theme of the day. The options were endless and each offering was as much a treat to the eyes as it was a delight to the taste buds. I don’t really have much to say as adjectives fall short, so I made sure I click pictures of most of them. The counter also included Indian sweets like Malpua, besan laddoo, etc.

Christmas cake!

 

 

Mildly warm and filled with soft dry fruits, this Plum Custard was just waiting to melt in our mouths!

 

 

The food was divine with starters being a mix of Indian and Thai dishes, the main course including extensive vegetarian and non-vegetarian delights and the dessert counter as shown above. The hospitality, as always in every Marriott property we have been to, is extremely warm and courteous. Always a wonderful experience to be a part of events at the Marriott and its properties.


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Review: Courtyard Marriott, Pattaya

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Last minute booking can always be a pain and getting reservation in a hotel you desire is next to impossible. When we booked our impromptu vacation to Thailand last month, finding a hotel in Pattaya was a task. After much struggle, we finally managed to finalize our stay at Courtyard Marriott in Pattaya. We got excellent deals thanks to MakeMyTrip through whom we had booked our flights and hotels.

After landing at Suwarnabhumi airport, we’d taken a bus from the airport to take us to Pattaya. The bus was luxurious and the ride, smooth. It was early in the morning and the sight outside kept me awake even after a night of no sleep.

Not your high-end stay, Courtyard is Marriott’s affordable range, the best things about the hotel are its staff and its prime location. The hotel isn’t great, but not bad either. Rooms are spacious and well-maintained.

The food was good, be it in the breakfast buffet, à la carte or room service. The property is not very big, and has only one restaurant – MoMo Cafe. We’d stayed at the hotel for three days and it was during national mourning of Thailand’s beloved king. The property had his photograph and flowers put up in the center of the lobby. Business was on as usual, but with a heavy heart.

The breakfast menu had provisions for Indians and vegetarians, along with a huge range of breads, fruits, juices and other delicacies. The interiors of the hotel are modern yet contemporary and everything looks very stylish.

The hotel is very strategically located. Not in the middle of the hustle-bustle, yet stone’s throw from every place important. The famous Walking Street is a 10 minute walk from the hotel. Tuktuks are easily available to and from the hotel at any time of the day and 7Eleven stores are nearby. The convenience of having things within reach is most important to us and we had the luxury here. Since we both walk and trek a lot in our vacations, we prefer to stay near the buzzing areas, yet far from the noise. Pattaya’s Courtyard Marriott gave us just what we needed.

Pattaya being a beach town, has activities galore. Most of our time was spent outdoors, so we didn’t eat a lot in the hotel. However, as is expected in Thailand, the Thai green curry was absolutely delectable. And I mention this here, because this is the only food I practically lived on for the entire week we were in Thailand, and the kitchen of Courtyard, Pattaya made it the best. Heavenly!

The pool was small, quaint and clean. The hotel is located at the foothill of Pratumnak hill, and one can trek up the hill to the top from where the entire port city can be seen. The view is spectacular and a must see if you are staying so near at Courtyard Marriott.

A month later, the hotel is still in our minds purely because of the staff. In the restaurant, there was Chin-Chin. Always with a smiling face, she was a comforting person to have around despite the language problem. Otto and Audi, both the boys were pleasant, helpful and friendly. William was a welcome face, since he knew Hindi and it was nice to communicate with someone fluently. Communication in English is a little troublesome in Thailand, but the staff here was extremely helpful.


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A Staycation At Club Mahindra, Jaisalmer

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 A few days ago, I took a trip to Jaisalmer and got a chance to stay at Club Mahindra’s resort. The journey was tedious and took an entire day, but it was totally worth it.

At Jodhpur airport, I was greeted with a quaint and old world charm. It was mid-day by now and the last leg of my journey was to be the longest, even though it was within the state. Coming from Bhopal, I’d to take two flights to reach here and by now I was eager to see the desert. 

The road trip from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer was mostly uneventful and pleasant. We spotted a few camels and I noticed that other than Pokharan, there was no major settlement in between the cities. We’d also spotted a deer which was crossing the road right in front of us. Was lovely to see animals running loose and being carefree in their natural habitats. Crossing Pokharan left me with a sense of pride, and which Indian wouldn’t feel great to be have stepped into the soils of the place which was witness to out country’s scientific excellence!

We reached the resort by about 8 pm. It was a slow drive after sunset as being a desert area, there was a lot of dust in the air and visibility would become zero at times. Added to the fact that there were no street lights all through the highway, it was only wise to drive carefully.

The resort mainly caters to members of the Club Mahindra Membership which I realised is a very interesting and unique form of membership to a resort of this kind, in India. Before the trip, I had spent hours going through the website, awed by the beautiful locations and properties. I’d also checked out the Club Mahindra Review/Feedback section and honestly, was impressed at how satisfied people were, in their own words. In the website, apart from the photographs, what had caught my eye was the activities all the Club Mahindra properties  had lined up for children. Usually, when on a vacation, parents spend more time worrying how to keep the children entertained, than enjoy themselves. The idea of activities for the children seemed like a good idea and I specifically wanted to know more.

Our Welcome Drink At The Resort
Our Welcome Drink At The Resort

Upon arrival, we were given a hearty welcome by the staff lead by resort manager, Mr Ghosh. It was dark all around except for inside the resort so we couldn’t really see much of the locales around the resort. The first impression of the resort was – warm, homely and becoming.

We were told that a special private dinner had been organised for us, on the poolside. We were to have a hearty meal of Rajasthani food, sitting by the poolside and watching local musicians & dancers put up a performers just for us. Wow, exciting!

Walking up the stairs, being led to my room, I noticed how the resort is also made of the same yellow coloured stones which the rest of Jaisalmer is. I learnt later that this was a palace and had been acquired few years ago, to be converted into a resort. That explains the royal feeling I got right from the moment I stepped into the place, and I am not exaggerating here.

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Local artists had been invited to perform and they presented a gala selection of folk songs and traditional dances. The dinner began with soup and delectable range of starters which were so good that we more or less, had our fill with the starters itself. Imagine our surprise when the main course arrived and we were presented with big, heavy platters full of food traditionally Rajasthani food items! Even if I had not ODed on the starters or had not been so tired, there was no way I could have eaten even a quarter of this platter! Well, there is a reason this meal was meant for a queen, and I am just a common girl!

The staff at the resort is most courteous, helpful and friendly. They are not putting an act for you because you are guests, they are genuinely cheerful!
The staff at the resort is most courteous, helpful and friendly. They are not putting an act for you because you are guests, they are genuinely cheerful!
A complete Rajasthani thali fit for a queen! Impossible to finish in one go, I bet!
A complete Rajasthani thali fit for a queen! Impossible to finish in one go, I bet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, was bright and sunny. I woke up at six and opened the blinds to the window facing the inside of the resort. I had planned to see the view and go back to sleep but when did we always do things as planned? The view was spellbinding and in five minutes, I had changed and was out of my room, camera in hand.

View from my room, first thing after day break
View from my room, first thing after day break
View from the corridor outside my room
View from the corridor outside my room

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Breakfast at the Club Mahindra resort in Jaisalmer was grand, and why not! Aren’t you supposed to eat the first meal of the day, like a king? After a night of good rest, I was hungry and tucked in as much as I could.

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By 9 in the morning, we were ready to go for a day in Jaisalmer. The itinerary was elaborate and we were not sure if we could actually cover all the places. But, this was a trip of a lifetime and though I’ve been to other parts of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer had never happened before – so the chances of it happening again in the near future is honestly, dim. Nevertheless, we started off. The resort manager allotted one of the resort’s employees to accompany us and he proved to be the best guide we could have asked for.

We headed off to Gadisar Lake where we saw the first glimpses of Rangeelo Rajasthan. The premises were dotted with sellers selling their colourful wares from bed sheets, clothes, bags to umbrellas. There were sellers who were also selling door knobs, artifacts and coins! Moving on, we headed to Jaisalmer Fort. I was specifically excited about this since being a Bengali kid who grew up with a heavy dose of Satyajit Ray’s Feluda, to visit ‘Sonar Kella’ was no less than an achievement. Well, more on that in a different post. From the fort, we visited Patwon-Ki-Haveli and Oh My God, what an experience that was. Inside the fort, I noticed a lot of interesting graffiti on the walls of the houses.

In the second half of the day, we explored the (in)famous haunted village, Kuldhara and later went to the sand dunes for desert safari. We ended the day by watching the sunset, from the middle of the Thar desert, a first for me, before heading back to the resort.

Back in the resort we learnt yet another interesting thing. The restaurant, Jeeman, has theme dinners every night and that night, it was Halloween! Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much but I have been telling stories of that night ever since I’ve been back. Not only was the restaurant decor perfect, music on point and the food perfectly named for the theme, the staff were in the character of the them as well. The amount of trouble they must have all gone to, in making everything so perfect, is unimaginable. The atmosphere was eerie, to the point.

During the tour of the resort, we’d been taken to the activity room and it was a shame that I wasn’t a child anymore, because the this place was super interesting. From getting to learn crafts like painting, puppet making, etc to playing games, reading books, watching movies, cycling, etc, children had a packed schedule. The resort was so safe, and the staff so friendly that I could see people actually let their hair down and relax. Apart from us, all the guests were families and of all my travels, this was the first time I saw people actually rejuvenate. Early in the morning, couples could be seen taking their morning walk together, jogging, playing badminton, or just sitting together and soaking the sun. Children were having their own fun and no bothered parent was after them, keeping an eye. Children of stranger families were meeting for the first time and becoming friends, over a game of puzzle. Who knows, where these childhood friendships will go? Elders too, were not worried about their children coming to harm or causing any harm. The staff was always alert and careful. Happy children, happy parents, happy resort.

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A softboard filled with drawings made by children is kept in the activity room of the resort
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It took a lot of effort to drag myself away from this table with puzzle pieces strewn across

The next morning, we headed off to Jodhpur to catch our flights back home. While I was looking forward to be back home and with my husband, I left a bit of me back there. The royal resort, the way the staff pampered us, the beautiful architecture, and the relaxed environment refreshed me beyond words, despite it being such a short trip. A Club Mahindra Membership seems like the exact things families which love to travel together should subscribe to.

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#Review: Radisson Goa Candolim

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In March, earlier this year, we went for a family trip to Goa. Four couples and three children – big gang. Reservations weren’t easy to get – we wanted our hotel near the beach, child-friendly and in or around Candolim. We zeroed upon Radisson Goa, Candolim and made bookings. Few days before the trip, one of us got a not so-good review from someone who had stayed at the property recently. Trusting the person’s review, we dropped all expectations and went, expecting the worst.

This should be your cue to understand how one should never listen to reviews blindly. Yet, here I am, writing a review of the same place! To be transparent, let me fill it up with real situations and how the resort and its employees surpassed our expectations.
The family is scattered all over, so we had arrived in batches. Upon arrival, the first group learnt that all four rooms were not together – they were in three separate sections. A little conversation and it was sorted. We all were put in the same floor of the same section of the proprty. Great! There are 78 rooms in the property, promising comfort, style and relaxation.

Compact, self-sufficient, neat and a pretty sight – this was our first impression of the resort.
Two things about the resort stood out – its location and its staff. Less than minutes walk to the beach, right on the Candolim main road, it has easy access to practically everywhere. Cabs and cars on hire are readily available, as are bikes for rent. What is more, even buses are not a problem to board from here.
The day after we reached, was Holi. Upon enquiry we were told of the holi party at SinQ which proved to be the best holi party of all our lives. More on that later, maybe in another post! So with the beach at a stone’s throw and the other beaches just a bike ride away, we were happy.

(C) Radisson Goa Candolim
(C) Radisson Goa Candolim

A bunch of north Indians who like their north Indian food can be difficult to please. Specially in a place which is famous for its own cuisine. Without batting an eyelid, the restaurant staff at Radisson Goa Candolim got our dal-roti-sabzi prepared and just how we liked them. The restaurant staff went out of the way to ensure that we were satisfied and took special care of the children. We were besotted by the care and love we were shown, when on the morning of our check-out, the gentleman at the reception handed us packed breakfast and juices for all of us. We had an early morning flight and were leaving really early. Travelling with kids and without food would not be a very comfortable thing to do, and the staff had gauged the situation by themselves. No extra charges were put on our bill. In fact, just the opposite was done!

The poolside was clean and the water hygienic. The children of course, had their fill of water fun inside the pool at times when everyone was too tired to take them to the beaches. Highly recommended.

Note: This is not a paid review; it is a delayed user experience review.


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10 Places To Stay In Rajasthan You Might Not Be Aware Of

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Travelling to Rajasthan and planning to make the trip special? Why not stay at some place not many people have heard about but do exist and royally so! In this article, I am writing about ten such destinations which I personally loved and pulled up more information about, so that you don’t have to google too much.

Khem Villas, Ranthambhore

A luxury jungle camp in Ranthambore, Khew Villas was practically built from scratch on the land with water bodies and natural habitat for animals being created on the land which was purchased way back in the year 1989. A bird watcher’s paradise, the camp also houses crocodiles, jackals, hyenas, desert fox, etc, along with luxury campstead. The main aim is to maintain the tranquility of the place and provide the best in hospitality.
The nearest airport from Khem Villas is Jaipur which is about 200 kms away. The nearest town as well as railway station is Sawai Madhopur which is about 13 kms from the camp.

The Green House Resort, Pushkar

In the holy town of Pushkar, you will find this luxurious boutique resort in a majestic location. The Green House Resort has 20 luxurious, air-conditioned tents with all luxury amenities. The nearest airport happens to be Jaipur and Ajmer is the nearest railways station, about 20 kms away. The resort is just ten minutes from the town of Pushkar and is set in the middle of landscaped gardens spanning across 10 acres.

Mihir Garh, near Rohet

An award-winning nine suite boutique hotel, Mihir Garh in Rohet is the dreamchild of Sidharth and Rashmi Rohet. Here, you are assured a stay of luxury and pampering amidst nature and its beauty.
Mihir Garh offers you varied experiences like horse riding, antelope watching, royal picnics, star-gazing and even village safaris. There are endless activities to do and meal times are specifically special as the recipes are traditional Rajasthani. The decor of the suites are also special as every small thing has been specially designed for Mihir Garh.

Shahpura Bagh, Bhilwara

Shahpura happens to be in district Bhilwara of Rajasthan, India. The estate of Shahpurabagh is spread across 45 acres of lush green pasture and garden, and houses only nine luxury suites. Yes, it is that exclusive! Nestled in the middle of nature, the expanse also houses Nahar Niwas which dates back to the 19th century and is a family home where one can experience personalised, traditional hospitality. Also in the premises is the Umaid Niwas which interestingly is a mix of Rajasthani as well as Gothic architecture. It houses six of the suites and also includes the swimming pool.
Every suite at Shahpura Bagh has been designed uniquely, so if you fall in love with the place, you’d love to go back there – the experience in each room is totally different.

Welcome Heritage, Mount Abu

A popular hillstation nestled in the feet of the Aravalli range, Mount Abu is also a place of pilgrimage. At Connaught House, Mount Abu you have the luxury of living in one of their 10 air-conditioned cottages which are enveloped in the lap of nature. Apart from being at a heavenly abode for the duration of your stay, you also have the option of indulging in outdoor activities like bird watching, picnic, sight-seeing and camp fire dinners.

Fort Barli, Ajmer

At Fort Barli, you will be experiencing more than 340 years of heritage. The property is now under the sixteenth generation which makes it a point to welcome the guests personally. The nearest airport is Jaipur which happens to be 180 kms away. The nearest railway station however is only 8 kms away, at Bijayanagar. Staying at Fort Barli gives a proper Rajputana feel amidst all the luxury and beauty.

Ramathra Fort, Karauli

Located in Karauli, Rajasthan, Ramathra Fort lies on the foot of a hill. It has a gorgeous view of the countryside with farmland, Kalisil Lake, Daang plateau, water birds, in your visibility at any given point of time. During your stay here, you can avail jungle safari, boating, body massage, go for picnic by the lake, go for nature walks or temple trail visits and even for a village safari. The beauty and calm of the place is bound to keep you spellbound.

Nahargarh, Ranthambhore

Nahargarh is situated in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan, just on the outskirts of Ranthambore National Park. The experience here is no less than a dream come true – royal, grand, colourful and dreamy. The place houses eighty gorgeous rooms amidst peace and tranquility, ideal for you to get lost in. Some rooms on the second floor have a direct view to the national park. You will have access to multi-cuisine specialities during your stay here.

Hotel Udai Bilas Palace, Dungarpur

Located in a peaceful locale with Gaibsagar lake on side and a private reserve forest on the other, Udai Bilas Palace is the perfect place to spend your time amidst the old world princely charm. Almost secluded from the rest of the world, this place is ideal for honeymooners. The palace is pretty old and its origin dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. Everything here is exquisite, grand and royal.

Savista, NH 8

Only 22 kms from Jaipur, Savista lies on NH 8. While you are staying here, you have easy drive access to Ajmer and Jaipur. Also accessible from this unique location is the town of Pushkar. You can also visit the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary which isn’t far from here. The food here is vegetarian, local and organic. The vegetables and the pulses are grown in-house in Savista farm and without the use of any harmful chemicals. If you decide to spend the day in the resort leisurely, you have the option to learn block printing, yoga, cooking, or go for camel cart rides, village hikes and many such fun activities.

You can get in touch with me for any blogger/influencer activities here.

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