“You think, you need to travel, when all you need is a god-damn escape!”
This is how my mind played on a loop, as I stared at an email invitation from the team at Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Alibaug for a weekend stay at their freshly renovated property, a 45 minute Catamaran ride away, just outside Mumbai. To be honest, I have been to Alibaug a zillion times times and it doesn’t necessarily evoke an image of a vacation or holiday in my mind any more. However, the last few months have been quite taxing, given I am still getting used to the ‘full-time freelancer life’ and not to mention the imminent move that I am going to make to Delhi (now that’s rant, I’ll reserve for another post!). Plus, the ‘the micro-holiday’ promised all the fun (minus all the unending planning and bookings, exploring and travelling), so I decided, to wave all the guilt pangs and go all in!
Last weekend, early Saturday morning, I pulled up @Srinistuff (off-course, my favourite travel partner), my comfortable palazzos, lip balm, favourite books and music in a small bag and arrived at the Gateway of India, for our sail over the glittering Arabian Sea to a two-day holiday retreat.
Ideal for the long pending family break you have been postponing, destination weddings or a rewarding corporate off-site, Radisson Blue Resort & Spa Alibaug, spread over 16 acres of succulent green lawns, calming water bodies, with its exquisite accommodation options and curated culinary experiences, is a quick fix for anybody trying to disconnect from the chaos of cities and rejuvenate the inner self.
As we arrived at the resort, complete with adequately spacious rooms, a vivacious hammock laden pool with a dedicated kids section, a golf lawn, a hedonistic spa, an outdoor games zone, a discotheque and a karaoke cafe, a Piano lounge, corporate banquets, state-of-the art gym and a meditation cave, the staff very diligently tagged our bag with a Radisson label and welcomed us with the region’s favourite drink– kokam. We were soon ushered into our well-appointed and luxurious villa, with artistic trappings on the walls, overlooking the lake full of blooming lotuses and mallard duck couples, typical of the tropical regions. @Srinistuff quickly decided to set himself up on the elongated opulent sofa and buried himself in a series of TV entertainment options available in the room. But if you are on outdoor worm, just like me, then there are plenty of options available as well and those are what I decided to pander myself with.
The sprawling property is located on an erstwhile mango orchard, which is now replanted elsewhere. However, there are still ample of trees, providing shade and a green walkway, even on the hottest of the days. As I read through the number of boards demarcating various types of trees and plantations around, I met Mr. Vishal Jamuar, the GM and Mr. Hemang Parmar, the F&B director at the property, who graciously offered to show me around and share interesting stories, one of which I was told, includes a mango dropping down on one of the guest’s head! Tee-hee, how I wish I would have been blessed with such a fall, I thought. But I digress. For more indulgence, Mr. Hemang promised me a reposeful couple spa session in the evening with their signature Escenza treatment, that would knead all our knots and we thoroughly enjoyed with a ‘spirit of joy!’
No holiday is ever complete without an indulgent feast and Radisson Blu Resort & Spa at Alibaug definitely knows that. They left no stone unturned to ensure, we absolutely immersed ourselves in the heavenly sin, devouring our plates clean, every time we felt hungry. Although, I was a little disappointed with the breakfast on both the days, which I felt has a limited spread, our lunch and dinner were elaborate affairs with the Master Chef, spoiling us for choices, variety, flavors, textures awakening all our human senses to the brim.
Here are some of my favourite luxe, uber romantic and happy memories, with some insider tips, should you agree to ditch your next vacation in turn for a ‘smart staycation:’
Disconnect and Reconnect: Most of my morning on the following day was spent plunging into the pool. The resort’s pool is quite huge and a perfect spot to ‘play the splasher’ with your kids or even your spouse.
Insider tip: Summon a fresh fruit juice or a sparkling wine and spend time leisurely watching the kids and at times even a frolicking grand mother try her hand at the Olympic sized pool.
Bring out the Instagrammer in you: Are you afraid of the scorn from your family, when you Instagram your best food shots before you actually dig in? Well, worry not! That will not be the case at this resort as it houses two regal joints- the Aparanta restaurant and Kokum & Spice restaurant which dish one after the other regal looking and mouth water delicacies by the Chef. The proportions are quite full-filling and the variety is immense. There are Buffet and À la carte options available, to choose from.
Insider tip: When staying, it is a good idea to have your lunch at Aparanta with the Chef’s signature Ajwaini paratha and masala roti. Dine under the romantic lights of Kokum & Spice which serves the region’s authentic traditional palette with good portions of kothmbir wadi, thalipeeth, amboli and bharleli wangi. Don’t forget to wind-up with the delicious ukdiche modak and shrikhand!
Heal yourself: Housed on 20,000 sq.ft. of land, the spa, is definitely a gift you want to give yourself to complete your staycation experience and uplift your sensory well-being. Choose from an assortment of aromatic therapies, massages packages or revitalizing foot, facial treatments, body scrubs and baths, all in a serene setting. If there’s one experience that’s lingering with me, even after days of having returned, it definitely is my good two hours spent like a queen, healing myself at Escenza, the exquisite chain of spa and wellness that calls Radisson Blu Alibaug its home.
Insider tip: The spa never sees a dull-hour. Prior booking at the spa is a must to avoid disappointment.
The musical wonder: Eloquent, graceful, melodious and meticulous are the words perhaps describe our experience at the striking red-carpeted Piano Lounge at the resort. The lounge houses a black beauty, where a Pianist, every evening, flicks his fingers on the gorgeous black and white keys, taking you back to the legendary melodies of Bollywood.
Insider tip: Dress up your best, sit back, drink a cocktail and immerse yourself in a musical odyssey.
Overall experience: If I’m completely honest, as a traveler, I am always looking for authentic experiences, destinations and accommodations that take me closer to the region’s history, people and culture and further responsible travel. These experiences usually don’t come at five star chains of hotels and resorts. So I was a little wary of my stay here. Fortunately for me, my stay at Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Alibaug alleviated all my fears. The half Sri-Lankan and half Thai styled resort takes pride in employing locals, promoting sustainable practices (the resort has 2 harvest wells!) and the ingredients are mostly locally sourced and used. While I mostly found myself walking on the neatly manicured lawns or catching up on my reading at the library that has an extensive variety of collections to read from and soaking myself in a hot-water tub, I loved interacting with the always courteous and alert yet non-intrusive staff and learning about their lives and journeys. Even more, I loved spending my leisurely time with @Srinistuff as I watched him open up with stories of travel, food and life in general over the delectable lunch and dinner, with just one thought in my mind- this is what real holiday means- responsible luxury, eco-friendly and authentic interactions with new people and the best ‘us time’ with your loved ones and some things in life, are worth the splurge!
Disclaimer: I was hosted by Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Alibaug. All opinions expressed, are my own.