The weekend's nearly here! So have you planned a getaway yet? If you are in Mumbai (or Pune or Nashik), and have already 'done' all the nearby weekend spots, here's a wonderful monsoon getaway for you. The husband and I recently spent some time at Courtyard by Marriott at Chakan, about 35 kms from Pune.
Our weekend started early, on a Friday morning, and the drive from Mumbai to Chakan was fairly quick - just 2.5 hours to cover the 150 kms. It was a lovely, rainy day and the drive passed by in a blur of green.
We arrived to a warm welcome in form of this cute edible art creation --->
Our room was large & well-appointed. The French windows let in a lot of light and its ledge was my favourite reading place. There was also a convenient settee next to the window to lounge about on. The bed was comfy and the hotel has thoughtfully provided reading lights. There's ample storage space and a safe is available as well.
A word about the Wi-Fi at the hotel - it's super-fast & very reliable! And at Rs. 500 per day, it's a fantastic deal, especially if you (like me) spend weekends working ;)
Since the hotel is located in an industrial area, there were sporadic sounds from the neighbouring factories, but nothing too loud or very disruptive.
I have found that business hotels usually have average quality food, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that Courtyard by Marriott at Chakan had put in great efforts on this front. Especially since there are no meal options around the hotel, and you would probably have to eat in! MoMo Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, and there's an à la carte option for lunch & dinner as well. Cuisine is a mix of Asian and international flavours, so you have a lot of options.
For dinner the first night, we tried MoMo's Asian specialties - dimsums and nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice, served with prawn crackers and chicken satay). We also tried the salmon, which was perfectly cooked with a delicious crispy skin. Dessert was a light caramel custard.
I was happy to see the hotel showcasing regional Maharashtrian food as well. We tried the komdicha rassa (spicy chicken curry) and tambda rassa (mutton in a Kolhapur-style curry) and both were excellent and the quality of meat was fantastic.
On our last night at the hotel, Chef Girish had prepared a special 4-course menu for us. We began with a chilled watermelon carpaccio topped with char-grilled prawns, followed by a warming bowl of roasted pumpkin soup. For the mains, I had the superb Australian lamb chops, served with roasted vegetables and a fabulous garlic mash. The husband had the flavourful spinach and ricotta stuffed chicken breast, served with a parsley mash. For dessert there was a delicious tiramisu.
Of course you can stay put in the hotel and just relax with a book (or maybe get some work done), but if you'd like to venture outside, there are a couple of places to visit nearby.
On day one I headed to Manchar (37 kms away) to visit the cheese factory of Gowardhan Group, one of the biggest dairy farms in western India. I met Madhuri Somavanshi, the Marketing executive at the factory, who gave me a guided tour around the factory. It was fascinating to watch these massive machines churn out kilos of cheese! Go Cheese makes several varieties, including cheddar, gouda, paneer and even mozzarella (for which the machinery has been imported from Italy). All cheese is made using microbial rennet, so it's 100% vegetarian. After the factory, we drove to their dairy farm, where I met this 3-day old munchkin :)
(The cows and calves are not caged; this one was just brought out so that I could say hello!) I also got a chance to see the cows being milked on a hi-tech rotary milking machine, ensuring that the milk is untouched by hand, all the way from the farm to your table. Read more about it here.
Another excursion option is Pavana Dam, which is a lovely half-day visit, and you can make the most of it by taking a picnic along. The dam is about 40 kms away, but you would need to budget at least an hour one way, as the road conditions are not the best.
I headed to the dam on day two, passing the village of Pavana on the way. It was lovely to catch glimpses of the pastoral life as the villagers go about their day.
Entry to Pavana dam itself is restricted and you would need to get a special permit to visit. However, you can still drive around it and get some gorgeous landscape views of Pavana lake and the surrounding hills.
Another interesting place to visit nearby (18 kms away) is the Japalouppe Equestrian Centre, where you can get horse riding lessons and let your kids enjoy pony rides. The centre also has a petting farm, with lots of farm animals, which should be a treat to urban kids!
Disclosure: Our stay was courtesy of Courtyard by Marriott, Chakan. Views my own.
Labels: Courtyard by Marriott, India, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Pune, Review, travel, weekend getaway