A Globetrotters Local weekend
My journey as a globetrotter started progressively since I was 15 years old and ended up being the anchor to my profession as a travel designer. (Travel Arena)
If anyone had told us that on the morning of March 14′ 2020 we would wake up to a new world, a world with health as a priority over economy, where safety was in distancing, where love means minimal contact and life will be all about a totally new set of priorities which never even crossed our minds…..it still wouldn’t have prepared us for what came next.
A pandemic was / is a situation that brought about a complete change in everyone’s lives and a much needed reality check. Apart from the drawbacks just like in any other instance the positives of this situation cannot be ignored……dolphins in Venice, blue water glistening on the shores of Mumbai, fiery skies, sighting of wild animals on freeways (which is the scary part) and so many ways in which the earth has healed itself.
After being home bound for more than five months in the most strict manner it was time for us as a family to start taking those baby steps again especially for our own baby (our 10 year old son) who has been schooling online and could do with a small dosage of mother nature.
Every monsoon it has been a ritual to go someplace a short drive away from Mumbai which lets us enjoy this season to its full potential with clouds barring our vision, the fresh smell of wet earth & greens around us shining brighter than ever (usually also includes maggi & tea on tiger point as well as the express way food court binging). Out of approximate 2 – 3 choices we zeroed in on Lonavala. A two hour drive from home with our car fully sanitized and as covid repellent as possible, we decided to get going on a Monday to evade a full inventory which was a sentiment shared by most as all hotels in Lonavala were running at full capacity so it was a weekend getaway on a weekday. Go figure !
The first few obvious things noticed by us were…..
The glass panel along the reception area
Complete gloved & masked management personnel
Not a touchscreen signature (as its difficult to sanitize) so sometimes the old ways are best 🙂
Baggage handling done right
The private pool sanitized with sanitizing solution and inserting test strips to ensure the process
In room dining served in biodegradable corn starch containers
No un sealed toiletries
The housekeeping had an additional supervisor who has to approve the complete room sanitization and only once he puts the sanitized seal outside the main door is the room ready for next occupancy
A black box as they (the machan) call themselves with no network, no television in the rooms and a wifi which can be availed of but is slow as the main purpose of the management is to have their guests disconnect from the world (wasn’t easy for an internet addict like me) could teach us a thing or two about what life outside screens is like. A cluster of 26 tree house accommodations spread across more than 27 acres of land on a mountain plateau overlooking the valley and most times hidden by clouds, one can be rest assured that it doesn’t get any more socially distant than this. The one we stayed in was a three level tree house with the master bedroom upon entry followed by spiral descending wooden steps leading to the next double bedroom and further concrete steps down to the pool area.
The beauty of a four poster bed in a tree house concept with an open shower (with a tree in between as no cutting allowed so yeah, expect a few crawlies) apart from a closed one, a mini bar with wide lounging spaces and three side glass panel views with sheer curtains (which we never drew) was the perfect setting to feel one with nature in the monsoons.
Breathtaking deck views with a bathtub to indulge in a make believe hot spring experience, for those who can let their imagination take over can teleport themselves to any part of the world you desire or simply enjoy the moment. Lazy is good !
Having always been a big fan of visuals and less words (common with people who have a foot in mouth disease) I still manage to slip in more things to see than to read as truly pictures speak a thousand words. The show stealers here were the eclectic art pieces which must have been collected from various flea markets and are now used as quirky decoratives, an old sewing machine turned into a front table on which I happily peddled accompanied by a vintage bar stool whose height could be adjusted with a hand crank, an old studio light used as a corner lamp. Many such items spread across the place with constant background sounds of nature which changed every hour as crickets got active in the nights and mornings were welcomed by so many different species of birds. (no wild animals here so you’ll live)
Activities like guided nature trails, wildlife documentary, star gazing, bird watching, forest bathing, night walk or in room spa are always available if theres any room in that idyllic time. Due to rains the roof of the master bedroom stayed put which is otherwise retractable and one can have their very own private star gazing experience right from their four poster bed. Talk about fantasies coming to life !
All in all the five month wait was worth although it came at a price (literally) as covid has made things expensive but when safety is a priority, all else takes a backseat.