The summer sun is beating down on the Capital with an unbridled ferocity, and it’s time to pack your bags and head out. Here are our top picks of destinations for every kind of traveller, from weekend getaways to luxury cruises.
The aqua addict
Surrounded by the river Nombilli and the Arabian Sea on three sides, The Lalit Spa & Resort in Bekal, Kerala is a refuge for those who like to revel in the peace that the waters have to offer. The retreat is spacious and peaceful, spread over 26 acres and surrounded by the beauty of coastal fauna. Guests have access to a lagoon that flows through the property, which overlooks a white beach. There are 38 suites at the destination, each with a private jacuzzi and a view of the lagoon and the backwaters. For those wanting private time with their loved one, the Gazebo is a romantic spot with a personalised chef and butler to attend to your needs.
If you would like to explore the waterfront, the hotel has a friendly hospitality service that can organise trips for fishing, kayaking and canoeing down the Nombili River. On request, the hotel will also provide guests with a buggy or cycles to explore the premises and capture the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.
A trip to Kerala would be incomplete without witnessing the striking traditional dance performances of Theyyam deities, Yakshgana, Mohiniyattam, Bharathanatyam and Kathakali, and these can be arranged by the hotel but a request needs to be made in advance.
Another service to try is the Ayurvedic Kerala massage at their spa, Rejuve, where fresh ingredients like fresh press coconut oil, sandal powder and medicinal rice are ground together for curative therapies. There is a children’s room with a host of games available, but this would be a great opportunity for the little ones to enjoy nature and explore their surroundings.
The room rates start Rs 10,500 (all inclusive) and bookings can be made at www.thelalit.com where they offer a best rate guarantee.
For those who are torn between their work desk and some much-needed alone time, a weekend break at Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort, Greater Noida is the ideal solution. The luxury resort is like an oasis not far from the Capital, offering some of the most exclusive spas in the region. If you would rather lay in bed and binge-watch your favourite show, the spacious rooms are kitted out with iPod docks and DVD players. However, if an early morning game of golf is your idea of fun, then head out to the sprawling 18-hole golf course that has been specially designed for the property by Australian professional golfer Greg Norman. A golf set can be rented at Rs 1,000 per round.
The highlight of the resort is the wide range of spa services at the Six Senses Spa, a unit of the globally renowned chain from Thailand. A must-try is the traditional Moroccan hammam, which is a 50-minute long bath therapy designed specifically for the summer. Another specialty is the gentle stretching and massage treatment in the temperature controlled Watsu pool, where you get a one-on-one session with therapeutic movements like Shiatsu, yoga and meditation. This works well for deep relaxation and muscle stretching.
If you are heading to the resort with your love interest, book yourselves a private dining experience at The Lakeside Pavilion. The intimate setting is accompanied by a five-course meal and international wines from an extensive beverage list.
Also worth visiting is the awardwinning Italian restaurant, La Brezza which has won a prized place among gourmands for its authentic Sicillian flavours and cooking techniques. Worth trying are the minestrone soup, the Salumi or Italian cured meats with homemade mustard and marmellata, the sea bass with cherry tomatoes broth and vegetables, and the Tagliatelle al Tartufo nero, which is flat pasta with black truffles, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and butter. The deluxe rooms are priced at Rs 9,000 + taxes. Reservations can be made at 0120-2339900/ 6743000 or at www.jaypeehotels.com.
The indulgent crew
The vast ocean and its waves rushing to greet you is a view that most anyone would love to have.
The Royal Caribbean International Cruises by Tirun are a godsend for those with a penchant for sailing. The luxury ships are ideal for family vacations as well as trips with friends, as they offer multiple port destinations in one itinerary and a host of entertainment options on-board.
The ships dock during the day and sail at night, making it ideal for those who like to explore without the hassle of having to pack and unpack. Culture enthusiasts can see a complimentary Broadwaystyle performance in the main theatre as well as iceskating shows. There is also a Vegas-style casino to try your luck at, 22 bars, clubs, dutyfree shopping, and dedicated spaces for children and teenagers.
Guests can also test their strength at rock climbing, play at the mini golf course, the fullsized basketball court, or in the full-sized boxing ring. Meanwhile, those looking to relax can indulge in spa treatments, try yoga and tai chi, or swim in the pools.
One of the upcoming trips is the 14 night Canaries Adventure Cruise on the Independence of the Seas ship. It covers ports like Southampton in England, Vigo and Seville in Spain, Lisbon in Portugal, and the Canary Islands like Tenerife and La Palma, among others. It requires a UK Visa and Schengen Visa, and will sail on June 30 from Southampton. The room rate with a balcony is Rs 4,15,445 approx. for one guest, and is at a 50 per cent discount for the second guest (available till May 31). Bookings can be made at www.tirun.com.
The nature lover
If waking up to nature’s glory gives you an inner contentment like no other, then the Niraamaya Retreats Cardamom Club in Thekkady, south Kerala is the place to go. Nestled in lush greenery over 8 acres of cardamom plantations, the boutique property is a tranquil destination with the Periyar National Park in close proximity. There are 13 spacious cottages to choose from, with either mountain or garden views. The rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows for an unrestricted view of nature, and each cottage comes with a small patio to soak in the great outdoors.
Tea connoisseurs can book a visit to a working tea estate in the neighbouring Vandiperiyar town where they will learn first-hand the art of selecting, plucking and rolling tea leaves. There are also tours available to a spice estate where ingredients like vanilla, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg grow aplenty. The walk is topped off with a three course Kerala or Western fusion spice dinner priced at Rs 1,500 per person plus taxes.
Nature enthusiasts will have a lot to look forward to, with the numerous safaris and hiking trips. The Periyar Tiger Sanctuary adjoins the property, where you can spot the elusive animal if luck favours you. There are other treks where you can spot the Indian Bison and birds like the white-bellied treepie, the Malabar whistling thrush and the gorgeous great pied hornbill quite easily. In addition, there are peaceful boat rides in the Periyar Lake, rafting, a spa and cultural activities to enjoy. A minimum of two days is the ideal stay to feel completely rejuvenated. The garden view rooms are priced at Rs 6,000, and mountain view rooms are at Rs 7,500 (all inclusive). Bookings inquiries can be made at 8045104510 and at reservations@ niraamaya.in.