Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Planning a weekend trip to Lonavala - Look no further!

Planning a weekend trip to Lonavala - Look no further!

It’s been almost a decade since I moved to Mumbai and all these years I have realized that the default name to strike any Mumbaikar's mind and tongue while planning a short break away destination is Lonavala. Isn't it? Whether it's with someone's childhood buddies, colleagues at work place or with family friends there doesn't appear to be too many worthy contenders to take away the numero uno's crown from this sleepy yet lively town which doesn't require too much of an advance planning or research.

For such a casual vacation you would ideally want to not think too much in booking either a bungalow or a hotel / resort from the plenty of options available depending upon various factors like your group size, tastes of most of them, budget, etc. But eventually the only thing that could pose a challenge in 'fixing' the 'hotspot' is to choose from across the multitude of bungalows each vying for the prospective patrons' attention and the so called resorts each beaming in your face through the length of Mumbai Pune Expressway vide jumbo billboards. As such quite invariably the time spent in merely pinning down on a name could turn out to be more than what one would actually get to spend in Lonavala!

We are a group of few families connected together by our kids who share their school. Almost every week we go out and try to have a gala time while having our food and drinks together. Kids mingle n don't care for anything around while having their own sweet time. As such we are always on the lookout for kid friendly places. We had earlier tasted the idea of ten families going together on a farm house at around 3 hour drive from Mumbai and we once again started mulling over the idea of repeating the fun. Quite a many locations were researched around Mumbai and honestly none of them could give an “in-principle” assurance of it not turning out to be a damp squib. This time we were eight families along with ten kids between 2 months and 11 years of age. Quite providentially I chanced upon Picaddle and instinctively loved the place from how it appeared online. I could sense that it was a decent 3 star property having a good number of rooms available at an almost median price you would get while budgeting for Lonavala. Not so surprisingly I found that among all of my colleagues and friends no one had heard about this place which I later realized could be because of the management not coming from the “carpet bombing” school of thought while marketing their property. They would rather let the word of mouth create awareness about them being a worthy host of choice.

This time I am not going to get into the details of how our experience was as I simply don't have to! All of us had a ball and my friends have poured their hearts out in expressing themselves on our 24 hours fun filled breakaway from our homes.

As for my own thoughts I would just say that I would be surprised if any other place could have been half as merrier as Picaddle was. It surely earns for itself yours truly's money-back guarantee. If you are one of those who care for his words, rely on their authenticity / objectivity and get a not so pleasant experience at this property after acting on this recommendation please don't feel embarrassed in letting me know of your disappointment and I promise to refund you 50% of your expense there or INR 10,000 whichever is lower.

So, what are you thinking as you already have a temptation to book Lonavala for yourselves? Kids' summer vacations have already given you ample opportunities to time your own convenience. Just do it and have a 'Picaddle' for your family and friends. Don't skip my wife and friends' words below this piece if I couldn't motivate you enough already :)

(C) Rits Original

Jawani Janeman Haseen Dilrubas” is what we call our group which in English would mean a group filled with life and vigour having lovely ladies who make every heart pause and smile! Super tired with our jammed routines we decided to take a break. When we as in our group takes time off we really mean only n only loads of crazy fun. Every single person put on their research analyst hat to kick start and get the best deals available and when the people from IIT or IIM or Strategists from Forbes’ top 50 company or Businessmen who are market leaders or professionals excelling in finance, law and accounts research you can surely understand they want "Theee Best" for their time, money and family. After all crazy late night WhatsApp chats on different properties we finalized "Picaddle Lonavala". It was surely bang on with the kind of experience each one had. Right from the start Picaddle's location which was in the heart of the Lonavala market having prime resorts and German bakery next door to the bright yellow prominent plate which caught every kids’ eyes to jump and point with finger shouting "Yeaaah Picaddle", "Papa stop.....stop it's come"!! We entered the property with a smile ‘coz there was no problem in finding the hotel .We didn't miss or took U- turns it was just on the main road..........The valet car park made it smooth ......the bellboys were spontaneous... The receptionists were calm n composed well dressed helping our entire jing - jang in smooth check in. To our delight the rooms were not only good in size but also had amazing balconies with sitting arrangement. The décor and upkeep of the room n bathroom was must say very impressive. There were different wings in the hotel North, South, East and West each having their own bunch of luxuries. Excited to play in water, kids changed into costumes and were ready to splash. The glass lift, the Jacuzzi, the kids pool, two pools with separate sitting area where many groups can have good times together were amazing. We went to the biggest pool of the hotel and that was the Pirates Pool having a crazy Shark House. The sun was up and filled the space with smiles on the face. Splish splash! Both kids and grownups went zooming n screaming their lungs higher and higher on the rides.

Pirates Water Park was superbly maintained and the smiling waiters who served us chilled beer made a perfect afternoon. It didn't stop here as we were served the best Indian high Tea and snacks on their lavish lawns after the pool. While the girls relaxed enjoying the fresh breeze the kids gobbled the tasty pakoras on the swing. Men had awesome time in the indoor gaming area playing chess, carom, table tennis n air hockey. Gearing up for the evening we all were surprised with the beautiful cake and a lovely hall on our floor. We couldn’t have asked for more with rooms adjacent to the hall kids sleeping and mommies and daddies dancing the night away. A special mention of both the waiters who took care of our late night dinner with loads of love and concern. They did not force us to wind up early or switch off the lights. We laughed, we giggled, we danced, we gossiped, we chilled till our brain waves became dormant and stopped responding to external stimuli.

Next morning we enjoyed their sumptuous spread of mouth watering dishes from idlis to wadas to alu poori to dosas to uthappam to sandwiches to shakes to croissants to Danish pastries to donuts to cakes. Yeah it was a perfect Indian treat. We decided to go to the lions point for a drive and had fun there riding on camels and clicking selfie. Picaddle served us with a good bye lunch of Indian n Chinese feast leaving our taste buds mesmerized with "aw"....... What more could we girls want on this Women's Day !! Thank you guys and Picaddle for making this 8th March 2016 Women's Day so special to each one of us.
-       Maneesha Garg

We decided to stay at Picaddle @ Lonavala this time with seven more couples and their kids. The trip started off on a very smooth note. The hotel was easy to find as it is very conveniently located, bang on the main road in the heart of Lonavala. I was happy to find ample parking space in the resort despite being at such a prime location. Check-in was super smooth. Room size and luxury exceeded our expectations given the price point. Restaurants staff was efficient and food was excellent with a nice buffet spread. I particularly enjoyed the desserts and felt a bit fatter post check out :-) The pool was essentially a mini water park with slides and many fun things to do. Both adults and kids enjoyed the pool activities to the core. The pool was indeed the highlight of the hotel. We got a banquet for our dinner at the same floor as our rooms, that too along with music which was awesome. Our daughter fell sick and did vomit on bed midnight, but housekeeping staff was quick in attending us and cleaning up the room at such an odd time. We were traveling with an infant and to our bad luck just after check out our baby demanded feed. But the hotel staff was very kind to provide a room to us for 30 mins even after check out/payment which flattered us. Overall I will say it was an excellent experience. Picaddle was really value for money.
-       Utkarsh Khandelwal, Equity Research Analyst with an MNC Investment Bank, B.Tech. (IIT Chennai)
-       Pooja Khandelwal

Yay!!! That's the initial reaction many a world weary Mumbaikar has whenever a trip to the picturesque town of Lonavala is mooted. This time however, there was a significant difference due to the meticulous planning of our erudite friend Ritesh and the ever accommodating staff at the Piccdale hotel/ resort/ water park/ friends place/ home away from home. The hotel is ideally situated on the main road surrounded by serene views of the hills around with staff that was attuned to the needs of 16 raucous adults who've had more than a few gulpfuls of the sweet blessed nectar and 10 precocious children from a 2 month old to an 8 year old who after having spent an amazingly fun afternoon at the water park were still full of zest and energy to enjoy at the banquet venue provided specially to us by the hotel just to accommodate the large numbers. The trip indeed was a memorable one where the sweet taste of friendship and camaraderie was garnished by the wonderful time our children had. We owe all this to our effervescent  Ritesh and the affable staff at THE HOLIDAY SPOT known as Picaddle. So 3 cheers and deserved kudos to both and here's to hoping for many more 'Cheers' to come..... -       Kunal Sharma
-       Tanu Sharma

A journey started with a smile on the faces to meet new and old faces.... Children excited to meet their buddies and packing swimming trunks..... As we check in Picaddle resort... with almost everyone reaching in about same time....the rooms big and yet cozy....  A true value for money....  Time to eat and the restaurant was ready with some delicious food....  Children excited to go and splash some water.... very clean pool and beautiful landscape around the hotel... All the couples joined in for the fun of splashing water.....And some beers to refresh as after pool hunger was evident some high tea snacks were ready for us..... A banquet for the entire group - this was the highlight of the trip..... All rooms on the same floor and same floor the banquet....  We couldn't have asked more than this comfort......all the kids playing and music was played till everyone had slept....Drinks were on the house....With bottles getting finished in no time....No one was ready to move out from the hotel...Dinner served with a happy smile till late night....  breakfast was very good and then lunch was too good....All the kids were so happy....That no one willing to go home...Let’s plan to go for the next destination.....  

Regards Shanaya dad n mom...Luv u all...Thanks for the fun...
-       Harshil Shah
-       Dinissha Shah

If you are ready to make big holes in your pocket running after popular big resorts in Lonavala stop reading. But if you are looking for luxury with value for money, Picaddle Boutique resort should be your inevitable choice. We redeemed luxury facilities at a reasonable price. Stayed for a day and night along with seven other couples and the resort exceeded our expectations. Cozy rooms, courteous staff, a good veg spread, a clean pool and well maintained water park. We even had a small banquet hall for a private party. The resort was a perfect conduit for the amazing time we had in Lonavala. A special mention of the water park staff who gave me first aid help for minor bruises and injury I got during camel ride at Lion point. Overall, a strong recommendation to anyone planning for great time in Lonavala.
-       Achin Bhati, Vice President - ESG and Sustainability research with an MNC, CA (ICAI), MBA (Raj University)
-       Kavita Bhati, MBA (Symbiosis, Pune)

Studies after a monotonous work life was sounding some fun, but managing studies along with a toddler was some challenge.. Well nothing less or more than working mothers of course. But for giving exams too..! After almost a month of studies, project presentations and exams I really needed a break and requested a few close friends to join.  Friends always have better ideas to give and a better plan came out when we discussed to have a bigger group. As we agree, more friends = more fun!!
While I was struggling with my exams, my friends had put in best of their efforts to find out the best of places and properties around Mumbai.. And we finally froze Picaddle resort, Lonavala. We woke up all excited on Saturday morning and started for the trip. A smooth drive from the city took us to Lonavala and within no time we reached the resort, which is located at the heart of the town. The ambience of the property and the lavish room brought a smile on our faces forgetting any little tiredness we would have had by travel!
After settling down at the resort we went for the lunch buffet. Surprisingly the food was awesome with plenty options available even for the vegetarians.. The room service was friendly and quick. And yes, the resort is kid friendly as they took care of our preferences when asked for a special preparation for kids. The resort is happening enough to spend our entire time inside, with a well maintained swimming pool, game zone, spa etc. The water park is one of the highlights of the resort. It was good fun for both kids and adults. Overall it was a real value for money and a holiday with immense satisfaction. Highlights: Ambience, food, rooms, water park.
Ritu Tiwari Mishra