For a Mumbaikar, Lonavala is a done-to-death weekend getaway. Over the years, the hill station has been over-developed and has been suffering from over-tourism. But there is more to Lonavala than Maganlal Chikki and Coopers’s fudge; the little hill station has more to offer than a bevy of vacation rentals and grand dame hotels.
More to Lonavala is what the recently-launched Radisson Resort & Spa, Lonavala wants to promote. In our conversation with the GM of the hotel, Alok Kaul, he was insistent that it is important to change the narrative of Lonavala for travellers to consider it a serious destination. “The history of the region, the forts and the lush greenery have been left to the wayside,” he said adding that it is his intention to change the focus of the destination with the property.
The hotel is easily accessible from Mumbai, Pune, and Khandala and has the quintessential Lonavala tourist attractions of Bushi Dam, Narayani Dham Temple, Lonavala Lake, and a celebrity wax museum nearby.
Rooted in local Maratha culture
We were at the hotel, at the tail-end of the monsoon for a quick workcation and were refreshingly surrounded by the verdant rolling stretch of the Sahyadri mountains. Situated on the outskirts, away from the bustling Lonavala main road, the hotel is spread over 14000 sqm and has 103 rooms divided into two wings and four room categories. The main structure, designed by Kamal S Malik, takes inspiration from the stonework found in the forts of Maharashtra. This combined with Nordic-inspired woodwork makes for an interesting facade.
The building also follows the tenets of sustainability and as part of its eco-friendly design has reused the stones from the resort site as stone-cladding of the entire building.
The entrance lobby has a grand cylindrical space that recreates the effects of the echoes of Shivaji’s forts—giving the sense of a conservatory surrounded by hills. Radisson Resort & Spa Lonavala is home to the country’s largest Gabion wall which is approximately 21 metres in length. A distinctive feature of the resort is its outdoor swimming pool – Kund, designed in the shape and colour of an actual Kund (traditional water reservoir), overlooking lush greenery surrounding the resort.
The contemporary rooms, at 35sqm, continue with the Scandi inspiration with the use of wood and clean aesthetics. The hotel acknowledges that a big chunk of its business will be from corporate off-sites and weddings and has made the smart decision to place a sofa-cum-bed in each of the rooms, which allows these smart rooms to comfortably accommodate three guests.
While we furiously typed on our computers and made calls one after the other to live up to our workcation, Lonavala decided it was time for us to witness spectacles of nature in the form of rain while it was bright and sunny—a true fox’s wedding! The sudden showers offered a much-needed distraction to seek sustenance.
Dining options galore
We made our way to Hirkani, the Radisson Resort & Spa, Lonavala’s multi-cuisine restaurant that offers an array of fares to choose from for the lunch buffet. The focus on traditional Maharashtrian cuisine was apparent with the batatachya bhaji and Kolhapur chicken on offer. They also have a local chef as part of their kitchen who will flip out hot fresh bhakri on order. This is not to say the other cuisines suffer here—the Mediterranean spread of hummus, baba ghanoush and labneh is what we made a meal out of in the hopes of getting a little more work done.
We persevered on our workcation, albeit at a sluggish pace post-lunch till we realised the sun is setting and it will make a glorious sight over the Sahyadris. We headed out to the poolside to see the twilight takeover, and just in time, we were informed that there is an evening ceremony at the main entrance. Curious, we made our way to discover a well-built and moustachioed gentleman dressed as a Maratha warrior tooting the ceremonial tune on the Tutari, a local trumpet-like instrument. An activity to cater to the families gathering at the hotel. This is part of various activities that GM plans for the hotel; others in the offing are trail and hikes near the area as well as a picnic at Fort Lohagad nearby.
Now that the sun had set, we made our way to Malhari, the hotel’s lifestyle bar serving contemporary grills and signature cocktails. After sipping on refreshing mojitos and wines we decided to unwind in our rooms, girls-night-out style, ordering room service, snuggle under the cosy hotel blankets and chit chat the night away. The hotel has another rooftop lounge, Torna, and a seasonal pop-up restaurant in the pipeline too.
Day two of the stay was a juggle between getting some work done, hitting the spa, and prepping for checkout. The spa at Radisson Resort & Spa, Lonavala is highly recommended as it has a skilled staff who can rejuvenate your mind and body. The well-equipped spa services are fuelled by their in-house treatment oils.
The express head and shoulder massage we opted for left us feeling invigorated and face the daily drudgeries with gusto. You can opt for full-service therapies that include Swedish, deep tissue massage, signature therapies, Potli, and Abhyanga.
Now that it was time to head back to the bustle of Mumbai, we were glad to have the opportunity to get away from the work from home monotony. And the fact we were in Lonavala didn’t take away from the experience, and so Radisson’s proposition does hold merit. There is more to Lonavala after all.
Host an event at Radisson Resort & Spa, Lonavala
During our time at the hotel, we saw many big groups, family and corporate honchos, making the most of the facilities. There are seven event and banquet venues spread over 4,500 sqm that come equipped with modern audio-visual technology.