GLAMOUR-FILLED GETAWAY AT PLANET HOLLYWOO BEACH RESORT, GOA

Yes, we love staying in homestays and sharing a meal with the locals, but a dose of glamour and sophistication – once in a while – doesn’t hurt much. On our recent trip to South Goa, we chose to stay at Planet Hollywood Beach Resort located in the quiet village of Utorda and returned feeling like a celebrity. Owned by director Sachin Joshi, this 10-acre beach resort is the first Planet Hollywood resort operational outside the US. It is the only second such resort after Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas.

PERSONALISED OPULENCE AT ITS BEST
We were picked up from the airport by a courteous, knowledgeable driver in the owner’s very own brand new white Audi! How’s that for a grand entry to the hotel? Post a warm welcome and quick check-in procedure, we were guided to our suite.

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Striking red sofas in the living room, a private massage chair, soft mood lighting, well-stocked bar, sleek sound bar where you can dock your personal music device, bedroom with an interesting slice of Hollywood memorabilia, a spacious bathroom with a jacuzzi tub and walk-in wardrobe – our suite had it all!

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TRANSFORM YOUR ATMA-MAN-TAN

buddhaMy husband and I are packing our bags for a four-day break at a newly-opened health retreat near Mulshi Lake, Pune. We are thinking of packing swimwear, laptop for checking office e-mails and kindle so that we can read some e-books by the pool to pass the time. However, we don’t end up reading a single page of any e-book and completely forget about our emails or text messages, or you can say “work”. We both are super busy, but in a very healthy and fulfilling manner. As enthusiastic newcomers to the world of luxury wellness retreats, we happily devote ourselves to the course planned for us, as per expert advice.

IMG_20160602_070611 (2)When I utter the word “luxury”, I don’t mean you’re assigned a chauffeur with a Lamborghini to pick you up from your residence or served with rich, ghee-laden Indian food in plates of silver. Here, opulence is associated with being trained by a highly-skilled fitness expert, treated to authentic massages by master masseurs and offered food that’s loaded with healthy, farm-fresh ingredients. To sum it up, before you head to Atmantan, you must be mentally prepared for a kind of a lifestyle makeover!

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GLAMPING IN MOMOLAND

Think tent with a view, tasteful luxury and otherworldly, stunning natural beauty. That’s what ‘glamping’ at Chamba Camp Thiksey and Diskit is all about

LEADThere are those who yearn to ditch all the present-day luxuries and camp with the basics in God’s flawless setting – Leh-Ladakh. They are okay with roughing it, sleeping on the cold ground, using Mother Nature as lavatory and giving up on warm, comforting showers. Unadulterated air and picture-perfect views keep them happy. And then there are some who want it all – good wifi connectivity, Himalayan earl grey tea on call and a foam mattress for a good night’s sleep – without trading off nature and it’s rugged beauty. You can call them “glampers”. A fry cry from the string of typical white and maroon guest houses and hotels with distinct dragon motifs and wood carvings that dot Leh, glamping in the ‘Land of Lamas’ is all about unrivalled understated luxury.

BE THE LUXE NOMAD  LANDSCAPE OF LADAKH
Chamba Camp Thiksey and Diskit by TUTC are set up in mesmerising locations making the surroundings a photographer’s delight. Depart on a photo tour with a local guide or a like-minded outdoorsy-type wildlife enthusiast. They will help you unravel all the little hidden treasures you wouldn’t want to miss capturing in your camera!  Read more

PAMPER YOUR MIND, BODY & SOUL AT HILTON SHILLIM ESTATE RETREAT & SPA

When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I said some peace and solitude. So, we opted for a three-day getaway to Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, near Pawana Lake, a 45-minute drive from Lonavala. Set amidst the breathtaking landscape of the Sahyadri mountain range in the Western Ghats, the 320 acre property offers undisturbed natural beauty, topped with complete seclusion and serenity.

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Since it was a warm summer’s day, it was nice being greeted with a cold, fragrant towel, a glass of fresh juice and some homemade energy bars that instantly helped us regain all the vitality we had lost during the five-hour road journey from Mumbai to Pawana Lake, courtesy the traffic jam at Mumbai-Pune expressway. Yes, our stomachs were growling with hunger and we headed straight for breakfast, obviously a healthy one.

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Post a hearty breakfast, we were escorted to our discreet King Spa Pool Villa – a 205 sq m villa, with a private pool and lawn area as the name suggests – and we were more than delighted to make it our home.

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Apart from offering breathtaking views of the valley from the private deck, the villa featured a sun bed to spend some relaxing time outdoors, a beautiful stone bathtub with candles to amp up the romance factor, outdoor and indoor shower with indulgent bath amenities and, not-to-forget, a royal four poster bed. Clean, contemporary and elegant. Read more

KEEMALA: WHERE LAVISHNESS MINGLES WITH RUSTIC NATURE

Being a frequent tripper, “a holiday in Phuket” – at first – didn’t really sound very exciting to me. Having been to Thailand a couple of times, I had already lived the sun, sand and the sea. But as soon as I browsed the website of Keemala, what I simply wanted to do was pack my bags and head right out of that door! The property looked unbelievably enchanting in pictures and I was curious to know if something like this really existed on the world map. A large part of travel often depends on where you stay, and my stay at Keemala gave me the finest experience of the paradisaical island.

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Keemala is exactly what dreams are made of. At some point in life, we all dream of living in a dimly-lit, swanky villa; sleeping like royalty on a beautifully-carved canopy bed; and swimming in our private pool while sipping on a glass of old, pricey wine. And this rainforest retreat fulfills all these fantasies and more, in the most understated manner possible.

VILLA WITH A PRIVATE POOL

So, when I finally arrived at Keemala and checked into my Tree Pool villa, I still thought I was living in my little bubble of bliss and that someone would burst it any moment.

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My pod-shaped Tree Pool Villa

The villas come in four different categories: hut-like Clay Pool Cottages apt for solo travellers; Tent Pool Houses with wildlife-inspired interiors, perfect for adventurous nomads; pod-shaped Tree Pool Houses with an upper, outdoor relaxation space, great for a family of four and opulent Bird’s Nest Pool Villas with giant terraces overlooking the Andaman Sea.
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I AM GOING ‘GLAMPING IN THE VINEYARDS’!

For a very long time, I am yearning to take a road trip to a camping site and sleep under the enormous sky in the wilderness, where nature is my only alarm clock. I wish to peep out of my cosy tent and soak in the incredible sunrise amid green hills or simply laze around in a hammock. I am day dreaming of nothing but toasty, chocolate-dipped marshmallows and yummy barbecue dinners accompanied by bonfires and late-night acoustic jam sessions.

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The Let’s Camp Out team offers unforgettable, luxurious camping experiences at handpicked idyllic locations including forests, beaches and hills

And when I happened to plan a three-day glamping trip to Sula Vineyards located near the beautiful Godavari river in Nashik, it was almost like the universe had conspired to grant my travel wishes yet again. In fact, an upgraded version of my wishes this time. If you have never heard of glamping, the definition is: Glamorous Camping. Glamping was first introduced in early 1900s in European and American safaris as the affluent travellers did not want to sacrifice the comforts and luxuries they were accustomed to. And, the glam quotient cannot get any better. Yes, it’s time to indulge in the harvest season at Sula Fest 2016. I am already doing a happy dance around my living room as I can see myself squishing grapes between my toes, downing glasses of delectable wine, treating myself to the lip-smacking gourmet spread and shopping some pretty, delicate knick-knacks at the little fest bazaar.

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