Friday, May 14, 2010

Royal Orchid, Pune, A Review

Royal orchid, golden suites, in pune is one of the best hotel in the city. The hotel is rated four star and comes quite close to the international standards. in keeping with the trend, the hotel is part of the wired world hence you can make online reservations. on the outskirts of pune, you are away from the traffic and noise with only the urban horizon in sight. The hotel is 20 minutes drive from the airport. Guess what they also have baby sitting facility! hygiene, ambiance and food are honestly value for money for a business traveller, they have conference room facility for meetings. Hi-speed wi-fi, broadband, electronic safe deposit inside the suite. Besides general facilities like dvd player, coffee maker, mini bar, shopping arcade. much as you would imagine there are no vases filled with exotic orchids anywhere in sight!

First impression, the ambiance is breezy and not clinical. Considering space is always a constraint in most indian metros, the hotel has made optimal use of its space, even aesthetically. the kitchen section has most of the amenities and latest gadgets you can heat your food, cook it grill it if that's what you want to do at the place they dont mind it at all. But the food is good, although the menu seems not very long. Indian food is alright but the rest of the food, lasagnas have the right mount of garlic and the white sauce blends well. for business travellers they have pick and drop facility, and valet parking. The pretty lavender cabs I believe are in neat care from inside as well. the other leisurely things are the swimming pool, the fitness centre and a yoga centre.

The room service was an issue although by indian standards it is still better than most. The definition of good food is so relative that some people will think that there is lot of scope for improvement even the length of the menu. an Indian nri traveller as well as the mere mortal janata does prefer Indian food no harm in adding a few popular items.

Hotel Kalpana, Manali, Review

Hotel kalpana is a little away from the buzz of the town and hence offers the calm you came searching for. The view from the windows is that of the chinars and the hidimba temple which is very nearby. The drive from bus stop to the hotel is 1 hour but since you are busy grasping all the himachali beauty of the place it does not seem that long. Honeymoon ideal. Room service and hygiene is optimal or just tolerable depending on your own cleanliness threshold.

I liked

The best thing about hotel kalpana as also said above is its location. Very beautifully nested among the hills, the hotel has a very serene ambiance. The rooms are not very big, but cosy enough. One breakfast and one meal is on the hotel. There is car facility to and from the touristy places you will be visiting. the room service is okay. There are luxurious cottages with 3 to 4 star hotel facilities. The room has tv with cable connection.

We visited in 2006. And the information is from the time. At the very fast if you are here during the winter, do not ever switch of the geysers, because due to natural reasons the water takes 20 hours to heat. The hotel has no room heaters, except the small portable ones which might not help those from Bombay.

The Lone Traveler

"Woman was born a long ago, but her journey has just begun." Quoting myself! But isn't that line true. It has just been a decade or so that Indian women have begun traveling on their own. Although women have been financially independent a long time ago, traveling alone was a concept not easy to imagine for women. The exceptions to the case being those who had moved abroad for studies or jobs. But mostly a working class woman traveling alone was hard to come by. The reason being the obvious old one. The family disapproval being topmost, "Who would imagine leaving their daughter travel alone in these unsafe times!" Not entirely untrue, but still that was being a little exaggerated.

But then the era of "My Space" ushered and changed everything about women, with all honesty only urban women. Thanks to the liberalisation, women today can live on their own, marry at their will, spend the money without any guilt and travel alone. But traveling alone can come with its share of risks which can be avoided with only a little bit of caution. Just a few tips for traveling alone so that your trip becomes a happy memory.

1) Expenses : The most essential part is the expenses. Have things clearly calculated beforehand. If you are traveling with a touring company find out details regarding what the packages cover. The questions here of course being expenses for: Transport: Will they be covering the ticket fare to the destination and back. Would there be any extra taxes? Hotel Accommodation: Are they providing hotel accommodation? Most travel agencies do but you need to find out if the hotel suit your tastes. Some hotels provide breakfast and one meal as part of the package. You might enquire if they provide vegetarian meals, in case you are a vegetarian.

2) Documents: It would be always advisable to carry the necessary documents along with you even while doing the local shopping rounds. Do make it a point to carry some sort of photo-identity proof with you.

3) Always carry some loose cash and put them in various pockets.

4) Dress appropriately: Especially while doing the local sight-seeing. Do not wear anything that will give the locals some culture shock. It doesn't mean you cover your head because you are in a Middle Eastern country. It would be best to combine the cultural look with your preferred regular wear. A tunic/kurta over a regular pair of jeans could be your best bet.

5) Haversack Happy: Mostly while traveling alone, a haversack is a smart option compared to a strolley. Haversack tend to accommodate the whole universe! And if you are worried about your steam-ironed party wear, one way to keep the fold intact is to roll it up and tuck it in a rarely used compartment, so that you don't have to remove it a thousand times. Unlike a strolley, haversack can also be carried around during local sightseeing or shopping.

6) Couchsurfers Unanimous: If you have couchsurfer hosting your trip it would best to chat up at least a month before the trip just for feelers. You could exchange your normal photographs or best have a phone conversation, all this will ensure that there won't be any unpleasant surprises once you land at the place. On the host's part, they would be more happy to oblige if they are normal. They would be curious about you as much as you are about them. They don't want a creep to land up at their place either.

Indore, Indian Indoors!.html

Our visit to Indore was a trip for me but a fortnight of official posting for my husband, an aviation engineer. We, as normal inconspicuous Mumbaikars, who have no special recall-able royal lineage, at least in the recent past, were in for a surprise once we reached the airport. We were yet to breathe this new air when a little crowd, some of them airport employees, gathered around us asked about our stay, accommodation and such other things, a little intimidated yet we gave them the details.

No sooner than a taxi was summoned we were thrust into the taxi, with all the sweet hospitality that is typically Indian. The reason (as explained later by my husband) most of Indore’s royalty being employed at executive positions in the airline business.

Indore was once cultural centre of Central India and remained so even during the British regime. There is the Holkar palace, standing witness to the old lost glory (and if you have visited Baroda ruled by Gaikwads, you will be amazed by the rate of expansion of the Marathas during the regime.)

There are also mansion-style bungalows of other royalty. Palaces and historical spots do have the capacity to transport you to a different era. Hotel President is a good place to stay. Probably rated 3 or 4 star. Just like the trend in the rest of rest of Indore, the road that houses President is also the road that has the rest of the hotels of same grade. The food is decent. They offer complimentary breakfast.

Ujjain, one of the Jyotirlinga, is very close from this place so a good place to visit if you believe in karma cleansing there are fixit pujaris all over the place. The temple is two levels below the ground, plus clean and serene. Incidentally, one of our manokamana wished for at this temple has come true.

Opposite to this hotel is another hotel which houses a little confectionary called Celebrations. The rock chocolates at this place are mindblowing. I would add this place a “must visit” place in Indore! Being a woman, it is not easy to resist the temptation of shopping anywhere you go. Indore has its share of high-end malls like any city, yet it is the local bazaar that is interesting to visit. The bazaars are very systematically arranged following the galli and peth culture of the old times. Which means you get into the “lace galli” you will only find stores of different variety of laces, and embroideries from one end to the other, no way will you find a sari or dress store, same goes about the “medical galli” or “mithai galli”. The khau galli is where you will find the local culinary fare.

The young ones of the city are on the way of westernisation. They sip their coffee at Baristas, “catch a flick” at the nearby Adlabs, girls wear jeans or capris (but even knee-length skirts are a little daring) and “hangout” at the malls like any normal city-slicker. Rather than just visiting the local tourist spots and clicking very predictable photographs, I think it was interesting to meet people and try to grasp the essence of the city.