The reasons for Lonavala being on my list of favorites are far too many and here are a few to mention:
- It’s scenic.
- It’s beautiful.
- It’s easily accessible (considering I reside in Mumbai).
- It’s got a lot of good options to stay, eat and have fun.
- And there’s more…
Post monsoon, the beauty of Lonavala mountains and ghats appear truly like heaven on earth, with tiny waterfalls appearing at regular distance amidst the greenery. Right from the moment you cross Panvel, the view that follows leave me completely mesmerized to the extent that I find it really hard to focus on driving. So I usually don’t mind to stop in between and gorge on the beauty of the scenery that follows. Around 64 Kms from Pune and 96 Kms from Mumbai, Lonavala is a perfect place for regular weekend getaways.
Monsoon and the post-monsoon phase until winter is the best time to visit Lonavala. Although we’ve visited in Summer too and it’s not too harsh.
Whenever I visit Lonavala with my family, our idea usually is to chill and relax. And for this purpose, the resort that we found out to be reasonably good is The Orchard Resort located at the Gold Valley Sector E, Tungarli Road. Some people may complain that the approach road is uneven and not fully developed but beyond one small patch, you get to see a wonderful view and you’ll find that it’s not that hard to pass through. About 2 minutes drive on the kutcha road and you reach the resort. There’s ample parking space for every guest. Entrance and the lobby have a pleasant decor with a television running 24X7. Earlier during the check-in, they used to serve a welcome drink to the guests but that seems to have been stopped for some reason. I’d recommend to their management to please have that back as it comes across as a good welcome gesture.
The staff on the entrance too, needs to learn to warm up to the guests and say a word or two to welcome them. Nevertheless, the staff is very helpful and prompt. This time when we reached the resort there was one security person at the entrance, whose purpose of standing there wasn’t very clear. There was another staff member who was waiting there for guests to arrive, to help them with the luggage. This person too just waited for me to open the boot and the picked up the luggage without a single expression on the face. But that doesn’t bother us anymore because we visit Orchard Resort to relax and enjoy the mountain view in peace. The resort is perfectly capable of providing that.
Once we entered the lobby, the staff at the reception appeared to be warm and welcoming. It’s superb how a small smile can put the guests at ease. The check-in procedure is smooth. As usual and like any other hotel, they asked me for the ID proofs of the adult members and sent the room key with the person carrying luggage. After all the formalities we reached our room and headed straight to the balcony. The view from the large balcony – with – sit out is mesmerizing and breath-taking especially after the monsoon. Lush green hills with trees spread across can really make you feel like jumping out there and climb the hill.
Restaurant & Food
Till our last visit, we were able to make our bookings via email, such that the provided package included the cost of all the meals along with the stay. They used to have a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That worked out very well for us as I’m a vegetarian and my wife and kiddo consume non-veg. However, this time around I had a little trouble making my bookings via EMAIL. As the resort failed to respond twice and when I called up, they said “nothing was available”. It was a bit disappointing but due to my search history, while browsing on Make My Trip App, the name of Orchard Resort Came up and I just hit search because the date and details were already filled. To my surprise, the rooms were available. Instead of getting into how and why I first booked the room. However, the only type of booking that MMT showed was “Rooms Only”. Which meant we would have to pay for meals separately. Post checking in, I found out from the reception that they have stopped the lunch buffet and that we’ll have to order a la carte. The menu that they have currently, needs a lot more items to add variety. Like I mentioned on one of my reviews on Make My Trip/Holiday IQ, the sandwiches they served were strictly OK. To be frank, I can make better sandwiches that those. Other food that we ordered tasted good but a la carte turns out costly as a meal for 2 could make you end up pay close to Rs 900 or so with limited items. Having said that, I must mention that the buffet they had for dinner makes up for everything. 3 types of vegetables 2 types of rotis, 2 types of rice, daal fry/daal tadka, salads, soup and desserts. Not to forget 2 non-veg items served on a separate counter. The buffet is certainly enjoyable.
For activities and entertainment, the resort has a swimming pool, table for table-tennis, pool table, carrom board. The swimming pool has been very clean during all our visits. TT table is in a good condition too. The pool table isn’t in such a good shape but OK to play on. One thing you should know that you’ll have to wait for your turn to use any of these if the number of guests is high. There’s also a GYM which has good amenities but a treadmill that has been lying there, out of order for almost 5 years now.
While all of the above may give you a mixed feeling about this resort, I must say that my family and I do love our stay here and most of the credit for this goes to the comfortable, clean and tidy rooms and the breathtakingly beautiful view of the mountains. Located away from the market and buzz this place is perfect for spending a calm and relaxed holiday.