Staycation @ Aamby Valley

Place : Aamby Valley City

Location : Ahead of Lonavala , Maharashtra

Distance from Mumbai : Approx 116 KM.

When : 9th – 11th June 2017

Ever since I have become a part of the FBAI, it has only helped me grow in terms of my experiences of writing, my knowledge regarding F&B and overall as a blogger. One such experience was what I recently had during my  #staycation at Aamby Valley. Over the last weekend , Aamby Valley had invited us over ( Food & Travel Bloggers ) to stay and enjoy the facilities and amenities that they have got to offer.  I don’t know where to begin. So I’m gonna share a complete experience here.

9th June 2017

We were supposed to leave for Aamby in the morning. But the excitement was way before that day. On the previous night, itself we all were very pumped up about this and really looking forward to it.

We all had gathered at Sahara Star and we started for our journey at around 9ish in the fancy Aamby Bus. Just when we were wondering about our breakfast, we were handed over scrumptious breakfast boxes by Sahara Star. Here it is-

As we left the city we started enjoying the views en-route. This staycation was supposed to be in April and that kept getting postponed and for good! There can’t be any better season for Aamby than Monsoon.

We reached around 12ish. (within 3 hrs which is superb) Upon reaching the PR handed us over the keys to private room each ( my own room, yay ! ) We were given AUSIE CHALET. Approx 5 mins from the lobby / timber area we were allotted from 286-289 chalets. Really beautiful looking chalets caught our breath at the first sight. A sit out area with a wooden swing and a private room on each , ground and upper floor. It had a king bed , Sofa seating , rotating big LED screen , decent bathroom space ( no bath tub ) & a beautiful sit out area.

Let pictures do the talking!

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Our lunch this day was arranged at WOODPECKER. Woodpecker is an all day buffet restaurant. Right next to lobby area this one is under chef Chakraborty. The spread here was fabulous. What I really liked from the menu that day was the Salad Spread. Finnish Mushroom Salad with Beetroot dressing , Quinoa & Citrus Salad with Kiwi dressing , Kabuli Chana chaat with French dressing, Mexican Salad  with Balsamic dressing .

Apart from this what we also liked the ground chutneys (powder forms ) such as karla chutney ( made from a Rajasthani weed ) .

For mains I had Sev tamatar nu shak , Gatte ki sabji and Jain preparation of Bhindi. Highlight of the meal was Kafuli ,a garhwali speciality. You rarely get to eat this. A greens special , it’s a delight !

For desserts too, there was a huge spread that comprised of butterscotch pastry ,Orange Chocolate cheesecake ,Gulab Jamun and several ice creams. My favorite was Banana & Caramel Ice Cream.

After the heavy lunch,we had to burn some calories. Our schedule had WATER SPORTS next. Aamby has a man made huge lake in the middle of the city. That makes a perfect setting for relaxing or for sports. We started with Jet Boat. A 12 seater big boat that speedily floated over the lake taking some really sharp turns. We couldn’t stop screaming throughout. Then we did some Jet Skii.

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Then was the time for Kayaking. I personally enjoyed Kayaking a lot ! it can be really tricky as all you have is a safety jacket. For a person like me who can’t swim and is damn scared of water , this can be overwhelming. We decided to go in pairs. The weather that day was cloudy and with cool breeze. It just felt so ideal! once we got onto Kayak , we started rowing. Taking our own time with no rush to get anywhere, me and Pallavi shared a lovely conversation while kayaking. After a while we decided to just simply enjoy the surrounding. It was surreal!  well when tried to get back, we struggled a little but we did good 😉

Last activity of Water Sports was a ride of Aquabus ! Yes , AQUABUS ! a bus that moves on land as well as water. This was a magical / fictional concept so far. At aamby we got to be inside it. It actually moves inside the lake giving you a tour of the entire water-body.

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By the end of all the water sports we were cold with all the water splashed over us and the cool air. Aamby guys arranged for Garam Chai and Pakodas for us. We couldn’t be happier.

We got back to our respective rooms and our first dinner was arranged at NAMAK.  Their specialty restaurant for Indian Cuisine.

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It’s a lake facing beautiful fine dine restaurant. With very elegant ambiance , courteous staff and a kitchen right in front of you so can see your food being prepared. It was a bliss for us FOOD BLOGGERS. We were welcome with their special welcome drink. I can’t begin to describe how amazing that was. It was a mint and pineapple concoction. It had the right amount of sweetness and right amount of sourness. They say the first impression is the last impression. Namak got it right with this!

For chakna they placed these cubical boxes with crisps and various chutneys / dips. The yoghurt dip and pickled onions were amazing. For vegetarian , we had Paneer Kebabs , Mushroom filled with Chenna  and char grilled babycorn. Mushrooms were liked by all. To cleanse the palate I had ordered a Kiwi mocktail which was too sweet for my liking.

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For mains we had dal makhani and another paneer prep ( my bad for not recollecting ) the pyaaj kulcha served along was fabulous. Their signature roti was also very good.

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Tarkari biryani was just about perfect as it was made in the traditional dum biryani way.

We finished our meal with Kesar Ice Cream and Ras Malai.

The dinner was not just about food. It was about the fun we had while clicking those food pics , the amazing conversations and the craziness.

10th June 2017

Next morning , we woke up afresh and I started by morning with a cup of green tea sitting In my balcony. Breakfast at woodpecker was followed by Aamby City tour.

Generally we begin anything good with prayers right ?  That’s what we did at Aamby too. They have a huge idol of goddess at the entrance of Aamby. We started our tour with paying a visit to it.

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Then we saw all the different categories of rooms they have in Aamby. BURMESE CHALET was the first. They have two bedroom and one bedroom chalets. Each with a beautiful bedroom , ample space for seating inside. An outdoor balcony surrounding the entire room which has an open air jacuzzi , dining area, spacious bathroom with bathtub and a kitchenette. We couldn’t stop admiring it.

Next category was HERMITAGE. This was huge. Similar amenities but a really huge one.

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CABANAS is a category specially dedicated to honeymoon couples. Oh what a beauty !  these were lake facing and each had this gorgeous sit out setting draped in whites. An outdoor pool. A unique thing about Cabanas is , they do not have walls , those are made up of glass instead. Décor is kept floral throughout to uplift the mood.

Last category was SPANISH COTTAGE at town plaza. This is a base category. These were tent kind of  indoor  décor.

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After reviewing room categories , it was a time for some fun. We headed to their 18 HOLE GOLF COURSE. A beautiful panoramic view of Sahayadris in the background and professionally equipped golf course what more do you need. We tried our hand at Golf too !

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During the visit , we also saw the AUDITORIUM which is as big as 30000 sq. ft. where they host various functions both corporate and social. Infact throughout the property there are various venues such as BANARAS GHAT ideal for events.

The lunch was at WOODPECKER again. But I particularly enjoyed it a lot ! Apart from the Salad bar and soups I moved my attention to the Chinese food on the buffet. I picked Schezwan Noodles And Veg Manchurian Gravy. What I also saw was chef tossing some fresh veggies right in front of my eyes and making personalized portions of fried rice. I couldn’t stop myself and ordered a small portion of veg fried rice too. I happily ate both Chinese mains and washed it down with a sweet and a sour fresh lime water.

After such a tiring longggg property visit and a heavy lunch we needed a short nap to be refreshed and to get set for a adventure packed afternoon.

We tried our hand at ZIPLINE (FLYING FOX ) across the valley, REVERSE BUNGEE which was super fun. A JUNGLE SAFARI which was an open gypsy that took us thorugh interiors of the jungle on a bumpee ride. We had to hold on tight to save ourselves from falling down. The way we  were screaming , my god !

PAINTBALL was on a group agenda next. We were divided in two teams. Mine was a red team with one player less. We planned team efforts with strategy & we managed to win with 2 points. I can’t tell you how much fun that was!  By the time we were done with all these activities it was almost time to close but one last thing was remaining that was ATV BIKE RIDE. For someone who cant even ride a bicycle ATV ride was too much. I gave it a try and it was great fun!

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Ours was the Blue Team *Winning Team* yay !

On our way back till the bus arrived to pick us up we chose to take a little walk. We were having a real quality time doing this as we were in the middle of a jungle at the time of dusk. It was beautiful!

We had missed out on the MUSICAL FOUNTAIN the previous night so we had to HAD TO watch it. I had seen Dubai magical fountains and loved it. This one at Aamby was beautiful too. The entire set up, formations , music , rather songs chosen and the weather it created a wonderful vibe around us. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Dinner on day 2 was at MABRUK.  It is their Mediterranean speciality restaurant adjacent to the lake. An Arabic ambiance was created inside the restaurant with sheeshas, colourful lights and gorgeous drapes. Seating was lounge kind. We got all dressed up and ordered our drinks.

There was also a belly dancer who danced gracefully. Infact one of us ( Chef Pallavi Nigam ) danced with her 😊

#bellydance #funtimes #awesomeness #FBAIcheckin #DiscoverAamby #foryoureyesonly

A post shared by Pallavi Nigam (@chefpallavinigam) on

In cold mezze , we were served with Fattoush ( Lebanese salad ) , Assorted breads ( loved their Zatar bread ) with Baba Ganoush ( Egg plant relish Baigan Bhartain their style )  , Moutabbal ( another eggplant relish ) & hummus. The Harissa sauce served along was fab too.

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From hot mezze , we were served Falafel & Veg Sambousek ( feta cheese stuffed potatoes ) For mains we had a okra preparation made in a tagine. A veg rice preparation was accompanied by it.

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Our favorite part of the dinner was the desserts. Baklawa & Kneffe were relished upon. Baklawa is a pastry rich with pistachio and Kneffe is baked ricotta cheese dessert.

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If I compare the dinners , we really liked the one at Namak more as Mabruk was kind of hit & miss affair. Some dishes were too good whereas some were really average. However , we had a great time at Mabruk over drinks and some girly conversations.

11th June 2017

After several drinks from the previous night , we had a good 7 hrs snooze and woke up on time to get charged up with delicious breakfast at WOODPECKER.

I decided to go slow on this day and had a prolonged breakfast. First helping comprised of Fresh Cut Fruits , Juice And Some Potato Herbed Wedges and the second helping had south Indian food.

I had to make sure I pack my bags quick to get enough time to indulge in JACUZI AND POOL. So I rushed and swiftly headed to the pool area near Ausie Chalets.

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After spending more than an hour in the pool we then headed for WAVE POOL. It made me wonder, is there anything Aamby does not have ? They’ve created artificial sea within the premises ( well a  small part of sea ) that’s what they call a wave pool. A beautiful turquoise blue water body that has artificially created waves giving you a feel of the beach with sand around it. We enjoyed ourselves with a lil jumping around and also played few ball games inside the pool. I don’t remember doing that in years.

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Completely wet , we had to quickly rush to our rooms to fresh and change as we had to check out. Check out was super smooth. We were very very hungry due to all the activities we did and hence were looking forward to our lunch scheduled at MANUHAR , their Marwari Thali restaurant.

Its located in the TOWN PLAZA area and an exclusively vegetarian restaurant ( needless to say)

As soon as we arrived they started filling up our thalis with various food items. But being food bloggers when are we able to eat without clicking pictures? We had to wait till our thalis were filled completely and hence we thought we could binge on Khichiya and Dhoklas that were served as accompaniment. Masala Chaas and Jaljira was also served along. I preferred the chaas though.

The thaali was good if not great. Some of the veggies we liked were Parwal ki sabji , Paneer & Corn ki sabji and  Gatte ki sabji. Dal bati churma was pretty average according most of us. So was kaddu ki sabji and dal. The mini puri served along were bite sized and we kept on calling for those. Rice variants were plain rice and dry fruit rice. Dry fruit rice to my surprise was very good. For dessert, we had a dry fruit ice cream which was decent.

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After a yet another heavy meal we bid our final adieu to Aamby Valley for hosting us for the weekend with their lovely hospitality and high quality service.

Aamby valley is not just a resort. It’s a city ! it’s a weekend destination that has so many activities that you will wonder how do I fit in all of it in just two days. Sky is the limit when you are here. Its for both young and old. With number of restaurants here your palate is in for a treat. It is India’s first planned hill city with a space of over 10000 acres. Not only chalets and villas , it also has plots for those who wish to invest in a weekend home. With 3 lakes ,11 other water-bodies they have several water Sport activities. Own airport , hospital & international school are few of the other essentials the city is equipped with. It has all the amenities for those living here such as Movie Hall ,  Food Courts ,Grocery Stores etc. They are going to have two more categories of rooms that will include spa retreats and luxury suites.

Though Aamby Valley City is a premium product, it is value for money too. Especially during peak monsoon season we all know what kind of rates the hotel charge in and around Lonavala. So, I insist all the travel enthusiasts to at least pay a visit and see it for yourself to believe it. The best thing is, now Aamby has opened its door for day visitors. Then what are you waiting for. Live the weekends Aamby style!

Here’s a link to a video by our favorite Delectable Reveries

https://www.facebook.com/delectable.reveries/?pnref=story

Cover Picture Courtesy – Magnificient Maharashtra 

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