Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Beautiful Resort in the lap of Nature, Himachal Pradesh- Aamod Resorts



Aamod Resorts

My small interaction session with Mr. Gaurav Jain, owner of "Aamod Resorts" a chain of 8 properties in various locations in North India currently & dream to make it big with many more in the coming years.
The current Hotels are-
Himachal Pradesh- Shimla, Dalhousie, Manali & Narkanda
Uttranchal-Bhimtal
Rajasthan-Udaipur
Delhi Ncr-Manesar

Gaurav is a highly educated person, who has done his degree in engineering & also possesses MBA to his education portfolio (IIM Kolkotta). With no background of Hospitality but did a small project on tourism during his education days, as tourism always fascinated him. He has worked a couple of years in UK with corporates like - consumer goods,chemicals & companies like Unilever, Marks & Spencer.
This Hotelier is rather a simple & down-to-earth man who comes with extremely rich work experience with him.



Mr. Gaurav Jain
My inquisitiveness started boiling within me, to know the meaning of "Aamod" to which Gaurav replied with a smile on his face, it means "Joy".

Gaurav, I have these 5 questions for you & he exclaimed "Sure" & here we started-


  1. How & what was your Idea to start up with "Aamod Resorts"? Check out Gaurav's Video to know his answer to this.

video

2.Which is your signature property amongst the lot? Gaurav immediately replied "Aamod-Shoghi"' as this was his 1st property which was started about 5 years back.He has seen alot of ups & downs with this baby of his,to make it grow to what it is today! When he stated, there were alot of challenges.There are in total 20 cottages in "Aamod-Shoghi"& all are scattered in the beauty of the lush green jungles, uphill & downhill. Keeping in mind, he maintained the privacy to each cottage. Restaurant is not in the centre of the cottages.Rather,it's right in the beginning as soon as enter the resort."So any room service order,is to be served hot,was a challenge keeping in mind the chillness in the air" he added.Old couples who resist walking or people with knee problem was also a problem. The staff has worked in a positive way & created a benchmark over all these problems. In 5 years things are quite smooth & running.

COTTAGE IN SHOGHI(SHIMLA)


3.What are you doing to get the tourism to come & stay with "Aamod"?
They have been participating a lot in trade fairs,Online travel portals & travel agents are a big help.Besides this, referrals play a major role for their business."If one guest family goes happy from here, they refers another" Gaurav exclaimed.Majorly we have groups coming from families.Basically, 75% of business comes through referrals & Travel Agents gives the rest of  25% of the share.

4.What are your future plans in terms of expanding & where do you see "Aamod" in next 5 years?
"Today, Aamod is 8 properties with more than 200 rooms.I want to expand with 10 more properties & making it up to 600 room chain by 2020" Gaurav exclaimed.

5. What are the 5 Best things you would want to share about "Aamod"(any specific property)?
  • Gaurav shared He believes in small things to give happiness.He keeps telling his staff to work on the concept of  giving "choti choti khushiyan to his guests.". A good eg-he shared was setting up dinner under the bright stars where oxygen is already pure in greenery around you.
  • He has always kept the location in mind-which is somewhere in the outskirts of the main town retaining it's boutique nature."Aamod Shoghi" is about 16 kms before the main Shimla Town,same is the case with Manali & many other of his resorts. Little away from the hush bush of routine life, finding yourself drolled in complete nature..chirping of birds, with sun cutting through the deep oaks jungles.
VIEW FROM THE TOP HILL(SPA)

THE COTTAGE

  • Guests should enjoy the location & not the tourism sports.They want their guests to be busy with many indoor activities like rappelling, Paintball,  long walks in jungles. Spa treatment which totally rejuvenates you amidst the lush greenery & the aroma around you.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITY

OUTDOOR ACTIVITY

SPA ROOM

OPEN AIR JACUZZI
  • Gaurav said-"My team takes their own decisions & I am happy the way they work".He has excellent staff who are willing to help you wherever possible, My mom has a little knee problem to walk uphill.In no time she was provided with a Car who drove her right near to our cottage #Room No.101. I could see his staff is very happy with him.
  • Majority of  the resorts are easily accessible. His resort in Shoghi(Shimla), Bhimtal, Manesar(Delhi ncr) & Sariska can be visited even for a day or a weekend relaxation from Delhi. 
























Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Fun & Frolic of Japan




Japan-The land of rising Sun

When my dream came into living reality of traveling to Japan-the land of rising sun. That too, to the sacred Mt.Fuji, I was totally exultant & jumped out of excitement. The journey begin with Japan Airlines(JAL).A direct 8 hour flight till Nirata. Oh what an amazing & easy flight it was on an reclined seat of business class. After landing & transferring to Apa Resort Myoko Pine Valley which is in Niigata prefecture in Fujikyu bus after a tiresome land journey of about 200 kms away. Japan has 47 prefectures or administrative divisions. The view of the resort took the entire fatigue out of me. Look at the various shades of greens as if the nature is welcoming us with all the zig zag turns to this prodigious hotel. We had a grand welcome here, “konnichiwa” with a bow meaning hello with respect with some outstanding Japanese food along & wine awaited us for dinner.
The view from the glass window. Totally Stunning!!




The room was quite neat & spacious but the toilet was quite small with a small tub. What excited me the most in my trip to Japan were the toilet. The seats came with adjustable temperature shower jets for the ‘front’ & “back’, an add on with music make up, at some places a special attraction was, a blow dry functions for the bum.

Next was the visit to Mt.Fuji or locally called as ”Fuji-san”. Yes, “San” is always added to a name to give respect here in Japan. I could feel the goose bums all over me while I was gazing to this secret mountain. The highest mountain in Japan, Mt. Fuji is 3,776 meters above sea level, and is located more or less in the center of Japan, stretching over Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures.  The area surrounding Mt. Fuji is a most attractive tourist route for there are all kinds of sightseeing spots in the environs such as the Five Lakes of Fuji known as 'Fuji-go-ko' and Hakone. Mt. Fuji has been the object of awe and admiration as a sacred mountain and a divinity of fire. Some myths depict Mt. Fuji as a deity, most frequently as a goddess. I was in Yamanashi Prefecture, totally astonished to have a view of fujisan from high up where we reached by the cable car. The clouds were playing hide & seek with this black tip of Mt.Fuji. The sun too was a part of the game. Couldn’t have had a better view though. Some shopping & souvenir added to the charm of my kitty. For all the language problem: bargains, food & to shop for any specific thing, Raj & Rakesh were a great help who are also Indians but mostly work there.


Our visit finally landed us at Hotel Mt.Fuji, which has an onsen, a natural hot spring, enriched in sulphur & iron. A dip for 15 mins. in this richsome onset, detoxicate all the toxins from the body, any pain in the body can be removed in a couple of minutes from this healthy water. It gave me a relaxed & refreshed feeling after a tiresome day. Many use it as nightcap of sorts as it is open till late night.

Many other experiences of the trip will endure. A must visit on my wish list. I was showcased all across the winery, given the demonstration on wines, the way it is made,& musts to keep in mind before picking up a glass of wine: check the colour, ordour & taste. Saw the bunch of grapes hanging up there, which were so eye catching, could not resist to taste! More thrilling where the roller coaster rides in Fujikyu Highland, Most remarkable was my ride on Hippo vehicle(Bus),which ran us on the road, in between the greens for almost 20 mins & suddenly jumped into lake Yamanaka. The Buddhist Zen temple (15th Century) whilst during zazen, seated meditation, you are hit with a bamboo rod on your shoulder if you lose concentration.






Shizuoka prefecture is a treasure for powdered green tea locally called “macha”. They hump on varieties of the same in ice cream, cookies, candies, mousse & even soap. Here, green tea is another brew. It is practiced as a sacred tea ceremony. It is elevated as an elaborated art form-the tea equipment, the chadogu, the vajra asana style seating, the entire episode of tea making is touched by grace & respect. Fukatsu Fumiko, has been still learning this graceful art who must be somewhere in her 60’s & started learning it from her teens. Every move-pouring the water in the boiler, stirring the powder with a bamboo brush was like a rhythm in itself. Watching her on every step in the making was as an unsaid essay, easy & relaxing to both body & mind. Once ready, the tea must be consumed whilst in vajra asan & as a sacred offering.





No wonder the fitness of the Japanese is so fit as the food intake is rich in proteins-sushi, sashimi, tuna salmon are made with restraining oil & minimal use of salt.
Super- light on stomach & the digestive sytem. The rice wine “sake” is like a part of their staple food to flush down everything. I also enjoyed some Indian delicacies like Sambar, Rajma Chawal & Gajar ka Halwa in one of the Indian restaurant’s there., This was indeed a surprise which was an add-on to my Trip here. For Japanese food, one should surely eat a meal at “K.House” too. They have a chain of 40 restaurants across Japan. For Japanese food lovers, in India a surprise beholds for them too from the same chain called “Fuji Restaurant” in Delhi & 2 more in kolkatta. Soon they will be coming up with some more in India. This fun & frolic of Japan trip will always remain bright & high in my memories.












Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Illusion world but reality lebua Lodge @ Amer(Jaipur)



We were looking for a weekend break close to Delhi..and here we landed.Obviously, it was a planned trip.We were 3 people.Me & my parents.We started on Saturday, in d morning at 5.30am.Fresh to drive & reach our destination.Of course, we took it easy,enjoying our drive from Delhi to Amer Fort,Jaipur. Took a break for tea also for about half hour on our way. Quite calm & relaxed, managed to reach Amer fort by 11am. Lebua Lodge is v.close by, from Amer fort but due to lack of sign boards,we asked the local people for our destination.Only after calling the hotel, we managed our way to the Lodge.
Well,its a bad 2 kms drive from Amer market.We were scared if we are going to d right place as it was all jungle and 'kachi' road.No civilians seen for that path.Well,gazing our way through the jungle like patch, finally we reached the main entrance, we were welcomed with 'Aam papar & churan'.."nice gesture" I exclaimed with surprise.."whooaa,where have we reached after that "kachi sarak" which gave us an idea that there is no existence to the road we have driven to.


Drove into the Hotel..and it was just beautiful.Reception with geometrically designed tents all around,with amazing set up to sit on d sofas and chairs,with a very positive aroma in the air, around you,which you could smell just when you enter the reception.After the check-in, we walked to our room,so to say our 'luxury tent' which did not look like one,astonished, I was for a place like this,could have been only possible as an "Illusion world", to stylish & standing right up,in front of your eyes,so extra ordinarily designed tents, as if  I was a part of the magic show.Lush greenery around, along with wall of the great Amer Fort adjoining our Hotel.I was totally shakened up, as i entered the bathroom,displayed with with outstanding toiletries, no this is not the only think which surely would catch anyone's eye but with a not to be missed "a low leveled shower tub" Pheww.Well, this was really unique..and there was a window which could also be opened.But, people can not see you from out side as it has a small build-up area.





The interiors of the Tents and the bathroom, were just outstanding.Before each tent,there is a small sitting area with a huge sofa, maintaining the charm that you won't forget,that you are in Pink City.A place in the town,yet away from the town.So calm, so soothing is the place.All the tents are away from each other,maintain the privacy.All you could see was greenery around you. Immediate first step,out of the room,churns you directly on the grass.I love the chirping of the birds,so sound & clear,see the Aravali Hills,just from a stone throw distance.I had a feeling of illumination, to this unique surprise which welcomed me.Such a windy weather with a little sunshine, was yet manageable.Cherry over the cake, was the distance of the swimming pool & the restaurant from my living room,perhaps "the Tent".I could not stop but to take a dip in the lukewarm water due to the afternoon temperature.Rather, it worked as a therapy from my road drive from Delhi to this destination.The best was the private dining area,within the pool premises.A table& chair placed right within the pool. The feel was raw & Exotic! So,you are at the same level of water,at the same time,water is not touching you.Enjoy the time here,may be with a glass of beer,to give you a kick.



After some time we went to the market which is around 7-8 kms away.Came back late by 10pm after picking some local stuff ,some souvenirs to gift. Now, the drive back to the Hotel was really scary as it was pitch dark & we a family of just 3 people alone in 1 car in the jungle. It was a little adventurous too but more of making, the butterlies fly in my stomach due to a weird tention running in my body till my spine.Yes, it was pitch darm,what if someone,tries to follow us?what if the car breaks down here,with not a single human around/No street light,what will happen?What if some wild animal comes,what will we do..hushhh..my mind was taking a 360 degree turn on such thoughts for this 2kms drive.Here,we entered this big,british era Gate, which welcome us again at night.I was thrilled & calm with a secured smile on my face.Had it been 3-4 cars together,it would have been fine from the safety point of view.No street lights in that 2kms stretch and no people around.Thankfully,we reached the hotel safe & sound.We were little hungry.Finally went to the restaurant.Food-was good & tasty.At night,the Lodge was all lit with little lamps just outside each Luxury tent.Also,each tent is little away from one another,so the light was also little scanty.It looked nice at night also.Giving that romantic touch.





Next morning, there was a lavish breakfast.A good variety of Indian, rajasthani & continental.Food again was very relishing.We really enjoyed our stay.Started back on Sunday noon.
For parents,who look for a Saturday-sunday break can surely come here & even their small kids will enjoy, the pool, hugh open area to play.They also have camel rides which somehow,we didn't experience as we were away from the hotel during the evening. All in all, an excellent place to be.We carry some amazing memories of Lebua Lodge & would surely visit here again.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Hidden beauty of Meghalaya-Shillong

It was early at 7.45 am when I landed from Delhi to Assam Airport.The flight was comfortable, yet another journey was waiting for me.This was a 3 hour by road journey from Guwahati to Shillong.Accompanied by my parents, I was also little sleepy as we were up at mid-night at 3am to board the Flight at 5. Stopping in between for some Tea & snacks while our onward journey to Shillong by the taxi. Finally, we reached to our destination,Shillong.

Astonished with the view around,beautiful lush green trees,winds were so pure & fresh as I could inhale some freshness,making my fatigue flew away.Welcoming me to a place with "Umium lake",the sun was up,adding the rays to this beautiful lake.I could see those thousands of red-orange shades in the sky,making the water of this lake "Divine" spread over in some acres.Witnessing some tiny boats though far away from us.Crossing the zigzag narrow roads, with trees on the sides, here comes our hotel,after crossing this yet another picturesque Ward's lake.This is at a stone throw distance from "Blueberry Inn" where we stayed.



After the journey, entering this Hotel was a perhaps,a blessing.Rather, quoting it as "an add-on" to our trip to Shillong.We were tired & exhausted.After a warm welcome, we were given a "baronial suit". Well! that's what I felt.Excellent spacious rooms with clean bathrooms.The suite was beyond my expectations, done in dark green & golden. Rather, calling it a class that even too much use of  golden colour never made it look 'jattak'. It was totally outstanding. Once you step out of your rooms..there is this,huge open area full of colorful flowers. The hotel is done up very tastefully by the owner "Mr.Manu" Whopping plants that gives that "extra comfort" to the guests staying as you feel so close to the nature, not even once, you feel the absence of a garden here.A corner with fountains adding that extra dash to it.You can sit back & relax here on the tables & chairs spread to feel the aroma of nature around you.This is no garden yet that extra attention given by the owners here shows what it is. Suddenly, I could listern to those beats of music dissolving in the air around me.It was already late evening when I came back after my dinner from Police Bazaar & sat here to unwind.
Next morning, I did rather chose to have my breakfast here,ignoring the restaurant completely. Although the interiors of the restaurant is also remarkable.The chirping of the birds, trees dancing in the blowing winds,a little glaze of sun made us do so.Well, the food served here was also very homely.The guys on the front desk are quite witty & charming & are always with that positive attitude of welcoming you.Simply loved the Fog & Perhaps, the feeling of walking in the clouds.



After my tummy was full, took a 2 mins walk to this serene ward's lake. Enjoying boating here for some 30 mins. Now, was the time for some local shopping & taking a stroll around the local market" Police Bazaar" which came in, about 5 mins.One can take a shared Taxi for Rs.10 each or a full taxi, depending on your pockets.These taxi's run almost all across Shillong. A walk would have taken some 10 mins but I rather preferred a Taxi, wishing to stroll around the entire bazaar & not getting exhausted before reaching there.Picked up some bamboo stuff, souvenirs,some packets of  Tea(comes from Assam). A very pretty piece of embroidery was a bed sheet,this one was there traditional one which I really liked in purple colour & picked up for myself.

The entire bazaar was quite crowded with this huge crowds & this massive round about, spread in about quater a kilometer,right in the center, plying to all local taxis & buses & the shops around.No,its just not a circle but roads cutting here & there.It was already lunch time, trying some authentic "Khasis & Jaitias Food" was on the top of my wishlist.What an amazing food..The staple food of the people is rice with spicy meat and fish preparations. Relished it completely.Some more walking around, finding about their local delicacies for sweet? It's called a "Polka". This was one mouthwatering thing I eat again & again in my 4 days tour.Quite similar to "panner with added sugar" but so tender that as it enters your mouth, it gets dissolved in your mouth.Whilst walking around, "pan leaves & betel nut" sellers are sitting at every nuk & corner.Out of my inquisitiveness, checked with some locale here, as it is cold here,people keep eating it as it keeps them warm.

 Next day,visiting to various waterfalls at "cherrapunji.' It was raining,with umbrellas in our hands,went to "Elephant Falls',it has 3 levels of water falls.I simply loved it as besides this, really could not have a proper view of the other water falls due to,too much fog.This was the last fall left in my sightseeing list of cherrapunji.Rains made us have good time here as you have to take a flight of stairs,may be some 100 of them.If not rain, then had it been fog here too,making the view invisible.Though,making it little slippery but glad it rained,cherish this place. Would not really recommend senior citizens which leg problems at the last level,encountering these fleet of stairs might make it difficult. Visiting yet another memorable "Mawjymbuin Cave". A man made cave which has a little light, hugh rocks across,walking & watching each step as it gets narrower & narrower as you keep going in. Though about 200 mts long, I could only make it half way, as it became too much claustrophobic for me to handle. Narrowing of the cave, big bunch of crowd ahead & behind me with less of oxygen,insects & flies coming to my face & dim to no lights,somewhere switching the mobile lights made me come back to the entry.It could surely be a great experience for people who love adventure.For me too, it was an offbeat & antithetic experience.




This was my first visit to north east hill station.I came back with a splush full of amazing memories which will always remain with me.