Sujan Sher Bagh
I’d followed the Sujan brand for a while and I liked the quiet luxury and the few rooms they had , hence for #ParentTrap we decided on Sujan Sher Bagh.
Sujan Sher Bagh is part of Relaix and Chateau. Sujan is about 2.5 -3 hrs from the nearest airport which is Jaipur. We drove there on 4 x 4’s and the car and the ride was comfortable. The team and the butler had been made aware of the madness of #ParentTrap and they were there to greet us as we entered.
The Jungle Suite was very comfortable and beautifully decorated. The jungle theme and tiger accents are all over the room. The luxury tent is comfortable, warm and cosy. Aditya and I chose the Royal Sher Suite which a similar room but had a beautiful , heated plunge pool which was perfect to jump in to in the cold weather of Ranthambore.
Your room costs include all your meals , so as we arrived and checked in, we went straight to lunch. There was a nice mix of continental and Indian foods on the menu, but they were happy to create off menu dishes as well just to make sure we were happy!
In the afternoon we were off for a game drive. The drive was comfortable in the Sujan jeep and we had each were given blankets, binoculars and water to make sure we were very comfortable. We were not very lucky with the tiger, but we saw several other animals and enjoyed the drive and the sunset. We returned for a nice cup of coffee and a wash to get ready for dinner.
The trip was all about the game drives and I interspersed it with spa treatments for all so that they could properly relax. The property is lovely and we enjoyed touring the property and seeing their organic garden and spotting animal tracks and checking camera views of the animals who traversed the property at night.
Post the walk, a beautiful bath had been arranged in the outdoor gold tub and I relaxed and enjoyed the bath getting ready for dinner.
A special dinner was arranged for the family and the table was gloriously decorated with candles. Though they were at full occupancy, our butler never made us feel there was anyone else except for us. The dinner was a perfect Indian meal, that I’d asked for and the cold of Ranthambore was warmed by the heat of the delicious Indian food we were served!
The next morning we were off on a drive again with a warm brandy in some coffee to warm us up and we searched the forest for the elusive tiger. We didn’t see the tiger at all on this trip. It did happen and we did get to see a tiger quite literally at arm’s length ;however, more on that later.
Watching the sun rise in the forest and the birds wake the world up is a glorious feeling. As we returned and post lunch, we enjoyed a visit to the local Dastkaar and a nice dip in the pool before cocktails and dinner in front of a glorious fire, where we caught up with other guests, shared forest stories, laughed and relaxed.
Sujan was a truly special experience. The hotel is designed with personality and thought. The only lapse is that their guide was not very good and we were not advised of game drives and sections of the park so unfortunately we missed the tiger. Had they told us and guided us on what drives to do and for how long, we’d have definitely spotted the tiger at least once. The service however was impeccable and our butler went through my idea of #Parent Trap and ensured he made every moment with our parents a special one.
I’m looking forward to visiting the Sujan in Jaisalmer too !
Cost-:Approximately $1200- $2000 approximately per night for a package which is inclusive of meals but not of game drives.
Best times to Travel-:April to June just before the rains…but then it is very, very warm so be prepared. Personally I enjoyed the winter but animals were few and far between and with our guide often nowhere to be found 🙂 .
It was a surprise for the parents and we decided to go to our first (now of many) Six Senses resorts- Zighy Bay. Zighy bay is a 2 Hr drive from Dubai Airport and the resort sends comfortable 4×4’s to pick you up. You could also do a 15-minute speedboat trip from a nearby port or enjoy the ultimate thrill strapped to a professional paraglider. Since we had the parents and since these new arrival weren’t available to us (else I would have paraglided!) we went to the resort by 4 x4.
The mountain entrance was spectacular and dramatic and we were welcomed with a welcoming drink and wet towel to Zighy Bay!
All the rooms are Pool suites and we had taken a Beach front Pool suite, so ours became the hang out spot for the family! The rooms were large, cool and comfortable. Considering the sweltering heat outside, the cool stone floors of the room made for a welcome change from the hot sun outside!
For the first evening, we had a wonderful meal at Sense on the Edge to celebrate our first meal of what we now call #ParentTrap together. The food was contemporary, fresh and modern and was light and beautifully plated.
The first night was hard for me as I had the most incredible migraine. The heat in summer is unforgiving and this is something one must think about. The next morning though, I felt a lot better and was happy to jump in to the sea. The sea is incredible… The water was warm and inviting. The sea was almost like a gigantic swimming pool and the family and I spent the next few days blissfully swimming in the glorious sea!
Through Zighy Bay we also decided to do a snorkelling session. They took us by boat and at a few reefs we were told we could snorkel and swim around. The reefs were lovely and colourful. The reefs in the Maldives are a lot nice though, I felt however I am told the diving is quite spectacular around Oman. We swam a bit but this was exhausting as the currents were quite strong. The water was refreshing, the fish colourful and the outing was nice as we got to see the rock formations at Zighy Bay.
What I loved most about this trip , was the sense of privacy we felt. It was like the whole resort just had our family. Though we knew there were other guests and families, the space that this resort has is beautiful and the distance between the villas allows for a completely secluded area for you and your family.
For breakfast we were given the option to eat in the room or at the Spice market. And where my Dad loved wandering around and eating at the restaurant, Aditya and I lazed in bed and sat out near our pool and ate there and soon after rushed to the sea.
Zighy Bay is an oasis of calm. It is a spectacular hotel to escape to to just escape. For those who love sun, sand and picturesque views this is it. There is this gorgeous line with the white sand, the blue ocean and the brown rugged mountains that is absolutely postcard perfect.
Cost-:Approximately $2400 per night in season for a beachfront pool villa.
Best times to Travel-: October to April when it’s not to hot!
Capers at Cape Weligama
Cape Weligama was where we chose to spend our anniversary!Now for those who know me, they know these are important celebrations. I love celebrating love and since Aditya loves Sri Lanka, we decided we should try out a hotel we’d always wanted to visit.
It takes about 2 hours to get to the resort from the airport. We arrived way too early in the morning, but were immediately taken to breakfast and allowed to relax at the pool while the room was made ready for us. The swimming pool was gorgeous. An infinity pool that was truly breathtaking , but it was not the only pool at the hotel. Our room had its own pool and our view was the sea. Waking up and just dipping into the pool was by far the best way to wake up!
Our room was a Pool Villa and was more than comfortable. It was large and bordered with a beautiful plunge pool.
We took an all inclusive plan and also made note that our anniversary was during our stay; so planned on a private romantic dinner as well.
Walking the grounds was incredibly relaxing and therapeutic. The staff was incredible and was always predicting our needs even before we had asked for something.
Walking down towards the beach was an adventure. The hotel has a small strip of private beach and when you get there it’s quite literally like you’re all alone on a strip of sand!
What I loved was that a 3-4 minute drive/ 10 minute walk got you to a slightly larger beach where they would do whale tours and where you may get a chance to see gorgeous whales in the ocean. We tried our luck. We didn’t see just one- we saw six huge whales arms length away from our small dinghy all in the span of an hour or so.
Cape Weligama decided to celebrate our anniversary with a special dinner in the middle of one of their many swimming pools. Wading through the pool we enjoyed the playfulness of the table setting and relaxed under the stars with a perfect three course meal!
Cape Weligama is the perfect place to reconnect and to spend time as a couple. It allowed us to explore, to have fun and to engage in all that nature has to offer. The fact that the resort was so expansive and the service so customised and discreet allowed us to feel like we were the only guests the hotel had.
Cost-:$1500- $2500 per night for the pool and duplex pool villa all inclusive.$604 for the Junior suite with breakfast only.
Best times to Travel-: December to March – this is when the nights are cool and the days not too hot!Also it’s whale watching season.
Pass Go- to the Langham London!
We all have our favourites and I too have mine. May in London has been a constant and our home away from home has been the Langham.
The Langham was a hotel we found quite by chance on a booking engine. It was close to all that we loved, walking distance from the theatre district and steps away from the busy shopping of Regent street and Oxford Circus.
What I loved about the hotel and what I still come back to is the level of personal service they provide. We always choose the Executive rooms. This gets you access to the Club Lounge level. This is absolutely fabulous. The guest relations mangers there will go out of their way to ensure a perfect stay. For example, when I’m there since I don’t eat pork as I arrive, they quickly move the chicken sausages out of cold storage and make a separate plate for me at breakfast. This is a very small example, but it shows a level of care!
The Langham is perfectly placed for all that you want to do in London. Add to that the Executive rooms offer breakfast at the lounge and then they leave muffins/scones/biscuits for the rest of the day which you can pair with hot coffees. They have a tea service from about 2-4 p.m. and then cocktails and canapés from about 5-7 p.m. This works perfectly if you need a short break in between the day or a quick bite before an evening’s performance. Add to that it’s a few minutes from the station, it works perfectly for your choice of holiday!
The Langham also has a beautiful tea service. The sitting area of the lobby is full in the afternoon with tea trollies and scones. With guests dressed up for tea, the Langham really goes the extra mile in the white gloved high tea service!
Cost-:Approximately GBP 800 upwards and approx GBP 1200 for the Executive room during peak season (July on)
Best times to Travel-: June to October but we are there every May and the weather is just right!
Of Distilleries and Whiskies!
And so off to Dublin we went on the annual May birthday trip. Whisky tasting was top of mind for us and were better than the beautiful Dublin! Enroute to the hotel a chatty cab driver was like a quick dose of coffee. He pointed on sights and even Bono’s Clarence Hotel.
A drive across the gorgeous Samuel Beckett bridge and more information on the famous Temple Bar we were at our hotel-The Westbury.
The Westbury was a bustling hotel right in the centre of all the bustle of Dublin. A gorgeous old hotel it had the charm that I absolutely love. The room was spacious and comfortable with a pretty city view and after a much needed nap we set out to explore.
Whiskies were everywhere and we found a small shop just outside the hotel. While others are scanning and choosing, we did what we knew which was to ask the owner for help. We had no idea which whiskies were good and which weren’t, so we just asked him. The gentleman was happily surprised and recommended his favourites, but told us we should try a few. In Brusssels we’d had the most incredible degustation menu of beer. Would there be some thing like that in Dublin? He said he had a favourite bar in the Temple Bar district.. we should go there and then come back. That seemed fair and now we knew a local bar.
Walking around Dublin what we loved most were the many , many friendly locals. ‘Try this,’ ‘ don’t do that.’ This takes too long,’ you have to do this!’ Like in India what we loved everyone had an opinion and they were definitely not afraid to share!
Next it was off to the distilleries and are first stop was Teelings. The beautiful grey entrance matched the gloomy day and made for a cinematic entry. Once you’re in, tours are something you must must do. And they take small groups on a very proud tour of the distillery. Post a walk and explanations its whisky tasting time. That they are aged in Bourbon casts gave it a sweeter taste. And then of course there’s the Teeling’s shop. Now that you have favourites , there were whiskies you could buy!
Back on the road (no we weren’t driving) it was now time to just take in the sights of Dublin. Buildings with the most incredible facades stood out in the gloomy grey weather. The cheery locals also made for fun conversations. Walking towards Trinity College we saw the magnificent Bank which had been converted into a beautiful restaurant. A nice , comfortable warm meal kept us in good spirits as we headed to Trinity College. Going into the college was beautiful. Both Aditya and I had our Trinity College stories- Aditya had done Drama grades from Trinity and I , the piano. The college had its glorious history which was contrasted by the young students all rushing around. The library was glorious and Aditya and I spent a fair bit of time there.
The next day Guinness was on our list. Entering almost a Hard Rock Cafe with music and lights and sound is what Guinness is all about. There are photo booths, Instagram walls, fun coloured contraptions, bars on every level , sights , sounds and something for everyone! I’m not even a beer drinker and even I was photographing, doing the games and buying trinkets at Guinness!
Our final tour was to Kilminhaim Gaol- the jail. For this you must book in advance as entrance only allows small groups. This is a former jail and now a museum. It talks of Ireland’s violent past. Walking through tunnels and through the jail cells, you are given a sense of history. The gaol is a definite must see and is a sobering experience especially after all the whiskies.
In the evening , we went to the bar recommended by the shop owner. In the middle of Temple Bar, this local bar was filled with regulars and we both stood out like complete newbs! When he heard where we came from and our idea of a degustation menu; he did his best to give us a small shot of his favourites on a tray and watched us carefully as we tried to differentiate between them. Now we knew what we loved and we were ready to go back to the store and make our choice.
It’s been a while since Dublin and a while since I’ve blogged about travel but this was a birthday trip that was really special and a place I’d love to go back to because of how friendly everyone was.
Cost-:Approximately $600 upwards… The Westbury is lovely and a definite recommendation!
Best times to Travel-: June to October but we were there in May and the weather was glorious!
A Suite Anniversary!
And so before you know it…we’d hit number 7! The seventh anniversary dawned upon us and with my focus being the many shows we’re doing and traveling with this year, and with a show on the night before my anniversary ; we couldn’t really get away (MUCH AS I’D LOVED TO HAVE!)….But if you can’t get away from the city well then you should make a small get away IN your city and so that’s what we did!
On the Anniversary we checked in to the Spanish Suite at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Straight from our wedding, Aditya and I had checked in to the Taj, and readied ourselves for the grand reception the next day! The Taj Mumbai also played host to my sister’s engagement, my parent’s marriage my in-laws marriage as well! So naturally, but naturally we’d want to check in to what can only be described, as almost a second home to us! My brilliant sister, Nikhila had pulled out all the stops to make this the best most memorable anniversary ever and she never fails to amaze us! The Spanish Suite is known for a beautiful , old chandelier and the beautiful romantic hues of the room. With a glorious view of the Gateway of India…. it was the perfect backdrop to my small afternoon plan of reaffirming our vows! Since we were home, this one time , on our anniversary I thought of doing a small reaffirmation of vows with just family. For me that would make my day just perfect!
We checked in and were thoroughly surprised(I spent a good 15 minutes running from room to room) to see all the many, many photographs that had been strategically placed of us. It was like the room had been specially kept just for us! We quickly changed and headed to the pool for some sun and i was delighted when almost every staff member greeted me by name and wished me Happy Anniversary. It’s true what they say about the legendary service at the Taj.
Lunch was at my favourite restaurant in the world 🙂 Souk and then after more sunbathing; we rushed back to the room for me to soak in warm romantic bath that had been prepared. And then before we knew it family had arrived and Nikhila , my sister who had been ordained online performed a quick ceremony and our anniversary was celebrated with champagne toasts and tons of laughter!
And then it was off to Sea Lounge for the fabulous High Tea! The Sea Lounge has the best high tea in Mumbai . with sandwiches, and chats, pastries and savory items; this is a fabulously filling meal and it was a wonderful evening spent chatting, laughing, reminiscing and relaxing!
The family then left and much as I couldn’t eat another morsel, Aditya insisted that we at least go to the lounge and have a drink! Now it was just the 2 of us and we headed to the lounge where they had prepared a special cake just to celebrate our anniversary!
I was too exhausted at the end of the day to eat another morsel; so after sitting in the lounge for a bit , it was room service and an extremely comfortable bed for me!!!
Surprise! Surprise! Chef Hemanth Oberoi, the Grand Executive Chef at The Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, as well as corporate chef for the entire Taj chain of hotels; and most importantly the man who designed the menu for my wedding -had sent to our room ; not one, not two- BUT THREE GIGANTIC CHOCOLATE CAKES! Now we had THREE PLUS ONE FROM EARLIER!!!! 🙂
I awoke on Sunday to a fabulous breakfast in bed. Capuccino’s , croissants and juices… I felt thoroughly pampered. Off for a nice , long relaxing swim and then we ended up at lunch at Masala Kraft , the Indian restaurant!They knew all my favourites and had brought them even before I placed my order!
And then post a cup of coffee; it was time to go home… Though this was a very, very short break- I came home feeling refreshed, energized and still in vacation mode…!
Anniversary or no anniversary – I think I’d like to do this every 3 months or so! Wot say Aditya? 🙂
The Tranquility of Kumarakom
From Vivanta by Taj Malabar to Vivanta by Taj Kumarakom you can take a boat. Close to an hour either way, we decided to opt for a drive considering we were doing a backwaters boat trip the same evening.I’m glad we took the drive because it was wonderful to see Aditya’s photograph featured on one of the small shops we passed. Part of an old Peter England campaign, he was smiling down at us! Super cool!
Great start to the day , the day was going to get even better. In the midst of a slice of green heaven the Vivanta by Taj Kumarakom almost merges in with the surroundings. Small quaint cottages banks of Vembanad Lake , private sit outs, bicycles to get you around the property…this property bring s you back to nature but still keeps in mind the luxury needs of it’s guests.We were welcomed in by Prince the F & B Director who we’d previously met when we had stayed at the Vivanta by Taj Maldives. We were famished , so grabbed a quick bite and headed to our rooms. The property is enormous so I’d recommend borrowing a bicycle from their bicycle shed and traveling around the property whenever you need to. It’s fun, it’s relaxing and you get to explore the entire property.
Our cottage was beautifully furnished and tastefully decorated. With a massive bedroom, lovely sit out and even an outdoor shower- ‘luxury rustic’ became the way I defined the hotel and my room.
A quick nap later we were off on a gorgeous cruise amidst the backwater. The mangrove plants had made it difficult for the boat to come to the hotel so we took the boat from just across the hotel and marveled at the expanse of the lake which merged into the sea while the sun set.
Prince knows me and penchant for romantic dinners and so a table was set with a special menu created just for Aditya and I on the banks of the lake where we could listen to some live music and eat undisturbed surrounded by just gorgeous swaying palms and listening to the fish as they leapt about in the lake below… The dinner was superb. The chef here is EXCELLENT so definitely come prepared with an appetite! The food is marvelous!
The lake is lit at night thanks to the local Kerala women who are hired by the hotel to light up the lake at sunset…With gorgeous divas the lake looks so auspicious and divine in the night as you walk by the banks!
The following morning after cycling to breakfast we fed some of the ducks and watched as the turtles came to feed on the banks of the lake. I fed a few and I must confess I had never really thought of turtles as hungry or greedy! Cute, very greedy and very friendly…this was a wonderful experience.
Our trip to Kumarakom was short, romantic and an idyllic relaxing getaway. Far away from the madness and noise of the city we found peace, calm, cycles and ducks 🙂 and had the perfect short break!
Cost-:$300 onwards but remember with very limited rooms… book well in advance… They tend to ALWAYS be full up !
Best Times to Travel-: November to February has great weather… we did Valentines day at Kumarakom and we had a pleasant, slightly chilly evening! Perfect!
And it was off to Shanghai and to the J.W. Marriott at Shanghai’s hip Tomorrow Square minutes away from the heart of Shanghai’s commercial shopping districts in Puxi! Puxi (is the historic center of Shanghai. Puxi is distinguished from Pudong , which is separated from it by the Huangpu River. Despite the growing importance of Pudong Puxi remains Shanghai’s cultural, residential and commercial centre. The two are divided by the Huangpu river which you can ferry across if you’d like, take a metro over or cross via car/ taxi over the bridge (which we did!)
Standing 60 stories tall, you cannot miss this fabulous structure as you drive in to the city. I pointed the building out miles away and was delighted when the driver told us that this was our hotel! As you reach you are ushered in to an elevator which takes you to the 38th floor for check in! With sheet glass windows overlooking Shanghai, it made sense to have the check in , high above the city where you could see this glorious, bustling city as it After that we checked in to our room on an even higher floor of this magnificent structure!
A quick wash and change later we were headed to the world famous Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall , barely 10 minutes away on foot from the hotel! Nanjing Road, known, is flanked by hundreds of huge shopping centers, specialty stores and shops with unique Chinese characteristics and a long history.The 1033-metre-long “Pedestrian Walkway of Nanjing Road” houses the China’s key commercial shops and the colorfully glazed floor tiles, the fashionable stores flanking the street, the hustling and bustling crowd, the small, lovely sightseeing trains, all make for a fabulous way to shop a lot and see a little Chinese culture while you’re at it!
Shanghai is modern , fashionable , young and fun! High street brands and High couture are well represented in different parts of the city. The Chinese are fashionable and unafraid to take fashion risks, which invariably seem to pay off! You will see them mixing brands and couture with equal ease and Shanghai was easily one of the most fashionable cities! Of course, if you are looking, you can always find the fake bags and belts with impeccable stitching and almost no difference from the original! These are sold in small by-lanes in garage like warehouses. They are more than a bit shady and with language being such a difficulty any way, there was no way I was going to get conned into a garage with a bunch of men who I couldn’t communicate with! Power to the bunch of women I saw rushing in- oohing and aahing… I’d rather pay the extra yuan and not venture into any basements, thank you!
Oh and do keep a check for false currency. We changed our dollars at a reputed money changer and they realised they were giving us fakes and took it back! Scary but the fakes look super real tho’ you will get in to trouble if you try and pay with them!
And so in new designer ware , we were off to dinner to the ultra chic- ‘M on the Bund,’ The bund has a series of beautiful buildings lining the river. The ultra chic M with it’s european cuisine is a hit with locals, expats and well-read tourists , who’ve done their research (like us!). Fabulous food and wine and a view to die for… this was a perfect evening!
Shanghai for us, was about shopping, walking and just relaxing and that’s what we did! The next night we made reservations at one of the highest points of the city- Cloud 9 at the Grand Hyatt! The Grand Hyatt is all the way in Pudong and it was an experience by itself to going thru tunnels and then ending up on Nanpu Bridge. The hotel is intimidating with elevators taking you to the Lobby Level on the 54th floor and then ushering you in to another high speed elevator to take you to the 85th floor! The end result- the view is sublime! The food- tasty, light and flavorful! The experience – a MUST DO!
Once again remember Chinese names of places and hotels are different and language is a huge barrier – so wherever you travel- GET THE CHINESE NAME OF YOUR HOTEL AND STREET AND KEEP IT WITH YOU!
Best Times to Travel-: Mid september- mid November though we were there in October and it does get rather chilly in the evenings!
Cost-: $300- $500 at Peak season… my advice- STAY FIVE STAR!