For our long weekend in April we decided to visit our first hill station in India with some close friends. This wasn’t their first hill station so we figured we’d have an opportunity to learn from the professionals.
Friday April 26th: Travel Day
We left Mumbai for Deruhdun on Friday afternoon and arrived in northern India around 3pm. We knew that we’d have a long car ride after we landed at the airport, and had transportation setup through the hotel. The drive ended up being around 2.5 hours with over half of the duration climbing the mountain.
As we headed away from the airport Christopher’s motion sickness caught up with him and we ended up pulling over for about five minutes. We have learned that steep decents on final approach mess with almost all of you and lead to motion sickness at some point, and since that landing was very steep we were ready.
The first part of the drive was fine, by that I mean flat, with the typical Indian streets and driving conditions. Around an hour into the drive we started the climb up the foot hills, and shortly after that we noticed other people on the side of the road throwing up. Not a good sign…
The view was beautiful, but the experience left all of us trying to fight motion sickness the entire way to the hotel. We arrived in pretty good time, with one more barf bag being used when we were less then 5 minutes from the hotel.
The hotel was amazing and we were greeted with the traditional Indian welcome upon arrival. Getting our key took a little time so we took the opportunity to enjoy the welcome drink and views from the lobby.
After we were checked in, we dropped our bags at the room, and headed to dinner. The facilities were amazing and we were the only people in the restaurant when we arrived. More people showed up later in the evening, but the space didn’t get even close to full.
After an amazing Indian dinner, a member of the hotel stopped by our table and asked to speak with me outside…
Earlier in the month we received an email from the hotel asking us if we were interested in shifting our stay, with a free upgrade, due to a wedding in the hotel that weekend. We told them that our trip was scheduled based on the school break and we couldn’t move it, upgrade or not. We never heard anything back.
Three people accompanied me outside, the manager, his assistant, and someone who never spoke. The manager proceeded to tell about how this Indian wedding would be loud, very late, and would impact our experience. They offered to put us up at a similar hotel … 5 hours away. At this point I wasn’t sure if they were going to kick us out to accommodate a wedding party that supposedly booked the entire hotel or if this was really an option.
I went back to the table and informed the group of the discussion and it was unanimous that we weren’t going anywhere. But we looked up the hotel just for kicks, and found that it was a higher luxury brand, at $400/night and up, but completely unfit for a family with small children. They had one restaurant, no pool, and the only outing was lunch by the river. It was a hard pass for a group of nine with five kids under eight.
I went back to the lobby to inform the manager that the option was not acceptable to our party and we would be staying. I also informed them that we live in India and know what an Indian Wedding entails and did not think it would impact our stay.
After a good night sleep and three follow up discussions they dropped the issue and we stayed at the hotel with the wedding party. The wedding was rather low key compared to some Indian weddings.
Saturday April 27th: Trekking
One of the key attractions of this hotel was its trekking guides directly from the hotel into the Himalayas. Ok, ok, it was at least in the direction of the Himalayas. They had several options, but only one that would be less than 2 hours. The others were all day treks and we didn’t think you kids would fend well with that kind of activity.
As part of the wedding party in the hotel, the managers recommended that we take breakfast in our hotel rooms because the wedding party had booked the Cafe Restaurant and it would only be Vegetarian. So that’s what we did, and it actually worked out really well. You three ate breakfast on the tray and your mother and I enjoyed our breakfast on the patio. It was awesome.
After breakfast we headed to the lobby to meet our guide. The trek we selected was scheduled to be 45 minutes out and 45 minutes back, with some time to explore in between.
The trail was a lot of fun, with plenty of ups and downs, and the views were magnificent. When we reached the end we set up a spot to have a snack before heading back to the hotel. You kids continued exploring the hills, playing tag, and coloring on the trees while our guide started a fire and cooked us Maggi. Maggi turned out to be similar to Ramen Noodles, and the four adults had to eat it all so we didn’t waste any. It was great.
On our way back to the hotel we ran into a slight traffic jam, a herd of goats were also trekking that day. Living in Mumbai we were used to traffic jams, but this was just too funny. David took a great video to document the chaos.
When we got back to the hotel we decided to check out the Kids Den and Bowling Alley which were on the lower level of the hotel. The kids club was a little under whelming and almost $1 per ride, so we didn’t spend much time there. The bowling alley appeared to be full size and had all the standard technology. At 500 INR a person we spent about an hour helping you three bowl.
When bowling was over we went back to the room to rest for a little bit before meeting up with everyone at the Lounge. The hotel didn’t have a dedicated executive lounge so it was held in one of the restaurants from 5-7pm. When we arrived there was no one there and naturally no signage to indicate why not, but we assumed it had something to do with the wedding. Turned out we were right and the wedding had all hands on deck so they moved the lounge to the Italian Restaurant overlooking the hills. The food and drinks were free and the view was AMAZING … we were not disappointed.
There were four restaurants in the hotel, Indian, Italian, Asian, and Multi-Cuisine. The Indian restaurant was being decorated from the moment we got there so we figured that was out of the picture, and the multi-cuisine was the main restaurant that serviced breakfast and high tea. So, we decided to order dinner in the lounge and enjoy the views.
Sunday April 28th: Kids Area, Pool, Spa Treatments, & Lounge
As part of the Kids Den, the hotel had an outdoor kids area that was supposed to have a bounce house, paintball, and archery. So after breakfast in the room we headed for the outdoor kids area.
On the way up there we walked by the hotel’s greenhouse, which was pretty impressive. I guess it makes sense when you use flowers as much as they do, and you’re so far from level ground.
The area was a HUGE letdown, and I can’t believe they charged for using it. It was 300 INR for 20 minutes on the trampoline, and if you wanted to use the bounce house that was another 300 INR for 30 minutes. We spent 1500 INR (~$22) for 12 minutes of entertainment. So we decided to take the kids to the pool instead.
After the pool we headed to the Italian restaurant again for lunch before the mother’s went to their spa appointments. Other than a couple hours to rest we ended up back in the lounge that night. No complaints.
That night, the wedding had fireworks and a lot of people. The girls we very interested with the party and we walked up to look at the event a few times.
I’d like to think that only recently we hit a new point in Johnathon’s life … total and complete dependence/addiction for screens. As the fireworks were going off he had to bring his iPad over to the ledge so that he could keep playing the game while sort of watching what was happing in real life. This was a sad moment.
Monday April 29th: Mussoorie Visit
After the short time outside we headed to the Kids Den to let you run around and paint before hopping on a shuttle to Mussoorie. We decided to take a walk down Mall Road to get a good view of the city, with our final destination being the clock tower on the other side of town. This was a really great walk with so much to see.
Along the way we found an approved cafe to grab a coffee and get you kids some pizza. I had the opportunity to try a Tibetan Butter Tea, which is basically coffee with Yaks Butter in it. It was delicious…and I was alone in that opinion.
After a quick snack we picked up and made it to the clock tower to do a little shopping at the historic society shop. We picked up some book marks and pendants for you kids and a small painting for our collection. After paying we made our way back to the pickup point, which given the time was going to require the use of the Tuk Tuk.
We arrived back in Ghandi Chowk 3 minutes behind our scheduled pickup time, and the driver found us walking before we reached it. It all worked out great.
After returning to the hotel we went to the pool to kill some time before the lounge was open and got a little rest time. Tonight the lounge was back in it’s normal location, the Chinese restaurant Tappen, and being the first ones there we got a private dinning room to hang out until dinner.
After the lounge ended we signed up for a hibachi grill experience for the entire group, and it was delicious. It was fun watching you kids experience this for the first time.
Tuesday April 30th: Return Home
Given how the ride to the hotel was we weren’t really looking forward to the ride back to the airport. I’m sad to say that it was just as bad as expected with all three of you losing your breakfast at some point in the trip, most in a bag and some on my lap…
All in all the trip was amazing and we really enjoyed spending time with our friends. We are truly blessed.
Mom and Dad