weekend getaway

A globetrotters Local weekend

A globetrotters local weekend is a short blog as experienced by Reena Sachdev in her own words.

My journey as a globetrotter started when I was 15 years old and is delightfully continuing, being the anchor to my profession as a travel designer.

The New Normal

I wonder if anyone had told me that on the morning of 14th March 2020, the world was going to change, would I be prepared for what came next? That we would wake up to a new world! A world with health as a priority over the economy, where safety was in distancing, where love means minimal contact, and where life will be all about a totally new set of priorities that never even crossed our minds!

Indeed, the pandemic has brought about a complete change in everyone’s lives and a much-needed reality check. Despite the challenges like in any other situation, there are positives that we cannot ignore. For instance, spotting dolphins in Venice, blue waters on the shores of Mumbai, fiery skies, the sighting of wild animals on freeways, and so many other ways in which the earth has healed itself.

A reason to travel

After being homebound for more than five months in the most strict manner, it was time for us as a family to start taking those baby steps. Moreover, our 10-year-old son has been schooling online could do with a local weekend along with a small dosage of mother nature.

Every monsoon it is a ritual to go someplace that is a short drive away from Mumbai where we enjoy this season to its full potential. Clouds barring our vision, the fresh smell of wet earth & greens around us shining brighter than ever (usually also includes Maggi & Tea on Tiger Point as well as the Expressway food court binging). We deliberated over a few choices and zeroed in on Lonavala which is a two-hour drive from home.

We decided to go on a Monday with our car fully-sanitized and as COVID repellent as possible. The idea was to avoid the crowd as all hotels in Lonavala were running at full capacity. It was a weekend getaway on a weekday. Go figure!

First impressions

The key things we noticed were:

  • The glass panel along the reception area.
  • The management personnel wore gloves and masks.
  • No use of touchscreen signature (due to difficulty in sanitizing). Sometimes the old ways are best 
  • Baggage handling is done right
  • The private pool is sanitized with sanitizing solution and tested with strips to ensure the process.
  • In-room dining served in biodegradable corn starch containers
  • All toiletries are sealed.
  • The housekeeping has an additional supervisor who checks the room completely after cleaning and approves. Afterwards he puts the sanitized seal outside the main door indicating that the room is ready for the next occupant.

The concept

A “black box” as they (the machan) call themselves with no network, no television in the rooms, could teach us a thing or two about what life outside screens is like. You can access internet through a weak wifi as the main purpose is to have guests disconnect from the world. But it wasn’t easy for an internet addict like me. 

The machan is a cluster of 26 treehouse accommodations spread over 27 acres of land on a mountain plateau overlooking the valley and mostly hidden by clouds.

One can rest assured that it does not get more socially distant than this. Our stay was in a three-level treehouse that had the master bedroom upon entry followed by spiral descending wooden steps leading to the next double bedroom. Further concrete steps lead down to the pool area.

Surreal experience

A tree-house with a four-poster bed, an open shower (with the tree in between so expect a few crawlies) separated from a closed one, a minibar, wide lounging spaces, and glass-panel walls on three sides is the perfect setting to feel one with nature during the monsoon.

Add to this breathtaking deck views with a bathtub to indulge in a make-believe hot spring experience. Let your imagination take over and teleport to any part of the world you desire or simply enjoy the moment. Lazy is good!

Having always been a big fan of visuals and fewer words, I still manage to slip in more things to see than to read as truly pictures speak a thousand words.

The show-stealers here are the eclectic art pieces that must have been collected from various flea markets and are now used as quirky decoratives. A front table converted from an old sewing-machine on which I happily peddled. A vintage bar stool whose height could be adjusted with a hand-crank. And an old studio light which was used as a corner lamp. You can find more such items spread across the place.

The constant sounds of nature played in the background changing every hour. You can hear crickets in the night while many different species of birds welcomed the morning.

Reena Sachdev is founder of Travel Arena, a luxury travel company that customises bespoke experiences for leisure and business travel.

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