If, like me, you’ve exhausted all your weekend getaway options close to Mumbai – this post may hold special interest for you. If, like me, putting your feet up and relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of the city is what you crave, then read on!
The sleepy town of Chakan may be barely heard of by most, barring a few car aficionados owing to the large number of international automobile factories it hosts. It is here in Chakan that the Courtyard by Marriott property sits, like a pretty oasis in a sun kissed desert. The sprawling property, scrumptious local food, and trademark Marriott hospitality is how I experienced the past weekend. Read on for a step-by-step account of my 24 hours at the Courtyard by Marriott Pune, Chakan –
12.00 pm – I check into the luxurious Courtyard by Marriott hotel at Chakan, after a three hour drive, not counting the innumerable vada pav halts. The property is located close to Pune as well, (roughly an hours drive) making it convenient if you are driving down from either city.
The generous folks at the Courtyard upgrade me to a personal suite, situated on the fifth floor, with a birds eye view of the area around. The rooms are spacious and equipped with all amenities – toiletries, electric kettle, ironing board, linen -that you need for a comfortable stay. My suite was complete with a living room where I could watch television, and a bedroom with the most comfortable bed where I sank myself and did not emerge until lunch time!
1.30 pm – I don an apron, and enter the kitchen at MoMo Cafe for my very own personal cooking session with celebrity chef Nilesh Limaye. Every weekend at the MoMo Cafe, for Rs 800 plus tax you can enjoy a scrumptious buffet laden with Marathi delicacies specially created by Chef Nilesh. They also encourage their patrons to go into the open kitchen, and try their hands at learning a dish with Chef himself, which is what I did!
We started off cooking a fiery Mutton Loncha – a dry, mutton pickle that is served as an accompaniment to a meal. I could only think of how well it would pair with a glass of chilled beer. It was fun, batter frying the Fish Koliwada and popping them straight into my mouth when nobody was looking.
It was interesting drawing parallels between world cuisine and Indian food with Chef Nilesh, as we cooked Varan Phal together – a dish made of dal and wheat flour ‘pasta’ cuttings. It reminded me a lot of ‘Dal Dhokli’, except this version was slightly acidic because of the inclusion of kokum, and tamarind water. Lunch was an elaborate multi-cuisine spread with emphasis on local dishes, including a rustic missal pao, and a sinful pumpkin halwa.
4.00 pm – I decide to make the most of the gorgeous pool at the Courtyard by taking a few laps to burn off lunch, and make room for dinner! The area around the pool is also really lovely if you simply want to lounge around reading a book, or sipping a cocktail. They also have a fully equipped gymnasium with a view of the poolside, if you’re obsessive about your work outs. (Well, I am not!)
5.00 pm – There are a few excursions that the hotel will readily organize for you such as a Pawna dam visit. If you love animals like I do, try and visit the Japalouppe Equestrian Centre, a half hour drive from the hotel. They offer basic as well as advanced riding courses, giving you a hands on horse riding experience. I experienced a 45 minute session where I was taught the basics on handling a horse, while the horse walked and trotted. Horse riding is a lot of hard work, and doesn’t involve just sitting on a moving horse as I thought. I enjoyed it so much, I wouldn’t mind returning to learn some more.
The entire farm is such a delight, with a petting farm to add to the fun. Horses, ponies, dogs, ducks, turkeys, turtles, and even two emus to add to the mayhem – this place is paradise for the animal lover! Such a welcome break from the madness of the city, to experience farm life at it’s best.
8.30 pm – Ravenous from all that physical activity, the buffet spread at MoMo Cafe looked so inviting! The buffet includes local Maharashtrian dishes, classic Indian staples, and a spattering of Oriental, Continental, and Italian dishes to cater to their international clients. Not to mention, an elaborate dessert counter with sweet treats of every kind. I always weary about 24 hour buffet restaurants because I’ve had tons of mediocre experiences, but MoMo Cafe plesantly surprises me every single time!
I particularly enjoyed the Indian fare every time I dined at the MoMo Cafe. You can also order from their a la carte menu if buffets aren’t your scene. I tried a delicious Pumkin and Feta Ravioli, and meaty Picante pizza from the menu. They also have a lovely outdoor section where you can sit and sip your coffee under the starry sky.
10.00 pm – I indulge in a bubble bath, nibble on the car shaped chocolate the staff left in my room, and decide to call it a night. By sundown, the view from the window completely transforms into a stark black blanket with a few twinkling lights scattered around. I sprawled across that king sized bed, watched the lights around me dim, and snoozed till the birds started chirping next morning.
9.30 am – Breakfast is an elaborate spread of made to order eggs – omelettes with ham and bacon and cheddar, please – and freshly squeezed orange juice on the side. I usually shy away from South Indian fare at breakfast buffets, but the dosa here was perfectly crisp, and came paired with the most unusual capsicum and cauliflower chutneys! Special mention to the wait staff at MoMo Cafe who fuss around you, change your plate between servings without you even asking, insisting you order more food, and bring you second helpings of some freshly squeezed juice.
Even though Courtyard by Marriott Pune, Chakan is primarily a business hotel, it attempts to provide so much more to the casual traveler. Delicious food, in-house activities and entertainment, hotel organized field trips and excursions, comfortable ambiance, and trademark Marriott hospitality make it an option worth considering for your next getaway. (Plus they have some really cost effective tariff options. You can check that here.) As I check out of the hotel 24 hours later, the restaurant manager Babloo comes running into the lobby, forcing me to wait a few minutes longer so that he could pack me a meal for the road.
For more details on Courtyard by Marriott Pune Chakan check out their website here.