Five Reasons to Visit JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa

A good hotel is so much more than plush interiors, comfortable beds and delicious food. I love hotels that go above and beyond the conventional route, to create memories and experiences that the guest rarely forgets. Which is why I fell head over heels in love with the JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort and Spa property. The hotel has a soul that resonates strongly within the walls, and positivity that reflects on the faces of their smiling staff. 

I was visiting JW Mussoorie as a part of the Culinary Soujourn of Garhwal organised by the property in association with Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal of the APB Cook Studio, to discover more about the region of Gahrwal and their cuisine. (You can read more about the trip here.) Promoting the local Garhwali cuisine is just one of the many initiatives the hotel has undertaken. They want to help promote the culture of the region and the hidden beauty of Garhwal, all under the ‘sustainable tourism’ bracket. Any hotel that truly practices this form of responsible tourism – generating income and employment along with alleviating any deeper impact on environment and local culture – is a must visit in my opinion. In case you are looking for more reasons to visit, here they are. Read on!

(Image Courtesy: JW Marriott Mussorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa)

1. The Food – A Multicultural Experience

We were there on a culinary soujourn, so it’s only fair that I mention their food first. Usually, five star hotels manage to wow guests with the world cuisine on offer, but rarely do they get their regional dishes spot on. At the JW Mussoorie, they take extra care in showcasing Garhwali food and bringing it to the forefront. Credit here goes to the Food and Beverage team that includes two lovely local women from the nearby village, who have been employed by the hotel to train their staff and cook meals for their patrons.

A must have at the property is the Garhwali thali, available on request at the JW Cafe – their all day dining restaurant. The thali is a wonderful way to acquaint yourself with a few popular Garhwali dishes, with the mountains around you for company. I love that they manage to do rustic dishes like the Kandli Ka Saag – a vegetable dish made from bichoo ghaas aka stinging nettle, with just as much elan as they do a thin crust pizza. The breakfast spread here is mighty impressive, especially because they rustle up local favourites such as Gehat ka Paratha (stuffed horsegram parathas), Aloo Swala (thick aloo puris), and Urad Dal Pakodas. Ask nicely and they’ll even throw in the recipes for you to replicate at home.

Want a break from the local cusine? (Though I wouldn’t see why.) Teppan is their in-house Pan Asian restaurant, where you can not only gorge on delicious sushi, but also watch some live theatrics at the teppanyaki counter. Or else, nibble on some grills, while you nurse your cocktail looking out at the Northern Garhwal range of mountains from the classy Trout House Grill and Bar. Don’t forget to sip on their famed Hot Chocolate at Perch – a tea lounge that offers a panoramic view of the mountains – with a book and your thoughts for company.

We were lucky enough to indulge in a beautiful Garhwali Fusion meal where the chefs used local ingredients infused with modern cooking techniques. When a kitchen churns out genius dishes like Stinging Grass and Pinenut Kebabs or a gateaux made out of the local Bal Mithai, you know you’re in for a gastronomic treat.

Garhwal on a Plate
Cappuccino with a View
Gehat ke Parathe
Trout House Bar and Grill

2. The Location – The Hills are Alive

What wows you the minute you walk into the JW Mussoorie lobby is the sight – you get a stunning view of the lush green valley. And if you choose to stay in a valley view room, you get to wake up to that view every morning. With gorgeous balconies in every room, you can’t help but lie on the sofas without a care in the world, pondering over life as you look straight out into the mountains. Look into the distance and you can see snow capped peaks of the Himalayas even during summers. Even if you haven’t opted for a valley view room, you can still enjoy the view from most of the restaurants at JW Mussoorie and a number of different vantage viewing points littered across the property. The mountains brought pristine air, and serenity in to my room, only to be disturbed by the chirping of birds. 

The hotel is also aptly located on the outskirts of Mussoorie, yet not too far from the hustle and bustle of the main market. It is easily accessible, yet isolated thereby making it a perfect destination for some much needed rest and relaxation.

Foggy Mountains

3. The Wellness Programs – For the mind, body and soul

Like most high-end hotels, the JW Mussorie also has a fully equipped. 24-hour gymnasium for those who want to work out while on vacation. Not to mention a fantastic, indoor heated swimming pool overlooking the mountains which makes it perfect for when you want to go swimming even during cool weather. 

A fabulous wellness initiative that the hotel has organized is the Yoga session that is available to all hotel guests every morning, completely free of cost. I was lucky enough to participate in one such session, and the experience was surreal. Doing asanas barefoot on the grass connects you to mother earth like nothing else can. Meditating while breathing in pure mountain air was such a calming experience, I’d fly back just for that! Yoga classes in the city just don’t match up.

The hotel also houses the Cedar Spa by L’Occitane which is an ideal space to unwind at after a tiring day of sight seeing. The majestic Cedar trees that dominate the ridge line of Mussoorie have been used to create signature therapy treatments at the spa, along with L’Occitane products. I underwent a fabulous massage session at the spa, and emerged feeling like a goddess ready to embrace the mountains.

Walkway to heaven – Cedar Spa by L’Occitane

4. The Activities – Fun, Family Bonding

The hotel goes out of their way in attempting to create a fun experience for the entire family, such that you return back home brimming with positive memories. They organise a Kachadi or a ‘get together’ every evening over high tea for their guests. The JW Mussoorie lawns turn into a melange of colour and sound, as families intermingle, play various games such as badminton and croquet together, while live music plays in the background. Not to mention the fabulous masala chai, and chaat on offer.

Kachadi Time!

The Den is their in-house gaming arcade complete with carrom, table tennis tables, and arcade games. Not to mention the underground bowling alley, that children (and adults) seem to flock to. It’s also a wonderful space to leave your kids for an hour while you go get a back massage at the spa.

The hotel also organizes excursions to nearby tourist spots on request. Their ‘Breakfast in a Stream’ is one such fabulous activity you could enjoy. I repeat, breakfast IN the stream, not BY the stream! We were treated to a hearty breakfast in the middle of a gushing stream, after we trekked down an easy slope for about 20 minutes. Cool water flowed under our legs, towering mountains all around us, while we gorged on some delicious breakfast spread. Parathas, croissants, fresh fruit, and even a live omelette station – all in the middle of the stream; not to mention the freshly squeezed orange juice being handed out to us. 

The hotel gets it’s name from the number of walnut trees that are interspersed within the property, and if you’re lucky enough to visit during walnut season you can actually go picking walnuts with the hotel staff!

Breakfast in the Stream

5. The Environmental Initiatives – Go Green

JW Mussoorie not only preaches about sustainable tourism and responsible travel, but also practice it extensively. Our aim as responsible travellers should be to add to the region we visit, instead of depleting and deriving it’s natural resources. Which is why the Plant A Tree initiative is a fantastic way for tourists to give back to the mountains of Mussorie. The hotel encourages all guests to plant a tree on the property, which their gardening staff later looks after.

The hotel also has an accompanying farm on which they grow their own vegetables and fruits, most of which are utilized in the hotel kitchen. The greenhouse on the lawns also grows a variety of herbs and shrubs which are again included in a lot of meal preparations. The farm and the greenhouse are picturesque locations to escape to on the hotel campus, and enjoy some solitude in the middle of all that vegetation.

Follow the hashtags #DiscoverGarhwaliFood and #ExploreGarhwal on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information on our Culinary Soujourn across Garhwal.

You can check out the JW Marriott Walnut Grove Resort and Spa, Mussoorie property on their website here or follow them on their handle @JWMussoorie on various social platforms.

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My June Food Favourites

The monsoons create havoc outside my window as I type this. A strong urge of piping hot bhajiyas and hot chocolate envelope me, and I cannot help but wonder why nobaarish ka khaana is being listed out in this post.

Nevertheless, July is coming up and a lot of deep fried foods and steaming beverages shall be consumed. Until then here is a round up of my June food favourites – dishes, restaurants and events that made the cut.

1. When you can’t decide between coffee and dessert – Starbucks’s Summer Beverages FTW!

What I love about Starbucks is that they keep reinventing their menu, introducing newer drinks keeping in mind seasonal specials. Their indulgent drinks on offer currently are the Coconut Strawberry Bliss Frappuccino and the Roasted Marshmallow S’mores Frappuccino. The former was an interesting blend of tropical coconut and citrus strawberries, while the latter was a creamy vanilla coffee interspersed with marshmallow chunks. Not a fan of sugary coffee drinks? Try their Cold Brew instead – a strong Kenyan brew served over ice.

Available at Starbucks outlets all over the country.

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My May Food Favourites

The heat in the month of May was absolutely unbearable. All it made me want to do was curl up inside an air conditioned room, and sip on smoothies. Luckily, I got a chance to escape to the hills of Mussoorie, to explore a lesser known cuisine. But more on that in later blogposts. Back home in Mumbai, the eating out was kept to a bare minimum courtesy the excruciating heat. Here is a round up of the restaurants and dishes that made it to my May Food Favourites list – 

1. For those Sindhi Sunday breakfasts – Sindhu Sweets, Khar.

Let the aroma of freshly fried pakwans lead you to Sindhu Sweets, which is located at a two minute walk from Khar railway station. This sweet shop specializes in a few Sindhi dishes such as Dal Pakwaan, Aloo Tuk, Sindhi Kadhi Chawal, and more. Most of these are weekly specials and only available on a Sunday morning.

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And The Butchery Begins – House of Cards, Season 5

‘Watch out for each other. And yes, watch each other.’

As Claire Underwood looks chillingly into the camera and utters these words in the first few minutes of the episode, you know the Underwoods are back. And how! Season 5 of the political drama House of Cards re-appears back on the screen after a long hiatus. And House of Cards fans including yours truly, shall remain hooked onto the telly until they binge watch the entire season. The Underwoods have that sort of magnetic pull over you.

Season 4 ended on a high note with the Underwoods making the statement, ‘We do not submit to terror. We make the terror.’ As Frank and Claire struggle to keep their heads afloat the storm that is the upcoming elections they are so badly losing, you know they shall use every trick in the book to emerge victorious. Not to mention they’re reeling under the bad press that came out of Tom Hammerschmidt’s expose article. The first episode gives us enough hints that the Underwoods shall remain at their utmost worst and scheming best. *BEWARE spoilers ahead.

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Brunch Diaries – Henpecked, Kala Ghoda

Third time is a charm at Henpecked. The location that houses Henpecked was previously occupied by Farmer and Sons, and a restaurant called Nico Bombay before that. Now I haven’t dined at Henpecked’s two predecessors, but from what I hear the concept of all three restaurants remains rooted at the ‘farm to table’ movement. Read: fresh, healthy, locally sourced produce that won’t make you feel guilty even if you indulge. So much so, that they’ve carried forward signature dishes and popular items from the previous menus into that of Henpecked’s.

Henpecked sets off a fun, relaxed vibe the minute you enter. A large glass cabinet frames one wall and is filled with cute paraphernalia, knick knacks, and picture books. The space, though small in surface area, still manages to not feel cluttered or cramped. A rarity in this city where small restaurants means your knocking elbows with the diner on the next table. Our server tells us that shifting the bar to the back of the restaurant and not along one side has done the trick.

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