Long weekends call for an outing. So, to please my nomadic self, I with my OH decided to visit Anandvan Resort, Bhandardhara for two nights. We had visited Bhandardhara 4 years back which was an impromptu overnight stay at a neighboring resort. And since then we wanted to stay at Anandvan Resorts, which is the best property in that location (compared to others). With a population of 2000, Bhandardhara is an ideal place to chill in the lap of nature; the scarce vehicles and limited human interaction make it perfect weekend getaway where you can relax and rejuvenate. You can experience cool breeze minus any pollution throughout your stay. Lake Arthur and Wilson Dam might not be out of this world but still they provide a scenic attraction to this sleepy and secluded place. Bhandardhara is a laid back village on the banks of lake Arthur and if season permits, you can enjoy boating and fishing in there. It is definitely blissful for the city souls who do mistake a bird coo for a doorbell.
Anandvan Resorts is located 170 Kms away from Mumbai. It roughly takes around 3.5 hours’ drive to reach the venue. You need to take a right after a kilometer from Ghoti toll on Mumbai-Nasik highway. The roads are good other than the last five minutes to the resort. It is a beautiful and scenic drive. Go further down the sunset point into the village and you can experience the untouched natural beauty in their humble set-ups. Anandvan Resorts is the best among the lot (MTDC and Yash Resorts) and you need to book it fairly well in advance. It has only 12 cottages. But the total area is massive with beautiful landscaping. It has a very small car park, enough to park around 12 cars. They have a small restaurant called ‘The Oaks’ where all your meals are served. After your arrival, you are greeted by the reception manager who treats you to a welcome drink. Check-in is at 1 pm and check-out at 11 am.
A cottage costs Rs. 12000 – Rs. 18000 per night approx. for 2 people and your jaw drops as to what they might be offering for such an exorbitant price. Is it a five star property? Not at all. I would believe it is a 3.5 Stars property. There is no swimming pool or spa. They do have a Kerala massage centre with basic equipment though. They have a small club house which includes a few in-house games. They have one conference room. Once in your room, you are given a welcome kit which includes fruits, chocolates, packet of chips, few soft drinks and water. The toiletries are of good quality.
So, what does the cost include? It includes stay in one of the cottages which are lake facing (you just get a glimpse of the lake from the mini garden). Every cottage has eco-friendly décor with terracotta, jute, wood, etc. The rooms are decorated with Warli paintings. Every cottage has a private garden with lawn furniture where you can laze early mornings or late evenings listening to the chirping birds and buzzing insects. If accompanied by kids, they set up a kid’s pool in the lawn where your little ones can play. Depending on the size of the cottage, you get a bedroom, a living room and a bathroom. Only the bedrooms have AC (For us, we had to sleep without the AC for one night as AC wire was cut by a mouse, still the management didn’t offer us any discounts or fare reversals). The living rooms have TVs. (But there is a technical fault with them most of the times.) The fare includes all your meals and the food is surprisingly delicious given that they have local cooks. The spread is lavish and it includes local delicacies as well as regular dishes from across Maharashtra and north India. Weather permitting, you can enjoy a candle-light dinner in the lawn in front of their restaurant. The lawn area is breezy and pleasant. Every evening, cultural programmes are planned to entertain the guests, like tribal dance on drum beats or local singers singing Bollywood renditions, etc. The stay also includes a complimentary boat ride in the lake as well as a bullock cart ride towards the village. Most of their vegetables are grown in-house. (There is small plot just across the road where they grow vegetables, flowers, etc. which are consumed daily.) So you get to eat fresh produce. The fish, meat, and milk items are also arranged fresh from the village. For other services you need to pay extra. Room service is prompt.
Check out the video here.
So what else can you experience there? Nothing but peace, serenity, natural beauty and personalized attention of the staff. Is it senior citizen friendly? No, because there are a lot of steps and you need to be fit to climb up and down those steps. Is it child friendly? Yes, as they provide activities like small bicycles, bullock cart ride, boat ride, kid’s pool, etc. to keep them occupied. Children below five get complimentary services. Will I go there again? May be not, because I don’t think their charges are commensurate of the experience.
Tip: Don’t forget to buy pedas (Indian sweet) from Kalsubai store in the village. Fresh and yummy!