I had returned from one of the toughest treks I’ve done in my life. My head was high in pride but my body was aching no end. We were sleeping in tents and trekking 12km a day until sunset in the Satpura Tiger Reserve. Our battered bodies needed some rejuvenation.
After completing the trek, I moved towards the city of begums – Bhopal, where my abode was the lovely Jehan Numa Retreat. It was just the kind of stay I was craving.
Initially, I was not receptive of choosing this property. As I was staying in Bhopal only for a day, I wanted a hotel closer to the city center, so travelling around was convenient. Jehan Numa Retreat seemed like an eco resort…the kinds we see on the outskirts of metropolitans as a getaway. But I was wrong!
18km from the airport and 10km from the railway station, Jehan Numa Retreat is just within Bhopal city limits, sharing its boundary with the state-run Van Vihar National Park – a forested park with tigers, crocodiles and leopards in open enclosures. The property is both, a getaway and a city hotel…more so the former, because of its nature friendly profile.
Jehan Numa Retreat (Source)
I arrived at Jehan Numa Retreat in the evening, enroute Bhojpur and Bhimbetka. The warm welcome at the reception gave me a cue of the treat I was in for. A wet-cloth wiped the dust off that I carried from the forest and the litchi drink was refreshing after battling Central India’s harsh heat. Escorting us to our room, the manager got chatty and gave us a brief overview of the property.
Launched in 2014, Jehan Numa Retreat is the newest baby from the Jehan Numa Group. Their oldest property, the Jehan Numa Palace is the most visited hotel in Bhopal. A heritage palace of the Nawabs turned into a luxury hotel since 1983. In 2011, the brand forayed into wildlife tourism and launched the Reni Pani Jungle lodge in the Satpura Tiger Reserve. All the hotels are family-run.
(L) The path to our room; (R) Lobby at Jehan Numa Retreat
28 cottage type rooms along 6 clusters form the 12 acre property at Jehan Numa Retreat. They’ve named each cluster after the local birds in the region, namely Kingfisher, Jacana, Heron, Hornbill, Lapwing and Fracolin. Our room was in the Heron cluster.
Façade of the rooms have a traditional village house look
Soon after I had dumped my rucksack, I did a quick recce of the room. The space looked chic and understated consisting of a twin bed with a sofa, a flat screen and an in-house tea station with complimentary cookies, Wi-fi is on the house. Room colours were earthy and a large heritage painting adorned one side of the wall. The bathroom was huge enough to be another room altogether, and came furnished with a closet, robes and the finest toiletries. Our room was among the few to have an open air shower too. Although, nothing mattered more that evening than the sight of an inviting bathtub 😀
Each room has a private outdoor deck – one of their special features, I’d say. The property grows their own fruits and vegetables and some of these are planted in the backyard of each guest room. My room opened to tall plantains and sweet basil and thyme plants that doubled up as a mosquito repellent.
Private outdoor deck
Dinner was at their outdoor restaurant – Under the Jamun tree. A live kitchen station bustled with chefs. Smoke from the tandoors filled the air. Lanterns hung from the tree parked in the centre of the restaurant surrounded by candle lit tables.
Under the Jamun Tree specialises in Indian and Chinese cuisine. The food was good although the Thai Chicken curry with rice arrived luke warm. The Zaffrani Chicken and Mutton Stew with paratha were flushed down with chilled beer.
Coriander Leaf is their global cuisine offering that seemed like a true blue fine-dine experience. I did not get the opportunity to sample the food here since my stay was a short one.
Under the Jamun tree (Source)
Next morning, I skipped the buffet breakfast and lazed around in the outdoor deck of my room, sipping English tea while enjoying the view in the garden. The chirping of the birds on the rooftop was music to my ears. A staff member had called to check if I would be interested in having my breakfast at the restaurant and that the buffet will close shortly. Brownie points there!
I, then, took a walk along the tree lined estate that had well marked trails. Hordes of butterflies joined me for company. Patches of organic vegetation greeted me from time to time – think Tomatoes, Brinjals, Chillies, Radish, Aloe Vera, Leek, Thyme, Turmeric, you name it.
The Property has planted 3000 trees till date to improve the soil fertility of the area. A special tree plantation programme is part of the many guest activities here where one can plant a sapling marked with the name of the planter or dedicate the sapling to a loved one.
I also visited Chakra, their spa wellness centre for a quick 30min head massage. The facility overlooked the pool and made for a captivating view. The 20m pool looked stunning by itself.
The masseur was friendly and she went on to discuss for how long she’s been working with the Jehan Numa Group and how repeat customers who remember her name makes her day. At the end of the session, I wished her good luck and good bye and left her a feedback note for her warm hospitality.
Chakra – Spa wellness centre
Pressed for time, I would have loved to explore the golf course or the many in-house activities the hotel arranges such as Kite flying, Croquet, Kitchen garden, Fruit and Vegetable plucking and cycling to the Van Vihar National Park. But mine was a short stay at Jehan Numa Retreat. A stay that has left me wanting for more…I guess that’s good thing.
Note: I received an invitation from Jehan Numa Retreat. Thoughts, obviously my own, Promise!
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