In 2009, when I visited Panchgani for the first time, I was certain that this is a perfect weekend getaway in Maharashtra, away from the chaos of work-life monotony. Panchgani throws a nice colonial vibe and offers breathtaking views of the Sahyadri mountain ranges. Back then, I stayed in a ‘No frills’ B&B near the main market area in Panchgani.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Panchgani again. This time to check out a villa by The Weekend Plan who specialize in Villa Rentals.
Luxury Travel has taken a new meaning altogether, no more restricting itself to the concept of 5 Star Hotels alone. Villa Rentals is picking up among new age travelers who do not mind spending an extra buck to try out new experiences. Come to think of it, Villa rentals make sense for big groups and joint family holidays as well as an intimate getaway for a couple. There is more privacy, more space, the flexibility to do your own thing and a nice dash of luxurious living.
On a Sunday in October, we arrived at 4pm in Panchgani after a five and a half hour drive from Mumbai. My abode was the Caramba Villa, just 2km away from the main market area in Panchgani. Caramba is ‘Wow’ in Spanish and the villa quite rightly justified the term. The house opened to a large in-house swimming pool with a covered skylight. Built on the lines of an open plan design, the Caramba Villa looked aesthetic and elegant.
There were 2 bedrooms with private bathrooms on the ground level along with a lounge area. The kitchenette on the same level was equipped with a fridge, gas stove and an oven. It was well stocked with crockery & cutlery and basic ingredients like tea leaves, milk, sugar, jam, eggs and salt for our quick meal fixes. The dining area overlooked the pool and made for a grand dining experience. The Upper level had another lounge with a private bathroom and sofa cum beds, and a third bedroom with a terrace that offered a beautiful view of the surrounding farms.
Enclosed lawns were a perfect setting for evening chatter along with dimly lit lanterns. Earthy colors gave the villa a rustic look while the interiors were contemporary. Great balance, I’d say!
The famous Table Land is right in the backyard of the villa. Check with the caretaker and he should be able to guide you trek to the summit. On the morning of Day 2, Anil, our caretaker accompanied my folks on a trek to the Table Land, while I stayed back to catch up on some sleep.
A large LCD TV with a set top box has most of the popular channels. And the music system has an AUX cord so you can plug and play your collection. There’s a beach ball for the pool and cards and carom board for indoor activities. Sounds like an ideal setting for large family getaways, doesn’t it?
There was a power failure on a couple of occasions but the villa has a generator on stand-by. So, it didn’t cause us any inconvenience as such. An industrial torch is also in place. And the villa is small pet friendly unlike hotels that often restrict our four legged friends. That’s a plus right away 😀
Those Personal Touches
Villas are far from match box sized standard luxury hotel rooms where smiles and services are robotic. The former have the look and feel of a home.
On booking, we were assigned a Relationship Manager – The Weekend Plan representative and our single point of contact for queries and requests. At the villa, the Caretaker is your Superman! Ask him to run the errands or get the groceries, set up the barbecue, daily housekeeping, car wash or check with him for local ‘how-to-reach-where’ information. A resident cook-on-call (additional charge) whips up delicious home cooked meals like Pulao, Chicken Curry, Fish Fry, Dal, Vegetables and Chapatis. Let her know what you’d like to eat for a meal and leave it to her while you rest in the villa or go out for a stroll. While we did avail the cook-on-call service, we also occasionally ventured in the kitchen to cook Poha, Omelette and make Tea, just like how we would in our own kitchen.
I might be getting picky here but I wish there was a temperature control for the pool. Although, we were here for two nights, the pool water was ice-cold, so we didn’t bother venturing in. On the morning of the third and final day, we mustered the courage to get into the pool when the temperatures were warming up around 10:30am 🙂
In a Nutshell
Unlike some places where you have to get out of the hotel room to explore and experience, at a Villa, your stay becomes your experience. I’ll go a step ahead and say that a villa stay in Panchgani is not a bad option since more often than not people visit this laid back town to unwind. What better way to unwind than to stay in a villa in Panchgani?
The Weekend Plan also rents villas in other locations across Maharashtra, Goa and a couple of other destinations. You can check their website for packages.
Note: I was a guest of The Weekend Plan. Thoughts, obviously my own. Promise!
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