Dukes Retreat in Khandala is fantastic … Didn’t realise it till I landed up there!
Khandala is a 2-hour drive from Mumbai and lies in the beautiful, verdant Western Ghats. Go past the second Lonavala exit and drive a short bit more to reach Dukes Retreat. Sprawling and very well maintained, you are at the seating area next to the poolside upon entry and even as you check in, you get a peek of the stunning view of the Ghats.
The Ghats are almost everywhere, when you are at the Retreat. Better still, you like to stay glued to them, their beauty. Rains magnify them. The clouds, the magic they wreathe in the hills, the green blush of the valley upon being touched by the rains – your city parched soul gets its balm. And you itch to loosen the strings that city life tie so tight around you – you itch to play, sing or simply breathe into the crisp air. The more effervescent around you call for barbecue delights, drinks, group singing, and dancing too. As I said, you itch to unrestrain yourself.
Needless to say, the stay at the Dukes Retreat, is reinvigorating. I was there as part of my organisation’s offsite program, along with a team of 25 colleagues. And between short meetings and interesting outdoor team-building sessions, we filled our lungs with fresh air with a vengeance. The rooms have the usual amenities and are well maintained. The air-conditioning is poor though, and you need to keep the windows open.
They have a gym that, weirdly, opens late. And have provisions for games such as badminton, carom, table tennis too. There were 2 other corporate groups, but owing to the Retreat’s size, we didn’t bump into any other soul. Even during meals, there was no rush..
Food at the Dukes Retreat is fairly good. They have a café, called the Panorama Café, and a restaurant, called the Duchess Restaurant. The cafe offers, as the name suggests, a lovely panoramic view of the hills. The best seats are in the open, if the weather permits. The verandah behind the café is actually the best place for panoramic shots of the Ghats. The service at the Café, though, is pathetic. Would recommend you to eat your meals only at the main restaurant, Duchess.
Overall, it was lovely experience at the Dukes Retreat, and I missed my family when there. My wife would have loved the hills and the clouds and my daughter would have squealed at the green snake I saw in the dead of night, and the beautiful rainbow in the morning. 🙂