Category Archives: Lonavala

A Weekend At Treasure Island Resort, Lonavala

The mist rolled down over the hills, green and wet with the rain. Little waterfalls burst forth from the verdant foliage as we drove past on the expressway from Pune to Lonavala.

Driving towards Lonavala on the Expressway from Pune

Treasure Island Resort, Lonavala, is just on the outskirts of Lonavala town. You have to pass another toll naka (post) and a few roadside dhabas (restaurants) before you see the massive sign signalling you inside the gates.

It was over 20 years since I stayed at the Treasure Island Resort, Lonavala. The last time I stayed there was before my kid was born.

I didn’t remember much of what it looked like back then, except for this pool with a waterfall in the centre of the resort. Every time we crossed the corridor passing by the pool, our noses were assaulted by the stench of chlorine.

Pool and waterfall at night at the Treasure Island Resort, Lonavala

I booked a week at the resort in July 2018, because a week of my RCI timeshare was expiring and I had to use it or lose it. That’s one of the curses of owning a timeshare you don’t use as often as you should.

At the Treasure Island Resort, Lonavala

Even though we were entitled to stay for a week, we decided to cut short our stay and return to Pune after the weekend, because the hotel had no Wifi, the data network was bad and we wouldn’t have been able to get any work done.

Our suite at the Treasure Island Resort, Lonavala

Our stay was very pleasant though. The hotel had upgraded us from a studio apartment to a 1-bedroom suite, so we had plenty of place to lounge about and a massive bathroom that made me very happy. I love hotel rooms with big bathrooms.

The huge bathroom in our suite

We spent a very pleasant afternoon watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory  – the delightful 1971 musical with Gene Wilder, not the creepy 2005 Tim Burton remake with Johnny Depp.

Arun and I drove around Lonavala a bit. It had a lot of memories for us. But the dreadful traffic and lack of parking on weekends made us stick close to the Uphill mall in Lonavala, where we picked up a meal from McDonald’s.

Uphill Mall Lonavala

Our evenings were spent enjoying cocktails at the Tavern, the lounge at the 5-star Fariyas Hotel. We also preferred having our evening meals there.

The decor in the Fariyas Hotel Lonavala
My Strawberry Daiquiri at the Tavern, Fariyas Hotel

The food at Treasure Island Resort was reasonably-priced, tasty and well-made. But it was pure vegetarian (obviously targeted at the Gujarati community), and the room service was understaffed and unmotivated.

We had to waste a good deal of time trying to get through to them on the intercom, convincing them to serve us meals in the room.

Lonavala is a town and hill station about half-way between Mumbai and Pune. It’s one of the few places where weary Mumbaikars can hang up their hats on a weekend.

Punekars are somewhat more fortunate, having access to many more weekend getaways, like Lavasa, Mulshi, and Mahabaleshwar, besides the forts and hills near Pune city that attract so many trekkers.

It’s hard to get lost in Lonavala. If you can’t find your way, just follow the “Maganlal’s Chikki” signs. You can read more about the famous Lonavala chikki here.

Maganlal Chikki, Lonavala’s most famous chikki franchise

Before we returned to Pune, I tried to buy a pack of the famous Cooper’s chocolate and walnut fudge, but the long lines outside their shop made me opt for the fudge and chikki from Frend’s chikki nearby. It tastes just as good.

Frend’s Chikki and Fudge

The Machan, Lonavala: Birds, Bees And All Manner Of Mating Creatures

Touted as an eco-friendly resort that’s run totally off-grid, on solar and wind energy, The Machan in Lonavala is a luxury forest getaway situated 10 to 15 minutes by car from the Bushi Dam diversion on the Amby Valley Road.

The resort resounds with the sounds of birds, bees, and trees (and sometimes couples going at it in the next room).

We went in May when temperatures were in the 30s (degrees Celsius). It was humid, but pleasant, thanks to the air cooler in the room. If you’re looking for lots of activities, you’ll be disappointed.

There’s not much to do here, except go for nature treks (ours was cancelled because of the threat of bee attacks), massages, yoga, meditation, and stargazing.

There’s no TV or music as it disturbs the forest animals. So if you feel the need to blare loud music and party, this is not the place for you. If you’re afraid of insects and bees, stay away.

If you want some quiet downtime away from the crowds and the internet, you’ll love it here. It’s the perfect romantic getaway, but the rooms are not soundproof, so it’s not as private as it seems.

While I applaud their initiative to go off-grid, an eco-friendly resort should not be using aluminium foil and plastic wrap to transport food. What’s wrong with using casseroles or the good, old, Indian dabba?

As far as food goes, it’s probably best to avoid the buffet meals. They are adequate but fall short on taste. Ask for the a la carte menu, or stick to in-room dining in the privacy of your verandah.

Also, carry some snacks and drinks along if possible. They have a small bar in the dining area, but everything is super-expensive (Sprite for Rs 150 and a pint of Sula Chenin Blanc for Rs 1000).

There is no kitchenette, but each room comes with an electric kettle, tea/coffee pouches, and a fridge. To my surprise, there was no cutlery in the room. A disposable plastic stirrer is not an eco-friendly substitute for a stainless steel spoon.

I wish they understood that disposable does not equal eco-friendly. It just ends up creating waste. It also makes me wonder how they dispose of all these disposable items (including spa slippers and underwear) so far out in the boondocks.

That said, the rooms at the resort are rustic yet beautiful, and the decor is tasteful. The antique furniture and elegant bathtub are a lovely touch.

We stayed in a Canopy room that had an enviable view of the surrounding forests. We missed the stargazing session but had a nice chat about stars and planets with Gautam, the resident astronomer, and an all-around nice guy.

Staying at The Machan Resort, Lonavala is not cheap. It will set you back INR 12,000 per night, or more. But then, you’re not paying for a vacation, you’re paying for an experience.

Also read: 8 Scenic Getaways Within 2 Hours Drive From Mumbai And Pune