We travelled to Lavasa on the eve of Valentine’s Day this year (2014). Considering, it was a Friday (followed by a weekend) we had anticipated it to be crowded. However, unexpectedly, it was not. I had read and heard a few good reviews about this place and had high expectations however I would say my trip to Lavasa was a letdown. The place did not have much to offer. Probably I was there during the wrong time of the year as many suggested monsoon is the good time to be there. Lavasa is a huge township amidst mountains. It is about 40-50 kms from Pune, little over 1 hour drive. Best to travel by your own vehicle. We had booked our 1 night stay at Hotel Mercure Lavasa. The hotel was decent and I have covered about it separately at the bottom of this story. It was a little costlier option.
There is not much to do at Lavasa except walking along the waterfront promenade, the prime attraction, which is very well maintained and clean. It was about 10mins walk from our hotel, Mercure. It also offers various options for dining at restaurants serving delicacies from different countries like American, Australian, Lebanese, Singaporean, Chinese along with Pizzas, Ice-creams and Indian street foods like Chats & Tikkas. Some of these are overpriced. It is recommended to have meals at the hotel; however, one can try these restaurants for one meal.
We had our dinner at American Diner, which was obviously a costly affair. The place had on offer, a 5 course dinner for a couple (Valentine’s eve) at a discounted price of Rs. 1000/- (we did not opt for it). The restaurant serves imported drinks. We tried a Vodka brand called Pinky (this is the first time, we heard about this brand). It was ok. Weather was the only plus, it was very pleasant and started getting colder towards the evening. The place is worth staying for a night.
What one can do?
Water sports activities offers a family boat ride (for 6-10 persons) (Rs. 200 pp, even for kids above 1 year – which I thought was on a higher side). There were few other options like individual, twin pedal boats, kayaking and Jet Skis.
Playing zone for kids had most video games in non-working condition. Can try bowling, pool table, car/bike racing.
There is an option of adventure sports – X-thrill, which offers rock climbing, rappelling, valley crossing etc. We did not try this.There was also a mini golf, which looked not worth trying. One can also witness a musical fountain show in the evening at around 7 pm.
There is lot of construction activity going on so expect some disturbance and dust around.
Some restaurants were closed or highly priced.
There were not many options of entertainment and most games were not operational. The place turned romantic by the evening when many couples, newly-weds arrived to enjoy the dusky mood, strolling around, clicking photos on the picturesque background.
We were told that the place also has independent villa’s – Ekaant, situated amidst the mountains, which offers a nice, never-ending view of the mountains and a panoramic view of complete Lavasa. (This was told to us and we did not stay in these houses, so cannot comment on it). Someone also mentioned there is a chopper ride, but again, did not enquire any further.
Overall, it’s a costly affair with nothing much to offer. One can give it a skip and try other holiday options. Probably, it will turn into a good holiday destination once the place is completely developed and ready.
Hotel Mercure: Best place to stay at Lavasa
The hotel is a brand of Accor and it is worth the bills that we paid. It offers over 100 decent rooms for guests and one would not be really disappointed for having stayed here.
The hotel does not have its own pool in the premise, however offers complimentary Swimming Pool and Gym facilities at the nearby clubhouse which is about 15-20 mins walk. The complimentary coupon for this is offered on enquiry.
Some may feel the rooms are small, however I would say they are just about right for a couple-stay. It comes with almost all basic facilities like flat screen LCD, mini fridge, iron and board, complimentary tea/coffee makers and 2 bottles of water, and regular toiletries including a hair-dryer. Did not try a la carte and room service. No great views from the room. From our balcony, we could only see some construction sites.
Check-in and Check-Out
Check-in: 12:00 noon and check-out: 10 AM. The hotel was fine with our request for late c/out (though we checked out in time, the next day).
Dining – Lunch
The hotel has a multi-cuisine restaurant – Celebration, offering good variety spread of buffet of mostly Indian food for lunch. Few delicacies which were on the menu during our stay included Mutton, Chicken, Vegetable Makhani, Bhindi, Daal Fry, Pulao, Hakka noodles, Roti, Naan, Veg/N.veg soups, variety of salads, pastries, Sevaiya and so on. The food was delicious and would say, aptly priced. The cost per head was Rs. 650/- (plus taxes).
It also had a live cooking counter, which serves some of your favorite dishes, right out of the frying pan.
Our booking included Bed & Breakfast. There were, again, various choices with a blend of English, Maharashtrian and South Indian options. The counter had Khichdi, Idli-Sambhar, Omlette, Toast/butter/Jam, Paav-Bhaji, Cereals, Cakes, Fruits (limited choice though), Yogurt, Juices, Tea and Coffee.
The hotel has a cozy little place called Zen Bar, with lounge style seating where you can relax with your favorite poison. One can enjoy wine and various other drinks here. (We did not visit the bar ☺ and I read about the happy hours at the bar, after we checked out☹)
Overall, the hotel was nice and there are not many things to write against this place, however few points that could have been handled in a better way:
a. Our check-out and bill settlement process was extremely delayed. We had done an online booking/payment through the Hotel’s website and were expecting to pay, just the balance including our lunch. However, the staff mentioned that the payments are not reflecting for some reason – which was hard to believe. Finally, after confirming with Bank/Credit card that the amount has not been debited, we made the full payment and it was sorted. However, we spent a lot of time at the reception counter, with multiple staff members verifying, cross-checking, calling others etc to sort this.
Why and how the payment was not received is still a mystery to us, secondly, how did hotel confirm our reservation online, without receiving the payments? Anyways, not our headache!
b. We had a twin sharing room. In our neighboring room a group of boys arrived late in the night and continued with the party, they had returned from. The whole conversation and noise was audible in our room, which was quite disturbing.
c. Finally, the hotel should have offered some recreation activities like swimming pool in its own premise.
Overall, we were very happy with the stay, service and food.