Ever so often we all need a break, preferably one of those long, restful ones whose memories linger in our minds long after it’s over. Given our fast-paced lives, however, one has to be satisfied with a short but rejuvenating break and that’s exactly what we, at Delectable Reveries, got this weekend, as part of the VIP experience offered by Novotel Imagica.
This hotel, which opened its doors to the public two years ago, is located in Khopoli, a 2 hour scenic drive away from Mumbai and is adjacent to the popular theme park Adlabs Imagica.
Nestled amidst the serene Sahayadri hills, far away from the urban rat race, Novotel Imagica Khopoli is the first theme park property by AccorHotels in India. Envisioned to be a destination “where fun never ends”, the property is situated adjacent to the Imagica, Water Park, and Snow Park. It is an ideal destination purely created for family time, where hassled city dwellers may also relax and rejuvenate themselves.
After checking-in, we decided to do a bit of exploring and headed outdoors. The hotel is seven stories high, with an immaculately sheared lawn in front of the hotel and a large swimming pool at the back, surrounded by a comfortable divan-style seating area. A smaller pool for kids lies adjacent to the big pool; it’s perpetually buzzing with activity making for a perfect summer picture. Inside, the hotel is large and is equipped with a conference room, a multipurpose hall, a state-of- the-art gym, a play area for toddlers and a game area which is furnished with board games, a chess board, a foosball table as well as foosball books and movie DVDs. A bar, named Nitro after the roller coaster at Imagica, is a popular hangout spot with many innovative drinks on offer, including a Bhut Jolokia (spiciest chilli in the world) shot.
We arrived at the property on a Saturday afternoon, in time for lunch. Starving after a long journey, we went straight to the restaurant, The Square, where a wonderful spread of soup, salads, and appetisers awaited us.
Carrot, radish and feta cheese salad, a sweet potato wanton and a cous-cous and apricot salad were just some of the unique starters on offer. The main course offered a variety of items, from the humble dal-rice and sabzi, to continental and oriental fare, all of it designed and supervised by the very talented Executive Chef, Ravi Raj.
Dessert was a specially curated trilogy of pistachio cake, jamun baked yoghurt and passion fruit and white chocolate mousse cake. Delectable, to say the least. With our bellies now happily full, we headed to our room.
The rooms are spacious, with all the amenities that a good 4 star hotel would supply; a well-equipped bathroom, a comfortable bed, a dressing table, a cupboard and a flat screen TV.
Novotel Imagica has introduced a specially curated VIP Package for the summers which guarantees you an eventful getaway amidst the Sahyadri Hills far away from the clamour of urban life. From plush rooms with the best of in-room amenities to express entry to Imagica, Water Park, and Snow Park theme parks the VIP package gives you one of a kind family vacation you could’ve imagined.
So after a few hours of rest in our rooms, we set out on a trek to view Lake Batthi, a lake in the nearby hills of Sangdewadi village. We were taken by bus to the entrance of a village from where the trail began. It was an enjoyable trek, as it took us through a scenic trail of greenery and flatlands and we had enjoyable company. On reaching the end of the trek, we were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the lake at sunset. It was truly worth the long walk up.
After soaking in the beauty of the view, we made our way back down and went to Snowmagica, a simulated snow-creating environment, whose freezing temperatures, after the heat of the trek, were a welcome relief. Complete with statues of polar bears, reindeers and igloos, Snowmagica creates a perfect environment for anyone who wants to experience the cold climes in the middle of a summer day. A snow slide with sledges makes it extremely popular with kids. After pelting each other with snow balls at Snowmagica, we headed back to our rooms, tired after our long day.
A refreshing bath did the trick and we readied ourselves for dinner and drinks, which was held in the lawn outside while a live screening of an IPL (Indian Premiere League) match played. The day ended on a relaxed note and soon, we all retired to our rooms. After all, we had a long day ahead of us the next day.
Sunday morning , which had been eagerly awaited, opened with bright sunshine that lasted through most of the day. While having a sumptuous breakfast at the restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised by the Irolic Parade, which involves Imagica staff dressed up as popular cartoon characters dancing to the Imagica theme song. All the guests marvelled at their wondrous performance and the kids were absolutely delighted to be able to shake hands with the seven dwarfs and Jumbo the elephant. It was the perfect start to what was going to be a very exciting day.
After breakfast, we headed to Imagica, where we were fortunate enough to get an Express Pass as part of the VIP experience (it makes the experience infinitely more pleasant to not wait in long lines!). Imagica is spread over acres of land and provides buggies for those who are not able to walk the distances between rides. There are numerous restaurants, both big and small, and stalls where one can purchase caps, water bottles and other such necessities.
On entering, we made our way first to “I For India”, an unforgettable experience that provided viewers with an aerial view of the famous natural and man-made wonders of India. Before entering, we were shown a video that explained how the film, directed by the acclaimed director Manmohan Shetty and two others, was made after getting permissions from numerous government authorities and all the hard work that was put into it. On entering, we were able to see that all their hard work has paid off; we were seated and raised to an adequate height from which one feels as if one is viewing the sights from the skies. There were breathtaking birds-eye views of Leh Ladakh, the temples of South India, the beaches to Goa, and of course, our famous monuments, including the Taj Mahal among many others. It was a visual delight and left me brimming with emotion about our beautiful country.
Soon afterward, we went to Salimgarh, a spook house that managed to give us the chills, Alibaba, a game ride where one must shoot the thieves and Wrath of the Gods, a 4D experience of wind, water and fire. All were quite enjoyable but paled in comparison to the roller coasters that awaited us, the most frightening of which was Deep Space. An indoors roller coaster with imitation space centre interiors, Deep Space was a rollicking ride that reminded us what we had forgotten: roller coasters are seriously fun business! The largest roller coaster at Imagica, Nitro, reinforced this idea; it was a complete joyride and we would do it multiple times if given a chance. Dare to Drop was another equally heart stopping but fun ride that involves a vertical drop. Rajasaurus was a dinosaur-themed ride which drenched its occupants after landing in water from a height, which was a hit with the crowds!
Due to limited time, we weren’t able to go on all the rides but the Scream Machine , the Mambo Chai Chama and the Gold Rush Express are rides that any thrill-seeker should definitely try. As for food, we lunched at Zooballoo’s Buffeteria , which provides Indian fare. The Zeze Grill and Roberto Food Court and plenty of other eateries dot the expanse that is Imagica.
A trip to Imagica is something everyone should experience; good food, great company and fantastic rides make a trip to Imagica the best way to spend your weekend. Staying at the Novotel Imagica is extremely convenient and we can guarantee a pleasant stay there.
The VIP experience offered is definitely worth it and something that anyone who is thinking of taking a trip to Imagica should consider.
*By Pooja Mhambrey for Delectable Reveries