The past two months have been tumultuous in our life. From adopting our pup in a matter of minutes, to the circumstances that followed and we ended up losing little Z, I sometimes feel that I still haven’t entirely come to terms with everything that we faced over the past two months.
But, life must move onward, and so have we.
In all of this, in the last week of March, I was reminded of an invitation that I’d received just after we got Z home — from Courtyard Marriott in the Aravallis. It wasn’t just an everyday invitation — this time, we were the plus-ones, and it was Zoey who was the primary invitee!
After Z passed, I decided to take up the invitation, and drove down to the destination. Every memory was too fresh at this point of time, and I needed a change of setup to get my mind off things. We couldn’t just sit at home — it all felt too barren. So, we made our way down to the same venue that we were supposed to go as three.
While on the way, it struck us that this was the first five-star resort that we could add to our list, which could be a holiday destination for pets, too. This is crucial, and works strategically too — the destination is essentially equidistant from Noida, Delhi and Gurgaon, and well within an hour and a half of fairly leisurely drive from these places. Up in the NCR, pet-parents would know how good could it be to have such a destination to go to.
We made a mental note that whenever we get a pup home in future, we should probably head here with them.
This ‘probably’ turned into a certainty once we reached. Despite the ‘Courtyard’ badge, this is a resort-style property that has no inkling of being business stopover hotels that the Marriott group’s Courtyard hotels typically are. Instead, the management told me that this was the first resort-style property under Marriott’s sister brand — and its pitch to cater to a luxury-seeking NCR audience begins with a sprawling pool at the heart of Courtyard’s courtyard. Complete with a pool-side bar, it is a buzzing place that is great fun to be at, even if you’re not a swimmer, simply by virtue of the energy that it exudes.
One of the most memorable experiences at Courtyard were the brilliant food spreads. From the wide and on-point Sunday brunch spread that was every bit as uplifting as weekend brunches should be, to the rather neat a la carte menu at the oriental food joint, and even carefully crafted desserts — the resort serves you a glorious offering. We particularly loved the Ballabgarh thali that Courtyard’s main restaurant, The Aravali Kitchen, serves. Nothing on the menu feels unnecessarily amped up, or too heavy on the palate — Executive Chef Shibendu, who also makes for a fantastically amicable host, told us that he had his team craft dishes to make sure that they carry a recall value.
In turn, what Courtyard is slowly building is its place as a standalone day-cation destination, too. As we saw during our stay, the resort welcomes myriad visitors who arrive in the afternoon, stay for a sprawling lunch spread, spend time by the pool and grab a drink, and head home in the evening. Its proximity to the main NCR hubs helps its case even further.
We also found a rather hearty buffet spread that hit just the right balance in terms of variety and restraint — something that, funnily enough, many other higher-profile resorts and hotels often fail at. To this, Chef Shibendu said, “We’re not really trying to wow our guests with the sheer range of items on the menu — we’re only presenting those items that we’re great at making, and they are things that people have already started coming back for.”
It is this recall value that could be crucial, for this Courtyard resort is playing at a very tricky niche in terms of its target audience. It isn’t really a long-format holiday destination for NCR residents, and is too far for tourists to NCR. What it would therefore survive on are weekenders from across the NCR and thereabouts, as well as those looking for a luxurious, pet-friendly destination.
So far, they seem to be getting the balance of service, hospitality and luxury just right, with the food offerings definitely being a highlight. There’s also an air of expanse and brightness here, which makes the destination feel like a happy corner to be at. They’re still new to the business, so there’s a long way to go. But, if their present offering is any indication to measure by, Courtyard by Marriott in the Aravallis is definitely a worthy destination to be at.
Pro tip: The resort’s basic rooms and packages are also priced on the expensive end of the scale, so you may want to call the venue directly to enquire about deals, or look for offers across platforms.