The shy escort who had come to receive me at the Vijayawada airport was economical with his words – in a local tone he said “Ma’am this way” I followed him. As I sat in the allotted car for the guests of Novotel Vijayawada Varun, I breathed a fresh air and looked around.
Away from the grinds of the big city, I was here in the close embrace of nature surrounded by green as the car drove out of the airport, speeding towards the main city.
In twenty five minutes, I reached my destination – Novotel Vijayawada Varun, a plush luxury hotel. The hotel is one of the newest properties under the brand name of Novotel from Accor Group, located at Vijayawada city within the Amaravati Capital Region. Situated on the banks of river Krishna, Amaravati had been a prosperous kingdom from ancient times. Present day Amaravati has been chosen as capital of the newly formed Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, down south of the country.
For afar the sleek structure of the hotel looked like a silver drape drawing my attention. I sensed a hint of its design, the moment I stepped into the 15th floor hotel.With a total of wi-fi enabled 190 rooms, 25 apartments and 12 suites including 1 presidential suite, Vijayawada Varun is all about ergonomy packed with comforting luxury, an apt choice for the business meets that follows a leisure stay or even a long stay in one of those self-sufficient plentiful transit apartments.
There are no dearth of options though, whether you are a business traveller or someone who just wants to take a break from the grind and yet enjoy the comfort of a five star, Novotel Vijayawada is the inevitable choice in this part of the world.
Well it will be for me, with their most cozy, abundant rooms, a host of indulgent offerings including a phenomenally stunning infinity swimming pool that delivers a grand view, a spa that evokes your senses and a gym that keeps you in check, gently retaining that balance between lavish dinning and staying healthy.
And lastly it is their array of melange gastronomy in the form of food and beverage verticals; Food Exchange, Wugan the Pan Asian specialty restaurant, the infinite Andhra traditional food and finally the Gourmet Bar that reestablishes Accor`s signature hospitality, making you long for more.
The Unobtrusive Luxury
I have always believed in instinct and it prompted, its going to be fun, comforting and unwinding. The delicately decorated rooms had a palette of earth colours making them look visually appealing. Once I checked in, I drew apart the curtain, it was the perfect room with a view. My eyes met the lush green hills beyond.If you are traveller who soaks in the local experience, do not forget to draw the curtains apart.
There can be scenic surprises.
The coffee table had my invigorating welcome drink, made of tangy lime and fresh mint, along with the special handcrafted granola and chocolate bar as small token of goodness, neatly wrapped. Soon I got smitten by the little caffeine corner squirreled with handpicked variations of tea.
I already knew Novotel Vijayawada Varun was all set to indulge me. An absolutely energy spiking shower and I was ready to bring on three days of fulfilling luxury and ample comfort.
The stay started with the guided walk through the hotel. Basking in the strength of ergonomic design there were plush rooms, opulent suites, the newly introduced transit apartments, studios along with two conference and mice facilities marked with distinct decor interconnected via slender artistic corridors.
But cherry on the cake was the terrace infinity pool coupled with the gym – both offering vistas of serene hills.
While the terrace pleased me to no end, I was also fascinated by the bright open lobby at the ground level, where one can relax to no end. It is here that the hotel has four pampering choices interestingly built within the same space yet distinct.
The centre setting with fluorescent yellow sofas is post-modernist in its look, while the Gourmet Bar, a European concept is more of a slow unwind that has just started to take the fancy of the locals.
The other side of lobby holds the fantastic, colourful open kitchen – an experiential approach to food, where you are more than welcome to pick up your choice of breakfast, lunch, dinner buffets and order for Ala Carte. This is Food Exchange for you – honestly this is where I had spent most of my dining hours!
The first evening was planned fairly adventurous keeping the theme of progressive cuisine. Would you believe the scale of innovation that Chef Vinay and his team demonstrated! It was like a roller-coaster ride on my taste buds with dishes that had so many flavours to it. That was the most unforgettable evening for a foodie, food writer and intrinsic food lover like me. Chef Vinay rolled out the platter as he explained the back story to each of these mind blowing culinary creations situated between the local Andhra and the global flavours. My personal favourite was the flavourful Seared Sea Bass with Nallaa Karam Annam with Chinmichuri Buree Blanc!
How interesting was it to have an Andhra and a French flavour blended together!
The Wholesome Experience
When you are with Novotel you are going to check out the city as well. So, on the second day a drive to Kondapally Fort was scheduled followed by a visit to a traditional toy hub making Kondapally wooden toys.
While the visit to the 14th century fort perched on top of the Kondapally Hills was immense thrill, posing at the ruins and silently enjoying the expansive monument built by the Reddy kings, that looked like rugged brown drop amongst serene green hills swept by the monsoons.
Prenoon was spent at the colourful centre of toy making – with the namesake of Kondapally, a form of traditional wooden toys made by the local artisans using soft wood variety called ‘ponuku’ that grows much in abundance on the Kondapally range itself. Most craftsmen families had been working for generations, however many are now turning towards mechanical devices for a faster production! My eyes did spot the classic dancing dolls and the king on the royal elephant.
Back in the hotel the afternoon panned out to be super easygoing. The beautifully decorated spa Dew had a long lists of spa massages on their offerings. I opted for the 90minute session of Deep Tissue Massage. Honestly it turned out to be one of the most restorative pleasures for the tired urban citizen`s body and mind, being lulled into rejuvenation by the tender massage skills of one the best masseurs I have met in recent times. Annie the master masseur had perfected the art of relaxation and I just surrendered to her.
The evenings of Novotel Vijayawada Varun are dedicated to succulent gastronomy. The second evening was no exception only the quotient of magic heightened. Wugan – the Pan Asian specialty restaurant our venue for the evening, was designed on the lines of oriental aesthetics. The colour range selected for the interior of the vibrant eating spot was slightly brighter, set in the blue, white, golden and bronze with wooden panels creating a sense of privacy for those who want it.
In no time, under the perfect mentoring of Chief Chef Vinay, the Asian Chef Mir was happily showing off best of his food art thrills, quite a ninja act!The act got displayed through a five course meal, an assembly of authentic dishes from Japan, Thailand, China, Vietnam and more. Listening to Mir was fun as he and his colleagues skillfully rustled up some of the dishes right in there, with the diners watching in awe! My picks were Tom Kha Chicken soup and Soyu Dashi Prawns with grilled vegetables.
The evening just rolled by quickly and a long 8-hour cozy sleep invited me.
The Gourmet Bar – The Final Act of Warm Hospitality
Invariably the discovery continued the next day, while the day was spent visiting the Mangalagiri traditional weavers creating most enchanting weaves, the evening was divided into the desirous innovative cocktails with fusing alcohols like Vodka, laced with creativity! The top notch was Vasant Neer Thandhai ! Note the presence of the the famous Guntur Red Chili an important element in the vibrant mocktail
The final day`s dinner was an ode to the local Andhra traditional platter consisting twenty dishes from start to the end. For mandatory sweet lovers Chakra Pongali have to be last dish as well as dessert of choice. Its delicacy, sweetness and flavour fullness is simply symbolic to the hospitality that Novotel Vijaywada Varun offers.
Photos : Motly Krew and Novotel Vijayawada Varun