Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cloud9 Hills Resort Lonavala review

We discovered Cloud9 Hills resort via the Tripadvisor site. While the older reviews were mixed, the more recent ones were good and hence we decided to stay there for a short break (13th to 15th April 2014). Also, the tariff was a big attraction for us, since it included not just breakfast, as is the case with most hotels & resorts, but all meals.

Location
Charming, peaceful & quiet, away from the main town of Lonavala. Located on a hillside, gives superb unobstructed views of the mountain peaks, not to mention sunrise, sunset and moonrise! 
Sunset View from Resort Gazebo


Facilities
  • All rooms are in air-conditioned cottages, some with an interconnecting door. The cottages on the upper side with hill top views also have a back door and pathway behind.
  • In-house restaurant serving vegetarian food which includes Chinese, South Indian and Punjabi dishes.
  • Table Tennis & Billiards table available for use at discounted rate.

TT and Billiards Table
  • Swimming Pool is available from 10a.m.-1.30p.m. & 3p.m.-5.30p.m. It is only 4 feet deep, but nevertheless children up to 12 years should be accompanied by adults.
  • On special occasions, live DJ with music is arranged.
  • Bungalows available for large groups are ideal for wedding parties.
  • Cars available on hire for visiting Lonavala market, Tiger Point, Lion’s Point, etc. (Don’t bother to visit Aamby Valley as entry to it is allowed only for members).
  • Check for all facilities at resort website.
Getting There
We took the Intercity Express to Lonavala station. Arrived there within just 2 hours and were picked up by a private taxi (car) arranged for by the Resort Manager.
 
Lonavala station entry and exit
When you get off the train, come out from the main entry/exit which is located near the Sai Baba temple. The driver will meet you here to take you to the resort.

Sai Baba temple outside station
From the station to the resort it took just 20-25 minutes. At the station, there are autos too. They charge Rs.600/- to the resort, which is the same fare as for the private taxi. So might as well travel comfortably in the car. Since we were four of us, the Innova SUV cost Rs.800/-. A smaller car for 1 to 3 passengers costs Rs.600/-. 

My aunt & uncle decided to travel direct by car from Mumbai as they find it difficult to hop on & off trains (70+ age). The road trip took about 2 ½ hours from Mumbai to the resort. The fare from Mumbai to the resort costs about Rs.3000/- + toll fees.
The resort is well known and easy to find. There is a signboard on the left as you approach, marking it as 8kms from Aamby Valley City (see photo on the right).
On Arrival
We were greeted by a happy sight: a pretty gate and plenty of plants along the winding road (this road is not smooth) up into the resort, including yellow blooms seemingly nodding a welcome to us!

Entry Gate with Security Booth

Entry road into resort
We were offered water and a welcome drink in the reception area. 

Reception Area

Breakfast on the first day (arrival) was not included in the tariff. The room boy took our luggage to the cottage & immediately switched on the air-conditioner to cool it. At my request, he also right away opened up the sofa to make the extra bed. 
What’s Good
This is a family friendly resort. You can take your kids along. No liquor or boisterous crowds. You can expect larger groups though during weekends and public holidays & if you are seeking peace & quiet then check if any festival celebrations are planned at the resort (for example, we decided to avoid going during the Holi festival weekend).
The resort is great for kids. The garden has playground equipment – swings, slide, etc – but the mini-train & coin-operating machines were not working at the time of our visit. 

Playground for kids with mini-train

Coin operated Game
There is also a small play zone area demarcated in the restaurant. It has a large house, slide & table/chairs. Toddlers up to 3 years are allowed to play here, but under the supervision of an adult. This is definitely advisable, as the toddler could climb on to one of the tiny chairs to lean out of the open window.

Kids Zone in restaurant
The swimming pool is clean, though small. The families with kids staying at the resort when we were there had a splashing good time!

Swimming Pool
The service is great, with friendly and helpful staff, whether it was the room staff, the reception staff (Ajay and Adya), the restaurant staff (the manager in charge there as well as Sandeep & Pravin) or the resort’s Operations Manager (Mr. Nagarajan). 

Our every requirement was attended to: request for a refrigerator in the room (no extra charge), request for a DVD player in the room (no extra charge), request for 2 chairs for my aunt as she could not sit on the low chairs in the restaurant, hot water for my uncle at every meal as he had a sore throat, request for dal without tomatoes & kurma without spinach, tomatoes or cabbage (as per the specific diets of the various members of our group).
The food was also great (see Dining at Cloud9)
The rooms were bright and comfortable (see Staying at Cloud9)
Bungalows available for larger groups are beautiful.

Resort Bungalow with parking space for large group

What's Not So Good
We had taken the cottage with an interconnecting door, but the door was not functional at all. The man sent to fix it also could not open it. It thus remained shut for all the 3 days we stayed there.


The interconnecting door which never opened!

It was difficult for the senior citizens in our group to maneuver the steps near the entry gate of the residential cottages, as well as the steps up to the cottage door. It would be nice if the management put in railings there as also up the path, with better lighting (see images below, the red arrows indicating where railing would be helpful).

Entry into area of cottages

Pathway alongside cottages

 
Exterior of cottage with no external lights


What's Bad
1. While we have no complaints about the overall quality of the food, it is recommended to avoid the Veg. Crispy dish. More than one member had an upset stomach the night we ordered that for the A la Carte dinner.
2. When my aunt & uncle arrived by car, there were no staff to take their luggage to the cottage & we had to take it ourselves.
On the morning of our departure, there was no staff to attend to us. On the previous day we had confirmed that the private car would come at 6.30a.m. to take us to the station. Till 6.45a.m. there was no sign of it and there was nobody at the reception area. The Gurkha told us somebody would be there at 7a.m. One of the room staff did eventually call up Ajay, who said he would find out about the car. It finally arrived just after 7a.m., the driver saying he got delayed due to a tyre puncture. There was, though, no staff to help us take our bags to the car. When the management was aware that we were departing early morning, surely somebody could have been assigned the task of helping us out. My aunt & uncle who departed later after 10a.m. had no such problems though & did have staff to help them.
3. There was a cockroach in our room on the morning we left. Ugh! (no such creepy crawlies though during our stay & room cleaning service was done on the second day).
What's Ugly
1. While sitting in the gazebo admiring the sunset one evening, we saw one of the room staff tipping a large garbage bin over the hill. Horrors! Doesn’t the resort have any proper waste management system? Is that the way garbage is disposed off? Quite appalling. We put forth our strong views against this in the feedback form available at the receptionist’s desk. It is hoped that the resort management puts in place a proper system of segregating waste & disposing it off properly without harming the environment. 
2. Cigarette butts in the grass around the swings near our cottage and a plastic bottle thrown near the steps of the gazebo. Staff should check for such litter before the daily watering of the grass & plants. (Just a thought here: When an ash tray is provided in the room, why aren’t guests using it?)
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our stay, loved the food & location and would like to visit again.
Contact Information
Contact Person: Mr.Nagarajan - Manager Operations
Booking No.: + 91 9819118832 / + 91 9819739444.
Resort Direct Ph: - +91 9623568206. 

Mumbai Ph: 022 28881151
Booking Office in Mumbai: Pragati Shopping Center, 2nd Floor, 208, Daftary Road, Near ICICI Bank,Malad East, Mumbai-400 097 



Lonavala Resort Address:
Amby Valley City Road, 8 kms before Amby Valley City,
Village Jambulene,
Taluk Mulshi,
Lonavala
Maharashtra
Resort Direct Ph.No.: +91-9623568206
Website: http://www.cloud9lonavala.com/

2 comments:

  1. Hi Vandana, this is very helpful, even i am planning to visit Cloud 9 Hills Resort with my wife, we are just two of us, any more points that you can ponder upon will be really helpful, like from where can i book taxi for sightseeing at best price, and also any nice place to visit which is near by the Cloud 9 Hills Resort. We are planning to stay in One Deluxe Cottage, will that be a good choice?

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  2. Lonavala is very nice spot to visit.. its located in between pune and Mumbai

    regards
    vashi escorts

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