Sometime in April, I wanted to take a break. My spouse, after looking at a few pictures of Masinagudi that I’d made in 2011, put it on top of the list. I’d been wanting to visit Masinagudi again, and hence, a decision was made. The route would take us through Mysore and Bandipur. Having been there before, I knew the roads were good and I chose to drive on my own from Bangalore.We decided to stop for a day at Mysore, and now the task fell on me to find a place to stay there. I wanted it to be a surprise for her, and kept the plan under the blanket. (In fact, she would not find out till the morning of the day we were supposed to leave when stupid me was caught looking at for directions on a fairly large screen which spelled out the name of the resort.)
The research: I have never stayed at a Luxury Resort anywhere in India before – I generally choose budget-friendly places that are clean, and convenient. This being a special occasion, I decided to take the plunge and see what the fuss was all about.
1. Tripadvisor – This page lists the best hotels in Mysore. I’ve grown to like the reviews on Tripadvisor because a majority of them are neutral.
2. An acquaintance – She is a professional travel blogger. She recommended two hotels – The Lalitha Mahal Palace and The Windflower. She had also mentioned that she personally hasn’t stayed in either, but had heard good things from her peers.
Both sources gave me sufficient information, and add to the fact that The Windflower was located quite conveniently for me to hit the road and be on my way the next morning, I had made my decision on where I wanted to stay.
Hotel Reservation: I booked directly through the Hotel’s website using the ‘Book Now’ tab. Although there is scope for improvement with the website (clicking multiple buttons on the same page at times), booking process was relatively easy. A confirmed reservation required me to pay the full amount using a credit card (other options for payment were a wire transfer and demand draft). I chose to pay using a credit card. The process also requires a proof of identity document that the guest is expected to carry in original at the time of check-in. They do have rooms on the first floor for which stairs are to be used. Any special requirements can be specified during booking. The website also has pictures of interiors of the room, which were, as far as I can state – quite an accurate portrayal of what the really room was – no surprises there.
A mail was sent soon after completing the process of booking, with details of the reservation, along with address of the resort, phone number and a list of conditions. The guest is expected to check-in by 12 PM and check-out by 11 AM. I had booked two weeks in advance, for a ‘Premium Studio Room (with a Double Bed)’ and had not requested for anything specific.
Location: The resort is located just outside of the city, in a relatively calm and quiet area. There are fairly large direction markers on MG Road/Mysore-Kollegal Highway which tell you where to make the turn (there aren’t too many turns off the main road – so there’s not much confusion). The restaurant at the resort, Olive Garden, seems to be quite popular too – you’ll see a fairly large board announcing the restaurant just outside the resort. (Tip: As always in India, if you’re lost, ask around and someone will help you.)
Check in: As soon as I drove in, the watchman pointed me to the direction of the entrance. On stopping at the reception, one of the receptionists inquired if I had a reservation, and as soon as I handed him the print out, the valet took over my car and informed me that he would park it. We proceeded to the reception desk to check-in. Fairly standard procedure – they looked at the print out that I handed over to them, took their time with the computer finalizing things. We were handed a wet towel and a welcome drink which were very refreshing.
Entrance to the resort’s Reception desk
The reception area
My wife noticed a fairly large cage in the reception area, and asked about it. They told us they had a ‘bird’ that was somewhere around the area. I found that the ‘bird’, a delightful Sulphur-crested Cockatoo was hiding behind one of the couches and walking around the reception area. I went around to playing with the bird, and the staff took their time in completing the process. Once they were done, they handed over the room key card and got the valet to take us to the room. All our luggage was already out of the car, in a trolley and another staff was already taking it to the room.
Rosy, playing with my camera’s strap
Rosy, playing with my watch
The walk-way leading to the rooms
The Room: They’d allotted us a room on the ground floor. The valet showed us around – the switches, wardrobes, doors, windows, bathrooms. Here are some photos of the room that we stayed in:
A couch inside the room
Door to the open shower in a private area of the room
A place to sit near the open shower
Wash basin in the bathroom, with a shaving mirror, toiletries, towels and hair drier
For those curious, there’s a closed shower room in the bathroom – the guests are given an option which shower they would like to use
(My sincere apologies for this photograph – I didn’t shoot any pictures of the interiors, and my wife took a few pictures, when I was busy sleeping, that I’m liberally using)
There were two 1 liter bottles of water, tea bags, instant coffee, sugar and a kettle inside the room.
They also had a cool looking large lamp
The bed, mattress and the pillows were very comfortable. They had a TV and a Set Top Box, which offered most of the channels from all popular media networks that I could have asked for. There was a sit-out that opened out to an artificial water body. Two wooden reclining chairs, and a table were provided too. A look at the rooms on the opposite side will give you an idea of what the sit-out looks like.
If I’d have to pick something to complain about – it would be that my cell phone operator didn’t have strong reception in the room I was given and that the hotel’s WiFi was very expensive (like most hotels).
Facilities: If your room doesn’t come with one, they have a large outdoor swimming pool (that I didn’t make use of). Worth mentioning is that they have a relatively inexpensive spa and Ayurvedic clinic within the premises that offers several treatments. Reservations are expected to be made at least an hour or two in advance, depending on the crowd. On the day when we visited, they required an hour’s notice for an appointment and the treatment was excellent. A guest at the resort can get the treatment billed to the room.
Children will have a ball of a time playing chess with these life-sized pieces.
Lord Ganesha, near the reception desk
Restaurant: We were debating about heading out elsewhere for lunch (Mysore has a ton of great places to eat), but being lazy, decided to give the restaurant, The Olive Garden, a try. We were warmly greeted at the restaurant, which seemed to be fairly popular to many (even those who weren’t staying in the resort). The food was, surprisingly, moderately priced. I randomly a Chinese soup and European main course, and not surprisingly, it was Indo-Chinese and Indo-European. The good part is that the food was quite good. Service was prompt, and we had them bill it to our room directly. The room tariff also includes an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. The folks at the restaurant were kind enough to call me in my room the next day morning at around 9 AM and inform me when they close for breakfast. The buffet consisted of a variety of South Indian tiffin (dosa & poori made after ordering, idlis, upma, vada, …) and the usual ‘Continental’ food (bread, different types of eggs, breakfast cereal, pancakes …)
Annaporna Devi, the Goddess of food near the restaurant
Room Service: After an early dinner that evening, we decided to order a couple of beverages and snacks in the room. Service was prompt, and as expected.
The Geese at the resort were an angry bunch. They’re normally found hanging around in the lawn, and retire elsewhere in the evenings. When we came back from a small outing, they seemed quite upset at having their path blocked by a car, and were calling out in a rather angry tone. During the day time, I guess I went too close to one of them, which made one aggressive bird charge at me. I stood my ground, and the bird backed off immediately
Check-out: Check-out took about 15 minutes time, which I suppose is normal. They presented all the bills (restaurant, spa and room service) for verification, and processed us out. When informed about checking out, a trolley was promptly brought to our room, the valet requested for my car keys as we were vacating the room. By the time the the bill was settled, the luggage was loaded into the car – I couldn’t help noticing that he had paid attention to how I’d arranged when he’d unloaded and placed the bags in the same way. I played around with the bird for some more time and the staff were all the time worried about the bird scratching my hands (or maybe they were keeping an eye out for the bird – I’ll never know). Off we went!
To sum it up, the experience was wonderful. As evident, I’d recommend The Windflower for someone who’s looking for a luxury stay in Mysore.
A few pointers:
1. As expected, there’s no need to carry any general toiletries. Soap, shampoo, towels, combs are all provided in the rooms.
2. Carry a mosquito repelling cream and don’t hesitate to use it, if you plan to sit outside post sunset.
3. On the day when we stayed, a group of college going students had rented the services of the resort for a party. The party included a loud DJ, and a couple of folks who were drunk and screaming their lungs out. The party lasted till about 9:30 PM. If this bothers you, you may want to inquire before you make your bookings.
If you’re spending more than a day, here’s what you can do around Mysore:
1. Visit the Mysore Maharaja Palace. The intricate details in the work at this palace continue to amaze me. They allow people to take photographs of the exterior, but cameras are not allowed inside the palace. In a way, this is a good thing since the visitor is allowed to take in the splendor, as opposed to looking into the viewfinder/LCD and composing photos. In a way, this is bad since no photos can be used to tempt a prospective visitor. They insist that you do not wear footwear also. Lockers are available for stashing camera bags, and a token system is provided for footwear. Government of Karnataka runs an art emporium within the premises where you can buy authentic souvenirs. Avoid buying from hawkers within the palace and outside as they are known to cheat. Do plan to visit in the evening on a weekend or a National Holiday, and stay back till the palace is illuminated beautifully with electric bulbs. A traditional band is known to perform at the courtyard.
2. Visit Brindavan Gardens. This place isn’t at Mysore, but an hour away. Buses ply from Mysore bus stand. This place is quite popular among locals, and there’s a lot of crowd on weekends. Taking your own vehicle is recommended. There are several fountains, colorfully illuminated with many lights. At 7 PM, there’s a musical fountain show. There are also boating trips within the reservoir (almost forgot, this is at the Krishna Raja Sagar dam, more popularly known as KRS dam)
3. Visit Ranganthitu Birds Sanctuary. If you are a nature enthusiast, you might enjoy visiting the sanctuary. Boats will take you around and show you Open-billed Storks, Painted Storks, Pelicans, Terns, Cormorants, Spoonbills, Plovers, Black-headed Ibises, Darters and Marsh Crocodiles (yup!) from close proximity. Around the walk ways, you’ll also find Kingfishers, Baya Weavers, Flowerpeckers and Bulbuls, to name a few. Don’t worry much about the crocodiles – they’re mostly lazing around and as long as you’re careful about where your hand is, you should be OK. If you’re lucky, you may get to see a plover go in and clean the lint from a crocodile’s mouth. A trip to Brindavan Garden and the Sanctuary can be clubbed together as a day’s outing.
4. Visit Karanji Lake. This lake is another popular tourist destination. This is quite close to the Windflower and it should take you about 15 minutes to get here from the resort. The lake boasts of a huge aviary where you can see birds that are not commonly seen in South India. They also have a butterfly park, which is a large temperature/humidity controlled enclosure with flowering plants and free butterflies.
5. Visit Chamundi Hills. Close to the resort, a popular Hindu temple. Don’t miss out on visiting the Nandi as well.
6. Visit Jagmohan Palace and Art Gallery. The gallery, close to the Mysore Palace, showcases the work of various Indian artists.
1. I wrote this article with the idea that this may help someone some day. The resort was not aware of my intentions, nor were they informed of this. (In effect, this is not a paid article)
2. The photos used here were made by me and my spouse. Please do not use them anywhere without permission. Stealing is bad.
3. If you’d like more details about anything specific, please leave a comment and I’ll respond to it.