There was a time when one would gush over having the perfect vacation by staying at a gorgeous property and doing nothing at all. The fact that you could switch off, spend a couple of days away from home and be pampered by the ace hospitality of the hotel were good enough reasons to pack your bags and take off. But today's travellers have evolved, where taking a trip often translates to self-discovery. While we all still love the pampering of luxury hotels and resorts, we seek something more each time we travel, to go back home with more than just good memories. As the popular saying goes, 'Travel is the only thing that makes you richer', today's generation of travellers are all for finding experiences, and in fact planning their whole travel itinerary revolving around those experiences for the perfect 'staycation'.
So does it always have it be an exclusive getaway or an offbeat destination to find the best experiences? What about making your work trip to metro cities more than just a fine hotel stay? Well, it's very much possible to rediscover a city and soak in its local vibe or go the wellness route to cleanse your body, mind and soul by seeking out interesting activities to include in your trip. And no, we don't mean just heading to the spa.
During my recent weekend getaway to Namma Bengaluru (Bangalore), I enjoyed the perfect staycation at the Hyatt Centric MG Road Bangalore. I have lived in Bangalore for a good amount of years and often travel to this buzzing city when chance permits, but this time my trip was more than just hitting the best restaurants and bars in town and actually about new learnings because of FIND by World of Hyatt. In 2018, FIND was launched to offer unforgettable experiences to World of Hyatt members to help them explore the world beyond their hotel stay, providing them with increased opportunities to find their best selves through exploration and self-discovery (including activities related to dining, fitness, adventure and restoration).
Because I had had a busy month at work with no escape from the dreadful air pollution crisis in Delhi, my agenda for my Bangalore trip was to de-stress, soak some sun, breathe cleaner air and of course eat good food. So it started with a stay at a beautiful suite in Hyatt that included a balcony garden with a great view of the city's skyline. Accented with wood panels, it also had a small canopy with a sitting area, which soon turned out to be my favourite spot to read a book, sip chamomile tea and find a few moments of peace while being at the heart of the city.
There's a certain sense of calm listening to Tibetan singing bowls. While on various monastery visits I have felt peace tuning in to the vibrations, this was the first time I got to experience a unique healing session called Sound Healing where seven specially created bowls are used to activate the seven chakras in the body. The sound healing session at Hyatt was conducted by healer Srinivas Vupadrishta from Dhyaana School of Wellbeing and Health Cafe, who shared interesting inputs about mindfulness, the beneficial effects of sound healing to treat lifestyle problems like insomnia, anxiety and back pain among others, and also a great takeaway that one's well-being should be a way of life, consciously yet effortlessly. And not just a desperate measure when things go wrong. Just like he had said, my 40-minute session with the Tibetan singing bowls brought about a deep feeling of calm and gave me the best sleep that night.
Thanks to the growing tribe of wine makers in India, travellers today can experience vineyard and winery tours in the country and learn all about the art. Bangalore is one such privileged city, where just a few kilometers away lies the Nandi valley, home to many vineyards. With FIND, I took a day trip to SDU Winery, which is about 75 kilometers from Bangalore city. This boutique winery produces a range of wines, from chenin blanc and chardonnay to cabernet sauvignon and a few reserves too.
We first took a tour of the vineyard, where the process of pruning was underway. Here we got to see the different vines (for white grapes and red grapes) and also young buds that would bear fruits soon. Few minutes of walking about and clicking pictures, we then made our to the winery set amidst a beautiful landscape overlooking the Nandi Hills.
After an insightful session on the process of winemaking - from crushing the grapes and fermentation to ageing and bottling - we sat down for the much-awaited wine pairing lunch. The team of Hyatt chefs put out a scrumptious spread of gratis followed by a three course menu - Trio Mushroom Cake, Pistachio Crusted Lamb Loin/ Filo Wrapped Risotto for vegetarians and Hazelnut Chocolate Pie. From their wine collection, we started with the light and fruity Chenin Blanc, moving onto Chardonnay, Chardonnay Reserve and finishing with Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. My personal favourite was the Chardonnay Reserve that was complex in flavour and had a deep yellow hue.
I had hoped for sun and fresh air, and this was the perfect afternoon sipping fine wine along with good food and company, and oh, let's not forget the view.
Last but not least, no trip is complete without indulging in the local fare. If you call yourself a food lover, then you will agree when we say that the best way to discover a place is through its regional cuisines. My first meal was at The Bengaluru Brasserie, where other than exploring the wellness menu, I opted for the local fare by ordering what's known as soul food - Bisi Bele Baat, along with the Coorg favourite Pandi Curry. Then for another meal, it was a Mangalorean specialty - the Anjal Fry (king fish steak marinated with spices and pan fried).
For those seeking for more food experiences, through FIND you can sign up for food walks to explore street foods and try local thalis. Since I had done so in the past, I chose to keep it slow paced and stay away from the crowd on this trip. Instead it was my garden balcony again, where I found myself spending much of my free time to soak in the calm before taking my flight back to Delhi.