Mukteshwar (Uttarakhand): Nestled in Dhanachuli village, a few kilometres from this popular destination, is the Te Aroha resort.
A summer house converted into a boutique luxury hotel, Te Aroha offers its guests traditional architecture and contemporary comforts. The surroundings are breathtaking, thanks to snowcapped mountains and the serenity of the place.
It is the brainchild of Sumant Batra, a lawyer, writer and poet.
Explaining the meaning of the name, Batra said: “Te Aroha means ‘mountain of love’ in the Maori language of New Zealand. The place completely justifies its name. It has been a year for Te Aroha.”
The resort in Nainital district is about 340 km from Delhi and one can reach there by road in eight hours.
Batra renovated the summer house but has preserved its original charm. Huge decks and terraces, antique furniture, glass windows with views of the landscape and the high ceiling lobby brings back the feel of a colonial era.
“It is perhaps one of the few properties located in the wilderness that offer contemporary comforts of high standards and scale. The entire property has been done without the help of any architect, designer or industry expert,” said Batra.
When it comes to rooms, all are made with a different ambience. The four spacious suites and six luxury rooms offer various landscape views.
“A welcome spot of sun shine in the hills of Kumaon, the yellow rooms are heartwarming,” Mudita, a Delhi resident who visited the place, said.
“A lovely home away from home, right from the room, the food, the courteous staff, everything was perfect,” she added.
The menu is equally exotic. From a fine selection of Indian to continental to local cuisine, it has everything to whet your appetite in the mountains.
“The staff of the hotel is hired from the local village but are trained to deliver a high standard of service,” said Batra and added that the ideal time to visit the place is from October to July.
The minimum price for a single bedroom starts at Rs.3,500 per night and goes up to Rs.9,900 for a master bedroom.
Another high point of the place is Cafe Flashback, a first museum cafe and Bespoke Spa, a luxury spa.
Cafe Flashback, a restaurant in a hut, is a total recall of old movies. From the 1940s to 2012, one can see the change that the television and the film industry underwent under one roof.
One can go for an evening stroll to the market area with shops lined up on both sides of the street selling local food items and tea. You can also enjoy a drive on the long winding hilly road and visit popular tourist places such as Mukteshwar, Nainital, Bhimtal and Almora, with Te Aroha as a base.
A train journey takes the same amount of time, the nearest station being in Bhimtal. However, travelling by train is not advisable as visitors are dependent on the resort for the pick-up and drop off. There is no commuting mode available other than crowded local buses.
Trekking or camping facilities could make this place all the more attractive for holiday-goers looking some adventure in the mountains.
How far: Te Aroha is 340 km from Delhi.
How to reach: By train or by car. Either way, it is an approximately an eight-hour journey from New Delhi. The nearest station is Bhimtal, from where you can take a local bus to the destination.
Cost: Rs.3,500 per night for a single bedroom and goes up to Rs.9,900 for a master bedroom.