Hotel Review: Jehan Numa Retreat, Bhopal in India
Kishore and Smita Iyengar sing along with the birds, waltz with the breeze and chill out in the open green at the nerve-stilling Jehan Numa Retreat in India.
We stood still on the sit out porch, facing lusciously manicured verdant acres that was the putting green in the distance. From the heavy overhang of branches above our villa, a pack of drongos whipped up an impromptu symphony, crisscrossing above us. They were celebrating the sunshine peeping out from monsoon clouds after the brief downpour on the Retreat.
Sipping excellent estate grown South Indian filter coffee, we watched in smiling amusement at the scene we could have never imagined in hyper crowded Mumbai.
The Jehan Numa Retreat where we dropped anchor for a relaxed, out-of-town sojourn in no apparent hurry or intended haste, is located outside the city of Bhopal, bordering Van Vihar National Park (or the Forest Sanctuary), -home to the imposing Indian tiger and scores of other distinguished wild creatures and birds.
To discover the zoological park guests have various options, drive, cycle, amble or walk through the lush natural surrounds, where trenches and walls have been strategically constructed to exclusively keep the animal life protected, there are several of them – tigers, bears, lions, crocodiles, sambhar and the black buck that one can spot on a leisurely encounter. Van Vihar is also a birdwatcher’s haven, inviting over two hundred species of birds here and on the nearby Upper Lake where thousands of migratory birds swoop down during the winter months.
In fact we were recommended to bike down into the woods to have a face-to-face with whiskers, hooves and horns, but we preferred to slow it down on foot! The Retreat offers salubrious escape from the hectic pace of city life in an impacting way, allowing ample scope for minds and bodies to unwind and slow down to nature’s gentle beckoning.
Eco-friendly accents abound here. The surroundings roll out to idyllic views and acres that inhabit wild floral blooms, vegetable gardens, tufted greens and landscaped spaces, an inviting swimming pool nestled in green clasps, age old forested overhangs that offer cooling respite from hot summer months. Effusive and warmly welcoming Manager Vincent Marques took us around on a stroll through the various features of the Retreat, elaborating on the various exotic vegetables and herbs cultivated on the estate, giving us a first hand experience of the exhilarating aromas and fragrances that grace into their fine cuisine.
The villas themselves are a well planned collection of low-slung cottages carefully designed with sloping walls and roofs, details of construction inspired by tribal and rural art on mud-colored walls and courtyards. On the other hand we discovered contrasting colonial and ethnic design and aesthetics juxtaposing with local crafts and warm earthy tones of authentic Indian dyes and stone.
The configurations packs in 28 rooms in 6 residential cottage clusters, each individually appointed with fine, thoughtfully engaging luxury as the USP. The accommodation decks up with earthy appeal highlighted by modern aspects in a synergetic blend. All villas are air-conditioned with a separate living area, en-suite bathrooms, mini-bars, LCD televisions with premium cable channels, coffee/tea makers, room safes and wireless Internet access. That completes the premium hospitality offered. Along with your own relaxed, slow mo breathing, the tranquility here is total, the gentle wind wafts you’re your senses with the melodies of birds and animal sounds.
OFF-THE-GRILL AND OTHER DELIGHTS
Cuisine is a huge attraction here at the Jehan Numa Retreat and after a day’s fun-packed activities, it’s time to tuck into amazing grilled numbers and off the wok superlatives. Their personalized service and attention to detail is commendable, quietly yet efficiently the staff makes you comfortable with every request. Private dining is a popular option with guests who prefer the solitude among natural settings. On the lounging sit out that offers an eye-cooling green canvas of undisturbed peace, piping hot grilled dishes sashay with fine spirits with equal appreciation. In addition to the two thematic restaurants on the property, guests can treat their appetites to wholesome sandwiches and salads from the pantry at any time.
By day or expectant evenings, leisure dining at Jehan Numa Retreat’s signature al fresco restaurant – Under the Jamun Tree, boasts visual and culinary fascination. Under the vast breezy canopy of the branches, hot-off-the-skewers grilled sensations make their gastronomic mark on eager palates. With fine wine and spirits hitting the right notes, the courtyard sojourn by night is an altogether seductive experience with changing nocturnal tones and small chatter adding to the spicy moments of togetherness.
The lively bar and lounged seating at The Coriander Leaf is a peppy pre-dining prelude to the array of mouth-watering dishes on the menu. With wide angled windows and a smart interior layout, there’s plenty of mellow light streaming inside, the greens and outdoors permeating in as a harmonious canvas of natural collaboration. A hearty range of global cuisines with top Indian dishes make this pad a hot favorite of diners.
With homegrown and local produce as the essential repertoire of this fine Retreat, gastronomy is a serious aspect with innovations and improvisations in cuisine creating culinary wows.
MIXING BIZ WITH ENTERTAINING WHIZ
For business conferences and seminars elegant and spacious Jasmine Room hosts up to a 100 guests, the facilities and state-of-the-art equipment bringing in offsite events by eminent organizations. Banqueting and dining is attractive with perfect lawns and tended greens offering nerve-soothing moments in the eco-friendly settings.
The charming venue we visited and inspected offers an exclusive experience within the 2000 sq. feet area conference hall with a 1100 sq. ft Verandah and surrounding lawns are elegant venues in natural surrounds, hosting wedding receptions, cocktail and social events and MICE engagements with equal verve.
For those high on the activity quotient, there are other exciting engagements laid out, -kitchen gardening on their evergreen patches, golfing on their putting green within the pleasing acres, there are interesting cooking demonstrations for those with endless culinary quests, cycling around in the Van Vihar National Park and for the truly relaxed limbs and minds, there’s table tennis chess and carom games in the reception lounge enclosures. And for those preferring the stillness, anytime is good time for real time rejuvenation!
Address: Near Van Vihar, Dr. Salim Ali Road, Prempura, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462002, India
Phone: 0755 660 6600
Images courtesy of Jehan Numa Retreat