Sunday, December 21, 2014

My 5 Wow! Travel Moments of 2014

This year was special for me as a travel writer. I quit my job, turned an entrepreneur and started my own online hospitality magazine www.thehotelexplorer.com
This year was also quite satisfying and exciting as I experienced many new hotels and travelled to three new countries- Jordan, United States of America and Singapore. Yes there are many new places I would like to see, many hotels I want to check-in but that's for another day. In this post as a travel blogger I want to list my Five Wow! Travel Moments of the year- moments when I said to myself This Is It!  Hope it will be inspiring for someone somewhere just like so many other travel bloggers have inspired me through their stories. 

#1 Floating on the Dead Sea 

I was lucky to get an invite from the Jordan Tourism Board to attend the Papal Mass! I loved Jordan and highly recommend it as a travel destination. I thought meeting the Pope will be the high point of my Jordan trip. It sure was great to see Pope Francis and how many people get to do that, but floating on the dead sea was my 'wow' moment. I had read about it, seen hundreds of pictures of real travelers and even YouTube videos but when you experience floating for yourself it's something else. No words can describe the feeling and pictures explain what it's really like! You have to experience it yourself. My travel tip: If you are ever at the dead sea, first get done getting clicked. Then for 10 seconds just close your eyes and float on your back. You will be able to recall those 10 seconds even in your next life!



#2 My New York Moment 

It was on my Bucket List. Who doesn't want to go to New York for a holiday! After days of filling out online visa application and rounds of visa office, I finally got my 10 year US visa.  The bookings and visa process was so tedious that I was mentally exhausted by the time the date of our America departure finally arrived. No I wasn't awe-struck when I first set my foot at the Times Square and saw the sky scrapers and billboards. But it was happy tourists, friendly Americans and the vibe of the city that gradually made me fall in love with NYC. Times Square is the place where first time some one bombed my selfie and cutely admitted that he is been doing this all day! Who wouldn't fall in love with New York and its people. 



#3 Bahamas! Scream!  

I was going to US for the first time and also it was my first on a  cruise. I took the Norwegian Cruise Line Miami-Bahamas-Miami with my husband and family friends. We had a ball on board. But the moment that took my breath away was when we got off the ship and walked to the beach at Bahamas. I had never seen a sea so beautiful, sky so blue and weather this nice. It was just perfect. Now I know why celebs and HNI's who have money to splurge love Bahamas. Agreed its really far from India but given a chance I would love to go back and spend few days sunbathing on the beach there. There was something magical about that place. 



 #4 Heaven on Earth: Gulmarg
 
"Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast" Which means if there is ever a heaven on earth, its here, its here, its here! 
These are the famous words of Mughal emperor Jahangir which he uttered when he visited Kashmir. It was my third time in Kashmir this year but for the first time I was staying in Gulmarg at a wonderful hotel Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa designed like a Kashmiri Palace. It was November and had just started snowing. The place truly looked like a paradise. The tranquility, the snow flakes whispering in our hotel balcony and Kashmiri hospitality made this a memorable trip. My wow moment was waking up in the morning to watch snow flakes make love to pine trees. If I could wake up to that view every morning and breathe in virgin air. Jahangir has already said the words ' The heaven is here!'. What else can I add to that?



#5 Drinking in a Public Place with an Old Buddy- Priceless! 

My fifth wow travel moment probably shouldn't make the cut in a travel blog. But then every traveller is different- some like the adventure, some opt for luxury, some like wildlife while some are culture vultures. I like exploring culture, love talking to locals and doing things the way they do. I visited Singapore which was a touch-and-go business trip. By the time I finished conference the usual tourist attractions- Sentosa Island and Night Safari were shut. Luckily I have a college friend- Manan Gupta who works in Singapore and I decided to meet him for dinner. We went to Clarke Quay and after I rejected most of the pubs, he came up with the idea that we could buy beer bottles and chips from the Seven Eleven store close-by and have a picnic on the river front. I didn't know drinking in public was allowed in Singapore. So we started the party right there and shared beer and life stories till 2 AM in the night. In India you can't do that without attracting the attention of cops. I will remember that night for long and imagine of all the things that was the 'wow' moment of my Singapore trip! 




Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Nomadic Spalon: Beauty and Wellness Comes Home!

At 11:30 am sharp on a winter morning my therapists for the day Reena and Nidhi were at my door step in their well-tailored  uniforms. In next ten minutes they transformed my living room into a spa complete with fragrant candles and soothing music. They had even nicely laid out a foldable bed for the treatment! The Nomadic Spalon's service, efficiency and the concept made a great first impression.

Serving With a Smile: Seema Nanda
The Nomadic Spalon is the brainchild of entrepreneur and spa consultant Seema Nanda. Having worked extensively with spas located in hotels, Seema realized that in this fast paced world it was increasingly annoying many women to adhere to the 'salon timings' and the commute time often spoiled the experience that a spa aims to provide. That's how The Nomadic Spalon was born- to give a professional salon and spa experience in the comfort of your home as per your convenience. The Nomadic Spalon offers services ranging from facial, waxing, manicure, pedicure to a spa massage, for both men and women in Delhi-NCR. Have a look at their menu for details.

I had pre-booked a manicure, pedicure and swedish massage. With Delhi's temperature dipping it was nice to get beauty treatment done comfortably at home. The girls were quite skilled and I was quite happy with my manicure and pedicure done using VLCC products. The nails were well shaped and glowing. 

I am a regular at spas and review them for a living but still I was pleasantly surprised that how they had managed giving a good spa experience in my home and even created an ambience. The one hour Swedish massage (Rs 1500) was relaxing and value for money. Of course if its a spa treatment for a particular ailment that you are looking for going to a specialized spa like Kairali or the Aura Thai Spa is a better idea but if it's quick rejuvenation you are up for ( and don't have time or energy to step out of your home) you must try The Nomadic Spalon.   

I am definitely calling them home more often and putting them on speed dial as I am really impressed by the professionalism. Many  a times I have waited at salons in the tony GK2 market, which houses all top notch salons, despite a prior appointment. At times when you are there to get the impending waxing done or a quick threading, they cajole you into a facial or a hair spa even if you are not game for it. Thankfully The Nomadic Spalon's team followed instructions and concentrated on pampering and making the experience truly rejuvenating. 
    
Since they were punctual, I was done with my beauty treatments within the estimated time and as scheduled attended an official meeting post my session with the team. So yes it was hassle-free and saved me from getting stuck in a traffic jam or waiting at a salon's reception to clear the bill. For women who have toddlers to take care of at home or work long hours, this service is definitely a boon!

Putting Their Best Foot Forward: The Nomadic Spalon Team 
Reena and Nidhi were smiling even after they were done with the treatment. I didn't see a speck of tiredness on their faces and they comfortably left in a car that their employer provides. Many multi- national companies can learn basic people management skills from entrepreneurs like Seema for whom the safety and security of her employees is paramount. The Nomadic Spalon is following the simple mantra of keeping its employees happy to ensure satisfied customers.

For an appointment you can call on : 08010135135

The Nomadic Spalon Menu (For complete menu visit their website)


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Irezumi- Making the Heart of Delhi Beat!

There is something magical about Dilli Ki Sardi (Delhi winters). Many love to hate it but let us agree winters make our city come alive - festivities, al fresco dining and shopping in high streets like Khan Market becomes fun. Winter is also the season for Sunday Brunches. 

As the winter just set in I got an invite from Irezumi- a restaurant which turns into a happening lounge bar at night to come and experience their Sunday Brunch. I immediately agreed because of two reasons. First Irezumi serves Japanese and sushi is my new found love. But it’s the second reason that was more important. Irezemi is located in the heart of the city and offers a splendid view of the Lutyens Delhi. 

Irezumi transforms into a happening lounge in the evenings
On a Sunday afternoon we reached Irezumi, located in a building that houses the Jaguar showroom on the ground floor. We chose to sit on the rooftop where you could see the iconic Delhi hotel Le Meridian, Shangri La and the bustling Janpath road. On a clear day you can spot the India Gate too. The sound of water from the fountains on the rooftop, the breeze and soft rays of the sun made it a perfect setting. The place was quiet unlike in the evenings when it’s bustling.

 Chef Xavier Lepcha quickly came to greet us armed with the Sunday Brunch menu and his infectious smile. The menu was quite exhaustive. I skipped the soup, even though the options were quite tempting including the Burmese Khao Suey and Miso Soup and went straight to the salad, dimsums, sushi and sashimi.  The Asian Caesar Salad, Prawn and Chicken Siew Mai and Salmon Maki Roll all met our expectations. The must try items on the Sunday Brunch menu include Kung Pao Chicken and Chilli Chicken pizza, yes you heard that right.

Chef Xavier Lepcha makes Japanese (cuisine) look quite simple 
The Sunday Brunch menu is different from the regular menu at this Pan Asian restaurant.  On a weekday you can go for a Non-Veg Sushi Platter ( Rs 1295) or a Veg Sushi Platter (Rs 995).

There was option of choosing wine, cocktails or the beer. I went for the tried and tested Cosmopolitan that was quite refreshing. But you must be more experimental when you visit the restaurant because they have some great cocktails. You must try Sake, a Japanese alcoholic drink made of fermented rice.

I had read mixed reviews about this place. Though everyone had good things to say about food, there were many who were not quite impressed by Irezumi's service, so I did go with a few pre-conceived notions. The food undoubtedly was good and service too was impressive if not impeccable. This Asian Tapas lounge might not be the best restaurant serving sushi in town but it definitely makes the Japanese and Oriental cuisine look familiar and less intimidating. For this the credit also goes to the friendly staff and chef

Its the location and setting that makes Irezumi a treat! 
When in doubt ask the Chef! So for the main course if you don’t know what to order  well here are Chef’s recommendations- Hainanese Crispy Fish topped with mushrooms and chillies and flambĂ©ed with Shaoxing Wine, Szechuan Poached Sliced Lamb with Fragrant Oil and Lantern Chilli and Choy Sum with Hot Garlic sauce.
It was the dessert that was the star that day- the Creme Brulee sampler that had the delectable dessert in two flavours is a must try. Next time I am going for the Bailey’s Chocolate Mousse Cake.


As I wrapped up my hearty meal, the servers were busy preparing for the Sundowner. Irezumi’s setting is indeed perfect for a lazy Sunday Brunch, a sundowner or a date night!

Watch the Vine video Here 


READY RECKONER

Address: Irezumi, 22A Janpath Road, Connought Place, New Delhi

Total Covers : 120

Average Cost of Meal for Two people: Rs 2500 (exclusive taxes and Alcohol)

Cost of Sunday Brunch: Rs 1795 per person