The aam-resort

The aam-resort
The dining area at the resort,
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The Madhuban Resort & Spa is a picturesque abode of mango trees

Amit Mahajan
March 24 , 2014
03 Min Read

The attention to detail at Madhubhan Resort & Spa was apparent much before I arrived. The driver who received me at Vadodara airport turned out to be a bearer of wet towels, water, cold drinks and fruit for the hour-and-a-quarter journey to Vidyanagar, near the famous milk town of Anand. Madhubhan Resort & Spa is located in a green belt between Vadodara and Ahmedabad. Not too far from the sea (only about 20km as the crow flies from the Gulf of Khambat), the area is called ‘Charotar’, implying that all four seasons are evenly pleasant. The weather in November was excellent, comfortably warm during the day and deliciously cool in the evenings. When I arrived at the resort, it was in keeping with these auspicious beginnings: the 20 acres it inhabits brimmed with a feeling of space and the sloping tiled-roofed buildings were soothing to the eye.

But what really gave the place its unique identity were the mango trees. The first one, outside my room, had branches extending welcoming hands when I opened the door to the balcony. Its shadow swam lazily in the blue swimming pool underneath. And, oh joy, many many more mango trees, with their distinctive leaves and lovely dome-shaped outlines, enjoyed the wintry sun in the expansive gardens. Surprisingly nobody had talked of these trees. True, the resort website hinted that it was located in “the picturesque green belt of Charotar”. The resort emblem was a tree. But nobody had said anything about scores of fully grown aamkapeds while talking of “meticulously landscaped open spaces”.

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It turned out that the resort was built in a mango-and-chikoo orchard. The full story was revealed by Prayasvin Patel, CMD of the Elecon group of companies, a business house based in this area. Early in the 1990s, Patel told me, the region saw a series of droughts and the Elecon group decided to plant mango and chikoo trees — fruit-bearing and indigenous to the area. Up came the orchard. Then they figured the other ingredient of the resort — the demand side. Anand and the nearby industrial area get business travellers, attract some medical tourism and are home to a Gujarati diaspora whose older generation wants to occasionally revisit its roots. The younger generation is usually a reluctant co-traveller and would rather party in Mumbai.

Enter Madhubhan, with its spacious lawns, luxurious rooms and bathrooms, two swimming pools, gym, a great spa and a choice of multi-cuisine food — a mod-con nest near the ancestral house. So the resort organises itself in two parts: a business hotel-like block and some cottage-like accommodation that comes with tasteful interiors, sunken bathtubs and private sit-outs.

Not being a Gujarati in search of roots, I happily settled for branches and leaves. My best time in the resort was walking in the gardens in the moonlight, waiting for dinner to be served after a sumptuous massage. The spa here is a serious affair, offering a bewildering choice of therapies.

But what about the food, you ask? The Gujarati dishes were delicious and redolent with their specific flavours: mild kadhi, aloosubzi and a curry made of besankasev. The buffet spreads, with a large Continental and Indian variety, however, were a bit run-of-the-mill.

At one point, I couldn’t help wondering: would people who are not obliged to be in this part of the world — and to whom it matters — come for a resort holiday to a dry state? But then I remembered the heron bathing contentedly in a lawn sprinkler right outside my restaurant window...

The information

Where: Vallabh Vidyanagar, 7km from Anand, 40km from Vadodara, Gujarat
Accommodation: 48 cottages, 30 rooms, 3 suites
Tariff: Rs 8,500 to Rs 25,000. Rates include buffet breakfast
Contact: 02692-239268-76, www.madhubhan.com


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