By and large, there are two kinds of travellers: ones who are smitten by the charms of super touristy, all-time favourite destinations and others who put their money on offbeat experiences and lesser explored places. I belong to the second kind. For instance, I ditched Nainital earlier this month for its quieter sibling Bhimtal and it was a choice I am glad to have made.
Winding roads lined with sal and sagon trees and offering majestic valley views lead me to Bhimtal from Katgodham. In a matter of minutes, I was checking into the newly opened Rosefinch Sarovar Portico. I was thermal screened at the reception and offered hot lemon tea as a welcome drink. While checking in, I noticed that they had separate pen stands for used pens and fresh pens for guests to fill-in their credentials. That was the level of safety and hygiene protocols they follow against the coronavirus pandemic. I knew right then that I had signed up for a safe experience.
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I was taken to my deluxe room, the best part about which was its attached balcony that offered an utterly magnificent view of the emerald green Bhimtal lake and oak trees. The chic interiors deserve a special mention too. I made myself at home while the generous staff had pizza and hot coffee sent over to my room.Two of my best friends Nishant and Avinash have moved to Uttarakhand’s Binsar from Delhi and they drove down to join me in Bhimtal. I have some really fond memories of travelling in Uttarakhand with them, which is why I had requested them to be a part of my Bhimtal trip. They happily obliged. While Nishant stayed in my room, we got Avinash the room next door. I was meeting them after almost a year, thanks to the pandemic. There was a lot of catching up to do but before that, all we needed was a nice lunch.
We preferred in-room dining and ordered the evergreen paneer makhni, dal tadka and hot chapatis. Everything was delicious with just the right amount of spices. The best part about staying in a hotel like Rosefinch Sarovar Portico is getting to enjoy undisturbed afternoon naps on super comfy beds. We dozed off for a while and woke up to cups of hot masala tea and a serving of assorted fritters.
After our evening tea, I and Nishant walked to the lake to soak in the tranquillity. We discussed our lives in the pandemic-hit times as the sky changed its shade from grey to tangerine to pitch black. By now, the mercury had further dipped and we returned to the hotel.To our surprise, the hotel staff had organised a lovely bonfire for us in the beautiful courtyard. The only minor glitch was that the hotel has applied for a liquor license and so we had to arrange for the booze ourselves. The staff was kind enough to arrange for a car and driver to take us to the nearby market. Not bad, huh?
What followed was a lovely night filled with great food, soulful gazals on loud speakers, warm and comforting bonfire and lots of friendly banter between the three of us. Encompassed by tall oak trees, The Courtyard is Rosefinch Sarovar Portico’s party lawn for hosting social gatherings.
The General Manager Mr. Rahul Rohit joined us for a while and made sure we were having a nice time. He told me that the newly opened hotel has received overwhelming response from free individual travellers and people looking for a cosy destination wedding. When he mentioned that the hotel had been sold out for Christmas and New Year, I could see why. At a time when big fat Indian weddings have turned into intimate and socially distanced affairs, what could be better than tying the knot in the Kumaon hills surrounded by majestic views and fresh air?Similar bonfire arrangements had been made for the other groups of guests in the courtyard. I am happy to report that everyone loved my choice of gazals. The staff had let me connect my phone to the huge bluetooth speakers and I couldn’t have asked for more. It was like partying in my own courtyard. We called it a night around 10pm and headed back to our rooms.
The next morning, we woke up to the sounds of chirping birds in our balcony while fresh sun rays made their way to our bed. After a wholesome breakfast of poori sabzi and masala dosa, we ventured out to visit Sattal and Naukuchiatal. The staff had arranged a cab for us. We kayaked in Sattal and zip-lined in Naukuchiatal and came back just in time for our lunch.This time, we chose to dine at the Lake Café, their all-day dining restaurant. We ordered authentic Kumaoni cuisine this time. From the delicious alu ke gutke to the nutritious chane ke dubke to the satisfying kumaoni raita, everything was super fresh, and sat lightly on our palate. But what really stole the show was the spicy Kumaoni chicken curry, blessed with loads of black pepper. We enjoyed these with both wheat and maize chapatis. Dessert was a plate of gooey chocolate brownie and caramel ice cream. We went back to our room and enjoyed watching a repeat telecast of the India vs Pakistan match during the 1999 World Cup. Just when we thought, the day couldn’t possibly get any better, a layer of thick fog floated into our room. At first, we thought that it must be smoke from a small wildfire closeby, but it was fog that had reached our room through the tall oak trees.
We went down to the decks on the second floor and spent some quality leisure time relaxing. Soon, it started to drizzle, and we moved to Wild Oak, their super chill lounge which overlooks the lake. This is why I love experiences like Rosefinch Sarovar Portico. There’s always something or the other to look forward to. But this was a property where you could be at absolute peace with yourself and have a great time even if you choose to simply stay in your room and unwind away from the hectic city hustle.Nested in the picturesque region of Kumaon and conveniently located on Haldwani-Nainital highway, Rosefinch Sarovar Portico has to be one of my best stay experiences ever. The room service was super quick and the housekeeping very efficient. I remember Nishant gave his shirt for ironing and got it back in a matter of a few minutes. I would also like to give them extra points for maintaining just the right temperature of the bathroom water. This is something rare. No, really. Don’t we all just hate having to bring the water to an agreeable temperature in hotels? You don’t have to do that at Rosefinch Sarovar Portico.Our stay at the property was an experience that I will hold dear.
The hotel has 35 rooms, of which 29 are operational right now. These include deluxe rooms, luxury rooms and family rooms encased beautifully by quaint architecture that reflects Bhimtal’s history and culture. They have a strict no-smoking inside the rooms policy, which is great. Then there’s Opera, an ideal place for outdoor activities situated close to the reception and Euphoria, their gorgeous banquet hall.
Simply put, Rosefinch Sarovar Portico is a sheer delight for the discerning traveller. A staycation here is exactly what the doctor prescribed. Go and see for yourself.