My Tour of Pune City-Part 4. A Review of the JW Marriott Pune Hotel! And a Super Giveaway!
Well its about time that I shared my Tour of Pune as the final cog in my month long visit to India. I am sure you haven’t seen Parts 1-3 which you can definitely enjoy with your favorite tipple here! While in India, I spent most of my time in Pune based at the JW Marriott hotel. I made sure I planned my tour of Pune in bite sizes, visited outstanding historical sites like Aga Khan Palace, Parvati Hill and Temple and the Shaniwarwada Fort and also enjoying my 5* Hotel facilities.
Does this happen to you too….?
You visit a place, pay top dollar for your hotel and hardly use the facilities, as you dash about trying to pack in as many sites as possible in the shortest time to boot? Well it happens to me lots and this time round I decided I was going to milk every moment at the Amazing Pune Marriott and have a leisurely tour of Pune city too!
Tour of Pune – the Accommodation:
For the main part of my month duration, I stayed at the JW Marriott, one of the top 5* Hotels in Pune and is the part of the Marriott international chain of hotels. This hotel more than stood up to the standards and expectations that I had of a 5* real estate. Its approx. 30 minutes from Pune airport from where I was picked from the airport by the Hotel chauffeur in a Limo…What! 😀
On getting to the hotel, I was given a warm welcome with a chilled orange juice as I was checked in. I was pleasantly surprised at the beautiful architectural design of the foyer. (For those that have read my prior articles I love Facts, Architecture, Art and a bit of History…so prepare to be wowed by the same here).
This hotel has a grandeur thats reminiscent of Old world Indian Architecture that you wouldn’t expect looking from the outside. At its uber modern exterior! Tall white columns, high ceilings, lovely chandeliers, an elegant winding staircase, boy I was totally excited about my long stay here.
A bell boy carried my luggage to my Deluxe Mini Suite below, wonderfully designed and very spacious. It was embellished in luxurious elegant wooden furnishing, and a huge king size bed that had a selection of soft, medium and hard pillows. It had a 37 inch LCD TV and fully stocked mini fridge FREE…Oh yeah. It also had optimised lighting that created a mood calming atmosphere.
The bathroom was fully marbled and it had a tub and shower that I really enjoyed daily. There was a lovely well-lit circular shaving mirror with pot-pourri near the basin to enhance the sweet fragrance and ambiance in the room.
There were daily FREE goodies including a variety of fruits, ice cream, pudding and chocolates, that were provided in the room for my enjoyment & indulgence
One of the things that stood out for me about the service was that my laundry was attended to whenever I requested for the service and my clothes were washed, ironed, and packed professionally. Returned with the JW Marriott branding and packaging similar to what you’d get from a high street shop…that’s branding on speed guys! See image below…seriously this was awesome! The Marriott excelled itself in my opinion! Julie had just returned from Tampa and had also stayed at the 5* Tampa Waterside Marriott property, she agrees it no where reached this level of service!
I was impressed by the professionalism and importance with which they treat the customer and JW Marriott brand. There is a lesson to be learned & borrowed on branding & customer care here.
Tour of Pune – Dining:
First at my hotel, one has a choice of 4 main restaurants: the Spice Kitchen, Alto Vino, Shakahari and Paasha all absolutely amazing, the cuisine, mouth watering…literally! I mean the heat as in Jalapeno heat is omg in some of the dishes. Hot pepe from Naija can’t compete 🙂
Let me give you a run down of the restaurants since I had most of my meals here!
Spice Kitchen – Located on the ground floor, it offers international cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere inc. Buffet lunch & dinner & a breakfast buffet to die for. Once you have had this you won’t need much till late afternoon, past 4pm to be honest! Its truly filling!
The choices of food will carry you away, they include: savoury delicacies of Punjabi and South Indian cuisine; Chinese cuisine, multi-national cuisines and Italian options. Over the days I spent at the hotel, this was my most favourite restaurant and I got a chance to sample most of the dishes on offer. The food was spicy yet enticing; it was freshly cooked and sumptuous enough to tickle my taste buds. The chefs, waiters and waitresses were extremely friendly, polite and offered good service. (And they didn’t demand or expect a tip like they do in most American Hotels/restaurants, so I gave even more freely). Occasionally, I went for the option of a barbecue on selected evenings
Alto Vino – When I felt like Italian food, I visited Alto Vino. This restaurant is sophisticated and stylish with a real Italian ambiance and offers different types of pasta, olives, wood-fired pizzas and succulent meat dishes. The meals came with a generous serving of wines and mocktails that were available on a wide-range of selections.
Shakahari – This is a Vegetarian & Vegan Haven that I visited out of curiousity! Located on the first floor, opposite the Alto Vino restaurant, I couldn’t avoid it forever! And I was pleasantly amazed! Shakahari serves creative and colourful pan-Asian vegetarian dishes, together with a collection of fruits for dessert. I found a wide variety of iced teas and vegan wines.
Paasha – This is an elegant rooftop 24th Floor restaurant and lounge that features the very best of north Indian cuisine, Indian bread, dal and kebabs. It has a wonderfully designed entrance that welcomes you with modern architecturally designed columns woven out of glass blocks
It also has a roof terrace that offers splendid views of Pune during the day and specially in the evenings. Below are images of this gorgeous lounge and views!
As an Elite guest with Marriott, I was invited to a cocktail evening by the hotel’s General Manager to this exclusive roof top lounge, the paper was heavy real luxurious type, image below doesn’t do it justice!
I got a chance to connect with other elite Marriott guests as we sipped away at different cocktail drinks and enjoyed the panoramic aerial view of Pune city. The choices for the composition of the cocktails generated by the bar man rolling a set of four dice which he would then mix together. I also had a chance to enjoy the views of Pune at night as darkness set in while having drinks under the moonlight.
After having the cocktail, it was time for dinner in the Paasha restaurant. The lounge was dimly lit with Persian interior decorations and high ceilings. The main bar was located in the center with a pod and DJ playing music. The wonderfully selected soft music played by the DJ and the lighting created a warm ambiance and amazing atmosphere, you had to be there to feel this, amazing! Dinner was fab.
This was a perfect setting for me to enjoy Kingfisher Beer and spicy lamb chops for my starter. I had a traditional Indian Masala dish for the main course which I really enjoyed. The staff are cheerful, and the manager on duty was very friendly and he made sure we were truly entertained and served all evening.
Health, Fitness and Well-being:
The JW Pune Marriott is not short of options for health fitness and well-being. It has a fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, whirlpool, steam room, sauna and Quan spa. If you are looking for pure luxurious treatment then you gotta try a Quan Spa and its nothing like you have experienced before!
The Quan Spa – This is one of the biggest urban spas in Western India. It is very spacious and gracefully designed to spread over 15,000 sq. ft. Quan is a Chinese word that means ‘a source of pure water’ and the spa draws on the water’s restorative properties of healing and rejuvenation. It has a “Foot Lounge” with 9 beds, 13 treatment rooms and a relaxation lounge. There is an extensive choice of treatments for guests including Ayurvedic treatments that are done by certified and varied team of spa therapists; from the West & Asia.
Outdoor Swimming Pool – The swimming pool is located on the terrace of the second floor. It is 25 metres in length with a pool bar for your rehydration and drinks.
I created time most days to use the health and fitness centre esp. the sauna, steam room, followed by the whirlpool. I would then head off to swim and cool off in the pool. Surrounded by hanging gardens with beautiful flowers and palm trees…you gotta see this place!
The Fitness Center – Most evenings I would head to the fitness center located on the 2nd floor for a workout. It has an aerobics room, free weights and cardiovascular equipment. There is also a fitness instructor to assist with the exercises.
Entertainment At the JW Marriott Pune:
I can tell you that on your Tour of Pune by night, you should check out this hotel Club called the Mi-A-Mi!
Mi-A-Mi – Is located in the basement of the Pune Marriott and is one of the best places to experience Pune night life. The music is awesome and it is such a popular club that it gets really packed. Get there early is my advice. There is a separate dance floor for couples and there are private lounges where groups of 10-20 can have separate private seating too. This is quite a place to go and shake off some of the calories, people watch and have a blast!
Bar 101 – If you can endure the heat in the throat, this bar is a watering hole to be checked out. It was awarded the Gold Certification by the Whisky Bars of the World in 2012. It is a Scottish-style bar and lounge that offers a comprehensive selection of whisky, cigars and hors d’oeuvres. I remembered my Scottish mates when I visited. Although I am not much of a drinker!
The Tour of Pune City’s Other Historical Sites!
TOUR OF PUNE AGA KHAN PALACE:
A must see on a tour of Pune historical and political sights, I too visited the Aga Khan Palace which is also known as the Gandhi National Memorial. According to records it was built in 1892 by Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III in Pune, India. The palace is situated 2 km away from Bund Garden in Yerwada on Pune-Nagar Road. It is has a facade with magnificent Italian arches and is built on over 19 acres of land with spacious lawns and immaculate gardens.
Apparently this palace was built as a source of employment for the villagers in the surrounding areas that were affected by famine. It took five years for 1000 people to complete the construction. The main significance of this palace is that Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturbaji Gandhi and his secretary Mahadevbhai Desai were interned in the palace from 9 August 1942 to 6 May 1944, following the launch of Quit India Movement. Kasturbaji and Mahadevbhai passed away while in captivity at the Aga Khan Palace and their tombs are located on the palace grounds.
In 1969, Prince Karim El Hussenim Aga Khan IV donated this place to the government of India and it is now a national monument of India’s freedom movement in memory of Gandhiji and his life. The museum inside the palace has a rich collection of pictures and photographs of important incidents of his life.
There is also a collection of his personal items including slippers, clothes, utensils, mala in the room where he was interned and a letter written by Gandhiji on the death of his secretary. A small amount of Gandhiji’s ashes are kept near the tombs of Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadevbhai Desai.
TOUR OF PUNE PARVATI HILL AND TEMPLE
I took a trip out of town to Parvati Hill on my tour of Pune. This temple is 640 m above sea level. I had to climb 103 steps leading to the top of the hill where the temple complex is situated. It was built during the Peshwa dynasty rule. The main temple, Devdeveshwara, is made of blackstone and was completed under Balaji Baji Rao, in 1749. Its also set at a vantage point that makes this location one of the most picturesque in Pune. This temple offers visitors a wonderful panoramic view of Pune and it is one of the oldest heritage structures in Pune.
Devdeveshwar Temple – This temple is one of the best in the Parvati temple complex. It has a huge door made up of granite, entrance decorated by arches and a mandapa holding a magnificent grand Shiv Linga. The Linga here is unique, fixed within a brass seat and is believed to have been brought from River Gandaki which flows in Nepal. It is also believed that the footwear of Chattrapati Shahu Maharaj lies beneath this Shiv Linga.
This expansive fort-palace was built between 1730 to 1732 and was considered to be an important centre for Indian politics. The fort itself was largely destroyed by an unexplained fire in 1828. However, the surviving structures are now maintained as a landmark tourist attraction. It has massive walls and is bordered by five gigantic entrance gates (Dilli Darwaja, Khidki Darwaja, Mastani Darwaja, Narayan Darwaja and Ganesh Darwaja).
The Dilli Darwaja is the main gate of the complex, and faces north towards Delhi. The strongly built Dilli Darwaja gatehouse has massive doors that are large enough to admit elephants outfitted with seating canopies. To deter elephants from charging the gates, each pane of the gate has seventy-two sharp twelve-inch steel spikes arranged in a nine by eight grid, at approximately the height of the forehead of a battle-elephant. Each pane was also fortified with steel cross members and borders were bolted with steel bolts having sharpened cone heads. You must not miss this on your tour of Pune sights!
The perimeter walls also have nine bastion towers and they enclose huge courtyards, a lotus-shaped fountain and a lush garden complex with the foundations of the original buildings.
THE HIGHLIGHT OF MY TOUR OF PUNE – GANESH FESTIVAL
I was invited by some friends to get and about in the streets of Pune and enjoy final day of the Ganesh Festival celebration. This is a 10-day Hindu festival AND a culture of Pune, that involves street classical dances, music recitals, drama festivals and some traditional sports at different spots in the city. The festival climaxes in a carnival-like procession along the downtown streets of Pune. When we got to the city center, roads were closed off to traffic. We parked at a distance and walked until we bumped into huge crowds with thousands of people singing and dancing in processions. Hundreds were involved in creating spectacular and colourful chalk dust artwork on the roads. They were absolutely beautiful as you will agree below:
We ended the day in an Indian restaurant with my friends who introduced me to delicious traditional local Indian dishes. And I have always felt that when you travel you maintain certain healthy habits and one of them Is eat some of the local cuisine in a local setting. Don’t you agree?
Flight Back from my Tour of Pune via Abu Dhabi
My flight from Pune back to UK was with Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi International Airport. The service on the plane was highly commendable. I spent some time checking out the duty free shops. If you have transited thru here, you’ll agree with me that the interior design of this airport is amazing with specific attention to detail for the finishes.
After a really hectic tour of Pune and surrounding attractions in neighboring cities. This was a much welcome break as I prepared myself for the onward 9 hour flight back to UK.
All in all, the month I spent in India was a memorable time and I hope I have sparked a lil fire in you to see other shores esp. India. I enjoyed the rich heritage, the culture, the friendly people in city, the ambiance, hospitality and experience at JW Marriott, Pune. I loved my tour of Pune by day and night. I definitely recommend this to those who are fun loving with a passion for travel to see more of the world like we do. And if this kind of lifestyle pulls at your heartstrings, You absolutely can enjoy it too. We have a brand new Travel App coming out and yo could earn FREE Vacations worldwide just by using and sharing it Learn more about that here!
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