What the ‘new normal’ weekend is

‘My journey as a globetrotter started progressively when I was 15 years old and ended up being the anchor to my profession as a travel designer,’ says Reena Sachdev, Founder of Mumbai-based Travel Arena. And, though the five-month wait during the lockdown came at a price, when safety became a priority, all else took a backseat, she shares.

If anyone had told us that on the morning of March 14, 2020, we would wake up to a new world, a world with health asapriority over the economy, where safety was in distancing, where love meant minimal contact and where life would be all about a totally new set of priorities that never even crossed our minds, it still wouldn’t have prepared us for what came next.

After being homebound for more than five months in the strictest manner, it was time for us as a family to start taking those baby steps again, especially for our own 10-year-old son who had been schooling online and could do with a small dose of Mother Nature. Out of a few choices, we zeroed in on Lonavala. A two-hour drive from home with our car fully sanitised and as COVID-repellent as possible, we decided to get going on a Monday to evade a full inventory which was a sentiment shared by most, as all hotels in Lonavala were running at full capacity. So, it was a weekend getaway on a weekday.

The first few obvious things we noticed were the glass panel along the reception area, complete gloved and masked management personnel, no touchscreen signature as it’s difficult to sanitise, baggage handling done right, a sanitised private pool, in-room orders served in biodegradable corn starch containers and no unsealed toiletries. Even housekeeping had an additional supervisor who approved the room sanitisation and only once he put the sanitised seal outside the main door was the room to be ready for next occupancy.

A cluster of 26 treehouse accommodations spread across more than 27 acres of land on a mountain plateau overlooking the valley and most times hidden by clouds, one could be rest assured that it doesn’t get any more socially distant than this. Having always been a big fan of visuals and fewer words, I still manage to slip in more things to see than to read as truly, pictures speak a thousand words. The show-stealers here were the eclectic art pieces Activities like guided nature trails, wildlife documentary, stargazing, bird watching, forest bathing and in-room spa are always available if there’s any room in that idyllic time.

All in all, the five-month wait was worth it, although it came at a price (literally) as COVID-19 has made things expensive. But, when safety is a priority, all else takes a backseat.


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