“The key is to set realistic customer expectations and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.” — César Ritz, King of luxury hotels
Luxury hotels had always been a distant dream for me. I wondered, would I ever be able to afford such extravagant comfort of stay and even if I did manage to splurge, how would these star rated hospitality tycoons treat a commoner like me? I was transported 10 years back, to my Engineering days, when I used to cross a cafe “Brown and Cream” across Bhubaneswar station and looked longingly through the glass door but, could never afford to go inside to indulge in those freshly baked sinful pastries and butter cookies! I had come a long way since then and now I was comfortably poised to enjoy some indulgences. It was not a dream anymore. This time I knew it was for real. I had planned a trip to Chilika and had made reservations to stay at ‘The Swosti Chilika Resort’. I was quite excited and was looking forward to the trip.
“Super-luxury hotels are being built in outer space. The new type of heaven is being offered to humans.”
Returning to Chilika after so many years, I was amazed by the changes that had taken place over the years. The lush green plants around, the waterfalls, temples, the imposing sapphire blue lagoon which stretched far and the widening of road work going on swiftly, made it into one of the emergent tourist destinations of India. I could feel butterflies in my stomach. It was my first stay at a luxury resort and that too in Chilika — a long harbored wish was coming true!
HEARTY WELCOME/ ROUSING WELCOME:
As soon as I alighted from my car, I was given a warm reception. A flower bouquet, traditional tika on forehead, welcome beads made out of shells, showering of flower petals, with the courteous and efficient staff hovering around me, was emotionally stirring. Not everywhere you go, you are welcomed like a Queen. The check-in was quick and hassle-free. The reception was a beautiful hut -shaped area which had flowers, yellow vibrant paints on walls, seating area, wall decors, artistically hung lampshades, and large vases. I was in a picturesque surrounding. The ambiance was soothing. The Swosti Chilika Resort is in the lap of nature and an ideal place to unwind. My senses calmed, so did my appetite. Before I was escorted to my room I was offered a welcome drink – fresh green coconut juice. Ah! It was manna!! So heavenly!!!
Swosti Chilika Resort consists of a total of 54 cottages. The cottages have been aesthetically designed to please the five senses. The resort consists of 4 types of Cottages. Being environment friendly, the Swosti Chilika Resort uses electric vehicles for guests to move about within the hotel premises. The Swosti Chilika Resort boasts of a rich flora and fauna and the many varieties of plants inside the 11 acres of land is a visual feast. A lot of stress is given to maintaining high standards of hygiene generally. Continuous efforts are made so that the aesthetics of the property does not fade. The Swosti Chilika Resort is on a never-ending beautification drive.. I was glad when Mr. Shawanaz (the staff who escorted me), told me that I could take 1 hour for myself before proceeding for our sightseeing day trip. Was I ecstatic? Yes, I was! I wanted to jump, scream, and run in my room! I was in the “Wind-chimes Lake view cottage”, directly facing the swimming pool. My room had a four-poster Victorian bed with lamp shades hanging around. The roof had a traditional thatched styled design which gave an appeal of a rural styled yet modern design. The bed covers had floral patterns. There was water in a glass jug, a designed carpet, a modern-day sofa with tea table, and all other basic amenities. Well, the hotel does take care of your welcome refreshments. A big basket of nuts, chips, exotic fruits, juices, and buttery cookies. Was I in some dream? Overlooking my villa on the opposite side, was exactly what I wanted, the azure blue lake, few meters ahead which seemed to merge with the horizon.
I was lucky as the ever courteous staff had a few minutes to take me around other villas in the resort. We started with the ‘Mid Lake County’ which is a basic cottage with all the facilities. It has a double bed overlooking the garden and is perfect for families who wish to spend good times with their kids. Next was the ‘Wind Chimes Lake View’, where I was staying. The third category was the ‘Wind-Chimes Garden’ view room. The fourth categories of rooms were the ‘Millpond Villas’. Classically apt for the romantics like me, these cottages were straight out of Cinderella’s dream. The entry to the room itself seems like a jungle fairy tale. Remember Hansel and Gretel’s story, who put pebbles to track back, their way to home. It was just like that. Stone path with pebbles strewn around with ample dose of green. It had a Victorian bed, exquisite wine glasses, and all the amenities of a luxury resort. Icing on the cake was a pool inside the room as well as outside the room, overlooking the garden. And then I was taken to the ‘Sanctuary’, the Presidential Villa. It was an epitome of opulence and breathtakingly beautiful. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I compared it with the Armani of the fashion world! It looked like a Photoshopped model. It was the showstopper of this entire resort. After this spectacular view, which was beyond my reach, I came back to my reality. Could I ever afford this messiah of luxury? Well, I do not have words to describe this Villa.
‘Sanctuary’ is for the Royal, the Celebrities and CEO’s. What caught my eye, was the bathtub. Yes, the bathtub! Situated right under the dim lights and a small chandelier above, it gave an impression of simplicity and grace. It was indeed the show-stealer. I could just sit and admire it and never use it! The villa had its own kitchen, fancy-looking poster bed, a huge pool outside (you can try snorkeling), a dining and seating area which was a feast for the eyes. Dyed in white, the whole area looked so creamy and royale. There were lampshades hung from the roof, small paintings on the wall matching the chic and classy background.
“There is only one boss. The Guest. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else”. — Mr. Moriarty, CEO of Hotel Casanova Venezia
FINGER LICKING DELICACIES:
“As the saying goes, one cannot think well, love well, and sleep well, if one has not dined well”
The resort deserves a full 5/5 on the delectable delicacies served. The fine dining area is called ‘ORANA’. The interiors are handsomely done, giving a touch of aristocracy. The whole ambiance is very soothing. The resort’s cuisine was truly superb. They offer various menus to choose from. Whether it is a continental breakfast, Firewood pizza, Italian Spaghetti, Dahi tikka kabab, Tandoor prawn, Odia delicacies, melt in mouth sultry gulab jamuns, or a naughty chocolate sundae ice cream, each food item had a distinct flavour and had been prepared with so much love and care. The chefs use locally sourced ingredients. The gourmet served is authentic is naturally fresh. When big business supports their local communities, they do so much for the society.
Coming to Mahendra who assisted me in food, was always up on his feet and that is what speaks of a legacy of a good Hospitality sector. I wanted to kiss the hands of the chef, who already was in my good books. Good food is essential for a truly enriching staycation.
The property also has a bar known as ‘HARBOUR’, and a coffee cafe called the ‘BEAN HIVE’ serving fresh in-house pastry, tea, coffee. Oh how can I forget the 19-year-old girl who stood beside me the entire time, while I sipped my coffee? She spoke about her dream, passion for work, and their ever generous owner, Mr. Jitendra Kumar Mohanty (Twitter: @jkmohantySWOSTI) who had recently bestowed the employee of the month award upon her.
ACTIVITIES AND PROPERTY ACCESS:
Chilika Lake, is Asia’s biggest brackish water lake, which attracts lakhs of migratory birds every year from Russia, Siberia, Sri Lanka, etc. from the month of October to February end. Call it a photographer’s delight, writer’s fantasizing panorama, or a honeymooner’s newfound escapade for romance, this place has a surprise at every corner. Now, that’s a small description of where I was heading for some fun activities. Swosti owns speed boats, a floating restaurant, Jet Ski, and kayaks for keeping their guests entertained. The breakfast island where you can dine, offers a stunning panoramic view of the island and lake beneath.
The activities consisted of spotting these gorgeous pink Flamingos, White Bellied Sea Eagles, Herons, and a lot of other birds. Feeding the white birds who were screeching and flying behind our speed boat brought out the inner child in me. The guide is quite knowledgeable and he patiently explained about each bird type, their origin, and features. We had a bottle of juices, chips, cakes, and staff accompanying me on my ride. Bird watching is a major attraction. The next stop was the revered Kali Jai temple, where the leading deity is Maa Kali Jai. I had a short stopover to offer her prayers.
Swosti also arranges local sightseeing tours. Visit to Odisha museum, trekking to waterfalls, water sports, a night safari to see Olive Ridley Turtles nesting, arranged especially during their egg-laying period/hatching. Other activities include lazing around swimming pool, game zone access for both adults and children, feeding ducks, strolling around the property. On request they also arrange, date night by the lake, couple activities like cycling, pre-wedding shoots. They also have a stunning spa for massaging your senses and it is a must-do activity.
Recently, the tourism sector has been on a boom. Each one working in the hospitality sector is looking to provide unparalleled services to their customer from their peers.
So what made Swosti so distinct? Being one of the premier players in Odisha, their people do make an extra effort to take care of you quite attentively. Whether it was the young lady who did not budge while I sipped my coffee, or the young boy at the restaurant who made sure I had my food served hot. Even though it was the restaurant’s closing time, he waited patiently for me to finish my morsels and leave. Giving undivided attention to each and every customer, many times is difficult and this is where this luxury chain of Hotels wins and I was completely bowled over! Hospitality is simply an opportunity to show love and care and Swosti leads in that.
Swosti is also doing their part for the environment, of being a conscious Hotelier starting from the Towel Recycle Programme to Waste Water Management. Their programmes are also coordinated efforts to employ the local youths in Chilika by recruitment a programme which is laudable.
LOCATION – Swosti Chilika Resort is located 18 KMs from the Balugaon Station. You can take a train/flight to Bhubaneswar from any part of India. From there book a train to Balugaon station. Numerous trains are running and it takes 1.5 hours to reach Chilika. Swosti Group also arranges cabs to reach their property from Bhubaneswar for your comfort and luxury. By road it takes 2 hours to reach.
ACCOMMODATION– 78 Luxurious rooms and Cottages.
TARIFF– Always check the website or drop a mail to service staff for better deals and discounts.
Email: [email protected], Toll-free: 1800-123-1414