The Windflower, Bandipur
The Drive –
We started the drive from Bangalore at 07:25AM and hit the resort exactly at 12:25PM. The road was 95% smooth without any major potholes ( this mattered to me as the ground clearance of a Honda City is quite worrisome) or any detours.
We took the NICE road from Bannerghatta road, a marvelous short stretch of road, international standards, then went on to join Bangalore Mysore highway. The average speed of 60kmph. The road quality is not bad at all. However a word of caution, specially for the first time traveller – expect the odd ignorant biker or tractor coming at you on the expressway nonchalantly. At all T junctions or crossings honk and lookout on your left – more often than not you will find someone trying to cross the road.
Stop at Kamat Lokaruchi around the 60th kilometer mark if you have taken the NICE road exit. The wrapped idly’s are wonderful (Muddey idly) and the masaala dosa is crisp and less oily.The highlight is of course the filter coffee. The aroma is just wonderful. On your way out must checkout the trinket shop – awesome incense sticks. A breakfast meal for two will cost about 80-100 bucks.(INR)
The road stretch from that point to Mysore is fairly crowded with local traffic. Mysore palace is a landmark you shouldn’t miss on the way. The road narrows from that point onwards. Its a to way traffic to Nanjagud and then to Gundalpet. The right turn from Gundalpet takes you on to Bandipur National Park. This is where the road becomes narrow and watch out for potholes if you have a delicate car.
Once you cross the police check post on the left you will see a small signboard for Windflower, take left from that point and you will see the entrance of the property shortly.Dont be surprised if you spot the odd deer on the way.
Door to door it took me five and half hours with a 30 min.stop for breakfast, to cover a distance of 235kms.
There are 22 suites and 3 studios. Sports room has Table tennis and Pool table.
Swimming pool and spa also available.
On first glance you think its ok nothing spectacular. The reception is pretty lowly lodge types with basic décor.What makes up for the décor is the staff. A very warm helpful staff and must say quite well informed about the place.
The current property manager,Mr.Fazal is a very cordial and helpful gentleman. Hats more there is a consistency in his behavior with every customer. Its easy to get tired of being polite day after day, but it seems to me Mr.Fazal would beat that aspect hands down.
We stayed at suite number five. We were quite impressed with the décor inside. The room has a high wooden ceiling, fitted with a strong air conditioner for summer afternoon situations, the lamps are romantic and the bathroom neat clean and beautifully designed. The rain shower is semi exposed to the skies.
The resort provides for most of the toiletries ,just wished the quality was a bit better. But that’s not much of a bother really. The curtains are tastefully done and the sit out has two sofa like chairs for the evening coffee or a drink perhaps.
The property does not have any visible fencing and the staff made us aware to be inside our rooms post 10-30PM since some animals could stray in to the property. Now even if it isn’t true, it did add to the excitement. Somewhere I got the feeling that the intent was rather to wrap up quickly for the staff and keep any untoward noisy touristy event in an otherwise quiet jungle area.
The night time does get a bit murky for the faint hearted, the staff keep repeating sighting of wild boars and even a leopard once within the premise, so it kind of builds up to the atmosphere.
The pool is decent, not too deep at best 5 or 6 feet, and is circular in diesgn.The best time is in the nights when you can see beautiful stars and have a quiet drink. Though there could be that odd loud group disturbing the silence of it all. So please be patient.
The property seemed kid friendly, there is sports room with table tennis and some other games. The pool has a baby pool as well. There is a small courtyard for kids to play ball also. The staff is sensitive to the kids and provides warm milk, or even a lightly grilled cheese sandwich on special requests.
The landscaping is such that it would look really beautiful in the monsoons. However this being early summer, everything was dried up – it gave a very barren look to the place. Not to say that its any fault of the property, just that the setting is such, that if it were lush green then the view would be just spectacular.
Monkeys, cats, dogs and even a couple of cows make you feel really eco-friendly within the resort. But they are well behaved and are on their own on most occasions excepting lunchtime.
The Food –
Perhaps the only thing that needs real improvement. The variety is not great neither is the taste. But this is not to say that it is not edible. Some items are in fact quite palatable, but overall you might be left a touch disappointed if you are a food connoisseur. If you are a eat to live category person, then it is not a bad option at all.
Another aspect is that the food gets over quickly. You have to reach a bit early to get it in time. Their supply versus demand needs to be better balanced. The evening snacks are nothing to write home about.
The evening barbecue was borderline good, with some decent quality chicken. The bar menu has limited options in scotch,rum,vodka and beer. For the wine lovers Sula is the only option. Again, good to have under the circumstances, but nothing spectacular.
Foreigners or locals who love Continental food are sure to be dissapointed.Other than the odd Russian salad or Cream of Chicken soup, in my stay I did not see any Pasta’s Lasagna or Shepherd’s Pie.However,I am given to understand that these could be made to order on special request.
The Amenities –
There is a spa with multiple massage options. The therapists know their job well, seem well trained and knowledgeable in their art.The ambience could’ve been a bit more comfy, but its not bad either.
For the regular visitor the pricing range is nothing extraordinary, but for the first time explorer it might look expensive. Typically some “holidayers” tend to not worry about the expenses since its once in a year type of a vacation, and so for them, a little bit of self indulgence is quite justifiable. Whereas for those who frequently take short trips/breaks, they might have explored better options before.
The massages range from INR 400 to 2K and the they have a huge variety of massages, facials and other beauty treatments.
Swimming pool – it’s a nicely designed pool, almost circular with a small baby pool inside. Its isn’t too deep either and the setting in the night looks really beautiful as it overlooks the hills ahead and a starlit sky . On a first glance, you will see that the water color is green instead of the usual chlorine blue. This is probably because of so many trees around.
Its pool where you can go relax – not one where you need to do 20 laps to keep in shape.
Conference – Theatre style 70 people conference room – there is a router, so you can get online if required. The seating can accommodate smaller group if roundtables is a must. The room is rectangular in shape and the staff promised that they can arrange projectors and other av equipment if required.
However the conference chairs might need a better alternative. To me, they don’t look like 8 hour chairs for 2 days consecutively.Again,the staff mentions that they can work it out.
Music is prohibited as wildlife is close by. Loud voice is best avoided so as not to disturb the wildlife nearby. Power back up is 24 hours – so no gala nights or DJ hire possible. On the flip side, you might use this opportunity to spend quality time with the people you are with and get to know each other better.
Overall – a good place to go for a two or three night getaway in the literal sense – especially if you are tired of emails/text messages/and online connectivity – this places allows none of that to interfere with your exclusive time. So enjoy it while it lasts.