2014 was ending in 10 days and keeping up the trend of sudden trips that we had in the whole year, P decided to extend his stay by 2 days once his work was over and I decided to sneak out a leave and join him there. "There", this time, was Gulmarg. P was there for the shoot of the Dewarist Season 4 and the whole team stayed and shot at Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa ; which within 2 years of its existence has been ranked as one of the top Ski resorts in the world. This sure turned out to be one of the most memorable trips of 2014 thanks to the wonderful hospitality extended by the team of Khyber in Gulmarg.
From the moment you enter the vast lobby; the warmth of Kashmiri hospitality greets you and each one of the members of the team Khyber makes sure that it stays with you even after you leave. This luxury resort is an experience in itself. Located very near to the Gulmarg Gondola; Khyber Himalayan Resort has 80 rooms 4 Luxury cottages and 1 Presidential Suite; all offering breath taking views of the Affarwat peaks or the evergreen Valley of Gulmarg. We stayed in a room with a balcony overlooking the green meadows of Gulmarg. Though it had not snowed properly yet; there were patches of white from the earlier scattered snow falls.Winter was already setting in, paving the way for a whiter Christmas and New Year. Since I was there for just 2 days, I decided to make most of it and soak in the luxury that Khyber offers in the midst of beautiful and serene Gulmarg.
I firmly believe that any resort or hotel , to feature in my personal list of good hotels worth recommending to friends and family, must serve real good food. Khyber sure tops the list in this.With huge glass windows over looking the mountains and meadows; Cloves is their multi cuisine restaurant offering an array of food from across the globe and Kashmiri cuisine too. I had one of the best Goshtaba at Cloves. It was perfectly cooked, juicy but really subtle in spices. In fact in all the food, the spices used were never too over powering and I loved every morsel I ate at the Cloves. Add to this the attentive staffs serving each table with a smile; Bilal, Saptarshi, Sajjad to name a few. Besides that, I also had an awesome dosa for breakfast the next morning. I admit I am not at all a Dosa person. Even if I had to have, I avoid the sambhar completely as somehow that ends up ruining the dosa for me. Even in most "authentic" of dosa places, I donot have sambhar. But one fine December morning, I had an amazing Dosa and Sambhar, the signature dish from Southern part of our country, in one of the extreme Nothern corners of the country; thanks to Chef Chotelal.
The two evenings that I was there, I spent them doing the same thing. First an hour inside the heated pool overlooking the majestic mountains and after that sipping into a hot cup of Kashmiri Kahwa at Chaikash, the tea lounge. Even though I wanted to, but could not find time to go the Khyber spa by L'OCCITANE . As the spa rightfully claims it "brings to life the changing seasons of Gulmarg with signature treatments where guests are encouraged to choose from a repertoire of home grown seasonal flora which are mixed with natural L’OCCITANE products and fresh Himalayan water to create fusion recipes." But trust you me, this is sure an amazing indulgence not to be missed. Well for me, I guess this is the reason for me to plan another trip to Gulmarg and Khyber.
On the day we were leaving Gulmarg, all the signs of an impending snowfall were staring at our faces. But alas; we weren't meant to witness our first flurry of snowfall that turns the green meadows into powdery white this time. One more reason to go back.
From Khyber, the Gulmarg Gondola is just few meters away. I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the area during the day with the soft winter sun playing hide and seek amidst clouds. As it was predicted to snow within a day or 2; the Gondola phase 2 was closed for maintenance on that day. P had been to phase 2; just a day ago for shoot. As he vouches for it, this sure is a must in Gulmarg. The ride to phase 2. This time I could go till phase 1 only. I am so convinced that Gulmarg wants me to be back for sure and I know where I am staying.
Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa is a luxurious experience to indulge and enjoy. A special mention of Mr. Jerin Philip, the very welcoming front office manager and ever smiling Aman Dhiman. Actually the whole team of Khyber; it's their warmth and their hospitality which set them apart.