Saturday, December 17, 2016

Weekend Diaries: Thanksgiving At Renaissance!

Life today rushes by us at lightning speed, and we don't really get the time with hectic schedules to slow down and take a break until and unless we are not heading out of the city. Taking a break within your own city is not something that most people think of, but trust me we have some real jewels in Mumbai where you can head for a break. Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel is one such retreat on the banks of the Powai Lake that I take off to whenever I need an escape within the city as this place spells tranquility for me.

Prateek and me decided to head to the Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel for the Thanksgiving weekend. Check in as always was a breeze. When we entered our lake facing room, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the rooms had recently been renovated, and we loved the new look and feel. The reason why I come back to this place again and again, is the beautiful view of the Powai lake while you sip your cup of tea or lounge on the bed, and that in my opinion is pure luxury especially since so close to home.

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While we love this place anyway, Aryaa also seemed to be liking it as much. She as always was super excited and that actually added to the happiness quotient.

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Unwinding was the plan and we did just that. Lots of relaxing, good food, swimming, catching up on sleep and of course a spa session was on my agenda. Warning - This is a picture heavy post because I want you to see exactly why I love the Renaissance so much :-)

We settled into our room and then headed to Lake View Cafe, the all day dining restaurant for lunch. We got a table by the glass wall so that we could enjoy the lovely view of the lake and nature outside as we ate. They have recently introduced a live stir fry counter and since I am a South East Asian food buff, I started my meal with some chicken stir fry and Thai red curry soup. Next was the grilled fish accompanied with some salami, potato wedges, hummus, baba ganoush and fresh bread.

To satisfy my Indian food cravings we started with some yummy South India fare. Fresh appams with chicken and mutton gravy dishes were to die for. The North Indian chicken biryani was really flavoursome too and that was my closing dish as far as the main course was concerned.

We washed down all of this with a bartender's special mocktail called the Pineapple Mojito while Aryaa sipped on her apple juice.

Aryaa was a happy child with her dosa and candy floss :-) 

Of course no meal gets done without dessert!

If you thought I was done there, then no no no :-) There was more on our mind. Especially for celebrating Thanksgiving, Mumbai Express - the property's in house deli had created an assortment of desserts inspired by American traditions. So we ordered ourselves a couple from there - the pumpkin cheese cake, New York blueberry cheesecake, apple cake and apple pie.

The Thanksgiving desserts were yum and I am glad we got to celebrate it in a small way even if it just meant eating authentic food of the season. Post this there was definitely no space whatsoever in our stomachs, and so we retired to our room for a much needed afternoon siesta. Post that, it was time for a lovely cup of tea while gazing outside the window, after which we headed for an evening swim and some pool games with our little one.

Back in our room, we decided to shower quickly and head out for dinner to the Indian food restaurant Nawab Saheb since sleep and the swim had helped us digest our humongous lunch. Nawab Saheb was hosting the “Kebab E Nawabi” festival and I was really looking forward to my meal there since it opens only for dinner. The decor is beautiful, with royalty inspired red and gold motifs and the candles lit on every table add to the beauty of the place.

What makes a difference to the experience at Nawab Saheb is how succulent all the meats are with a perfect balance of spices that melt in your mouth. My favourite that night was the Jheenga-E-Nisha - one of the best smoky, char grilled king prawn preparations that I have ever eaten in my life. Next best was my all time favourite at Nawab Saheb, the mutton Galouti Kebab, which just melts as soon as it touches your tongue. The Dhuan Achari Lobster was something that I wasn't expecting to see at a kebab festival and it was so well cooked that I would rate it as the best lobster experience of my life. The meat left the shell without any struggle which tells you instantly that the techniques used are those of a master chef.

The fish used for the kebabs were soft, fresh and devoid of any smell, which is how I like my fish. Maahi Amritsari was a crispy fried preparation with a hint of heat and the Sunehri Maahi Tikka was a mildly spicy preparation flavoured with cream, cheese and Indian spices. Prateek loved both of them.

We were so full after all of this, that we had to get our main course preparations reduced by half. We called for the Gosht Awadhi Biryani, and the Dal Nawab Saheb which is a a preparation of urad dal and home churned butter that is stewed for 48 hours!

Dining at Nawab Saheb has always been a royal experience and Chef Yunus makes sure that he personally attends to you so that it becomes a memory for the rest of your life. He also gave me spices made by him to take home so that I could try and replicate some of the flavours in my own kitchen.

We called it a night post dinner as I had loads of sleep to catch up on. But my morning was an early one as having coffee by the window soaking in my favourite view was on my must do list. The early morning view is to die for with the sun's reflection in the lake adding a golden glow to the water.

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Once Aryaa woke up we headed to Fratelli Fresh for breakfast where I kept it light with some coconut water, chicken sausages, hash browns and fruits. It was the best thing to do since I was scheduled for a massage a the newly opened Quan Spa, the last on my to-do list as part of my staycation. I went in a little earlier than my appointment so that I could understand the different therapies and accordingly choose one for myself. Beautiful interiors, a calming vibe and smiling faces greeted me. I was given a low down on the various treatments available and asked a few questions so that I could be suggested what therapy to go for.

I decided to go in for the ‘Quan Signature Massage’. In this treatment, the healing powers of pure essential oils have a soothing effect on the mind. For my kind of stress levels, I was recommended the Lemon Grass Oil though I could choose any other if I wanted to, but I decided to go in for what was recommended. I was asked to change into a robe before being taken to a waiting area where I was offered some herbal tea. While I sipped on my tea, the treatment room was prepped up according to the massage that I had chosen.

The pre step involved washing my feet with herbal salts and I loved the smell of the salts that were used. The room was already smelling lovely thanks to the aroma therapy oils that were burning in the room and I was instantly transported into a calmer world. The Lemon Grass oil was also something that I loved the aroma of, so I was really looking forward to the massage that I had chosen.

Using classical techniques, my therapist applied light to medium pressure to improve the circulation and ease my muscles. I could feel aches disappear and my body head towards complete relaxation. I frequently face issues of knots around my neck but the therapist found new ones around my shoulder and patiently made sure to get rid of each of them. She spent a good amount of time on every body part before moving on to the next and ended with a light head massage. One hour flew by just like that. Post the massage, there was a 15 minute steam session and then a hot shower to conclude the experience. I walked out feeling lighter and rejuvenated and was glad that I had selected the signature experience.

The Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel never disappoints and that is why I keep going back again and again. A well spent 24 hours, priceless moments with the family and renewed energy to head back to work with a bang, what more can you ask for, that too within the vicinity of your own city. Truly thankful for the awesome weekend spent being a part of Thanksgiving At Renaissance! Can't wait to go back again! :-)

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