Sun and Sand

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Life is fast these days, chaotic, rushed and stressful. And when it all starts to feel a little too much, you need time. Time to relax and reconnect with family and friends and yourself too.

The only problem is, which destination do we choose? Well, we chose Gopalpur, a small fishing village which is enviably positioned halfway, en-route to Vizag from Bhubaneswar. We decided to stay at the ‘Mayfair Palm Beach Resort, Gopalpur-on-Sea’, which is a new face of the old remnants of a property which dates back to the colonial times. Since 1947, it was known as ‘The Oberoi Palm Beach’ till the year 2011, before it was taken over by the Mayfair Group. It is an ideal resort for a family holiday or a romantic indulgent getaway.

Gopalpur is a nice, easy, smooth-paced 3 hour drive from Bhubaneswar at a distance of about 170 kms. The drive is picturesque and you also get to motor along the famous Chilika lake.

You are in no hurry to drive fast and miss the scenic beauty since the check-in time at the hotel is 2 pm. The Mayfair is a detour of only a few kms from the National Highway and with a little help from the GPS or the locals for directions, you can find yourself in the lap of an exotic and enchanting world of greenery, beauty and splendour of the resort.

Oh boy! Was I looking forward to reaching the hotel?…as the tuneless singing and screaming in the car, by my boisterous grandchildren, had reached a crescendo where the next decibel would have rendered me deaf.

One great thing about this resort is that it offers you a big carpeted play area with big slides and ladders for the kids to exhaust themselves, even as the parents are chilling, while still watching over the kids from the comfort of their room.

The sun had started to sink and it was about time for us to head out to the sea. When you go down, you are so taken in by the lush green grounds, dotted with plants and flowers and the tall coconut trees swaying to the gentle breeze. They have colourful benches positioned at discreet places to sit and relax, an ultimate recipe for relaxation. There is a quaint little gate that opens out to the private beach which you can access till 6 pm. Just before the gate, there is a sit-out where you can munch on some ‘jhalmudhee’ while sipping on tea.

On the beach, they have a canopy where you can get a foot massage and chit-chat with the locals. It is such a laid back set up as you watch the fisherwomen saunter by, even as the scores of fishing boats head back to the shores with their booty.

The lifeguards are ever willing to assist you into the sea if you so desire. The older and bolder kids can bathe in the sea and build sand castles, gather shells or run after the tiny scurrying crabs in the sand. It is exhilarating to be out in the sea and fill your lungs with the fresh air. Once the sun is down you can take a shower outdoors to get the sand off and you are ready to take a plunge into the swimming pool, which is surrounded by greenery and shrubs all around and little alcoves to sit and sip on a cool drink or snack. You can also use the services of the spa and the gym, for the fitness conscious resident.

You also have the luxury of a recreation room where you can try your hand at TT, snooker etc. Well, after all this splashing and swimming the children would have built up a huge appetite and the grown-ups can enjoy the bar in quiet seclusion. The dining area too is large and a delicious array of food is laid out. The staff is pleasing and ready to help.

Oh, how can I not tell you about the pretty reading room, where you can just sit and leaf through the books and magazines. A hotel, that truly extends its hospitality to all its guests with different tastes and needs. The night comes by as silently as the ships, that sail by and light up the horizon. The beds are soft and cosy to snuggle in for a good night’s sleep, filled with sweet dreams.

As the sun begins to peep and usher in a new day, it’s time again for a big splash in the sea before the day hots up. After a swim and a sumptuous breakfast, you can set out for the hot springs of Taptapani or the Taratarini temple which are both around two hours from the hotel. You also have a black buck sanctuary nearby and if you are really lucky to time your trip, you can grab the opportunity of sighting an Olive Ridley turtle, nesting/ hatching phenomenon at Rushikulya (about 50 kms from the hotel), in the wee hours of the morning.

Berhampur, one of the oldest trading towns of Odisha, is within striking distance from Gopalpur for the ladies, who can pamper themselves to some ethnic handloom sarees and a variety of mouth-watering pickles.

It’s now time to head back to the capital city and you cannot afford to miss, the famous ‘Chilika Dhaba’ en-route for a finger licking delicious seafood meal.

I cannot keep you reading about Gopalpur, you gotta experience it and share with family and friend. So hurry and make your reservations for a luxurious, fun-filled, quick getaway. So bye bye for now till we meet again. Happy Times are back again!!!

By Kripali Kotak

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