Weekend getaways have become a necessity of modern, stressful lifestyles. Be it a corporate honcho forever chasing targets, or a businessman constantly balancing accounts or a homemaker trapped in the ennui of undone dishes and menu planning, you need to unwind and do something different, to feel alive again. The idea is to wake up in a new zone and forget your day to day worries for a while. Leonia Holistic Destination which is a little over an hour’s drive from Hyderabad is one such perfect getaway spot
Spread over sprawling acres, Leonia is the ultimate retreat, offering a host of attractions and activities galore. This is one resort where you can choose how lazy or active you want to be. The resort is divided into three separate accommodation formats- Celestia Suites, Lagoon Bay Villas and Leo Biz. We stayed at the Lagoon Bay Villas. This comprises of 17 rooms in one long row simply stunning in their surreal beauty. These villas, set in picture-perfect environment with dramatic semi- private lagoon and private patio await to pamper you.
The lobby area looks like the entrance to an enticing, palatial bungalow in olden times with a tiled roof and a large verandah with bright yellow and chocolate brown mosaic floor. As you move towards the rooms, a long open corridor in brick red colour awaits you. This open corridor is a welcome change from claustrophobic hotel corridors. The room is comfortable and well appointed with a neat bathroom although devoid of a bath tub. However, you realize you really do not need a bath tub as this is a cabana, a water-body facing room in any case. The balcony or patio of the room overlooks a long lagoon which stretches across the 17 rooms. Water on deep blue tiles with frangipani trees all around and a bright white and yellow frangipani flower motif in the lagoon pool truly create visual drama.
After adequately admiring the room and having a cool welcome drink, we head for lunch to Sun and Moon restaurant which is their 24 hr eatery. The buffet lunch has the usual collection of Indian, Continental and Chinese cuisine. I particularly liked the Crispy Mushrooms with Sweet Chilli Sauce, Crunchy Corn starter called Corn Chatpat and Curd Rice. In desserts the Caramel Custard and Makhana Kheer were delicious.
After some rest, in the evening I headed for the Juventa Spa as it was raining incessantly and we could not indulge in any other activity. The Spa at Leonia is huge, with 19 therapy rooms in all and hair and beauty salons spread over different floors. An Ayurvedic doctor first attends to your wellness concerns and creates a custom-made therapy plan for you. Looking at me and hearing to me attentively, he suggested an Abhayanga Ayurvedic massage followed by a Western Swedish massage session. Sure enough, I needed it bad as I was visiting a Spa after almost 5-6 months. My therapist Soumya was very polite and a thorough professional, explaining each step. The Abhayanga is a vigorous, deep tissue massage with medicated oils that relieve stress in the body. The room was a typical Kerala massage room with an ornate wooden massage bed with dark maroon, luxurious towels, a scented bath of roses, brass lamps and the works. The aromatic oils all around create a sense of well being. After that I took 10 minutes of steam. Later I was moved to the Swedish massage room which was all about crisp white sheets and sea green towels. This massage starts with some stretching of the body and is administered with olive oil. It totally relaxed me and released all the tension from the muscles and joints.
Rejuvenated to the core, I set off for dinner in a while. The Leo Bistro restaurant too has a buffet catering to the influx of many tourists. There is live music here in the evenings and better ambience. There is an A La Carte menu too but majority of people go for buffet, as it is generally part of their package here. There is also an Indian Speciality restaurant called Shahi Handi serving Mughlai food.
The next morning turned out to be pretty clear thankfully. After lazing around next to our lagoon pool and taking a quick dip, we set off for breakfast back to Sun and Moon. Although there are cabs available to go from one part of the resort to the other, but it is best to walk, weather permitting. On the way we see groups of colleagues, families, friends indulging in a game of tennis, hopscotch or badminton. This is a perfect spot for an office off-site with ample opportunities for team building activities. The breakfast turns out to be the best meal indeed. The south Indian spread is truly impressive with fresh dosas being churned out apart from vadas, idli. I tried a healthier version of dosa called Pesarattu, made from green lentil. It has a filling of raw onions and a little upma inside-truly amazing. On the buffet the Bedmi Poori and Panchphoran Aloo Bhaji was good apart from the fresh pineapple juice and a healthy smoothie. Eggs to order are also a popular counter thriving with people. Also the collection of breakfast rolls was impressive-croissant, danish, muffins, doughnuts, banana bread and the works.
After a sumptuous breakfast it was time for some activities. The Splash Pool beckoned first. This is a huge pool spread over different levels with slides, rain dance areas and DJ. The Splash Bar is sure to keep you in that beach holiday mode with the choicest of drinks and cocktails.
Happy Land which is one perfect spot earmarked for some fun and games with family. There are life-size chess, snakes and ladders and ludo boards here. The Artopolis is where you can watch artists paint vibrant hued canvases in front of your eyes and you can take some painting lessons too, to unleash the dormant artist in you. The idea is to unwind and attempt new things in every way.
Finally, we gear up in jeans and sneakers and head for the most exciting zone. The Chicane Go-Karting Circuit is the perfect place for that adrenalin rush. We were handed helmets and jackets and given basic safety instructions to operate the karts that give you a taste of the racing track. Taking our seat behind the steering wheel, we felt a wave of excitement, feeling truly liberated. The perfect, breezy and cloudy Hyderabad weather provides the right setting and mood for this thrilling activity. It is time for check out and we leave Leonia, feeling thoroughly rejuvenated and recharged, with promises to come back for more!
– Shivan Mohan