I’ve always wondered why ‘playing’ with the aid of toys, or sometimes nothing at all, is only the purview of children. For adults, all ‘play’ is bound by rules, be it sports, video games or board games. Over a weekend at Novotel Imagica Khopoli, I realised two things – one, I was free to be a child again and two, I was no longer scared of amusement park rides!
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Novotel Imagica Khopoli
This was the third Novotel I was visiting (read about Novotel Goa here), having visited the ones in Goa and Mumbai as well. From the decor style to the placing of the pool and the buffet restaurant, everything reminded me of classic Novotel elegance. Yet, this property had its own unique feel and several elements of colour and fun, in keeping with its proximity to Adlabs Imagica, one of the largest amusement park complexes in India.
We stayed in a pool view room with a great bed, bathroom, television and a veranda that unfortunately, couldn’t be accessed. Do look for a room where the veranda can be opened, if you fancy a drink or smoke on the parapet. But what I loved most were the goblets full of welcome chocolates and an edible MAC make-up set!
Cute cartoon characters
The first thing you notice when you enter the hotel is the adorable welcome party. It was so much fun shaking hands and clicking pictures with
If you have kids along (and even if you don’t), you’ll love the ‘Irolic parade’ that the hotel conducts every day post breakfast. The parade dances through the entire hotel, infecting everyone with its spirit of revelry.
A major highlight of my stay at Novotel Imagica Khopoli has to be the consistently delicious buffet and a la carte options at The Square, and a chef who is ever ready to please and innovate. We were spoilt for choice at the lunch buffet but were still cajoled into trying an excellent ‘tandoori pizza’ and some chole khulcha prepared specially by the chef for us. The dessert counter was a delight too – the dark chocolate cakes were out of the world.
In the evening, it was a pleasure to enjoy a drink or two at Nitro Bar, the lobby bar with a live pianist, plush seating and speedy service.
Trek to Batthi Lake
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There is so much to do in and around the hotel that you could easily spend an enjoyable weekend without visiting the amusement park. Being nature lovers, we were keen to explore the countryside. Our able guide Ravi took us on an enjoyable stroll through Sangdewadi village, then along some rough terrain until we reached the vast and serene Batthi Lake. It was much more enormous than we’d imagined. Our hike was over in an hour but if you have more time on your hands, you could also do a longer trek to Sarasgad Fort.
Apart from trekking, you can also play billiards, table tennis, gesture-controlled video games and carom in the lobby area. By the poolside, there are also facilities for archery, rifle shooting, crossbow shooting, radio-controlled plane flying and water zorbing. When the rivers are lush, you could also try river rafting at nearby Kundalika River.
One revelation during my visit to this Novotel property was that it’s an ideal setting for a medium size, posh Indian wedding. It’s close to Mumbai and Pune, has a large banquet, a poolside area that is ideal for functions, the facility to organise functions even in the amusement park, the logistics for lavish sound and special effects and rooms that can accommodate 300 guests at a time. I was privy to a colourful Marwari wedding during my stay and their pool party and sangeet function looked like great fun!
With 25 magical rides and attractions spread out over a vast expanse, you need an entire day to fully experience the delights of Adlabs Imagica theme park. Without much ado, here are the highlights of the rides I enjoyed most:
I for India: A brilliant experience in altered perception, the ride makes you feel like you’re in a helicopter, riding all over India and witnessing its best marvels from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. In reality, everyone is stationery and it’s only the screen that moves.
Deep Space: This was the scariest ride I’ve ever been on – it’s incredibly fast and adrenalin-pumping and all the turns and twists take place in absolute darkness. That’s why they call it ‘deep space’. But it’s all over in a matter of minutes.
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Rajasaurus River Adventure: In terms of story-building, this is the ride I enjoyed most. A scenario is created, featuring a mad scientist and rare dinosaur remains. You then undertake the journey of a lifetime, ending in a super steep descent into water!
Mr India – The Ride: I wasn’t expecting much, considering it was based on a movie but the ride turned out to be truly fantastic. I sat in a car that jolted and jumped such that I felt like I was flying along with the characters on screen.
Wrath of the Gods: A fantastic ‘live show’ concept, you have a scientist revealing a cave with spiritual energy and then you get to witness the wrath of the Gods of fire, water and wind as they realise their resting place has been disturbed.
Salimgarh: This was my favourite ride because I love all things spooky. Prepare to be scared out of your wits as curses fly, corpses walk by and you brave the darkest of dungeons and the sharpest of weapons in this tunneled ride.
Scream Machine: This is a must-do if you want to conquer your fear of heights. A giant swing shoots you up in the air and pirouettes you as you return to earth, only to fly up again! The ride is much longer than you’d think.
Nitro: The first ride you encounter when you enter Adlabs Imagica, Nitro is a classic roller coaster ride experience with upside down turns galore and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Crazy tea cups: Like giant wheels, these are a fixture at most fairs but it was my first time sitting on the revolving chairs since childhood and boy, did it leave me dizzy!
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I didn’t have time for Aquamagica, the water park but I made sure I went to the 30000 square feet snow park and what an experience it was! I donned full snow gear and boots (provided complimentary) and trudged into this fairy tale wonderland complete with an igloo, a polar bear, a 50 feet tall snow dome, facilities for skiing and snow sliding, live snow fall and a DJ dance at the end. In a temperature of -5 degrees, I enjoyed a hair-raising slide down a snow slope, played with snow balls and posed on a throne of ice!
I can’t recall the last weekend where I had so much unbridled fun with such elegant luxury to return to in the night. I wholeheartedly recommend a weekend at Novotel Imagica Khopoli for you and your family.
- Check the temperature before you plan a trip – Khopoli can get very hot.
- Book an Imagica stay package and get complimentary theme park and water park tickets: http://www.adlabsimagica.com/novotel-imagica-khopoli/
- For bookings at Novotel Imagica Khopoli (when you just want to chill and not visit the park): http://www.novotel.com/gb/hotel-9832-novotel-imagica-khopoli/index.shtml
- The hotel is only a 1.5 hour drive away from Mumbai or Pune but you’ll encounter some traffic in the evening.
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