A sudden trip planned in the evening, depart early next morning towards hills in Himachal Pradesh. Will not go to Shimla, can go further ahead, just one night stay.
This was the brief plan we had made.
A group of 7 (two families) with a small dog, with one night stay arrangements, left early in the morning from Chandigarh. The drive was nice with no clue of destination. After Kaithlighat we decided to take a turn towards Shoghi and just before main Shoghi town we took a steep narrow road towards village Shungal and Sura.
We zeroed in on the first hotel/resort we saw – this was the Oakwood Retreat. Thankfully they allowed pets. A decent sized village resort (this is what they call themselves), you have to park your vehicles on the parking spaces (small area up hill) on the main road and walk down to the reception.
We took a family cottage with three rooms and a living room.
The package provided to us was on MAP or Modified American Plan in which 2 meals – Breakfast and Lunch/dinner are included.
They have a dining hall and not a restaurant – so for any other meal (for e.g. lunch/evening tea) you need to pre-order. You don’t have any place close by – so if you don’t plan to go anywhere – as we did, you would have no options but to eat out there.
They have a small swimming pool but no changing rooms near it, so you would either have to walk back to your room or do a quick change in the washroom behind the reception area.
The reception area has a sitting area and indoor activity area with a pool table (snooker) and table tennis table.
The Dining hall is located right below the reception area. One can also eat in open area in front of the Dining area.
They have some activities like burma bridge, rock climbing, rappling etc. which can be enjoyed during your stay. All activities including the use of the pool is on additional payment basis.
Our family cottage was in one end of the resort. It is not cottage – there are two levels to this building, your accommodation would be on the ground level, on the top floor probably the owner stayed with a huge dog named Peter. Each room had an attached wash room. Two rooms opened to a balcony which gave you the view of the valley below and mountains above. One room had a window which opened to the farms. The washroom in this room neither had curtains nor had shaded glass window, so you had to hope that no one would watch you. The window in this room didn’t close properly and in the afternoon when a dust storm came – the room was filled with dust and leaves etc.
Each room had a LCD TV and so did the Living room which had a dining table too. There was only one intercom that too in the sitting area, it was non functional (the status was same during our entire stay). To contact them, one of us had to go down till the reception.
Cleanliness was an issue in the cottage – there was a lot of dust on the dining table and other areas (at the time of our check in). Empty liquor bottles were stashed all around including inside the sofa cushions.
The TVs in the rooms were not working (thankfully this was rectified). The wash rooms were clean and bedding provided was comfortable. In place of extra bed they had provided with a mattress.
The rooms desperately needed repair and maintenance, wall paper peeling, wall panels damaged and so on.
We had all our meals – Breakfast (on reaching as we had reached early), Lunch and Dinner. The food, quality wise left a lot to be desired, if you are hungry you have to eat kind. The items were many but lacked in taste.
The kids did try the activities there but not the pool.
In the evening there was a hailstorm which definitely brought the temperature down. It also forced a power cut and that’s when we realized the major issue in the resort – they didn’t have power back up in the cottage. Everywhere else, but not in the cottage. There were no candles / emergency lights also in the cottage, so we were sitting in pitch darkness.
After requesting them multiple times they provided us with candles but by that time the power had resumed.
The charge which we paid for a night and the services which were offered were a big mismatch. The owners can do a lot as there is a lot of scope for improvement. First and foremost major maintenance work is required.
Inside the cottage we were not getting mobile signals (we were on Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio network). Connectivity was an issue in other areas also, but comparatively better in Reception area. The drinking water (they said it was RO /treated water) had a very strong smell, we survived on Paid Bottled water.
PRO – If you want to run away from the city rush, don’t want to be struck up in Shimla this is a decent option. Location wise easier to access compared to Suro Treehouse resort around a kilometer away.
Will not like to stay again at the prices we paid for average facilities