Last weekend was spent at Novotel Vijayawada Varun – Amaravathi’s first International Five Star Hotel that opened its doors in December 2018. This 227 rooms Novotel Vijayawada Varun, perfectly fills the gap of high demand and low supply of a branded hotel in the de facto state capital of Andhra Pradesh.
Conveniently located near the city center and amidst the lifestyle hub, Novotel Vijayawada Varun is a 45-minute ride from the Vijayawada International Airport and a seamless drive away from the capital city of Amaravati. The contemporary hotel boasts of 227 rooms that includes executive, superior and over a dozen apartments and suites along with meeting rooms and banquet space.
Was ushered by the courteous staff, who served us refreshing fresh lime mojito, and escorted to the executive room on the 5th floor that was the stay for 4 Days and 3 Nights. The Executive room was large, well designed and included a king size bed, a separate lounge area and a work station. Tastefully crafted with the requirements of a modern day traveler in mind, the room offered scenic views of the city and comes with an LED flat screen TV, safety deposit box, complimentary welcome fruits & local sweets and a personalized message from the hotel that every guest always appreciates. Coffee & Tea along with a minibar was also included in the room.
After a short nap, was greeted by Mr T.V. Madhupal – The General Manager of Novotel Vijayawada Varun at the Gourmet Bar – a chic and informal lobby lounge on the ground floor. Gourmet Bar is a great place to unwind and have informal meetups or even catch a live sporting action over some delicious cocktails and snacks. The Vasantneer Thandai is my definite recommendation – a mocktail like none other.
Dinner was arranged at Food Exchange – the all-day dining restaurant serving international selection of sumptuous buffet. I’ve already dined at multiple Food Exchange outlets in other Novotel Hotels and therefore knew that it would be a bountiful affair. Chef Vinay Talagadadevi – Executive Chef had a Traditional Andhra Dinner planned for the evening and it was a perfect meal replete with Gongura pickle, tamarind rice, ghee, dal, spicy – tangy veggies, pulusu, appadams and a lot more than what my greedy soul could take.
After a sumptuous breakfast at Food Exchange, Day 2 started off with a visit to Kondapalli – a census town on the outskirts of Vijayawada where the primary occupation of the residents is to carve wooden toys. The Thanjavur or dancing dolls are an integral part of this renowned Kondapalli craft and I made sure to pick them up as souvenirs. Post this, visited the Kondapalli Fort a 14th century fort that served as a military fortification during the British Era and was said to have been built as a centre of recreation, business and trade during the 14th Century. This fort was just a stone throw distance from the Kondapalli village.
Lunch was at Wugan – a specialty Asian Restaurant of Novotel Vijayawada Varun. With only a handful of tables, the intimate lighting and the stunning décor of white & blue along with an exclusive teppanyanki seating, Wugan was all about personalized experience. Had the opportunity to relish some brilliant Teppanyaki that was curated by Chef Sudarshana from MovenPick Colombo. From Salmon Steak to Australian Lamb Chops – all served with a healthy bowl of miso soup and a platter of sushi & Maki, the teppanyanki experience at Wugan was outstanding and by far the best in a long long time. Kudos to Chef Sudarshana and his team for an impressive show of culinary wizardy where I got to witness the blades move at dizzying speed across a grill & flames soar into the air.
Day 3 started off with the visit to Kanaka Durga Temple, a famous shrine dedicated to Goddess Durga right along the banks of Krishna River. The temple is one of the many Shaktipeethas that are situated across the country. Later drove to Managalagiri – a small temple town situated between the twin cities of Vijayawada & Guntur which is best known for producing wonderful handloom saris. Visited the local weavers where I had the opportunity to interact and experience their craftsmanship. What makes the Mangalgiri Sari apart from its other counterparts is its sparkling border, specifically called the Nizam Border that is woven with zari, one that requires precision & patience.
This was followed by a visit to Guntur Chilli Yard – Asia’s largest Chilli Market. It’s absolutely jaw dropping in scale to see around 50 odd warehouses with open sides where literally thousands of sacks of dried chillies are stacked. It was amazing to get a sense of the scale of chilli business here at the Asia’s Largest Chilli Market.
Returned to the hotel for a sundowner cocktails along the rooftop infinity pool that overlooks the city. Post which a relaxing massage at Dew Spa located adjacent to the pool. Dew Spa boasts of stress relieving therapies delivered by some of the most experienced therapists in the city.
For dinner, I had the opportunity to relishin an exclusive food tasting for the yet to be launched roof top fine dining restaurant that will open by September 2019. The food to be served is modern Indian Cuisine that will include Traditional Indian flavors with International fusion, a first of its kind in Vijayawada.
Day 3 started off with a much needed run along the 220m running track along the edges of the roof and after having worked off the calories of the previous day, relished the brilliantly curated breakfast by the pool that included some of my favorite morning bakeries, eggs & local selections. And then, just like in a blink of the eye, it was already time to head to the airport.
It’s been a while that I visited Vijayawada, but Novotel Vijayawada Varun has truly transformed the way I saw the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh and I’m sure this would certainly be the case for other travelers as well.