For the land-locked citizenry living in the plains south of the Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, the mountains are the main holiday destination. Frequent escapes from routine, along with the family are de rigueur, more so since the long lockdown days of enforced confinement and the increasing work-from-home culture. A break from the grind / heat / pollution, to escape into the lap of mother nature – is what the doctor ordered. In April 2022, exactly a year ago, Ruskin Bond’s favorite city in the hills, Dehradun welcomed the opening of a brand-new Hyatt Regency. It was a momentous occasion. A seven-storied Five Star Hotel with 263 rooms, the largest ever in these mountains, nearly 22 years since Dehradun was declared the Capital state of Uttarakhand. As if on cue, summer came early last year.
Indeed, the launch was significant, attended by Peter Fulton, Group President for Europe, Africa, Middle East, Hyatt International; Sunjae Sharma, MD – India & Southwest Asia, Hyatt Hotels; Harkaran Singh, GM, Hyatt Regency, Dehradun; Jaco Le Roux – AVP south India and GM Grand Hyatt Goa and representatives from leading national media houses and the local press. But the hills and dales in the region are already choc-a-block with quaint resorts and inns. Will an urban international chain hotel be able to draw in the holiday swingers looking for local experience?
We assessed and talked to travelers and observed for a year. The pent-up urge of the domestic traveler was at its peak. But the year 2022 threw the spanner in the works for the Uttarakhand tourists several times. In every season, Hyatt in Doon proved itself as the best choice.
SUMMER OVERCROWDING AND TRAFFIC JAMS
Summer came early last year, and traveler’s-rush to the mountains intensified. The problem is only getting worse progressively. Reports of traffic jams in the hill stations like Mussoorie, where traffic was being diverted and travel advisory issued by the authorities was a kill-joy. Why jostle with the crowds or take that long road trip?
I recommended the Hyatt Regency in Dehradun that stands on the Mussoorie road, at the Northern periphery of Dehradun, strategically located at the foot of a thickly wooded hill, with the dense preserved Malsi forest, a rain-fed rivulet skirting behind, uninterrupted 270º view of verdure, the sunset, the late sunrise over the mountain. Dehradoon can get hot in Summer. But Hyatt’s facilities makes up for it.The hotel is a sprawling property with assorted outdoor spaces at different levels and large comfortable rooms in various categories with all the modern amenities. All rooms live up to the requirements expected of a five star, with all the staples, including yoga mats, special dog basket for the pet (should you take your mutt along).
The swimming pool on the topmost floor is a dreamlike setting, overlooking the mountains. The alfresco Pool Deck & Bar is right there adjacent to it. The kiddy splash pool at one end is convenient to let the family hang out together in the evening. Or even morning.
HEAVY DOWNPOUR AND LANDSLIDES
The monsoon season last year saw unprecedented rains leading to landslides in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Yet, people ignored the warnings and the news reports. Such was the urge to escape the chaos of cities like Delhi, people risked getting stranded or even injured, just to be in a verdant place, watching the rain fall on treetops.
The easy and safe connectivity of Dehradun by Air, Rail and Road, is a winner. No need to drive in pelting rain. There are several flights from Delhi in a day, as are trains. Hyatt organizes pick-ups and drop-offs.
This Hyatt in the foothills scored max points again, as the go-to place in the monsoons. All the rooms have large glass windows with a grandstand view of the mountains, forests, skies. Floor to ceiling glass walls in the Range restaurant, or the Malt Bar or in the club house etc all bring the outdoors up-close, letting one enjoy great meals in ambient climes.
GOVERNMENT CRACKDOWN ON RESORTS IN THE HILLS
In end of September last year, the Uttarakhand government took cognizance of the many resorts, homestays, hotels, some even well-known, running without proper permits or license and ordered closure. Once again, the Hyatt Regency Dehradun, a reputed international chain offered assurance of safety and quality and good service. At any time of the year, the hospitality at Hyatt is expected to be of the same international standards. No dodgy temporary, untrained staff or questionable hygiene in the rooms or doubtful kitchen output.
MANY LONG WEEKENDS IN THE YEAR FROM APRIL 2022 TO MAY 2023
There were more than 22 long and very long weekends in the 12 months since April 2022. A 3-to-4-day long weekend absolutely demands getting out of town for a mini vacation, and the opportunities were ample. Relaxation is high on the agenda on a short break. The conundrum lies in seeking new places each time, that fit the bill of convenience and comfort and novelty.
Again, Hyatt at Doon ranked high. There is always something new happening on weekends. Head Chef Sahil Arora keeps the culinary experience exciting. Additionally, this has something for the whole family. Bring the pooch, this is a pet friendly hotel. For families with small children (3-12 yrs), there is the Camp Hyatt with assorted activity, fun, play, learning options. It really is a relief to be able to leave the kids unmonitored to play and run riot. Yes, the hotel provided trained babysitters on prior booking.
Besides lounging in the room, simply gazing at the green treetops through the wide windows, sipping on the favorite liquid, there are also other options. The inhouse Spa & Salon has trained masseuse and masseur a.k.a. massage therapists for a variety of treatments like Swedish, hot stone, Ayurveda, deep tissue, Shiatsu et al. Make an appointment ahead as the place is quite in demand. Same applies to the salon. Well equipped with trained personnel. Take a day out for self-love with full-on pampering and indulgence. A well-appointed Gymnasium to burn off the lethargy.
Every weekend, there is a new celebration happening at the Range or the Market or Malt Bar. Be on the lookout for what’s coming up next.
LOCAL CUISINE & CULTURE
No journey is complete unless one has tasted the local cuisine. Or danced to the local music. Important to know that Hyatt Regency Dehradun staff are mostly local. GM Harkaran Singh is an old Hyatt man, who had returned home to his family in Dehradun during the lockdown, and happily stepped into the new role without having to leave his hometown. Another Dehradun denizen is Executive Chef Sahil Arora, a seasoned expert who moved back from Delhi. The other chefs too are from Dehradun, some opting to move back home from Delhi and elsewhere. Nearly 60% of the kitchen staff is local. Chef Sahil informed that all perishable produce is sourced locally.
Dehradun region is home to important Tibetan Monasteries and has many Tibetan settlers. An ode to their cuisine is the Indo-Tibetan roof-top restaurant Beyul, (Tibetan for ‘Paradise in the Hills). It is headed by the dynamic lady Chef Tenzin Dolma. She is of Tibetan origin and belongs to a monastery in Clement Town, Dehradun. Do note that Beyul is served by an efficient all-woman team.
Every buffet at the Range includes a new local dish and chutneys and masala. In my many trips to Dehradun in the past decades, this was the first time I tasted dishes as cooked in a typical local home kitchen. The Farmer’s Market Brunch at Range was a big hit.
The venue to shop for local crafts, Agri produce and spices is The Market, also a vibrant setting for desserts, located just across from The Malt Bar. For instance, do not miss the Pahadi Dry Bhang (Hempseed) Chutney powder, Alsi (flaxseed) Chutney powder, Pahadi salt in various flavors, purest of Haldi (turmeric), preserves, jams, squashes, pickles and some more.
In the evening on weekends, one may find a local band belting out popular international tunes or even soulful pahaadi music. It is a magical sitting out in the open, under the clear starlit sky.
The Hyatt Regency Dehradun also has huge banquet space and a ballroom that opens out into the lawns. Perfect to plan family gatherings and celebrations.
Beyond all the super amenities and luxury facilities, are the people behind it. It is their joie de vivre that improves the mood instantly. One will find it aplenty at the Doon Hyatt Regency.
Make reservations before you go.