I have stayed at many Accor properties both in India and abroad. I have been there both as a blogger and as a paying customer. Recently I was invited to Novotel Vijayawda Varun as a blogger and what a pleasure it was!
I was particularly taken in my the beautiful interiors of the hotel as I walked to my room on the 4th floor. My room was huge, with a view of the city. Since last two years, I spend a lot of time on my daughter’s tennis. So, having a well appointed room to myself was a luxury!
If having a room to myself without a care in the world was luxury, the rooftop running track and the swimming pool were sheer delight. I was given an option of going to the Dew, their spa for a second time but I told them I would rather go for a swim!
I absolutely loved the swimming pool. I could look at all the cool people sweating it out in the gym while I would do a few laps in their huge pool! Then gasping for breath I would stand at the edge and enjoy the view of the city. I did not use the running track but I saw members going for a job with a 360 degree view of the city!
In the spa I went for the signature aromatherapy massage. I was totally pampered for an hour while I just closed my eyes and did nothing! I used the spa on the day of my arrival and it was a great idea. All my tiredness was washed away.
I tried three restaurants at Novotel Vijayawada Varun, the Food Exchange, Gourmet Bar and the Wugan. After years and years of hostel food, I thought I have no taste buds left. But with travel blogging, I think I am getting back to enjoying food. I would look forward to every meal and particularly all the Andhra food at the buffet! At Wugan I enjoyed a mix of Thai and Japanese vegetarian dishes.
At the Gourmet Bar they do the cocktails with a twist. For example their Bloody Mary has chili and salt on the rim with ice stick! At first go I found the chili too much but after a few sips I thoroughly liked the idea! They said the small customization is to cater to the local taste.
We did off beat sightseeing by visiting Unadvalli Caves, Guntur Chilli Market and Kondapalli Fort and toy making. I also visited a Mangalgiri sari making unit. These visits reminded me how much I enjoy going to less visited places!
Overall, if you are looking for a hotel in Vijayawada, I highly recommend Novotel Vijayawada Varun where I was invited as a blogger!
We were staying at half board, we would usually have breakfast and dinner at the hotel! I am a vegetarian who can eat eggs. Chhavi can eat chicken too! We had plenty of vegetarian options in the buffets.
For breakfast there was a automatic pancake making machine where kids would queue to make a big pile. Chhavi discovered it towards the end of the trip. But once it was found, it was pancakes all the way for the rest of the holiday.
After breakfast on most of the days we would head to the tennis courts! After the morning session, it was time for fun! Chhavi would invariably take me to the pool! There are three sister hotels- Kornati, Ilirija and Adriatic located next to each other. The indoor swimming pool is in between Ilirija and Adriatic. That would be her first stop. Then she would drag me to the outdoor pool at the Adriatic and her final stop would be the sea in front. I would find the water cold and try to inch in, only to be pushed by Chhavi. The guests from all the three hotels can use any of the pools.
Swimming done we would head back to the hotel for a quick shower. Then we would walk out of the sliding doors to promenade in search of food. There are plenty of restaurants around the hotel. There is an ATM machine close to it. The whole area is incredibly pretty.
One day Chhavi decided to wear her mermaid dress in the evening. We just had to step out of the hotel for this photo opportunity! This remains my favorite picture from the entire trip. I wonder for how long she will continue doing such cute things!
There was a live music almost everyday at the hotel, guests would dance to the tune of it. Chhavi and I would sit in the balcony and enjoy the scene. We have so many fond memories from our stay at the Hotel Ilirija. I hope Chhavi and I would go back to Biograd sometime again!
Traveling with Chhavi is not new for me. But mixing tennis with a holiday was a first for us! In June, we were traveling to Biograd for a week of tennis and holidays with Tennis Holidays Croatia. They organize various different events, like tennis holidays for singles or tennis doubles strategy & tactics week.
Traveling with a 11 year old on a connecting flight to Europe almost always results in one thing- a cranky child at the end of it. I was thankful that our pickup from Zagreb to Biograd was super smooth and organized by Tennis Holidays Croatia.
We were greeted by Bojan Dvorsek in the car park itself. Check in was a breeze and he left us to rest and recover. We were meeting later in the evening to discuss the plan for the week.
We loved the view of the Kornati Marina for our second floor balcony of the Ilirija Hotel. While I stood there, I was quite convinced about tennis, but I was not sure how our holiday part would pan out!
While I tried to catch up on sleep, Chhavi would wake me up every five minutes as she slept in the car! I woke up when I could no longer take her constant nagging!
Soon it was time to meet Bojan to discuss our plans. Chhavi had 20 hours of tennis and she was playing in one local tennis tournament in Zaton. However, we would also visit the fun park in Biograd which was on top of Chhavi’s agenda even before we left home. For me there was a trip to Kornati National Park to look forward to! I was now assured about the holiday part too.
Coming from Gurgaon, we found the weather in Biograd perfect. Gurgaon was constantly above 45 degrees Celsius. Biograd was 31 at its peak which was pleasant for us!
We arrived at the Ilirija Tennis Center the next day looking at bright blue skies! Chhavi played with two coaches Bojan (on the left) and Mladen Gerovac during our stay! Both Chhavi and I got to learn a lot from them.
Chhavi tells me she enjoyed learning the slice and volley the most! By the end of the trip Chhavi was much more confident as a player and she is carrying on with the same attitude back home too. Playing in the local tournament was another high for her. But that is the topic of another post.
While the tennis front was well done, I enjoyed my holiday too. After tennis Chhavi and I would go for a swim. On any given day we could choose between an indoor pool, an outdoor pool and the sea.
I loved my walks by the beach! Chhavi had a spiral potato, slushy and ice cream ritual. I was happy she wanted to eat something on her own!
On our trip to Kornati National park, we spotted dolphins in the sea. It was a first for Chhavi. But for her, the highlight was the Biograd fun park. We both came out with a vertigo but sparkling eyes.
I asked Chhavi if she would like to go on a holiday or a tennis holiday next? Her answer is an emphatic yes for a tennis holiday every time!
Tennis Holidays Croatia has the tennis bit thoroughly sorted but then I expected nothing less. I was pleasantly surprised that they know the holiday bit as well and customized it so well for my daughter. It has been a truly memorable vacation for us! I can now emphatically say we can mix tennis and holidays together!
PS. Tennis Holidays Croatia sponsored our stay, tennis and trips in Biograd. Do check them out for a memorable vacation.