Taj Gateways are mostly hotels for corporates, businessmen and those who need need an upmarket room. If you think so, then you need to re-think. To find out what is special about this chain of hotels, we decided to visit one of them. Staying in Mumbai, one of the closest options we had was Nashik. Now, this is an upcoming city for industries, but is already the Holy City in Maharashtra. Also not to forget that this is the wine hub for India, as several major vineyards are located in Nashik. From being a major producer of table grapes, it has gone to produce wine grapes too. Hence, this is one of the major upcoming cities. We find out what the city’s only five-star has to offer.
As OctaneAddict’s we think more about the car than the stay. Always. We wanted to take a luxury car, but we wanted to be sure that it is a brand that has a touch-base in Nashik. Mercedes-Benz was the only one that fulfilled this requirement and what could be better than the revived E-Class. A great example of how a facelift can change the overall design. The new daylight running headlamps look splendid and this contributes to the glam. The design changes from subtle to trendy and voguish. Despite all this, it retains the mavens of the existing E-Class and boosts its image after. It still has the same dimensions and chassis, which means the same comfort levels are retained. We picked E250 CDI, the diesel variant for our trip to Nashik.
The E250 CDI is the mill as that on the C250 CDI, which had been our long termer for the last three months. A 2.2-litre diesel engine that produces 204bhp of power and comes mated to 7G-TRONIC transmission. On C-Class it was magical, and even though the E-Class is heavy the engine never disappointed. We began our journey during the peak hour and the E-Class comforted us despite the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Eastern Expressway. With a lot of glass area, it didn’t feel dark inside, also we had the beige upholstery that contributed to the airy feel too. The cabin has seen some minor changes, if not major. There is a new steering wheel and Parking Assist has been added too. This means in parallel parking you need to only use your brake, the car controls the steering movement.
The E-Class got to stretch its legs once we crossed Thane. Being winter, the route wasn’t very scenic until we hit the ghats. If you wish to have a small break to stretch, there is a Food Court just a few kilometres after the Toll Expressway starts. It has KFC, Dominos and a south Indian food joint too. There is Dara’s Dhaba on the other side as well. About 300 metres before the toll, there is a famous restaurant called ‘Oye Punjabi’. The ghats are well-paved and lesser chances of local villagers crossing. The traffic is dense up to Bhiwandi and later it just eases. The tarmac also smoothens once you reach the toll road, however there are some bumpy bits on certain patches. The Taj Gateway is on the road just before you enter Nashik city. The ease of reaching from Mumbai makes it the ideal stop. People wishing to go to Shirdi, can too stop here as this can be the centre point for Trimbakeshwar in Nashik and Shirdi. Also, the industries of MIDC and few vineyards are closer too. Hence, location-wise this is the best one to pick if you have to stay in Nashik.
Enter the hotel premises and you will be amazed how well the property has been maintained especially if you have seen other hotels in the city. The Taj property has 13 acres of land for this property of which 8 acres are free. This place has about 70 rooms at the moment, with different trims on offer. The hotel building is located deep inside to cut out from all the hassles of the highway.
The Taj Gateway has different types of rooms from basic to Queen size beds and even the option of suites, just like any premium hotel. The premises has a pool side, tennis and badminton court, a lawn and a path to jog around the park. Very soon, the hotel will have 70 more rooms added, and the top view of the hotel building will like a half moon.
There are three restaurants in total, one is Pachratna, the second is Somras Bar and the third is GAD. The first is Indian cuisine restaurant that offers a special option in lunch or dinner, where an authentic local cuisine is offered. So, for Maharashtra, local Marathi food is on offer. The hotel chef doesn’t make this; it is made by a localite, hired by Taj to part-time cook food. This can be availed by pre-booking, and the cost per plate is a mere Rs 450 + tax. This is brilliant as per five-star standard. We got the opportunity to have some authentic local Nashik food and we were astounded by the taste it offered. This is a great way to discover some good Indian food and not to expensive either. This restaurant is open for lunch and dinner only. The Somras is a bar that offers liquor and mocktails. GAD is the third restaurant that is open till midnight. This is a multi-cuisine restaurant that is open from breakfast till dinner.
There is also the option to go for a vineyard tour. The most famous vineyard around is Sula, there is also Zampa and York in the neighbourhood and one can pick the one they like. The vineyards are some 10-15kms away from the hotel atleast and there you are taken around the vineyard and also offered a wine-tasting session. Sula is the biggest and the oldest amongst all. First you are shown the farms where these grapes are cultivated and then a tour of the vineyard is given. The owner of Sula wanted to start to make the place as a brewery than a vineyard, however shortage of water resulted a conversion into vineyard. A brewery consumes ten times the water of what a vineyard does.
If you think visiting a vineyard is too tight to be added to your limited time, Taj is also offering a special wine tasting of seven wines, with some veg and tuna bruschettas, cheese and cracklings and devil’s egg. All this for Rs 450 again, making it extremely affordable for anyone. If you think you need some healthy food, then all the Gateways have an Active food item everyday, that is healthy and at the same time even tasty. There are also some Gateway signature Continental dishes too. So, if you ever plan to stay in Nashik, the Taj Gateway is the best experience for you.
Our overall trip was marvellous and comfortable. The E-Class seats are comfy with the well-bolstered leather with sufficient thigh support. The oil burner was also very frugal as it returned us a figure of 14.5km/l, despite us pushing on several occasions. While cruising at 80-100km/hr, it feels you are insulated from the outside world.
Taj is also offering some special Winter offerings for families till February. We recommend you call the nearest Gateway right away.