When one goes to the picturesque Kashmir, the thought of the hotel where you’d stay is one of the last ones on anyone’s mind as it’s the beauty of Kashmir that is the main attraction. But my recent visit to the heaven on Earth turned all the more special because of my stay at the Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels, Pine n Peak, Pahalgam.
The beautiful resort is snuggled between pine trees and paths that lead to the shimmering Lidder River. It is perched atop of the stunning Rajwas Plateau. Its exquisite design derives inspiration from local, traditional art, including wood carving and intricate tapestry. The picturesque views of snow-capped mountains and the Valley of Shepherds just make this place a mini-heaven.
When traveling to Kashmir, Pahalgham is a place that definitely has to be on the cards and I drove from Sonmarg to Pahalgam, which took me over 4 hours. On reaching there, I was a bit tired but the warm welcome I received from the GM Mr. Roop Pandita and Sabzar Sofi (Manager Front Office), just took that feeling away.
I was escorted to my beautiful room that had a river view, surrounded by the pine trees. Some hand-made almond chocolates and a fresh fruit basket welcomed me in the living area while the bedroom had some intricately designed upholstery and Kashmiri carpets.
Usually when you visit hotels, the biggest complain one has is with the food there but Welcomhotel didn’t give me any chance for that. I ordered my first meal in the room and enjoyed it by the window with a mesmerizing view. Later the very kind executive chef Rajay Yadav, along with F&B manager Deepak Gouniyal, came to my room to ensure that my diet was well taken care of. The kind gesture indeed made me feel special.
The next morning, I was spoilt for choices as I had a great spread of continental breakfast in the garden by the river followed by the traditional Kashmiri kahwa. For lunch, I had the special Wazwan thali (Kashmiri thali) which tasted completely out of this world.
Not just the service inside, but the hotel also arranged for some sight-seeing for me on special request. I was accompanied by Mr Ansar Shah who took utmost care of me and my mother, who wasn’t keeping too well.
We also stopped by the local market that’s very close to the hotel where we bought some Kashmiri Pashmina. On getting back, the dinner served was special too as we had the most popular dish of the restaurant called Gucchi mushroom kebabs, that are found only in high mountainous areas and are really expensive. It grows only when the snow thaws on mountains and is produced by lightning strikes. To be served by a food item so rare was indeed quite special.
And I can’t end this without thanking the hotel staff who made me feel at home at all time. It’s such a warm property, a perfect blend of luxury yet homely feeling. It’s not a very huge property but there is no facility that it is missing. They have a well-equipped gym along with some game rooms as well. I need to give a special thanks to Gowhar Hajam from the hotel, who was very kind to me and was responsible to take care of anything that I needed. He did a fab job making me want to visit the property again sooner than I’d expected. My stay was quite memorable and I must admit that Welcomhotel gives you a home away from home.
( The author of this article is an Actor, philanthropist and a former Mr. India )