Dates of visit : Nov 17-21/2015 Date of this report: Jan 1, 2016
Place : Bhimtal, Uttarakhand, India
Name of visitor: Jagdish Sanghvi(67), from Mumbai
Owner/Manager: Paddy(Padmini) Smetacek
Name of the facility: THE RETREAT
Mobile Tel no: (0)8171031968
I was on a long tour hence, got delayed in writing this review. I visited THE RETREAT on the above dates, solo. 4 nights in total. Prior to my visit, I had already collected enough information about the place and people, which kind of agreed with my psyche. Before i decided on the place and sent the advance money, I had talked to Paddy several times on the phone, which added to my comfort level about this home stay.
Now, every one in India knows how beautiful a place Bhimtal is. I am not writing this review about Bhimtal but how good my home stay was at THE RETREAT", and why.
For all practical purposes, Paddy(Padmini) is the owner/Manager of the place. She was married to Mr. Smetacek (pronounced "smetacheck"), a czech gentleman, settled in India. This is another interesting story. I recommend that you hear it from Paddy her self when you stay there.
I have worked with europeans a lot including Czechs, in my business hey days. When I heard from Paddy on the phone about the Czech connection etc., I was convinced of certain minimum basic standards she would be maintaing in the guest house along with certain european cuisine, mannerism, etc. Basically, a healthy mix of Indian and European hospitality, cuisine (veg and non-veg), cleanliness etc., etc.
I reached Kathgodam by train at 05:00 AM(Nov 17/2015) from Delhi. The cab driver sent by Paddy was waiting for me at the station to take me to THE RETREAT, about 45 minutes ride away to the hilltop where THE RETREAT was located. Paddy was awaiting my arrival at her place since 05:30AM!!!! I am not used to visiting anyone's house at 05;30AM but she welcomed me .
I was given a large room with a big bathroom in the back of the house with sufficient no of windows, so that I could watch their dogs and and puppies play.
The Smetacek family also lives in the adjoining side of this big house--3 sons and 2 daughters. Her son Robbie is an excellent chef. He made some excellent meals, soups and breakfast dishes for me. Fruits were always available. I mentioned once that I eat one Pomegranate every day--since then Paddy would peel a pomegranate for me.I mentioned about multigrain bread one day, and the bread was ready the next day. Every thing happened in a matter of casual conversations and nothing seemed contrived. The young girls helped me to synchronise my I-pod with my blue tooth muffs I bought on the plane. Oy yes, the three dogs and 7 puppies made everything simple, informal and natural.
The house has 3 guest rooms with 3 bathrooms with a total capacity of about 10 people.Bathrooms are large and equipped with hot water geysers. There are no showers but bucket baths.For cold nights there are plenty of "rajais" (blankets), to keep you warm in addition to 2 hot water bottles tucked in your bed. The living room of the house is decorated with old antique and victorian type of furniture and artefacts, apart from a fire place.a reminder of an old heritage house. For a city dweller like me, this was a dream come true
Every morning, a lazy breakfast on the veranda in the gentle sun with Padmini, where we talked about many many different things including finance and equity investments. Lunch was also a more or less similar story, on the veranda. The veranda offered two sitting places. one for a group of 5-6 and other just for 2. You could sit any where, read a book, listen to music and drink your coffee with cognac or just simply cognac with a smoke. If you want a bon fire, that is also possible, but on a chargeable basis.
What she charges for a home stay per person is very reasonable and VFM. Basically, this was a total relaxation with a welcome, and a real home stay unlike many hotels call them as home stay units. If they do not know the meaning of a home stay, what can they offer you!!!