City slickers don’t always have enough time to go for a full-fledged vacation, with all the bells and whistles. Especially a Bollywood actor who’s always found between shooting dates. So, we took No Entry girl, Bipasha Basu, for a staycation at Conrad Pune, a three-hour drive from the City of Dreams. By Rashima Nagpal

‘Staycation’ is a 21st-century word.

Conrad Pune

To rule out common misunderstandings about the concept, here’s a little backstory. The portmanteau comes from the idea of staying back and having a vacation; it first became a trend during the economically nasty times of the early 2000s. The fuel costs skyrocketed, and people began exploring holiday options closer home that wouldn’t burn a hole in their pockets. (Although lexicographers have traced the first instance of its usage all the way back to 1944 when it alluded to efforts to save gasoline during times of war.) And thus, a different kind of vacation was born. From a timely trend, staycations have now become a significant sector of the travel industry. More so in fast-paced metropolitan cities, where a holiday in the backyard not only lets you save time, money, stress, and effort, but also reduces your carbon footprint. We knew we couldn’t ignore the trend any longer.

Conrad Pune

Actor and fitness enthusiast Bipasha Basu said an instant yes to our suggestion of a staycation at Conrad Pune for this issue’s gorgeous cover shoot. At a convenient 155-kilometre distance from Mumbai, the flagship Conrad property is hard to say no to. The smooth tarmac of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and the verdant Western Ghats make the drive a breezy affair. Moreover, it helps that our destination is also known as the ‘most liveable city in India.’ But I notice the allure of Pune, and specifically of the luxury hotel, only on my drive back to Mumbai, after we’ve wrapped up a soothing staycation and a successful cover shoot. Looking back, I realise this trip was subtly different, in a good way, from most of our cover shoots. As gorgeous as our travel covers may look, the process behind making them is usually strenuous, and often entails a tight schedule. Although this one had its fair share of running around, it didn’t leave us exhausted.

Conrad Pune

With plenty of frame options at the stunning property, an enthusiastic crew, a comfortably planned schedule with multiple breaks at the Coriander Kitchen (that became our go-to restaurant for breaks), and the hospitable team at Conrad Pune, the cover shoot felt like a pleasant gust of monsoon breeze on the face. We began by the property’s outdoor swimming pool. As rose tinted skies and windy weather added oomph to Basu’s natural charisma, the photographer and his team had a field day. Along the lush green pathways, in front of the Conrad Spa, at the chic seating lounge by the pool— the laid-back vibe that spans the entire property is evident in the shots. The best part was the ease of access that came with shooting multiple frames on the dedicated rejuvenation floor that is also home to a 24-hour fitness centre.

Conrad Pune
“It doesn’t feel like a working day; I feel like I’m on a holiday,” Basu exclaimed, as we moved for a change of outfit and location. In the al fresco area of Coriander Kitchen, the stylist decided to dress her up to match the location. And this, he did—in a beautiful purple gown. After navigating some anticipated fans among the guests dining at the restaurant, we wrapped up the last shot with great ease. Back from the reverie, I find that the mist on the highway has disappeared, and I’m on the fringes of Mumbai. “That was quick,” I think to myself, “now I know how some people do the Mumbai-Pune route every day.” Every day must feel like a getaway. A staycation.

DETAILS

GETTING THERE
Multiple airlines operate direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi to Pune, and the hotel is a short 15-minute drive from the Pune airport. The Mumbai-Pune expressway is a driver’s delight in case you’re taking the road. It takes just over three hours to cover the distance.

STAY
Located in the heart of the city, the iconic Conrad Pune features 310 luxurious, elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites. Book the One Bedroom Deluxe Suite for a memorable experience—couples, especially, will love the privacy of their living and dining areas. It has a walk-in rain shower, plush furnishings, and picture windows with spectacular views of the city. You also get access to the Executive Lounge on the 13th floor. Rooms from 8,500 per night.

UNWIND
Take that much-needed respite from the chaos of Mumbai in the soothing environs of this inviting retreat. Make the best of your staycation with a delectable choice of uplifting treatments in the hotel’s spa—the signature therapies use essential oils of rose, jasmine, and sandalwood to leave you feeling rejuvenated.

EAT
Conrad Pune is home to six trendy dining venues. Zeera is the specialty Indian grill fine dining restaurant with a display kitchen and an extensive menu featuring the best of North Indian cuisine. Head to Coriander Kitchen for some innovative, street-style creations with Mediterranean and Asian influences. The warm interiors of Koji make for a chic setting for
savouring some Japanese, Chinese, and Thai specialties, while the poolside cafe Kabana’s menu includes classic western lounge cuisine and a selection of refreshing beverages, wines, and spirits. Choose from an impressive selection of cocktails at the strikingly posh Masu Bar, and round up the night with fresh delicacies at Pune Sugar Box.

Related: Guess What’s Next On Bipasha Basu’s Travel Bucket List?