Vacations! The very word in this mercilessly hot summer is something that gets people’s ears perked up and diverts their complete attention towards the speaker. And who can blame them, between the stress of the daily grind, the lack of electricity right when one wants to relax and the unrelenting heat means that the mere mention of an escape from the daily rigmarole and the boiling climate is an opportunity way too tempting.
What didn’t help either was that I had recently picked up the bug, or shall I say virus, of white water rafting. Despite the best instructions passed on to me by my mother during my growing up years about the dangers of rafting, I had always been attracted to it. In hindsight that probably was one of the leading reasons for it! Rafting seemed to offer a combination of fun, risk, cold water and adrenaline rush that activities such as Sky Diving from an altitude of 14,000 feet just don’t.
Needless to say, I had been looking forward to taking a break this summer with much excitement and expectation and was looking for a chance to go on a trip where I could relax and enjoy. So when presented with an opportunity to spend a couple of nights in what is probably the best property for such activities in and around Rishikesh, I almost jumped at it like a hungry tiger jumps on its prey. The property in question, Latitude 30o North Ganga was something that I had been looking to stay at after having a quick peek at it on a previous visit to Rishikesh, and its first impressions were very impressive. The property had been designed with a specific purpose in mind and it was clear that the driving force behind the development was someone with a clear focus and a hospitality background.
As it turns out, Latitude is not just your regular luxury resort which pampers visitors and lets you lounge around doing nothing. The focus of the resort is on activities and hence the self-coined term by the team behind the property to describe it is as an ‘Activotel’. And there is no doubt left regarding how you should spend your day at the resort with a firm yet polite suggestion on check-in about how they would like you to try as many activities as possible and about being punctual for all of them.
Naturally, with such a suggestion it also goes to mention that Latitude offers a multitude of activities – between Rafting, Kayaking, Wall climbing, Bird Watching, Hiking, High Ropes course and the swimming pool on the property – there’s enough to do to keep oneself and the family occupied for the entire duration of the stay. My focus of course was on the rafting, but in the remaining time I managed to indulge in some wall climbing, kayaking and swimming with a visit to the high ropes course, but unfortunately due to paucity of time, we did not get an opportunity to give it a go.
The one thing that stands out at Latitude is the sheer professionalism and the quality of the facilities, equipment and instruction offered. Whichever activity we indulged in, the instructors were obviously experienced professionals and the equipment was absolutely top notch. In fact, on our rating trips, we observed many other groups rafting from other properties nearby but none of them – and this is a testament to Latitude’s quality – had a rescuer in a personal kayak accompanying the larger raft just in case someone fell off from the raft or if it turned turtle.
Similarly, the accommodation was absolutely top-notch quality with the cottages featuring some very well appointed woodwork and furnishing. Add to it excellent food with the focus on keeping the meals light and healthy, Latitude truly offered an opportunity to indulge in a holiday with the physical side of things rather than just lazing around.
The only fly in the ointment perhaps was the commute to the resort, which depending on traffic conditions can take anywhere from 7 to 14 hours mainly because the road infrastructure around the Haridwar area simply cannot cope up with the amount of tourist traffic it attracts, especially in the peak holiday season. But here we were relatively better off as the Skoda Yeti we were travelling in proved to be an ideal partner, offering up loads of space for our belongings and proving itself to be an ideal highway cruiser with its raised ground clearance and larger tyres.
Ultimately, I would highly recommend a visit to Latitude, as the resort offers a lot more than just relaxation, it offers a host of opportunities to have fun, exercise and indulge in activities one normally never finds time for. And if you travel with family or your work buddies, it can provide a wonderful environment for some competitive sports and as a result an excellent occasion for some team building.
Only thing is, being built on a hill face, it offers some pretty tricky and steep staircases which need to be ascended to reach the various parts of the property, which wound us pretty quickly and really drained us out. But I think that’s just the management’s test of judging our fitness and I think the next time I land up there, maybe I’ll show them a trick or two about tackling those staircases!