My Winter Getaway at Forest Hills by Tala I MF Travels
A few kilometers after crossing Tala (a small village in the Raigad district of Maharashtra), I saw a rickety board mapping the way to my destination, an easy three-hour drive from Mumbai. As I began driving uphill, a gate opened up to an open-air reception area which is surrounded by lush gardens. I was at Forest Hills by Tala, an eco-luxury resort which houses 10 villas, cabins and mud huts spread over nearly 250 acres.
Perched on a mountain that faces the sea at sunset and backwaters at sunrise, tucked away in a dense and untouched forest was my getaway. Sipping on tropical coconut water, I was briefed that the property offers nature inspired accommodations like The Pink Parrot, The Camel Cabin, The Tree Hugger and The Mud Hut, among others.
I was put up in a cabin on the fourth floor. The staff revealed that these conical houses are different from each other, based on the flowers available in the surrounding area. Made up of laterite bricks and lime plaster, these thatch-roofed houses are approximately spread across 800 sq. ft. They have a wall on one side and are covered with glass on the other three sides.
My hermitage had a king-sized bed, en suite bathroom and an attached pantry but it was the private plunge pool that I was smitten by. Brownie points: A mesmerizing scenic view. From my vantage point, I surveyed a spectacular sight: undulating green hills as far as the eye can see. The fact that the property is pooch-friendly only adds to the awesomeness.
Room service is slow at best, but when you are here, you need neither room service nor internet; you only need the mindset to soak in the quiet, relaxed atmosphere, the joy of outdoors. Staying true to the idea of forest living, Forest Hills by Tala follows a farm-to-fork dining concept. No wonder, digging in an organic diet with all produce including prawns coming from the organic farms within the property was fresh, delicious bliss.
While I expected the property to excel in merely whipping up local staples and north-Indian fare cooked home-style, I was taken by surprise when Chef Abhijit could plate a nuanced Italian meal too. Mornings just got better with fluffy and sinful tiramisu pancakes that he would send over to my villa. There are abundant activities to partake in here: nature trails to Kuda Caves, a petting zoo, vegetable picking, an organic farm tour, a prawn farm tour, a visit to Mandad Creek, cooking classes and kayaking.
The property’s USP is that it is an aesthetic delight. Rooms embrace the rustic with the modern, and feel inviting, warm and stylish all at once. Being an insomniac and someone who finds it difficult to not think about work and keep away from my phone, I was amazed by how all it took was a gentle breeze, bird call and the light buzz of insects were enough to lull me to deep sleep. The harmony of the indoor and outdoor spaces, the petting zoo amidst the natural environment- this is what I could come back for repeatedly.
Address: Forest Hills Tala, Taraste Village, Tala, Maharashtra, India – 402111
Phone: +91-22-2202 6226
Prices: Doubles from INR 12,000 onwards