Tata Harrier and Land Rover Discovery Sport on Trippin with LemonTree Hotels!
As part of our post-lockdown road trips, our series — #TrippinWithLemonTree took us to Goa along with a few enthusiasts to gauge what it’s like to travel in this pandemic-stricken world. This time around, we headed up to Udaipur in Rajasthan and took along the Tata Harrier and Land Rover Discovery Sport to do some investigative journalism on the Harrier’s Land Rover genes. And what better way to test it out than with a 1000km road trip?
We began our journey from Lemon Tree Premier in Mumbai, along with a convoy of about a dozen cars. The hotel staff arranged for a memorable start to the journey with fancy pyrotechnics setting off a flurry of balloons into the sky, and for packing us a brilliant meal for the journey. The drive from Mumbai to Ahmedabad isn’t a particularly picturesque one, it has a lot of traffic and a lot of roadworks on the way, but it is one that allows me to discover the similarities between the Land Rover and the Harrier. At first, aside from the red paint, not much seems similar between the two. The Harrier feels a bit rough around the edges, while the Discovery Sport seems as polished as ever in this post-facelift iteration — it rides better, has a punchier engine and enough screens on the inside to shame an electronics store. But drive them long enough and you’ll realise that they both share the same penchant for covering long distances, for ironing out potholes and giving you a very relaxed ride on the highways.
Ritesh Shaiwal, #TrippinWithLemonTree contest winner
Setting the stage
We arrived at the Lemon Tree Premier hotel in Ahmedabad fairly late into the night, after negotiating the manic traffic as we entered into the city. The staff ensured everyone and their belongings (!) were sanitised. And even though we were a large group of (hungry) enthusiasts, our check-ins went smoothly and by the time we had time to freshen up, a lavish feast was prepared for us in the courtyard that faces the Sabarmati River. The staff also ensured we were sat socially distant from each other and provide sanitisers at regular intervals. The hospitality shown from the staff was really something else, but little did we know at the time that it was just the beginning!
Living like kings
In the morning, we decided to take a route suggested by a follower on Instagram who had claimed it was a little longer but more scenic. We took his advice only to feel regret because the first few hours after getting out of the city were almost as bad as driving within the city itself! Soon though, the road opened up, the traffic thinned out and we were greeted by silky smooth tarmac and picturesque views of the landscape ahead. We took the time to snap a few pictures of the cars and charged forward toward Aurika, Udaipur - Luxury By Lemon Tree. Aurika is a new brand under the Lemon Tree group, pitched at the upscale luxury segment. Since this is a first for them, we weren’t sure what to expect when we landed up at Aurika in Udaipur but it's safe to say, they’ve got everything right. The entry to the hotel itself is through a huge archway called Antara, and you are greeted with views of the entire property with its modern take on traditional architecture. Our rooms were huge, with personalised greetings waiting for us inside and a beautiful view of the iconic Lake Pichola. The most important factor that differentiates a luxury hotel from a hotel is its hospitality and the staff at Aurika are outstanding — pleasant, smart and attentive to your every request. Couple that with a property that looks straight out of a Disney movie — a castle carved out of the side of a mountain, with a huge building at the lowest level housing the reception, a restaurant and a bar, above which are three separate wings that have a total of 139 (lavish) rooms. Every morning, a traditional Rajasthani flautist would play the flute from one of the many balconies overlooking the property. One of the terraces also has a breathtaking view of the Sajjangarh Monsoon Palace. Talking of which, the hotel arranged for us to go up there as well. The drive up is beautiful, on a twisty road which snakes through the jungle, and at the end of it lie breathtaking views of Udaipur city and the surrounding hills. We also had tea and snacks laid out for us right there, talk about living like kings! On the final night, there was traditional Rajasthani music, folk dances and artists, as well as traditional Rajasthani food which was lip smacking to say the least.
Aradhana Lal, VP-Brand, Communications & Sustainability Initiatives
Over this road trip, I've come to realise that these aren't two different cars, but you could think of them as two incarnations from the same mould. The Harrier is excellent for Indian road-tripping, a proper SUV with capable genes underpinning it. Yes there’s no option of four-wheel-drive but you probably wouldn’t spend that extra dough for it anyway. It can tackle all the rough stuff you throw at it and it’ll eat potholes and spit them out without blinking twice. The Discovery Sport looks and feels a few notches above. There’s a heightened sense of class and quality about it and it doesn’t feel like ‘an expensive Harrier’. The two SUVs are very different, yet very similar in their long distance abilities. What you buy depends on what’s in your wallet.
The #TrippinWithLemonTree series is only fun because of the enthusiasts that come along. This time we had Obaid Hakim, a brilliant photographer who follows his passion of travelling along with his wife Afsha. We also had Parag and Gauri Rajda, who we know from our events with The Speedfest! It really is a wonderful bunch and you can come along for the next installment as well. Stay tuned to the evo India and Lemon Tree Hotels social media handles for updates on the contest.
While we are encouraging you to go on road trips, you must be aware of the precautions your hotel is taking. Lemon Tree is transparent in its ‘Rest Assured’ program, in partnership with Diversey which is a leader in sanitisation and hygiene. The program consists of US EPA approved chemicals for sanitisation (Virex II 256, Oxivir and Suma), as well as operating checklists for the staff and specialised training for all personnel in the hotel. Moreover, Lemon Tree is also ensuring social distancing at all its properties, gloves and masks for all staff members, regular temperature checks for guests as well as staff and sanitisation of all public areas and rooms at regular intervals. The Rest Assured program is perhaps the backbone of #TrippinWithLemonTree, without it we would be at a large amount of risk and it wouldn’t be possible (or responsible) to call families with their children along without a program such as this.