Location and Setting
Wildernest is set on over 450 acres of forest land overlooking the stunning Swapnagandha Valley. The resort's height of 800 meters (2,500 feet) above sea level ensures that it's spared from the searing summer heat in India.
From the moment I arrived, it was obvious that I wasn't going to have an ordinary experience there. To get to the resort, guests are transported in jeeps along a red dirt track through the forest. The resort is set along a narrow rocky path, graced by forest on one side and the spectacular valley on the other. Enchanting hideaway spots and pavilions add to atmosphere of solitude.
Wildernest has special appeal all year round. Many people say that the resort is at its most beautiful during the misty monsoon season, which invigorates the greenery and brings the waterfalls to life. Others prefer the clear winter days, which are perfect for enjoying glorious sunsets, exploring the forest, and relaxing by the pool.
I visited during May, and although the waterfalls had dried up by then, I was still treated to the delightful sight of birds, butterflies, and captivating scenery on the nature walks.
Wildernest has 16 eco-friendly cottages, built in simple rustic style with wood paneling and tiled floors inside. What really makes the cottages special is their surroundings. The premium Valley View cottages have a mesmerizing view over the valley, while the Forest View cottages are set right in the middle of the jungle.
It's well worth paying the extra for a Valley View cottage. I spent a great deal of time relaxing in a deck chair on the porch and watching the sunset over the valley. During my stay, small lizards and squirrels frequently ran across the porch railing, while monkeys leaped through the trees and onto the roof. At night, the constant rustle of the wild did take a bit of getting used to. I slept fitfully the first night, before becoming comfortable with the nocturnal noise and chatter.
The rates at Wildernest are based on two seasons -- Winter (from October 1 to March 30) and Summer/Monsoon (from April 1 to September 30). The really attractive thing about staying during the Summer/Monsoon season is that rates are reduced by 50%. Forest View cottages are available for only 5,500 rupees ($100) per night and Valley View cottages cost 6,000 rupees ($110) per night, during the Summer/Monsoon season.
As well as accommodations, rates include all taxes, welcome drink, meals, and activities.
Food and Dining
The food served at Wildernest is a buffet of traditional Goan and Maharastran style fare. On offer are an ever changing variety of scrumptious fish, crab, chicken, and lamb curries -- as well as vegetarian and rice dishes.
While the food is undeniably tasty, fresh and healthy, it is predominantly Indian and quite spicy. There aren't many options for those who want something different than Indian cuisine. Infact, the only time that Western food is offered is at breakfast, when bread rolls and omelet are available. This could make it difficult for people with special dietary requirements.
Amenities and Activities
You can be as active or chilled as you want at Wildernest. Those who enjoy lounging by the pool will find the perfect environment at the lagoon-like Infinity swimming pool. Aptly named, it's been designed to look like it merges with the valley below.
For the more adventurous, there's a daily schedule of activities that starts off with bird watching in the early morning. Other activities throughout the day include nature walks, sunset walks, village tours, bonfires, cultural performances, and mehendi (henna) application for females.
Wildernest also has an outdoor bar called Cloud 9, which serves a range of reasonably priced beer, wines, and spirits. Unfortunately, no cocktails though!
Alternatively, head to the massage room for a rejuvenating ayurvedic massage. Rates start from 500 rupees ($10).