A modern take on mountain living, Rio Resort is for those weekends when you want to get away from the humdrum of city life with your family and dog, and remain inaccessible to the rest of the world for some well deserved me time.
Strategically located by the side of river Kho in the Pauri Garhwal region, Rio is nestled amidst scenic surroundings about 18 kms before the cantonment town of Lansdowne. The driving distance is about 225 kms from Delhi, and the 5-hour drive via Kotdwar is a breeze if you manage to leave the city by crack of dawn.
Nestled on the hill slope by the river, Rio is serene, relaxing and a no wi-fi zone for the moment, which is not a bad thing. The atmospherics are calm and zen-like, with the wooden cottages by the riverside making for a perfectly instagram-able frame.
The 5 wooden cottages with private sit out areas are the central attraction at Rio. Fully functional and equipped with flat screen TVs and all amenities, they are without a doubt the best place to be. The sit out area is where you can curl up with a book over leisurely sips of tea, and allow nature to play its symphony. In solitude or with family & friends, the serene and pristine surroundings make for a perfect host.
A set of 12 deluxe rooms in an apartment style block have been added to the property, and though they are spacious and well equipped with wooden interiors, the charm of the cottage is hard to beat. An all-glass dining area offers a beautiful view of the valley, and meals are also served at the well-tended lawns by the river. Sitting outdoors on a moonlit night overlooking the gleaming water and blue hills makes for a magical moment.
Rio is one of the few pet-friendly resorts you can find in the region and full marks to them for welcoming four-legged travellers with the same enthusiasm & courtesy as other guests. The river and open lawns offers ample opportunities to play fetch and get your furry companion exhausted. The rocky stream bed and shallow depth of the river during early summer makes it ideal to wade and splash. You can even pick a vantage point to sit and watch a variety of birds swoop down for a catch. Sitting by the riverside and soaking in the atmospherics can be extremely therapeutic and rejuvenating.
While the shallow rivulet gently meanders along its course during summer months, it takes a more ferocious form as the monsoon arrives and the water level rises considerably. The thick oak forest across the river has its own wild side, and leopard alerts and sightings at night are not uncommon. As a precaution, pets need to be strictly indoors after dark.
One of the good things about the hills is its hospitable people. And Rio is managed by a friendly team that is always eager to assist. The food menu is extensive, but we found the Indian fare to be better than the rest. Probably with time there would be all round improvement in making the food experience a bit more exciting. Should you crave for it, like in most hill stations in North India, there is a ‘Maggi Point’ within walking distance which attracts quite some buzz.
A bit more attention towards food and staff training can perhaps take the Rio experience several notches higher. The unique location needs a more wholesome experience to match and being one of the larger riverside properties in the region, they are well placed to offer it.
While you are there, you could plan a day trip to Jim Corbett National Park, a visit to Lansdowne town or take a tour of the beautiful Tarkeshwar Temple. Within the resort, there are camping and bonfire arrangements on request, treks routes & nature walks for the adventurous ones, and plenty of recreational games for both kids and adults.
It is not often that one gets to live by a riverside cottage in a mountain valley, in seclusion from the rest of the world. And for that experience alone, we would visit Rio again. And the fact that you can take your pet along, makes it all the more worth it.
Planning a road trip with your pet? Here are some tips: