HIGHLANDS PARK HOTEL
Presidents, Prime Ministers, visiting royalty and Bollywood stars have all enjoyed the warm hospitality and old-world charm of this grand hotel. The Highlands Park Hotel is a heritage property spread over eight acres of prime real estate in a majestic position on the Gulmarg plateau. It is surrounded by the peaks of the Pir Punjal range and has sweeping views across the valley to the greater Himalaya.
The Hotel was established in 1966 by Major Benjie Nedou who came from a long line of hoteliers. Some of the original structure was occupied by his great grandfather and family 100 years earlier. Today the hotel is managed by the Major’s granddaughter and husband. Major Nedou’s army influence can be seen in the décor of the lounge as well as the staff uniforms. The hotel also has golfing paraphernalia, animal skins and traditional Kashmiri wall hangings that take you back to the time when Gulmarg first became a thriving summer destination for the well-to-do.
The hotel consists of one central building and eight separate cottages that house the 35 character-filled rooms. The grand central building which contains the reception, lounge and restaurant has uninterrupted views of Mt Apharwat and all the terrain accessed by the recently installed ‘World’s Highest Gondola’. While savoring breakfast, you can eye off the lines you want to ski, then, at the end of the day, ski through the trees to the backgate, enjoy an après beer in the lounge and check out your tracks.
After a big day skiing, a couple of Kingfishers, a hot shower or bath, it’s time to sit down for a Kashmiri feast. The food and service are sensational. Delicious soup, a banquet of Kashmiri meat and vegetable dishes and a tasty dessert all served with style and laughs. If you feel like dancing, the staff will fire up the disco for you or you might prefer to adjourn to the movie or poker room or enjoy a quick nightcap at the bar.
The atmosphere is what really makes the Highland Park unique. The rooms are fantastic, the views awesome, the service exceptional, but it’s the character, nature and humor of the management and staff that make the Highland Park special. For those in the know, the Highlands Park Hotel is the place to stay in Gulmarg.