On this trip I stayed in a resort called Toshali Sands
. This resort is about 65 KM from Bhubaneshwar city and it takes about an hour and a half by car to reach the resort from Bhubaneshwar airport. The road is very good and it is quite a smooth ride. You can call up the resort and arrange for a car pick up from the airport which we did and it cost us Rs. 1200. In front of the resort is the Baiukhanda Reserve Forest which is basically a cashew plantation owned by the government and were told that there were mainly deer in it but we did not get to see any. If you drive through the forest then you reach the Balighai beach.
Although the resort claims to be of 4 star quality it is not really of the same quality of other 4 star properties although it might have similar amenities as a 4 star property may have. It is comfortable and decently clean. The food is very homily and do not expect too much of exotic food. The room that we stayed in also had a small kitchen with a single burner stove and basic utensils. It also had a small fridge that worked very well.
The resort has a swimming pool which is nice. Since it is outdoors and there is no shade to cover it, it gets quite hot in the pool so make sure you carry enough sun screen lotion that is strong enough (SPF 40 is what we used). The only problem we had was the sun screen lotion that we carried was water soluble so it tended to wash off after a bit of swimming. Not sure where you get non water soluble sun screen lotion.
In order to go to the beach the resort arranges for pick up and drop using a quaint old jeep that they ha
ve which reminded me of driving around tea estates. The reception arranges for the pick up and drop to the beach and although they tell you that they need 1 hour notice every time we went and asked them we got the drop almost immediately. It is about 5 min by jeep to the beach which is pretty much your own to have fun on. The resort provides a life guard and umbrellas, mats and towels on the beach so just carry your swim trunks and sun screen lotion and you are all set. The beach is not all that great during high tide as it is quite rough but it was amazing during low tide - so find out when is the low tide and schedule all your beach trips during that time. The lifeguard is a fun guy and he showed me how to catch crabs on the beach which was quite amazing.
The resort has tons of greenery and lots of ducks, hens and geese. My daughter used to just love playing with them all day long. Other sports activities at the resort include table tennis, tennis, badminton and a gym. There is also a pool table. You can also hire cycles to go around and see all the places close by to the resort that include rivers, back waters and a stone carving village. They also had an Ayurveda center in the resort that I did not try out.
You get pretty much everything that you need in the resort or in the shops just outside the resort so there is no reason to leave the resort. You can take a bus to visit Puri town and the resort charges you Rs. 30 per head. The drive to Puri town is about 2o min by the small bus that they have. So we took the bus one day to Puri town to get all the supplies that we needed that we did not get in the resort. The resort also provides the services of a pujari when you visit the Puri temple.
One day the resort organized some indoor games for all the guests which was quite enjoyable
and we were able to interact and talk to the other guests in an informal manner and get to know them better. On another day they organized a performance of the Gotipua Dance (A folk dance of orissa) which is performed by young boys who dress as girls. This dance was quite acrobatic and interesting to watch.
On the whole the resort was a very enjoyable experience. It is not of top class quality but it is very down to earth and basic. It had enough activities to keep us busy all through the week without feeling bored. The staff is very friendly and helpful and frank on what is possible and what is not for the umpteen requests that we had.