My trip to the Grand Sultan resort was amazing! Read on to find out the ups and downs and why you should go.
For a whole month, I’ve been travelling in Bangladesh, and so when you’re in a country for such a long time, there are lots to see and do.
This past week, I went to Sylhet- a district of Bangladesh. There, I visited one of the famous resorts there… the Grand Sultan! Now, I’ll be honest, I’ve visited Bangladesh a few times. But, I’ve never seen a resort as fancy as this one. Let me break down the masterpiece that some rich dude created.
Kulaura is a small village located in Sylhet. In fact, my paternal grandfather and grandmother’s hometown is in this village. This paternal set of grandparents have sadly passed away, even before I was born, but their neighbours and other family members still live there. My dad and his side of the family have actually invested money to redesign a floor of the original apartment so that we could stay there. So, that’s where the journey begins.
Now, Kulaura is about a 90-minute drive away from the Grand Sultan, so we took some time getting up on a nice Thursday morning.
Now, for the sake of privacy, the photo above is an empty house on the property that I have decided to show you… instead of the one that I was staying at. That apartment is just beside this house, and it looks like a brand new apartment from Toronto! Sorry I can’t show you, but hopefully I’ll be able to come back and show you all a photo of the inside next time… or maybe soon if I get the photos from others.
But anyways, it was a really nice day to go out to the resort. Keep in mind… this is Bangladesh… a REALLY hot country. And it’s the end of July. It’s REALLY hot here at this time. But, even with the heat, I guess by luck we got really nice weather. I mean, as a Canadian it should be obvious that I thrive in the cold- not the heat! So, alas on this wonderful afternoon, after renting a car, we took off on the roadtrip to the Grand Sultan!
The Road to the Grand Sultan
The road there was… bumpy to say the least. Unfortunately, despite Sylhet being a beautiful place with tea gardens and its people fully immersed in nature, infrastructure has been lacking.
The roads are very narrow and there are lots of potholes. The people also drive incredibly fast. I mean, really fast. Essentially, every driver assumes it is the other driver’s responsibility to ensure that they don’t hit each other. So think of it like this:
Driver A: “I can drive fast and reach my destination when I want. It doesn’t matter if I am over the limit, the other drivers on the road will just have to make sure they don’t drive fast or they will have to make sure that they are driving safely so we all stay safe.”
Now, Driver B thinks of something like this: “I can drive fast and reach my destination when I want. It doesn’t matter if I am over the limit, the other drivers on the road will just have to make sure they don’t drive fast or they will have to make sure that they are driving safely so we all stay safe.”
IT’S BECAUSE THEY ARE THINKING THE EXACT SAME THING.
So, yeah. Basically, everyone tries their best to drive properly, but they may just end up driving a little recklessly. Now, because the road is really bumpy and there are a lot of ups and downs on the road, the trip can get a little tiring.
There are lots of big trucks that also drive on this road- especially at night. So, if you are planning a trip to go to the Grand Sultan, make sure that you are travelling to the destination in the morning and not at night. That way, it will be much safer for you to reach the destination and not worry about swerving on and off the road in the dark.
Arrival at the Hotel
While still on the road, we noticed that there was a big and fancy gated fence right beside the road and the grass was trimmed very nicely. So, it wasn’t a surprise when in a bit we saw the large hotel and the security at the front gate.
What was more surprising was the fact that right outside of the Grand Sultan’s gated arena… there were other stores and restaurants. But, none of it was as glamorous as the hotel that we were going to.
This honestly just showed me the wealth disparity in the nation.
There were people looking at those who were going into the resort. People who would, unfortunately, have to save for years and years and still never have the luxury of going to the resort right outside of their own workplace. I decided that I was going to take some action and try and help a few people before I left the country. Whether that be by providing some people with money or some food- but that’s a story for another time.
As we had come all this far just to see this resort, we decided to enter the complex.
Entering the Grand Sultan
As the car rolled up to the gate, we got a pass so that we could explore the place. We also got scanned before entering, and something that I think was quite cool took place- they scanned the car! The license plate and they checked underneath the car with this cool tech. I mean, this probably happens at different places too but I was intrigued because it happened so fast and they had gotten all their information immediately.
What I find interesting is that the owner decided to import various trees and bushes to the resort. How did I know this? Well, for one, palm trees are not native to Bangladesh. And two, I asked the managers as well :). But anyways, the person who built this spent a lot of money that I will probably never have, but thanks to him I got to enjoy this place.
And don’t worry, I didn’t assume it was a man who built this place. What type of person would I be if I did? I asked the managers about who had come up with this idea and paid for it to be made. 😀
The Grand Sultan Restaurant: Oronno Bilash
After exploring a bit, it had become lunchtime. The cool part is that there are two restaurants within this 13-acre territory (which is not that big for a resort- but it’s still well done! regardless). There’s one restaurant inside the hotel, and one that is not connected to the hotel, but still on its grounds. It’s around 200m away from the entrance of the hotel, but you have to take a stairway up to reach it.
The pathway to the Oronno Bilash Restaurant is gorgeous. And it provides a good place to take some good photos!
When we got to the top of the stairway, we were greeted by a wonderful staff of waiters! The restaurant is very international-food oriented. There are some traditional Bengali (Bangladeshi) dishes, intercontinental dishes and even lots of delicious steak dishes!
Essentially, the restaurant is using the food supplies that it has access to. Because there are a lot of cow farmers, there’s lots of beef dishes. Because there are lots of fish and prawn in nearby waters, there are lots of seafood dishes.
I had the Nasi Goreng, an Indonesian fried rice dish. Although it does not look like a lot of food… it is a lot of food. The rice was cooked perfectly, but if there was one thing I would have liked, it was to have a bit more shrimp pieces available! I am a seafood lover if you couldn’t tell. 🙂
My brother, on the other hand, had a steak dish. I wanted to take a photo of the food, but he sort of hopped right into eating it. He shared some with me, and I remember the delicious taste. Perfectly seasoned, well-cooked, and just really good.
I think the best part of the restaurant were the drinks! Although a bit on the more expensive side, I had a sunrise special. It was a combination of orange juice, lemon juice, and some secret syrup that they add. It was amazing! My brother had a lemon mint drink. It was the best purchase possible. Cool, refreshing, and simply delicious.
Food: Expensive or not?
To be completely honest, the food isn’t that expensive. Especially for those who come out of the country where your currency has a better exchange rate to the Bangladeshi Taka. For me, 64 Taka is equivalent to $1 CAD so each dish is around $15. The most expensive thing would be $30, which is typical of a big restaurant. So, overall, the food’s price is quite reasonable and for a big hotel, it’s completely expected.
Outside the Grand Sultan Hotel
There are lots of facilities and recreational activities to do outside of the hotel… AKA part of the resort. There’s a tennis court, golf course, children’s play park, and a massive swimming pool.
If you even want, you can even play badminton! There’s literally a whole sports center for everyone to enjoy!
Inside the Resort
The inside of the hotel is gorgeous. I mean, that’s why it’s called the Grand Sultan, no? I didn’t want to be a creep and take a photo when there were lots of people sitting around and drinking coffee. So I didn’t. 🙁
But, what I can tell you is that there’s a huge ballroom. A gymnasium. Spas and jacuzzis. Cocktails that you can drink to your heart’s content. There’s even another restaurant inside and even a movie theatre.
If you want to read anything about history, business, or any influential novel… you can get it from the library!
Yes, they have a library.
It’s pretty cool.
So, overall, you should go visit. There is one thing I forgot to mention though. The price of the hotel room. So, on average, the price of a hotel room is like $240 per night. So, it is a bit more on the expensive end. But, if you are able to, go one night! You can really do almost everything in one day to be honest.
The food is good. The price of the food is reasonable. And if you need some relaxation time, this is a great place to go.
Even if the ride to the Grand Sultan Tea and Golf resort may be a bit tiring, you can relax there for sure. And, then get tired again when leaving the resort. Because you have to take the same route back.
This resort is a blast. So, if you ever get the chance- go for it! Money will come back. Time won’t.
Goodbye for now,
The Student Spirit