From the constantly rushed to the always rushed, dreaming of the great escape has been a favorite pastime of Covid. But most big ticket trips had been put on hold for the most part over the past year, delaying many planned hotel openings. The silver lining: this year is Choc-a-Block with high-end hospitality debuts. In addition, new hotels currently have an additional attraction, as they have the air of freshness and cleanliness and are therefore admittedly Covid-compliant. We introduce you to four standouts that are welcoming guests for the first time and three that will be opened next month. For those who just can’t wait, we’ve got everything covered so you won’t lack a choice – from Kashmir in the north to Rajasthan and Gujarat in the west to Coorg in the south. All of these offer private villas, cottages, or tents that are in line with the current yen for exclusive outdoor experiences where social distancing is the default.
From the constantly rushed to the always rushed, dreaming of the great escape has been a favorite pastime of Covid. But most big ticket trips had been put on hold for the most part over the past year, delaying many planned hotel openings. The silver lining: this year is Choc-a-Block with high-end hospitality debuts. In addition, new hotels currently have an additional attraction, as they have the air of freshness and cleanliness and are therefore admittedly Covid-compliant. We introduce you to four standouts that are welcoming guests for the first time and three that will open next month. For those who just can’t wait, we’ve got everything covered so you won’t lack a choice – from Kashmir in the north to Rajasthan and Gujarat in the west to Coorg in the south. All of these offer private villas, cottages, or tents that are in line with the current yen for exclusive outdoor experiences where social distancing is the default.
ISLAND FANTASY | COMPETITIONS, Udaipur
The ultimate mecca for luxury on private islands is Raffles, Udaipur. Located on a 21 acre island in the unexplored Udai Sagar Lake, it’s the perfect place to get a Robinson Crusoe. In addition, the journey from the real to the surreal takes only 20 minutes. The scenic drive from Maharana Pratap Airport is followed by a gentle boat ride that takes you to Raffles Udaipur (the legendary Raffles Group’s first property in India). The 101 rooms and suites offer an uninterrupted view of the lake; Choose sunrises or sunsets for leisurely romantic walks or vegetate in your room and try the incomparable Raffles service.
TARIFF: From Rs. 35,000 * plus tax, including breakfast until 09/30/2021; Rs. 45,000 * plus tax as of October 1, 2021
CONTACT: www.allaccor.com or www.raffles.com / +91 294 2779000
PALACE WALK | THE LEELA PALACE, Jaipur
Although it wasn’t necessarily a new property as it existed as JW Mariott until last year. But everyone who knows the hospitality of the Leela brand knows that its aesthetics, sensitivity and service are so pronounced that there is little room for a past association that overshadows its individualistic character. Unmistakable and just as unmistakable is the new Leela Palace, which opened for guests in February of this year, imposing in immaculate white, against the breathtaking contrast of the dense green rise of the Nahargarh Forest Reserve, which borders its southern edge like a green wall. With an electric fence and 450+ cameras on property, safety is the last thing you think about. When the monsoon gray gives the all white affair the glow of a pearl during the day, in the evening they transform their paler reflections into more than 200 scattered bodies of water that dot the property to give a surreal ivory sheen. Spread over eight acres of landscaped gardens, the legacy and lifestyle of the royal Rajputana with his 400 year old legacy of thikri – inlaid mirrors – come to life, transforming the walls and ceilings into shimmering beacons. In each of the 200 stylish rooms, suites and villas, timeless tradition meets lavish splendor. A word to the wise, villas with private plunge pools are the best. Splashing around before dinner also helps to do justice to the extraordinary range of dishes.
TARIFF: Royal Villa Courtyard Rs. 25,000 +++; Royal Villa plunge pool Rs. 35,000 (prices are dynamic)
SAND OF TIME | KARMA GOLDEN CAMP, Jaisalmer
Nothing beats the romance of the dunes; the Thar resonates with the desert song with its own unique notes. This is the magic you capture from the selection of 30 safari tents and bungalows available at Karma Golden Camp. The taupe-colored area extends over 3.5 hectares and includes 22 luxury safari tents, 10 tent huts with private pools, as well as a restaurant, spa, kids club and an outdoor amphitheater. For the more adventurous, there are exciting and less strenuous adventure activities. Camel safaris, dune buggy rides, sand surfing, private dining under the full moon and starry skies in the cloudless desert skies are just a few of the aspects that make this property unforgettable.
TARIFF: USD 300 per tent (for two people) plus tax
CONTACT: 1800-572-3577 (India only); Officially opened on October 15th
PICTURE PERFECT | THE POSTCARD, Gir, Gujarat
Lonely pursuits usually require a distance that can be isolating. But there is no reason why a unity of opposites cannot express our vacation at The Postcard Gir. 16 hectares of mango plantations surrounded by the untamed wilderness of the Gir Forest wrap 15 luxurious rooms that offer maximum privacy, interrupted only by the sounds of migratory birds or, of course, the unmistakable roar of the Asiatic lion. Vegetarian over your salad or go hedonistic with the Salli Boti, a nod to the region’s broader Parsi influence, or even the fresh, local pomfret from Veraval. Time is yours in this modernist hideaway. The rooms are large, airy and allow the interplay of natural light with a matching interior that is neither exaggerated nor functional. Spend the day brooding over the speckled light peeking through the mango plantations. Or, opt for the safari if you prefer the company of the 674 lions at the Gir National Sanctuary. A picnic? Check. Cozy nature trail? Naturally. Or maybe a beach all to yourself in Diu?
TARIFF: Premier Room Rs. 25,000 per night (low season); Rs. 35,000 per night (high season)
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org / +91 79995 55222
ROYAL REPAST | KARAN MAHAL, cashmere
Royalty in India was an integral part of Indian luxury narrative. Karan Mahal, part of the RARE India Community, is no different with a provenance that goes back to the former royal family of Jammu & Kashmir. This charming European style villa is located on Shankaracharya Hill in Srinagar overlooking Dal Lake and is surrounded by private peach and almond plantations. Do we need more reasons to praise? It was built in the early 20th century and served as the residence of Dr. Karan Singh and has hosted historical figures such as Edwina Mountbatten, Pandit Nehru, Nikita Khrushchev, Rajendra Prasad, Indira Gandhi and Joseph Campbell. These sacred corridors of history have been exploring since April this year, when it opened its doors as a luxury rental address. In the tree-lined driveway, which creates a certain distance between the spacious lawns and the bungalow, there are, as in most parts of Kashmir, robust Chinese trees in abundance. The gardens with the chinars and the flowers are colorful companions for the lounge slope by the pool or for those who prefer to do a few laps before eating. The idea is to offer guests an exclusive residence (seven guest rooms) with the luxury of personal and attentive service by a well-trained staff. Did we mention the fabulous cashmere rugs, Art Deco furniture, silverware, crystals and rich furnishings? Most of the suites have a private balcony and the large wraparound veranda overlooks the Zabarwan and Pir Panjal Mountains, orchards and Dal Lake. Needless to say, heaven is a place on earth.
TARIFF: Rs. 25,000 per night
WALK IN THE CLOUDS | COORG WILDERNESS RESORT, Kodagu
If the longing for clear skies on a starry night seems like a feeble ambition, then you have not yet met the full fanfare of the charms and intrigues of nature. Here the mountain town of Kodagu inspires not only the senses, but also sensations; The landscape is wildly unpredictable and bizarre, as it has matted green rainforests in the Thekkady style, the waves and troughs similar to the Yorkshire Dales, interspersed with lakes that flow into rice fields at will. No wonder they call it “Scotland of India”. Fourth in the Paul John Resorts and Hotels lineup, Coorg Wilderness Resort is a luxury experience that captures nature and reinterprets hospitality. The spacious resort is just a two-hour drive from Kannur Airport and has 40 acres to let off steam. Fifty stately rooms and 54 palatial suites offer this paradise for every taste. Victorian-inspired decor and large bay windows with private balconies allow you to wantonly flirt with the elements. While the crisp, cool air eliminates the need for air conditioning, each room has traditionally designed electric fireplaces and heated bathroom floors to keep you cozy. It’s also fabulous for a honeymoon if Alice in Wonderland is your subject. For Coorg everything is astonishment and amazement.
TARIFF: 15,500 Rs. Plus tax
SENSORY PLEASURE | SIX SENSES FORT BARWARA, Ranthambore
Rajasthan probably has the tourism trump card when it comes to a royal playground that has become a jet-set destination. Much of the 14th-century Fort Barwara falls into this category, except that this will be only the second heritage that the international Six Senses chain will manage. The fort belongs to the noble Barwara family and its design reinterprets the graceful ambience of a 700 year old royal era. Significant conservation efforts have transformed the property into a 48-suite luxury resort, while two temples have been preserved within the walled grounds. With two restaurants serving modern cuisine, a bar and lounge, and a 30,000-square-foot Six Senses Spa and fitness center, the tradition goes on a template. Ranthambore National Park is only a 30-minute drive away and the wild safaris only add to the real royal pastime of the Rajputs. Hold on to your horses because reservations will not open until October 15th.