Going to Ranthambore? Nice place to pal around with tigers. But if you find them big cats too close for comfort, and feel you would prefer rather to have the cake and eat it (no, not the tigers), welcome to the Oberoi Vanyavilas. It’s simply, deliriously grander than anything you have seen before. Experience wildlife in a Luxury India tour with Bespoke India Holidays
Location: Tamping down after a tiring journey to Ranthambore, the one thing you crave for immediately is a few minutes of shut-eye. Thankfully, the Oberoi Vanyavilas is a mere five minute drive from the entrance of the park. The three most important things about a tourist destination are location, location and location. By this yardstick, the OV, nestling in the natural beauty of the wilds, on the edge of the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, scores a perfect ten. But on a scale of 0-5, one can only give 5! The luxury jungle resort is strategically located; hot baths await your aching feet immediately on your arrival. Perfect.
Ambience: Ranthambore is about, what else, tiger moments. The Oberoi Vanyavilas’ doors are not open for tigers, but a guest is certain to roar his/her approval about its adrenalin-rushing ambience. Bathed in king-size comforts in luxe jungle tents that have an edgy connect with the Big Cats outside, feel a chill go up your spine, or your heart skip a beat, when you overhear them wilds in the forest play, preen, and pine their passion, rather noisily. You heard it right. The Oberoi Vanyavilas is set on 20 acres of dry forest jungle, near what was in the past a hunting preserve of the Maharajas.
Flip into vacation mode, and you discover the Oberoi Vanyavilas is also about the ultimate in me-time. The resort setting is picture-perfect with a dramatic watercourse and sun-kissed private decks. The spas are in lakey surroundings in a fountained courtyard. Soak in the splendorous ambience of private spa suites with the beauty of hand painted floral frescoes and the fragrance of fruit groves while you reflect on your inner self.
The Oberoi Vanyavilas has pushed the bar, beyond epicurean delights. Drawing inspiration from Rajasthan’s signature tune miniscule paintings, the hotel has created its own miniatures, exquisite, intimate habitats basking in India’s culture and crafts. There is a touch and feel of the Taj, the Taj Mahal, no less: The courtyard’s still pool, reflecting the beauty above, viz. of the simple, elegant building of Rajasthan sandstone glowing like a luminous peach, the two life-size stone elephants marking the entrance, the fiery torches behind them, and the scallop-arch door frames. Soak it in – and you’ll gratefully grant a rating of 4.5 on 5.
Experience: Sometimes knowing is not warning enough. Relaxing with your beloveds at a starlit candle-light dinner, over a night of tiger tales, you suddenly stop. The tale eerily turns over a real page. The jungle winds billow the silk lining of your tent against its canvas canopy. You listen air-brushed. Is it the cicadas, or the crickets? Or is it really the Big Cat nosing around your vicinity? Before you get to know for sure, you catch from the corner of your eye, a swift movement of ….something near the window. Maybe it was a giraffe poking its head through the window? Actually, it was only a friendly deer, and you smile, more in relief, actually. Rating: 4.9999/5. Grrrrrrrrr.
Amenities: Romantic evenings? You bet sundown is just that, with the evening’s bonfire sparkling in the corner of the poolside, past the gardens and guava and pomegranate orchards. Go over a water course and beyond a red-hot flame tree the tents are spread out like sails across the desert, each of them with its own walled garden and an all-the-way-around deck for shaded lounging—or nude sunbathing. Rating: No ifs, no buts, 6/5.
Food: The Oberoi Vanyavilas’ Executive Chef is a master of the gastric juices, whatever your passion fruit, Western, Thai or Indian multi-cuisine. The secret of the pudding: Much of the fresh produce and salad comes straight from the kitchen garden at Vanyavilas. A highly personalized service, and a dining ambience created by the celebrated miniaturist Mohan Singh Kumawat, viz. a bouquet of hand painted frescoes of flowers and animals, add an extra flavor to your gastronomic experience. Rating: You decide! For us, it is as palatable as it can get – 5/5.
Price: This is the era of premiumization. The Oberoi Vanyavilas offers you a priceless holiday, where you can be whatever you are, and you are not, and live your dream. The Oberoi is selling a fantasy, not tenancy. For Indians, the prices are on the high side, but for foreign tourists, they are affordable. However, if you look at the slate of similar offerings, and steer clear from mixing apples and oranges, the price is arguably affordable. Rating: 3/5.