India

 

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Amanbagh's pool is a striking contrast to the resort’s haveli-style design.

 

The largest state in India, Rajasthan, also has two of the most luxurious resorts in a country filled with top-tier hotels—Amanbagh and Aman-i-Khás. The former, situated in the foothills of the Aravalli Hills, is built haveli-style, making use of soft sandstone and pale pink marble. Of the resort’s 40 accommodations, the most requested are the eight Courtyard Haveli Suites and the eight Garden Haveli Suites. Each is on the ground level of two dwellings on either side of the resort’s swimming pool. Bedrooms feature soaring domed ceilings and bathrooms drenched in natural light. Note: The Garden Haveli Suites have private terraces that overlook the garden below. On the upper level of the double dwellings are the eight Terrace Haveli Suites that have private, terraced courtyards with outside dining areas and sun loungers.

Tip: For those who appreciate privacy, book one of the 16 Pool Pavilions located on the resort’s perimeter. Here, guests will have their own private pool (cool in the summer, heated in winter months) and garden.

 

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Aman New Delhi plays the role of city resort to its sister Indian Aman properties.

 

Amanresorts has fans aptly called “Aman junkies.” At Amanbagh, devotees have their favorite suites. We are told that these include Pool Pavilions No. 2, 4, 5, 19 and 22 and No. 17 Terrace Haveli, which draws guests for its views into the trees and up to the hills. Keep these accommodations in mind when it’s time to book your client or contact Global Sales Manager for Amanresorts India Puneeta Khanna (pkhanna@amanresorts.com; 011-91-11-4363-3333). Agents can also reach out to Namrata Rynjah (nrynjah@amanresorts.com; 011-91-11-4363-3333), sales manager for Amanbagh and Aman-i-Khás. For VIPs, contact General Manager Robyn Bickford (rbickford@amanresorts.com; 011-91-1465-223-333).

The resort’s spa has seven treatment rooms and we are told the most requested treatments are The Maharaja and Maharani Oil Massages, particularly when executed by massage specialist Ranjana. Treatments can be booked upon arrival or in advance through Reservations Manager Sheikh Rahaman (amanbaghres@amanresorts.com; 011-91-1465-223-333). Spa questions can be directed to Spa Director Vijayalaxmi Goyal (spa@amanbagh.com).

Getting to Amanbagh and Aman-i-Khás can be tricky and tiring. New Delhi, the primary gateway, is a four-hour drive from Amanbagh. It’s best to fly clients into New Delhi, then have them take a 30-minute flight to Jaipur, which is a more palatable two-hour drive from the resort. If your clients have time to burn in Jaipur, known as The Pink City, arrange for a visit to the Hawa Mahal palace and the Albert Hall Museum. Helicopters can also be arranged to land on-site at Amanbagh.

Upon arrival at Aman-i-Khás, which is a three-hour complimentary drive from Amanbagh, you will immediately understand why, of all three Indian Aman resorts, this one is the most rustic. An encampment of just 10 canopied tents on the edge of Rajasthan’s Ranthambore National Park, the resort is smack in the middle of wildlife. For the luxury-minded explorer, it gets no better. Of course, this is Aman, so the services, amenities and accommodations are far from primitive. Tents are like something out of Arabian Nights on steroids. Here, duplicity rules. Each tent is designed beneath a soaring 20-foot canopy, while cotton partitions separate the bathroom, bedroom, sitting and dining areas. Furniture is sparse, mimicking the traveling camps of times past. Wooden ceiling fans churn above.

Aman-i-Khás offers twice-daily, three-hour guided excursions into the core of Ranthambore National Park. Be ready for glimpses of tigers, leopards, smaller jungle cats, hyenas and sloth bears. Chital deer, antelopes and gazelles can also be seen roaming the savannah; the lakes and waterholes are home to the Indian marsh crocodile. There are also over 350 species of bird.

 

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Luxury Canopied Tents welcome guests at Aman-i-Khás, a rustic resort on the edge of Ranthambore National Park where wildlife abounds.

 

Back at the camp, wind up the day with a treatment at the Spa Tent and don’t leave without having an arm or hand tattooed with henna art. Meals are taken in the Dining Tent where the cuisine, whether Indian or Western, always uses the freshest of ingredients: vegetables and herbs are taken right from the camp’s organic garden. Dinner often concludes around the outdoor fireplace, which overlooks the brushwood Aravalli Hills. Like at Amanbagh, agents can contact Namrata Rynjah with questions.

While Rajasthan is known for its mountainous landscape and its array of old palaces, where the rich and glamorous often elect to wed, New Delhi, also India’s capital, is flatter and more urban than Rajasthan. Yet there’s nothing bland about Aman New Delhi, which perfectly plays the role of city resort, and impresses for its vast differences from Aman’s two other India properties.

Here, the 14 Lodhi Pool Suites are the top accommodations, particularly the three-bedroom version, which offers a double-height terrace. If a great view is of utmost importance, we are told Aman Room Nos. 501, 502, 601, 602, 701, 801 and 802 offer vistas of Humayun’s Tomb and The Central Courtyard. Luxury travel advisors should contact Global Sales Manager Khanna for Aman New Delhi or, for VIP bookings, General Manager Antony Treston (amannewdelhi@amanresorts.com; 011-91-11-4363-3333).

Warm afternoons find the pool area dotted with jetsetting guests who peer down from a bar that is set beneath a colonnade, which runs along the edge of the 165-foot pool. The eight-treatment-room spa features two hammams, and the signature body massage is the most requested service. Brides-to-be should also inquire about this special spa ritual: The Solah Shringar Experience, an ancient ritual signifying the adornment that a bride partakes in the day prior to the “big day.” Book appointments through Spa Manager Karen Biancardi (kbiancardi@amanresorts.com; 011-91-11-4363-3333).

No visit to India is complete without sampling the country’s vivacious fare. We hear the Aman Restaurant’s take on tandoori raan and lamb pasanda is spot on. Guests can also enjoy the more laidback atmosphere of the Lodhi Restaurant (try this winner: the seared tenderloin with migas, papas de la casa and spring onion).

Fly clients into Indira Gandhi International Airport, about 21 miles from
Aman New Delhi.

ADVISOR INSIGHT:

Moni Sheinberg, co-owner of Tzell affiliate, Interglobal Travel, has been to India over 40 times. “India is perhaps the most complex yet rewarding travel destination you can choose,” she says. “It is truly a land of superlatives with breathtaking architecture and art matched only by its natural beauty and a rich history dating back countless generations. However, with only a handful of knowledgeable guides, many travelers do not get to fully experience what India has to offer. Making the effort to find quality, local guides for your client’s journey can make all the difference in capturing the unique essence of every city along the way. A good guide knows the city’s lore along with its history and culture. As a member of the community, he or she can take you to favorite, lesser-known spots, as well as the more-known sites India is [popular] for.”