Oberoi’s IndiaDecember 6, 2011 By: Luxury Travel Advisor Luxury Travel Advisor
|The Oberoi Gurgaon’s lobby is spacious, post-modern and airy.|
This year, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts welcomed a new property to its already-impressive Indian roster: The Oberoi, Gurgaon in New Delhi’s stylish business suburb. On a recent trip to the subcontinent, we checked into this modern new addition—and checked up on some of the brand’s iconic city and resort favorites.
|The Oberoi Udaivilas offers semi-private pools for soaking and sunbathing.|
Open since April and overseen by Oberoi’s Senior Vice President Kapil Chopra (email@example.com), The Oberoi, Gurgaon is in a booming business and entertainment enclave 15 minutes from the international airport—making it an ideal first stop in India. The hotel, which is spread out over nine acres, takes a more contemporary approach to design than some of its sister properties. Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the reflection pool or maze garden, and offer conveniences that are both pampering (freestanding tubs, rain showers and silk robes) and practical (media hubs and 46-inch LED TVs). The two Premier Suites have private pools and decks, while the outdoor heated pool of the Presidential Suite (#6120) is cantilevered over the side of the building. Every guest enjoys 24-hour butler service by an employee trained under Robert Watson of The Guild of Professional English Butlers. To organize a VIP experience, like a ride in one of the hotel’s private Rolls-Royce or BMW 7 Series cars, contact Les Clefs d’Or-accredited Head Concierge Stephen Fernandez (stephen. firstname.lastname@example.org).
|The Oberoi Amarvilas’ top pick is the Kohinoor Suite, which blends contemporary comforts with traditional luxury.|
To accommodate international flight schedules, The Oberoi, Gurgaon opened the city’s first 24-hour full-service spa, where Vice President of Spa Operations Christine Hays (email@example.com) has helped develop a globally influenced menu of services like herbal pouch massages, lime-and-ginger body scrubs, and milk-and-rose-petal baths. There’s also an Olympic-size outdoor pool and trainer-staffed gym onsite, and yoga sessions are offered daily. The hotel has also become a go-to dining destination, thanks to its diverse options. The vast threesixtyone restaurant (open from 6:30 a.m.-1 a.m.) has five show kitchens as well as a “live” patisserie and a bar menu of signature martinis and 200 labels of wine. (Top Tip: Contact the concierge team to organize a special Chef’s Table experience.) At the fine dining restaurant Amaranta, Manager Swati Bhatnagar oversees a unique menu that highlights contemporary Indian coastal cuisine, with fresh fish arriving daily from the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. Post-meal, ask to see the wide selection of Cuban and premium liquors in the Cigar Lounge.
|The Oberoi Gurgaon deluxe rooms are decidedly modern, making them ideal for business travel.|
From Oberoi’s newest property, it’s a five-hour drive to one of its longtime favorites. In Agra, The Oberoi Amarvilas is the only hotel in town with views of the Taj Mahal from all rooms and most public spaces, along with the easiest access to the iconic site. For the best experience, rise early, grab coffee and pastries in the lobby, and take the hotel’s private golf cart transfer to the monument in time for sunrise views. The concierge team (firstname.lastname@example.org) can prearrange entry tickets, as well as a personal photographer to snap group pictures. Afterward, escape the heat with a swim in the pool, a fresh smoothie on one of the covered terraces, or a trip to the spa (book one of the two suites with Taj-view tubs). Since all guest rooms have Taj Mahal views, there’s no wrong option in that regard, but choose an option with a balcony for maximum romance. If the top Kohinoor Suite (#503)—with its handcrafted furnishings and a marble-and-granite bath—is booked, the Luxury Suites are an equally plush option, with Burmese teak and Greek marble accents and open-air terraces. General Manager Nigel Badminton (email@example.com) helps keep things running smoothly at Amarvilas, which is one of Oberoi’s most popular properties.
|The Oberoi Rajvilas suite has accents of India’s colonial past.|
After checking India’s most famous site off the list, drive back to New Delhi to catch a 40-minute flight to another of its signature destinations. The state of Rajasthan is known as the epicenter of “royal” India, thanks to the abundance of palaces and Raj-era monuments, and one of the most visited spots in this region is the “Pink City” of Jaipur. Set on 32 acres and a short drive from the city, The Oberoi Rajvilas pays tribute to that regal history with acres of gardens, antique statues and hand-painted gold-leaf murals. In the middle of the property, you’ll find a small, 250-year-old Shiva temple. (Hint: Contact Lead Concierge Sagar Miglani at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a short, private blessing ceremony with the temple guardian.) The concierge team can also set up off-site special experiences like a private guide at the Palace of Winds; personal shopping with top jewelers like Hollywood celeb-favorite Gem Palace (Jaipur is famous for its precious gem industry); or an early-morning elephant ride through the forest, complete with picnic breakfast. Come dinner, book a table in the courtyard of the Surya Mahal restaurant to enjoy traditional music and dance performances, or ask the staff—overseen by General Manager Vincent Guironnet (email@example.com)—to organize a private, candlelit meal in a garden gazebo.
Rooms here are regal, too. The 13 Luxury Tents have claw-foot tubs, private terraces and gardens, while the Royal Tent has a separate living room and dining table for six. The two one-bedroom Luxury Villas have private, heated pools, and outdoor dining pavilions, and the top Kohinoor Villa (#120) has all that plus additional bedrooms and a sauna. A restored traditional haveli (mansion) houses the spa, where guests are pampered with treatments like Maharani Mystique (body scrub, mud wrap and hot lava shell massage) and Maharaja Classic (body massage and men’s facial).
|The Oberoi Mumbai Kohinoor Presedential Suite living room has top views over the city.|
Continue the royal Rajasthan journey with a visit to Udaipur, considered one of the most romantic and charming cities on the subcontinent. During high season (generally December-March), there is a one-hour direct flight available between Jaipur and Udaipur. At other times, guests can fly in via New Delhi, or take a five-and-a-half-hour scenic road trip through colorful desert villages. Once in town, check into The Oberoi Udaivilas on the banks of Lake Pichola, across the City Palace complex. The hotel’s 30 acres of dreamy gardens, reflecting pools and flower-filled courtyards are balanced by a chic décor that mixes modern furnishings with Indian textiles and handicrafts. The Premier Rooms (the best of the lot) have a private terrace and direct pool access, while the four Luxury Suites have private infinity pools and tented dining pavilions. The two-bedroom Kohinoor Suite (#403) has two fireplaces and an en-suite sauna and steam shower. Romance is also the primary vibe at the spa, where treatments use fragrant ingredients like rose, vetiver and marigold. For drinks, book a table in one of the Bar’s water-view alcoves; and for dinner, nothing beats outdoor lakeside dining at Chandni, accompanied by live classical music. General Manager Jan Tibaldi (firstname.lastname@example.org) and his concierge staff (email@example.com) can set up memorable VIP experiences like a floating picnic lunch in a private gondola, a visit to a miniature painting studio, or a private viewing of the royal crystal collection.
End the trip with a stop in urban hot spot Mumbai, a 75-minute direct fight from Udaipur. The Oberoi, Mumbai, on the city’s scenic Marine Drive, has relaunched under the direction of Executive Vice President Devendra Bharma (firstname.lastname@example.org). It now has a contemporary vibe, a lobby level Champagne Lounge (popular with the local see-and-be-seen set) and renovated rooms (including 73 suites) set around a 14-story atrium. Choose Junior Suites with views of the ocean and city skyline, or upgrade to the multiroom Kohinoor Presidential Suite (#2163) or Golconda Presidential Suite (#2063). Don’t miss a meal at Vetro, the all-glass Italian eatery led by chefs on loan from Rome’s Hassler Roma hotel, and at the brand-new Ziya fine dining restaurant, which serves Indian regional specialties re-imagined by Michelin-starred Chef Vineet Bhatia; for the best culinary ride, order the creative six-course gourmand menu.
Connecting between Oberoi hotels is a snap thanks to luxury tour operator Cox & Kings, which organizes all air tickets, airport transfers, and ground transport in and between cities. On this trip, our Cox & Kings expert surprised us with experiences like a vintage car ride through Jaipur, a champagne toast on an island in Lake Pichola, and a delicious visit with one of Udaipur’s best street food chefs.
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