There are very few hotels who have perfected hospitality and fewer still with a combination of nature meets luxury meets heritage meet hospitality. We are talking here about the utterly gorgeous Lakshman Sagar Heritage Resort. Situated quite in the middle of nowhere , it provides a very wholesome experience, with something for the mind and something for the soul.
Once inside, you will want to wake up before the sun and will want to pack away your mobile/tablet/laptop and the other “entertainment” devices which in most other places would have held you hostage. It seems absurd but there’s something about the property which inspires you to be better and more in sync with yourself and the world around you. You will speak a little more softly, introspect a little more and perhaps come away a better person for it.
It is also not bereft of the wonders which make you shout out with a childlike glee. Be it the mesmerizing sight of peacocks (yes in plural) gliding across the lake, a tortoise peeping out of its shell, bird calls in abundance, a family of antelopes rushing about with a curious foal staring at you as if to ask why its meal was disturbed (there’s one such in every family) and bonfire stories of panthers, porcupines and folklores.
To be a little more informative and less gushing, we’ve jotted down the highlights of the trip.
- M for Mardana, Z for Zanana
Most palaces have separate living quarters for Kings and Queens. The sections could be big enough to form havelis or palaces by itself. Things are not so different in Rajasthan where male living quarters are called Mardana and female, Zanana. Lakshman Sagar resort , named after the lake which remains at the core of the property, (which in turn is named after his Highness Lakshman Singh of Raipur) maintains the tradition while restoring the hunting lodges to their former glory. The Mardana retains the colour blue and becomes a place for male bonding i.e. has the bar area, while Zanana is beautifully designed with shades of pink and hints of blue designed with the hues of the rising and setting sun. With its comfy alcoves, carved windows (Jharokhas) and the beautiful vistas it overlooks, it is Zanana in its essence and not just in name.
- Of Peacocks and Egrets
Spend five minutes in the property and chances are you will find a peacock strolling about, flying across the lake, or shrieking faintly melodious mating calls. Even for someone from Ahmedabad where peacocks are not a rarity, it was a source of delight. Because of its natural surroundings and special care taken to ensure a liveable sync with their wild neighbors, there exists a sense of peace between man and nature. You can see antelopes foraging near the cottages, or peacocks ambling across the pool, or a parrot sipping your tea while squawking its displeasure at the taste. Your friendly neighborhood mynah artfully hidden giving its two cents and the beautiful egret swoops down to catch its meal in the lake. If you’re lucky, while having your lunch at Mardana, you can catch a glimpse of turtles sunning themselves in the afternoon.We were also lucky to spot some nests of the elusive weavers finch while on their field breakfast trip. If you are up for a hike, do join in on the nature walks they organize for the guests where they take you beyond the property borders for a small hike in the Aravallis. Our guide, Prakash was very knowledgeable and yet fairly modest in telling us that it’s not unusual for them to learn something new once in a while from some guests.
- Hungry anyone?
It is not everyday that one finds themselves at the mercy of the resort they are staying at for all the meals and end up being delighted by the outcome. Miles away from ordered civilization, there is really very little chance you can convince the customer service guy at dominos to deliver a pizza to he resort, even with the thirty minute deadlines waived off (obviously) and the promise of a big tip. Jokes aside, the staff takes pride in their zero kilometer ideology, wherein all the ingredients are sourced locally. The food is primarily inspired by local Rajasthani cuisine and made up of vegetables/grains cultivated at a small farmland inside the property. The meals are seemingly a never ending gastronomy paradise and literally finger licking good (it can never taste as good with the spoon). As a special mention, the Dal Baati there is good enough to merit a trip.
- Home is where we find peace
The room is a burst of colours, smells and tiny nuances which might not have been missed before the stay but would form the benchmark now for every future trip. Tiny painted alcoves with lights – red lights, green lights and blue. Photo frames gracefully arranged, traditional side table lamps and very comfortable beds form the essence of the room. If the mud walls of the room, bamboo curtains and the various adornments weren’t enough, the bathroom with its rain shower, tiled walls, piped tap and stone carved sinks give you a feeling of having stepped into another timeline; the one with princes, princess’ and palaces. There is nothing you will feel bereft of and there is nothing you would want more. To be fair, the lighting and the placement of windows (and curtains) could have been worked on a bit more to increase the privacy, but they are small complaints in the otherwise big picture. Another scope for improvement would be for the otherwise nice touch of keeping small bottles of rose water and multani matti near the sink. A smallish booklet on its use, application and benefits would have been a remarkable addition, especially for someone not travelling with a partner conversant with them (full points to the wife). The sprawling rooms, with a separate living area, hidden refrigerators and a few traditional board games goes a long way in mixing contemporary with the traditional. The highlight of the room however was the gorgeous splashpool, with a wonderful view overlooking the lake and the hills. Just go for a dip and watch the sun set, you will never feel the time slink away as the daylight fades away into the twilight.
- Hospitality is the King
We believe that the true measure of a hotel is by its staff. Hospitality shown by the staff in the smallest things, right from remembering your small eccentricities to going the extra mile to make your stay memorable is what truly makes this into one of the finest hotels we’ve stayed in recently. They shared stories from their life, remembered how we liked our tea and followed up to any incomplete conversation we’d had. Granted that some of the staff, who were still undergoing training may have lacked the finesse of say an urban luxury hotel but it was more than made up for by their enthusiasm. It was enchanting to see how well the owners are training the local populace to provide what I hope becomes the benchmark for hospitality we expect from hotels across India.
Disclaimer: We were hosted by Lakshman Sagar (read special treatment) but the review and our observations remain wholly unbiased.
Some more pics of our stay!