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Luxurious, Clean, Delightful, Incredible India in F (EK/AI) + Some Amazing Hotels

Luxurious, Clean, Delightful, Incredible India in F (EK/AI) + Some Amazing Hotels

Old Mar 28, 15, 6:37 pm
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Luxurious, Clean, Delightful, Incredible India in F (EK/AI) + Some Amazing Hotels

Introduction
Why India? Travelling to India started out as a secondary objective to trying out Air India First Class, but I soon realized that India was much more than an arrival point. It turned out to be the most luxurious, clean, delightful, and incredible place that I had ever been. The trip was to consist of 7 nights in India, with one night in Dubai en route.

In preparation for travelling to India, I began watching every Netflix and Youtube video that I could find on the subject, particularly the historical and food related videos. I started off watching Ghandi, which I hadn’t seen since it was in the theaters. I then drilled down into more history, with one of the most fascinating documentaries, that I have seen; Michael Wood’s The Story of India. That just whet my appetite for the history of India, so I drilled down to watch more videos on the history of the British East India Company, partition, Hinduism, Indian food, and many, many more related subjects, including even traveller’s personal video diaries on Youtube. This was very exciting preparation and by the time that I finally stepped onto Indian soil, I felt that I could appreciate the country even more by understanding its fascinating history and origins.

Although learning of the history and culture of India did instill in me a general appreciation for the country, I did feel a certain apprehensiveness about the trip because people who had been there or had known someone who had been there, uniformly suggested that I “brace myself” for a “shocking display of humanity”, and especially poverty and decrepit conditions. My concerns led me to get a couple painful shots at a travel clinic, and to purchase a cornucopia of various products ranging from hand sanitizer to hang from my belt, about 80 pills of anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness tablets, probiotic tablets, Travelan, toilet seat covers, face masks, antibacterial creams, bandages, and even brought a dozen straws so that I would not have to drink out of any bottles directly. The anticipatory preparations did not end there, I brought emergency rain ponchos, special mosquito repellant, a toll of toilet paper, and various other kinds of powders and sprays. Let’s just say I was treating this expedition with the utmost precaution. As you will shortly read however, with the exception of the merely prudent shots, probiotics, and Travelan, none of this would turn out to be necessary!

Travelling along with me would be my dad who like me, had never been to India and had similar expectations. This trip occurred at the end of September, 2014, and thanks to Musken on the Luxury Forum for the inspiration to finally post this report.

Part I – Toronto to Dubai on Emirates First Class, a380
I had flown EK F on an a380 several times previously, but if there was one mode of travel that I felt that my father would enjoy, it would be EK F, so I arranged for two seats non-stop YYZ-DXB using Alaska Airmiles. In fact, the ticket was actually through to Hyderabad, with a stopover in Dubai. Why Hyderabad? Well, it was the only flight to India ex-DXB that was on the 777 with proper EK F suites and which had a decent departure and arrival time. My dad took to EK F immediately, enjoying the Dom Perignon and partaking in the hilarity of being presented with a bag of goodies including great pajamas and a leather toiletry kit.









He really got a kick out of the dates they served and the Business Class bar area before enjoying his first suite aboard an airplane. When walking out from having his first shower aboard an airplane, he was thrilled!





We both concluded that really, there was no better way to fly. It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip without any faults whatsoever. We enjoyed their incredibly extensive menu including caviar and blinis, but we both did our best not to over indulge, as we had reserved a seafood buffet at the Atlantis in Dubai for two hours after our scheduled arrival.

After an easy entrance through immigration, our Emirates chauffeur took to the hotel that we had booked for the first night. Since we were arriving late and going right to dinner, followed by sleep, and then leaving early to tour Dubai, we didn’t feel that we needed a spectacular hotel for the first night. Using SPG points I booked the Sheraton Mall of the Emirates. After checking in to what was a modern and comfortable room, we took a taxi right to the Atlantis on the Palm, for our scheduled seafood buffet dinner.

At the Atlantis Dubai, we saw a massive Dale Chihuli sculpture:



Unfortunately however, the seafood buffet turned out to be quite lacklustre and disappointing, with only mediocre selection and relatively poor quality. In fact the lobster was inedible it was so rubbery and tough. It was then on to briefly see the Mall of the Emirates, which was conveniently attached to the hotel. Traffic however, was absolutely brutal. For such a short distance it took us nearly 50 minutes to get back from Atlantis to the Mall of the Emirates.





We headed to bed for the night and woke up this view from the hotel:





Breakfast which we paid for in advance at the time of booking, was great in the main restaurant, and nearly equally as good in the club lounge. Had I known we would be given access to the club lounge, I would not have purchased the breakfast package.





This was a perfect hotel for basically a night’s sleep and breakfast and I would have no hesitation in staying again for an overnight stopover. We bought tickets for the BigBus Tour (hop on hop off), which I have done previously in Dubai and in other cities. It was a convenient way of getting around and getting a basic tour. We caught the bus at the Mall of the Emirates, which was as mentioned, connected to our hotel.





We visited the Dubai Mall, which I think is the better mall, amongst other attractions. We really wizzed through things, as we wanted to get back to our hotel to check out, and to check into the Burj al Arab for our second night.





We even saw an ice hockey rink there, which was funny for Canadians to see in Dubai, and stopped by Shake Shack for a cheeseburger with bacon-style beef. Was not a great burger. We didn’t want to have a large lunch though since we were going to go to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner, which is kind of a treat for Canadians who have no Cheesecake Factory.





After our whirlwind bus tour of Dubai, we took a taxi to the Burj al Arab, and were quickly checked in. We were upgraded to an even larger, mammoth suite. Many thanks to FT member DavidO, for booking this for us and for booking our hotels in India. His service is simply as good as it gets.
We were shown the suite by our butler. It was just HUGE. And gaudy. And exactly as it appears in the pictures.









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Old Mar 28, 15, 6:37 pm
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Burj al Arab, Dubai, Continued.









As you can see, it is very dated in décor. The building itself is very impressive, including the interior atrium. But the rooms…pretty brutal, and that is not even accounting for taste. They just look tired. Nevertheless, it was kind of cool to be a guest there, and to feel comfortable exploring the hotel. There was nothing particularly outstanding about the service. It was all competent good, but once checked in, you really felt that you were set adrift inside this cavernous place. It was so quiet and empty that you could hear a pin drop. Really, although I am sure they spent a lot of money on this hotel, aside from the structural aspect of it, there was really nothing particularly special about the service, facilities, restaurants, or anything else. It was all, rather “sterile”, as another FT’er commented previously in the Luxury Hotel forum, and underwhelming. The views however, were quite good.








Even the interior spaces, aside from a pretty neat water feature, also looked dated and sterile, albeit the sterility was painted in gold and red.


















We asked to see the beach club, and were taken the two minute ride by buggy. It was so extraordinarily hot however (in late September), that we could not imagine sitting there at all. If one could bear the heat, perhaps at another time of the year, it seemed like this would be a fairly pleasant place to spend some time relaxing.








Thanks to booking through DavidO and Virtuoso, we had a massage each, which was good, but the spa itself felt like it was in an underground soviet bunker. We also had breakfast included, which was good, but nothing close to what one would expect from a hotel that holds itself out as 7 stars. All in all, this was definitely a worthwhile experience. If I didn't go this time, i would still have kept wanting to go one day, so it is of the 'to-do' list. Certainly it is impressive architecturally, and certainly it is iconic. But from a luxury hotel standpoint, this hotel could not hold a candle to some of the other ones that we would try out on this trip.

Last edited by blueline7; Mar 28, 15 at 6:44 pm
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Old Mar 28, 15, 6:38 pm
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Onwards to Hyderabad and the Taj Falknuma, a magical hotel

We checked out of the Burj al Arab and were picked up by our EK chauffeur. We actually had a total of 5 EK chauffeur rides in total between us. I booked each of us on a separate ticket from Toronto, so that we could each be picked up at our respective homes and taken to YYZ (that makes 2 trips). Then DXB-Sheraton Mall of the Emirates (1), then Bur al Arab to DXB (2), and then from HYD to our hotel in Hyderabad.

We enjoyed the Emirates First Class lounge. Where else can you get a USDA prime steak in an airport lounge?




Customs at Hyderabad airport were fine. We were met by our EK chauffeur and for the first time, began our Indian journey. The drive was maybe 45 minutes or so to our hotel, the Taj Falknuma. The way was through some ramshackle streets full of life, and then through a gate into what can only be described as a magical place, and one of the great hotels of the world. Arriving at night was sublime. At the gate, we exited the taxi and were escorted aboard a horse drawn carriage for the rest of the way up to the hotel.



As we climbed up the stairs to the main entrance, we were most unexpectedly showered in rose petals from a hidden place above us. It was truly surprising and between that, the beautiful lit-up hotel, and the excitement of being in India, we were truly awestruck. We immediately felt the warmth of the hotel staff. The genuine hospitality was evident immediately. They were expecting us and immediately showed us to our room. Since we were arriving at around 8:30 pm and checking out the next morning at 7 am, we really didn’t need a large suite but the room that we were given was immaculate, spacious, and just perfect for our brief stay.










After checking out our room, we walked back to the main hotel building for a tour that we had requested when making our reservation. We just wanted a brief tour prior to our dinner reservation, since this hotel had such historic significance. It was owned by the richest man in the world at the time, who had a diamond so big that he used it as a doorstop. We were taken to a dining room that had 99 seats and one could easily hear what the person at the very opposite end of the table was saying at normal conversational level. It was incredible. Due to the kindness and warmth of the staff, and due to the care in which the palace was preserved, we were made to feel very much at home. Moreover, it did not feel in the least as if it were a mausoleum or museum. Even while empty, the hotel had a feel that it was very much in use and full of life. This is one of the aspects which sets this hotel apart from other palace and grand dame hotels.









The interior courtyard was beautifully lit up, as was the entrance to the restaurant.






When making our reservation, we also booked a dinner. We had arranged a tasting menu, and provided our dietary restrictions as well. They were incredibly prompt and precise in every aspect of our pre-arrival. At this point I want to extend a special thank you to Lyn Middlehurst, publisher of The Gallivanters Guide, who made a special effort to put me in touch with the General Managers at each of the hotels that we would be staying at in India. She also provided excellent, tasteful, and tactful advice throughout, particularly for a first-time traveller to India. At every hotel we stayed at in India, the management went out of their way to introduce themselves to us, and we received exemplary service throughout, no doubt in no small part to the tremendous reputation of Ms. Middlehurst and her fabulous guidebook and monthly guides. It was no exception at Taj Falaknuma. The General Manager, who had previously been at the Taj Exotica Maldives (another place that I had stayed, although after he had already departed to the Taj Falaknuma), graciously introduced himself to us once we were seated in the restaurant.

The chef, who had planned and orchestrated our tasting menu, which was made without onions as per our specification (no small feat for Indian cuisine, apart from the Jaines) , came by our table and chatted with us, and introduced us to each dish with a wonderful explanation of its significance and ingredients. In fact, he stayed later than usual just to make sure that our late dinner went off without a hitch. I must say, and my father agrees, that this was one of the single best meals that we have ever had. Each dish, in fact each mouthful, was spectacular. We had previously enjoyed Indian food, but this was 5 star cuisine by a master, and took us to a completely other level. It was incredible.



















We were stuffed! But overjoyed, with the absolutely phenomenal service by the waiters, the masterfully executed tasting menu, the lively staff, the gracious General Manager, the conscientious and brilliant chef, and the magical surroundings. This was our introduction to India and from there, the immense quality of our experience continued.

The next morning, arising at sunrise, the magic continued. The morning air, sounds of the call to prayer, and birds chirping during the sunrise, were indescribable. Whats more, we saw the grandeur of the Taj Falaknuma for the first time in daylight.


























Breakfast was a beautiful experience on their patio overlooking the city but we were too stuffed from the feast the night before so just had fruit, and to the waiter's disappointment, had to turn down the pastries and a fuller breakfast.






At 7:30 am, it was time to say goodbye to the Taj Falaknuma. What an impression it made on us. It was a historical palace hotel done right. No pretense. No stuffiness. Just warm staff with an incredible palace that everyone is made to feel at home in. This hotel is unlike any other hotel. It is unique and is not to be missed. We could not rate it any higher, and this, remarkably, was the night right after the night we spent at the Burj al Arab.




Last edited by blueline7; Mar 28, 15 at 7:45 pm
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Old Mar 28, 15, 6:38 pm
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Leela Palace Delhi and Around Delhi

Unlike some other hotels, requesting a regular taxi was immediately arranged by the Taj Falaknuma and took us to a very modern, clean, and well organized airport in Hyderabad. But one of the endearing qualities of India, is that it still maintains some quirkiness, as seen in the unique poster we saw, which was obviously made as part of the effort to modernize and clean up India, which is well underway.





We flew economy class on Jet to Delhi. We were very worried about taking economy, even for the short flight, but as it turned out, it was immensely civilized, with a competent crew, friendly fellow passengers, and ample room, food, and drink of satisfactory quality. In fact, it was a much more pleasurable experience than flying domestic in the US or Canada in several ways. At DEL, again we found an immaculate, modern airport.



We were met by the chauffer which we had arranged from the Leela Palace Delhi in a nice BMW 7 series. As part of booking an executive suite, airport transfers were included. That combined with the club lounge made it good value. We were concerned that we might not be able to easily navigate getting a taxi and getting to the hotel on our own (we pictured hordes of people in an archaic airport and being inundated with touts), but as we found out later, it would have been very easy and very inexpensive to arrange our own taxi from the airport. At the Leela we booked a room for each of us, as the prices were reasonable at that time of year and came with various benefits, including Virtuoso benefits. Again, thanks to DavidO for arranging this for us, and for Ms. Middlehurst for putting us in touch with management who helped us make pre-arrival arrangements such as a tour, transportation, a guide, etc.

The Leela Palace was a gorgeous hotel. No expense was spared in the finishes. It made Western hotels look cheap by comparison. No surface was covered in tile when it could be clad in marble. No wallpaper was used when it could be beautiful polished wood of the highest quality. No handle was complete without a brass cap.





















The club lounge was a very impressive looking place. It seemed to be able to cater to far more people and to have far more going on there than what it did. That being said, the food presentations were decidedly lacklustre with little if anything to choose from. So we would have a drink there and then leave, without spending much time there.









Breakfast was included in our Virtuoso rate and was very good. Not over the top excellent, but very good service and a good enough selection. I actually had dosa masala’s for breakfast along with some buffet items! The restaurant itself was a beautiful glass enclosed place.




But the standout feature of this hotel, is undoubtedly the pool. It was spectacular!










The hotel arranged a reasonably priced car for a 4 hour tour of Delhi along with guide. We were taken in a BMW 7 series around the city to see some of the main sites, the highlights of which were the Sikh temple and kitchens, the Presidential palace, the Ghandi park, and the old city.






























We were struck out how lush the greenery was, how well kept the public places were, and how we were not bothered by anyone in the slightest. The only annoying thing we experienced was our hotel’s fault. The Leela had arranged a guide and the guide was very good. However, after 3 hours of our tour with one hour remaining, the guide took us without our permission to a “place to see how rugs are made”. We were pulled into a store where we were given tea, and then I started to get the picture. They had a whole routine talking about the rugs and then started pulling them out one by one. I quickly got up and said I had had enough and insisted upon leaving immediately. We felt pressured and taken advantage of, particularly since we were paying for this tour by the hour and had only a very limited time to see Delhi before going to Agra. I was thoroughly pissed off and let the guide know, who had of course, nothing to say in reply. It was a very awkward ride back to the hotel. At the hotel I let the concierge have a piece of my mind. This was not the kind of thing that one would expect from a fine hotel. They must take responsibility for their tour guide and not treat their guests like idiots. The management listened attentively and credited me for the last hour of the tour. But the damage had been done. We lost a precious hour of our time in Delhi and were taken advantage of, not by a tout on the street, but by a guide arranged for by a five star hotel. It has left a bad taste in my mouth to this day, although it was the only time during our trip that we had the slightest problem. Despite that, the Leela was an excellent hotel, and we even stayed their for one more night on the way back to Toronto.

Last edited by blueline7; Mar 28, 15 at 8:43 pm
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Old Mar 28, 15, 6:39 pm
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Oberoi Amarvilas and Taj Mahal

So just to back up a bit, we had arrived at the Leela from Hyderabad around 11 am, checked in, washed up, and then took the 4 hour tour of Delhi as aforesaid. We then had dinner at the hotel restaurant and went for a stroll through a local market. After that, it was time for bed, and we woke up, had breakfast at the hotel, and were off to Agra. Almost. The Leela had wanted nearly USD $600 for the 3 hour car trip to Agra in a BMW 5 series (7 series was USD $750), and that was appalling, so instead I came up with the bright idea of hiring an Uber Mercedes s550 limousine to take us there. However, as soon as we got in to the car and told him where we were going (fully prepared to pay for the empty return trip as well, which still would have been much, much cheaper), he told us he was not licensed to go to Agra. Even after expressing our willingness to make it worth his while, he still advised that he was unable to do it. We were quite unprepared for the embarrassment of having to go back to the Leela to get a car, after turning down their $600 ride and telling them that we had obtained our own car! But thankfully, our Uber driver managed to take us to a friend of his who was a taxi driver and he took us there It was a brand new highway and was a very pleasant ride, although we were stopped by the police almost immediately for speeding. The driver quickly negotiated a ‘cash discount with immediate payment’, for the photo radar ticket, and off we went. The highway was so empty and new that really one doesn’t need a fancy car for this trip at all as it turns out. I wonder what the speeding ticket would have cost had we been in the s550.




In Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located, we reserved a suite at the Oberoi Amarvilas. Again, with the assistance of DavidO and the guidance of The Gallivanters Guide’s Ms. Middlehurst, we had a splendid stay. We were offered an upgrade to a balcony room or to a suite, however we chose the suite without a balcony and this was the right decision for us as it gave us more room and we didn’t have time to spend on the balcony. The view from our suite however, was incredible, as expected.



















We found the suite to be very comfortable, clean, and it felt kind of historic, although the hotel itself is fairly new. The pictures really don’t demonstrate how nice the suite was however. We were entirely happy with it. The pool area however, was the real show stopper. It was perhaps the nicest pool area that we have seen.
















We had arranged a dinner at the Amarvilas Indian restaurant. The chef came over and introduced himself and gave us his card and he helped us select a thali, which would be the first of many that we had in India, all delicious. The restaurant itself although comfortable was not the most attractive one we had seen, although the great food and incredible service more than made up for it. After dinner, the chef gave us a tour of the back of the house, and we were astounded to see how many people were working in the kitchen to prepare the great meals for a handful of guests in the restaurant. We were even more surprised when the real executive chef introduced himself to us! Anyhow, we were ecstatic with the sumptuous thali we received, but in the end, as great as it was, it was not nearly as good as the meal that we had at Taj Falaknuma and was not nearly as good as what we would have at Amanbagh either, which we would travel to shortly.







The next morning we woke up before dawn and met our appointed guide who we had arranged through the hotel beforehand. The idea here is to get to the Taj Mahal at sunrise, and before the out of town crowds. The guide displayed an extensive knowledge of the Taj, an incredible pride of it as an Indian, and provided an insightful tour that was not dumbed down nor did it feel rehearsed although obviously he had done thousands of these tours. We could not have hoped for a better guide. We were taken by buggy to the line up to enter the Taj. A small cue had formed of people who had also come to be there for its opening.











We entered the Taj compound through security gates, and were overwhelmed by the majesty of this structure and the workmanship. There is no doubt this is a true wonder of the world, unlike for example, Niagara Falls. This is truly something worth seeing for oneself, in person.








































After returning to the hotel, it was time for breakfast at the Oberoi Amarvilas. It was a fabulous breakfast buffet although I only got a shot of the omelet I ordered. As you may realize, we had been having no concerns about food or drink whatsoever. We were taking probiotics daily and Travelan before every meal, but other than that, we felt free to eat and drink whatever we wanted. It was not on our minds whatsoever, and we experienced no stomach trouble whatsoever throughout the trip.




After breakfast, we checked out of the Amarvilas, and our Amanbagh driver picked us up to take us to Amanbagh. On the way we had arranged for a stop at the fort along the way.














By then we had just about had our fill of forts and sightseeing and we were ready to relax a bit at Amanbagh, which was intended as the highlight of the trip. We then continued along for the long car journey to Amanbagh. If I recall correctly it took over 4 hours but the driver was excellent as usual for Amanresorts. The car and driver was not cheap, but really that was the only viable option for getting there, as we certainly wanted to have a driver who precisely knew where he was going.

Last edited by blueline7; Mar 29, 15 at 9:48 am
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Old Mar 28, 15, 6:39 pm
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Amanbagh; Drop the Mic.

OK, to recap the Oberoi Amarvilas, it was an ideal place to stay to experience the Taj. Service was excellent, accommodations were excellent, the food was excellent, the arranged guide was excellent, and the proximity to the Taj was excellent. If we had one regret, it would be not staying longer at the Amarvilas, as the pool there was incredibly beautiful. We had a very pleasant afternoon there, including a delicious Kathi Roll which I highly recommend. That being said, a 3 hour tour of the Taj was just enough for us, and we felt that we were ready to head for a bit of R&R at Amanbagh.
Well, what can one say about Amanbagh? For starters, it is simply sublime. It exceeded our expectations in every respect. We could not imagine a better resort or experience. We booked a Pool Villa as part of a great offer that was available just before high season began in October, and the offer included two massages and a special meditation ceremony. We were not really looking forward to the mediation ceremony, but ultimately we did get into the spirit of things! By booking through our Virtuoso agent, DavidO, we also received some great additional perks as well.

Amanbagh is situated in Rajasthan, in northern India, in the middle of the countryside, adjacent to a small village. You reach it along a single lane ramshackle, partially paved road. Really, it is in the middle of nowhere, which is part of its allure. I had been to other Amanresorts previously, such as Amanpuri, Amanpulo, Amankila, Amanusa, and Amandari, so I had very, very high expectations of this one as well. We were not disappointed, and our three nights there were indeed the highlight of our trip, which was quite a feat considering that we stayed at other stupendous places. That being said, the magic of Taj Falalnuma did not dissipate as a result of our stay at Amanbagh. Bother were incredible.

The weather was incredibly temperate at Amanbagh due to what we were told was its microclimate. It was always the perfect temperature. We were greeted upon our arrival by the management and staff, warmly welcomed, and then shown to our wonderful pool villa. Yes, that building depicted below, was our pool villa!










It was very comfortable, and separated into two wings, with the bedroom being in the wing to the right, and the bathroom area being in the wing to the left. The entranceway to the villa was in the middle. They had set up our beds into two single beds upon request beforehand. But it was the pool outback, which was the show-stopper!











We would go for dips all the time here, and even take a nap outside, with some friendly monkeys to keep us company, in total privacy. That being said, the main pool of the resort was also spectacular. The grounds of Amanbagh are incredible. Beautifully manicured while keeping their natural beauty. Gorgeous tall trees throughout. In fact we were told that they designed the resort around the trees; they mapped out the trees beforehand so as to only have to remove a handful during the construction process. Originally this area was a hunting ground for one of the local royals. The restaurant was very comfortable with pleasant outdoor seating. More on that later.






























As mentioned, the food here was out of this world. The chef personally guided us through our dinners and made every effort to avoid using onions, and made special recommendations of his favorite dishes. He and his food were stars of this show. We could not appreciate his efforts enough. His food was spectacular.















Breakfasts, were fabulous too! They were scrumptious and beautifully presented in an idyllic surrounding adjacent to the pool.












Lunches were totally unnecessary given the huge dinners and breakfasts, but we did enjoy a “light” snack by our pool on one occasion.







On our first afternoon at Amanbagh, we took the cowdust tour, which is a tour of the nearby village by jeep. The guide was stupendous, and the villagers were all friendly. It was incredible to see how a small village in northern India looks.











We saw chillies being dired on the roof, and our guide got us some. The chef made us a delicious hot sauce with them for dinner. Our guide also got us fresh coriander, and the chef made us the most delicious sauce with it at dinner too.

[IMG]








Last edited by blueline7; Mar 29, 15 at 11:03 am
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Old Mar 28, 15, 7:48 pm
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The next day we took another guided trip up a mountain to a lake. We felt incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to see this special place that is so far off the beaten track. It was a very peaceful and beautiful place. But first let me show you some more pictures from our second dinner, which featured the chilli and coriander sauces I mentioned, together with some fresh corn our guide picked up for us as well!
























The last dish pictured above, was the piece de resistance. The chef personally arranged to get a fresh lamb leg and cooked it royal Indian style for us. It was so tender and flavourful. He was as excited for us to eat it as we were! We still regret leaving a few pieces behind.
OK, now the mountain and lake…






















And back to Amanbagh….






And then another dinner! This one was just as incredible, but they sat us in a special spot atop the restaurant, and the chef prepared another spectacular feast.






















When we arrived back at our villa, the entire pathway was lit up with candles and the staff had assembled to provide a special blessing ceremony before we entered our villa. It was surreal.


Which was followed by another spectacular breakfast….








In summary, Amanbagh was a paradise. Tranquil, beautiful, and temperate. The service was just phenomenal. The waitstaff and management were proactive to the point of us chuckling to ourselves. Really, this place embodies the Indian, “Guest is God” philosophy. Nothing was too much trouble, and they went to extensive lengths to make our stay not only comfortable, but memorable. The guided trips we took were one of the highlights. To make it into the Indian countryside like this while being able to stay in luxury is really unique. Amanbagh gets an 11 out of 10. Make that 12.
Three nights was a great length of time to stay there. We really felt that we got to enjoy it and do everything that we wanted to do during this time period. Of course, we would have liked to have moved in there as well. The management really was stupendous there. They doted on us and we really felt like welcomed guests. We would have long and interesting conversations with the manager over dinner, as we did with the chef. They were really stars and Amanresorts is very fortunate to have them.

Yet to come, Jaipur day trips, return to Delhi, and the flight home on Air India First Class.

Last edited by blueline7; Mar 29, 15 at 1:56 pm
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Old Mar 28, 15, 7:54 pm
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Nice! Looking forward to the rest
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Old Mar 28, 15, 7:57 pm
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Pictures not working??
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Old Mar 28, 15, 9:26 pm
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Any photos of the rugs....?

yes, that would peeve me beyond belief. Great report.
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Old Mar 28, 15, 10:15 pm
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We had a similar experience in Delhi with guides. We had booked with the concierge at the Taj in Delhi. We reviewed the itinerary with the concierge prior to leaving, and instead of following our request, the guide said he had somewhere to take us. We realized it immediately and did not get out the car and asked to return to the hotel. The concierge was embarrassed and apologized profusely and provided another driver. Yes we were unhappy, but I also think we got a little insight into how things work in India even at high end hotels. OTOH, throughly enjoyed India.. a feast for g he senses and unique with much history and grandeur. I suggest reading Indian fiction as well. Rohatin Mistri a delicate balance rushdie novels Midnight Children and not an Indian author City of Joy. great report
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Old Mar 29, 15, 12:48 am
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Good timing.

We're headed to the Leela Palace New Dehli in 2 weeks time for a similar 4 hour tour, among other things.

It was interesting to hear of the issues you had with the tour and the usual carpet factory. I wouldn't think that it would happen at that price point - it's by far not the cheapest tour on the block.
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Old Mar 29, 15, 12:57 am
  #13  
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Originally Posted by blueline7 View Post
However, after 3 hours of our tour with one hour remaining, the guide took us without our permission to a “place to see how rugs are made”.
Originally Posted by worldiswide View Post
We had a similar experience in Delhi with guides.
I was there a number of years ago (5?) and stayed at the Imperial. We did not experience that problem. Could just have been an outlier.
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Old Mar 29, 15, 7:03 am
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Originally Posted by flyr16 View Post
Any photos of the rugs....?

yes, that would peeve me beyond belief. Great report.
Hahha...No photos of the rugs I am afraid...It took quite a bit of gumption to get up and demand to be taken back to the hotel...It was very awkward and would have appeared quite rude to a casual observer. Nevertheless, it is that inclination to be polite that is preyed upon. I don't begrudge the guide or the store trying to make a living, but it was clearly undertaken by subterfuge.


Originally Posted by worldiswide View Post
We had a similar experience in Delhi with guides. We had booked with the concierge at the Taj in Delhi. We reviewed the itinerary with the concierge prior to leaving, and instead of following our request, the guide said he had somewhere to take us. We realized it immediately and did not get out the car and asked to return to the hotel. The concierge was embarrassed and apologized profusely and provided another driver. Yes we were unhappy, but I also think we got a little insight into how things work in India even at high end hotels. OTOH, throughly enjoyed India.. a feast for g he senses and unique with much history and grandeur. I suggest reading Indian fiction as well. Rohatin Mistri a delicate balance rushdie novels Midnight Children and not an Indian author City of Joy. great report
Many thanks for the great suggestions. I did see a (fiction) funny movie as part of my prep; Delhi Belly.

Originally Posted by worldtraveller73 View Post
Good timing.

We're headed to the Leela Palace New Dehli in 2 weeks time for a similar 4 hour tour, among other things.

It was interesting to hear of the issues you had with the tour and the usual carpet factory. I wouldn't think that it would happen at that price point - it's by far not the cheapest tour on the block.
I would not let this dissuade anyone from the Leela Palace or taking a tour through them. As I said, it was an excellent hotel and the tour and guide were great, aside from this episode. If you let them know right up front that there is no way in hell you want to go to a carpet store, etc., I am sure that it will be fine. On our next stay there (which I will relate later on in the report), the stay and service was even better than this first stay, although I was admittedly on my guard a bit as a result. Enjoy the Leela, and please let me know if you have any questions about it.
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Old Mar 29, 15, 8:34 am
  #15  
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What a great trip. And thanks for taking one for the team and staying at the Burj al Arab. Yikes, that place is something else. Add me to the list that does not appreciate those side trips by guides to carpet vendors, jewelry merchants, etc... Looks like you handled it perfectly.
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