Having been to India seven times (including my honeymoon), I can honestly say there is nothing in the world like it. India is the land of contrasts—ancient worlds and warp-speed progress, spirituality and excess, extreme beauty and extreme poverty—and, in my opinion, should be on everyone’s bucket list. For those of you who need convincing, I have one word: Oberoi.
The Oberoi properties, sprinkled throughout India in some of the most fascinating cities and regions, are among the best in the world. The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambhore was listed as the top property in Asia and the world by the Travel + Leisure reader poll. That’s saying something. Ranthambhore is a tiger reserve in the jungles of Rajasthan, and one of the best places for viewing the elusive tiger. The Oberoi is technically a tented property, though you might never know it by the degree of luxury. Tents are 790 square feet and include every amenity possible, including wood floors and embroidered ceiling canopies.
A four-poster bed inside a Vanyavilas tent
The restaurant at Oberoi Vanyavilas
The lobby at Vanyavilas
The Oberoi is now offering a program called Exotic Vacations, where guests can create itineraries including a single Oberoi property or multiple ones, for 8, 10 or 12 nights. The program includes accommodations for two in a Premiere Room (luxury tent at Vanyavilas), breakfast, ground transfers between properties, taxes, yoga sessions, and discounts on other amenities, including spa services. The rates start at $5,090 for the 8-night stay.
All the Oberoi properties are amazing, but in addition to Vanyavilas (which is in a league by itself), these two are standouts, in my opinion: Agra and Udaipur. In Agra, home of the famed Taj Mahal, the Oberoi Amarvilas offers grand luxury and views of the Taj Mahal from practically every vantage point. The Oberoi people describe it as “a splendid display of terraced lawns, fountains, reflection pools and pavilions with rich interiors that take you back to an era of Emperors and Princes,” and I couldn’t have put it better.
Exterior view of Amarvilas
The perfect view of the Taj Mahal from the Tea Lounge
Watch the sun set on the Taj Mahal from your suite at Amarvilas. In a word: perfection.
Even the bathroom is grand.
Another city that is a must on any Indian itinerary is Udaipur. The Oberoi Udaivilas overlooks the City Palace, a 400-year-old architectural jewel, and Lake Pichola. The Oberoi property itself was conceived as a palace, with courtyards, fountains, reflecting pools and domed buildings that are as regal as they are welcoming. The hospitality here is nothing short of flawless.
The Oberoi Udaivilas, as seen from the lake
The pool is the perfect place for morning meditation or yoga
The private pool in Udaivilas’ Kohinoor Suite
A suite at Oberoi Udaivilas
The Oberoi’s Exotic Vacations is offered Oct. 1, 2010 through April 15, 2011. Highly recommended.