I am thrilled to report that the India I fell in love with on my first visit nearly 20 years ago is still as magical and colorful as it has always been. My recent trip through Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Jaipur and Bandhavgarh National Park [Did you go anywhere else?] was action-packed with hotel inspections, new touring experiences, and tons of tiger sightings – I learned so much!
There are so many new property developments that it would be impossible to go into great detail about them but here are a few notes:
+ The African luxury safari concept has been successfully transported to India in the form of Mahua Kothi, a joint venture between &Beyond and Taj. I saw tigers on every game drive and the food was exquisite (thank you, chef Siddarth!). I can’t wait for its sister lodge, Banjaar Tola, to open because it will reportedly have a healthy tiger population plus rare wild dogs!
+ I had the extreme good fortune to stay at Aman-i-Khas, and it couldn’t be more flawlessly managed. Safari lodge concept + Amanresort style = heaven! Amanbagh was also very special, a must for anyone looking for a valuable (and too often overlooked) glimpse of Indian rural life.
+ In terms of city hotels, the Aman New Delhi nearly brought me to tears. I have never seen such a luxurious city resort, and its location on the outskirts of Delhi is ideal. For honeymooners or travelers looking for a tranquil base in Delhi, this is the most exclusive address.
+ A number of smaller properties (often renovated maharajah castles) like Nadesar Palace and Devi Garh [is this right? If not, will you put in the names of two you like?] offer a more boutique experience and I highly recommend including a few of these in India itineraries.
I also had some unforgettable experiences: I had a session with a past-life regression specialist, enjoyed a private performance from a sitar master in his home, chased tigers through Bandhavgarh National Park, and can you fill in one other thing? I can arrange any of these experiences (and many others!) for our clients.
India is better than ever and I feel so motivated and inspired by my recent trip. I can’t wait to create wonderful new customized itineraries or simply answer any questions you may have so please contact me!
Natalie’s Masala Chai
This is my favorite beverage and it is very easy to recreate once you’re back home for a taste of India!
1 quart whole milk
1 quart water
2 Tbsp whole fennel seeds
2 Tbsp whole cardamom seeds/pods
6 bags strong black tea
4 Tbsp sugar (optional or to taste)
Bring water and milk to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and add spices, tea and sugar. Simmer at a low boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, strain and serve!