Shimmering under the Rajasthani sun, the domed, intricately designed palace complex looks opulent and mesmerising as it comes into view. But make no mistake. It’s a faux palace. In a state where there is no dearth of heritage palaces masquerading as luxury resorts, JW Marriott has gone and built up a spanking new one from scratch for their first ever resort in this royal hotspot. Ironically, that might just work out to be its winning formula.
Unhindered by original blueprints or restrictive diktats of the original royal owners, the American luxury chain has gone ahead and built its own concept of a modern-day ‘palace’ that is at once indulgent luxury as it is logistically amenable and democratic. Around half an hour away from downtown Jaipur, the many restaurants (four including two bars, and one Rajasthani fine diner that only uses candles for lighting!) along with some of the biggest five-star banqueting facilities in the whole of Rajasthan (the Vikramaditya ballroom, at a sprawling 11,000sq.ft. not counting its lawns, is good for a corporate off-site as well as a big fat Indian wedding) keeps the well-heeled local crowd well-lubricated and salivating for repeat visits.
But it’s the experiential for us out-of-towners that really makes this resort. That starts from the moment you arrive at the shiny white lobby, aesthetically designed with local craftsmanship – from the traditional jaali (lattice) work to the tikri patterned mirror work. Sticking to recent resort design trends, the rooms and other facilities are spread across some 1.19 acres, with waterbodies, an integral part of Rajasthan’s royal architecture, creating a visually refreshing maze between them all. The 200 rooms run the gamut from royal rooms to palace studio suites to one palace and presidential suite each. We particularly loved the plunge pool present in many of the accommodations – perfect to cool down in privacy after a day of sightseeing at the nearby Amber Fort or shopping in the pink city’s bustling alleyways.
Speaking of activities, the sky’s the limit. Got noisy young ones? Get rid of them at the Kids Club, an interactive area for the young ones to hang out, with toys, video games, a play house and a library. This section often organises activities like canvas painting, storytelling, book reading and movies. Sufficient enough for you to get some pampering ‘me’ time in the hotel’s ‘Spa by JW’ (Pro-tip: The therapists are brilliant! Don’t miss) or go for some yoga or swimming lessons – the resort can arrange those for you.
In fact, the winner at this swish new resort is the whole attention to individual requirements. The At Your Service button in the in-room telephone goes beyond just connecting you to another number, and ranges from housekeeping to wheelchair availability to any other (legal!) request you may have. Going beyond what a regular concierge would do and the regular touristy trails, this resort offers tailor-made experiences for you, be it a nature walk exploring the Aravali range or even an elephant or camel polo game. An outing to the nearby elephant village can have you playing with elephants while they bathe in the river! Indulge like a maharaja, indeed, even if the palace is not real.
Where: In Kukas, an hour’s drive from Jaipur airport on the Delhi highway