Before even leaving the car, I knew we had made a mistake. “We aren’t staying here long enough, “ Me whispered. “Who knew?” He replied. Like so many people drawn to Ranthambore, we had come for the tigers that the national park is famous for, not realizing how amazing Vanyavilas would be.
We had arrived in the late afternoon for two short nights after a considerable drive down from Agra. Hours and hours of traffic. Traffic on dirt roads? Well, yes. Dust, chaos, kidney bruising potholes, animals. Worth it? Absolutely.
If you’ve been to India you’ll understand. If not, it’s impossible to explain. A quick stop for two short nights allowing time for two jeep safaris the following day (early morning and again in the afternoon) and departure on the third day. Too rushed, but all our three week itinerary would allow.
Greeted by the remarkable Ratna Malhotra, General Manager, with a gracious, spirited, comprehensive welcome and introduction to the charms and facilities of Oberoi Vanyavilas, we were shown the way to our “tent.” A consummate hostess and hotelier, her professionalism, kindness and attention are felt everywhere.
All the facilities and services we enjoyed during our stay danced in a gentle whirl of superlatives. A “tent” is no mere a tent. A “bed” is no ordinary bed. The spa, restaurant, food, service, bar, the gardens, ponds, pathways, even the elephants exceed any expectation.
“Welcome to your home,” said our smiling property escort as he unlocked the door to our private “compound.” Walled with blooming bougainvillea, replete with four-poster bed, 360-degree windows, enormous shower, separate standing bathtub and yes, two separate, shaded terraces (one for dining, the other with upholstered chaise lounges for reading and relaxation).
“I could live here,” Me said. “I’d certainly like to try,” He replied, as we removed our shoes and stretched out before unpacking. More cloud than bed, these were moments to enjoy and remember.
Leaving Oberoi Vanyvilas was a bittersweet heartache, both profoundly sad to depart and filled with great joy from having experienced its charms, beauty, comforts and kindness. Our memories will always be governed by all of the gentle good humor, attentions and company of the extraordinary people who work skillfully and tirelessly to provide their guests with the experience of a lifetime.
Every sight, sound and motion at Vanyvilas is poetic and musical. Within it’s walls everything is possible and dreams are fulfilled. “Being here,” Me said, “has been a blessing.” “Is that why you’re crying?” He asked. “Yes,” Me said. “I know we will come back but I do know it won’t be soon enough!”
- Allow at least an extra night to enjoy the property, spa and the elephants!
- Evenings are far cooler than the days. We went during an unseasonably cold February and were very comfortable in our “tent”.
- Do not miss the evening “program” conducted by the property’s Naturalist. The information and insights will make your adventures in Ranthambore Park much more meaningful. We went perhaps reluctantly and were so happy we did!
- All “tents” are identical and differ only in distance from the main facilities. The property is easily walked although golf carts are available.