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Luxe at Length

The Monsoon Vacation Downpour!

Posted by: Raul Dias on May 26, 2015

While you and the entire country may be celebrating the aqueous bounty after a torrid summer, it’s also the time to indulge yourselves in some of the most luxurious vacation experiences your money can buy—both in and around India as the Rain Gods smile down upon us…

Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The minute you let yourself descend on the terra firma of this fecund paradise, realisation hits you like a ton of bricks! You almost instantly tend to come to the conclusion that whoever must have invented the word ‘petrichor’ to describe the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil, may very well have been inspired to do so after a trip to lush Chiang Mai, perched high up in Northern Thailand’s hill country. And one of the most luxurious ways to experience all this and oodles more is by booking yourselves in for a monsoon vacation at the über-exclusive Dhara Dhevi resort.

Offering some of the world’s most spacious and exclusive accommodations, Dhara Dhevi’s 123 luxurious villas, colonial suites and signature residences have been crafted in keeping with traditional Lanna architectural styles. They feature extensive museum-quality artefacts, sumptuous Thai silks and local hill-tribe textiles, spacious terraces, some of which incorporate private plunge pools or swimming pools. And the Dhara Dhevi’s Dheva Spa and Wellness Centre takes care of all your sybaritic needs to the hilt. Spread out over 3,100 square metres, this spa is a destination in itself. Modelled on a Mandalay Palace setting from Myanmar, this cluster of teak buildings features a seven-tiered roof, symbolic of reaching the heavens. Aah, bliss!

Live In Style recommends: Dhara Dhevi’s piece de resistance has simply got to be The Royal Residence. Located in a self-contained area, the Royal Residence is a small ‘private retreat’ and is ideal for guests who seek exclusivity and privacy. It comprises six bedrooms, three with a king bed and three with twin beds. The ancient palace style architecture epitomises a grandeur and opulence of a bygone age, whilst every modern convenience and facility has been incorporated into the unit - spacious bathrooms, generous living room space, large dining room and pantry, all connected by a walkway. Three private pools and three Jacuzzis complete the picture of ultimate luxury.

The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambhore, Rajasthan

Leaving the Pink City of India—Jaipur—in a swirl of ochre-hued dust, often mottled by huge drops of rain and driving three-and-a-half hours south will earn you a much-deserved reward in the form of The Oberoi Vanyavilas in Ranthambhore. Neatly spirited away in the picturesque locales of stunning, wild Ranthambhore, this opulent jungle resort combines the raw thrill of a forest adventure with unmatched luxury. Located  adjacent to the Ranthambhore National Park, the lavish resort offers 25 elegantly appointed, spacious tents set amidst a meandering watercourse dotted with fragrant mango and lime trees.
Speaking of the water bodies, overlooking them and the aforementioned fruit orchards, the spa houses three private therapy suites that include an en suite steam room, bathroom and a freestanding Victorian bathtub.
To satiate all those post-spa munchies, the resort offers you the choice of dining at The Dining Room and the Inner Courtyard that uses fresh produce often sourced right from the in-house kitchen garden. And for a late night tipple, what better place than the Library Bar for potent cocktails made with the local Rajasthani firewater that is rather quirkily called kesar kasturi.

Live In Style recommends: The Luxury Tents here feature an elegantly appointed bedroom (with a majestic four-poster bed as its centre piece), a walk-in closet and a spacious bathroom. In addition, each tent comes with a private terrace overlooking a private garden, surrounded by a traditional Rajasthani mud wall that provides a perfumed backdrop with every drop of monsoon bounty falling onto it!

Naked Stables Private Reserve, Moganshan, China

If one were to thumb through the dog-eared pages of China’s super-fascinating history, the name Moganshan will raise quite a few eyebrows. In the notorious 1920s this mountain getaway in the country’s Zhejiang Province close to Shanghai was home to Chinese gangsters like opium kingpin Big-Eared Du who made it his impenetrable hideout. Well, today, almost a century later it still is a hideout. A hideout for sybarites like us, desirous of a monsoon vacation with a difference. At the centre of all of Moganshan’s modern day wonders is the exclusive naked Stables Private Reserve. Built around the idea of sustainability, the only way to get there is on foot or an electric buggy. You are guaranteed true, isolated luxury at this impressive property! The materials used to build this nature reserve were chosen based on their environmental impact; the resort is energy and water efficient and encourages guests to live sustainably while enjoying all the luxurious trappings.
And although one finds the rustic chic accommodations here bearing thatched roofs and decorated with cosy, cowhide rugs, the porcelain bathtubs and other luxe indulgences like the Jacuzzi on the private terrace, reaffirm the retreat’s ‘decadence unlimited’ claim to fame.

Live in Style recommends: The private reserve provides a wide range of activities like fishing, archery, tea-picking and calligraphy workshops, to name a few. And in keeping with the name, the resort has several stables for horses and ponies affording guests the opportunity to explore the countryside and its magnificent trails and hills on horseback.

The Zuri Kumarakom Resort and Spa, Kumarakom, Kerala

Rains and Kerala somehow seem made for each other as the state’s famed backwaters swell up to maximum capacity and the swaying palms seems to dance to the monsoon’s tunes! Set amidst this fecund and almost paradisiacal setting with the tranquil Lake Vembanad flowing languidly just beside it, The Zuri Kumarakom Resort and Spa is an oasis dedicated to the art of relaxation. And we say ‘art’ because it truly is a challenge for any jet setter constantly on the go to relax and just…well, be!
Offering a host of luxurious accommodation options that range from 72 well-kitted out rooms to 28 Zuri Cottages and 10 Zuri Presidential Pool Villas this resort has it all and then some more. And that ‘some more’ takes the form of the rain-kissed pool or your own private plunge pool perhaps for an early morning swim followed by a breakfast of kings sampling everything from fluffy appams with stew and phuttu to fresh coconuts and mangoes at the resort’s all-day dining restaurant Lime Tree. Other superb—and picturesque might we add—dining options here include the lake-front fine dining restaurant Laguna Bass and The Trunk Call Bar for those post-dinner hot toddies that keep you warm, as you watch the moonlight dancing off the lake’s placid waters.

Live in Style recommends: No visit to Kerala can ever be complete without indulging in some traditional Ayurvedic therapies. The resort’s Maya Spa has on its menu a plethora of options for you to choose from. One of the most popular is the hour long Njavara Kizhi where navara rice is prepared in a herbal decoction with milk and packed into muslin bags. This is then applied with massage to specific areas of the body, which causes perspiration. This treatment softens the skin and enhances the complexion. Equally relaxing is the Pizhichil. Here the whole body is subjected to streams of lukewarm medicated oil with a simultaneous soft massage. This procedure assists in the relieving of muscular tension.

Kandalama Heritance, Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Indulge in all your monsoon fantasies at the verdant Kandalama Heritance, a super luxurious and ‘live’ resort at the foothills of the misty Kandalama Hills in what Sri Lankans call their ‘up country’ of Dambulla. The view of the lake, the dense forests, and rocks is just heavenly as are the trees and plants that seem to grow out of the top of the resort itself! And the legendary Sri Lankan hospitality makes its presence felt the minute you check in. A large trolley comes up to you, laden with a choice of drinks—king coconut called thambili in Sinhalese, mixed fruit and wood apple, to give you a taste of the exotic things to be had here. But for those of you who want to taste the acclaimed Sri Lankan tea, they could do so from a range of vanilla tea, green tea, ginger tea and black tea, with milk or without, with sugar or lime or honey, also on offer at the welcome.  
The Six Senses spa at Kandalama has packages designed for couples to relax and unwind with custom-made therapies, while the restaurants offer the finest dining experiences. The exclusive diner in Kanchana is designed for privacy and opulence. European and continental choices, a great selection of wines makes this the best option for a romantic dinner for two with the pitter patter of rain providing an unrivalled soundtrack to the evening...

Live In Style recommends: Choose a room in the Sigiriya wing of the resort—with a view of the world-heritage site of Sigiriya rock. Soak in the Jacuzzi, with a fantastic view of the lush green vegetation, the serene lake, the hills and Sigiriya in the backdrop. What more can one ask for?