Stay at the newly opened Tipai by Wildlife Luxuries, and truly get a taste of slow living.
By: Bindu Gopal Rao
Posted on: January 30, 2024
LF Says: ★★★★.5
If you are from India, and still haven’t heard of Tipeshwar, it’s not your fault. While Ranthambore and Gir have mostly stolen the limelight when it comes to wildlife sanctuaries in the country, Tipeshwar’s Bengal tigers are no less magnificent.
Combining my thirst for wildlife and luxury, I found myself enroute a close-to-three-hour drive from Nagpur Airport, which brought me to one of the newest luxury wildlife retreats in India, Tipai by Wildlife Luxuries. And as I enter the property, I am welcomed with birdsong and an oasis of green that has an instant calming effect on my mind, which seems to erase the stress of the long travel that I had to reach here.
The forest villa at Tipai.
Set quaintly among the natural flora and foliage of Tipeswar, I check into a gorgeous Forest Villa that is expansive at 2,700 square feet. But what catches my attention is the rustic aesthetics of the villa – from outside and inside. A beautifully crafted ‘hut’ that blends with its surroundings, the villa has a large living area with a sofa (that doubles up as a bed) and a large counter for tea and coffee, leading me to a roomy bedroom.
The color palette is natural—browns, greens, and whites make the room airy and an ode to the surroundings. The furnishings, too, are rustic and authentically Indian.
A massive bathroom is complete with two washbasins, a large wardrobe, a dresser, a shower, and an open-to-the-sky shower. Forest Essentials toiletries are used in the room, and all amenities are sustainable. Think bamboo toothbrushes, refillable toiletries, and even toothpaste that comes in a small bottle that can be scooped out with a tiny wooden spoon.
The best part for me was the massive veranda space that fits a sofa, an outdoor dining table with four chairs, and a lounge chair overlooking the green landscape. Being an avid birder, it was a delight to be able to spot and photograph many species from the comfort of my room. There are 15 rooms here, four pool residences and eleven forest villas to choose from.
What makes the retreat stand out, however, is its aesthetic design sensibilities. Designed by Ariane Thakore Ginwala from Ahmedabad studio ‘This and That’, this retreat has sustainability as a core philosophy. The built architecture is all about localization, and the team worked closely at the nearby Gandhian town of Wardha's Institute of Village Sciences to use low-impact construction methodologies.
The team has trained local people in the region in stone masonry and rammed earth construction - a method of using gravel, sand, silt and clay. The terracotta tiles have been made by local potters. Taking the ecological concept forward, the team also ensured that they had rainwater harvesting systems in place and created water bodies working with a permaculture expert, considering that this is a drought-prone region. Even the beautiful organic natural fiber curtains in the room have been sourced from Magankhadi in Wardha.
Each nook in the resort connects your soul to the earth. You feel at one with nature – truly – as you walk barefoot, touch the greenery, breathe the fresh air, and feel the sun on your face.
Restaurant Perch at Tipai.
Another interesting aspect here is the food, which follows the ethos of the resort and respects all things local, seasonal, and native to the region. The food is custom-made as per the guest’s preferences. An organic vegetable garden supplies a lot of vegetables to the kitchen.
Local, freshly cooked food at Perch.
There are three restaurants here, each of which is governed by a zero-waste philosophy. Perch is the all-day diner and has an eclectic choice of dishes. I tried the spicy soba noodle salad served with smoked tofu or grilled prawns, Zucchini blossom steak with fondant potatoes in red wine jus, and Basque cheesecake, all of which had varied flavors.
Restaurant Wadi at Tipai.
At Wadi, for dinner, I sampled the raw papaya, mint, endive, and jaggery ginger salad, muhammara, sourdough lavash, falafel, confit garlic hummus, and pita. The best part was an interactive session that involved making your own pizza, and with guidance from the in-house chef team, I had one of the best pizzas in my life, with some contribution from me! We rounded off this meal with a delectable tiramisu.
The magical Palaash restaurant at Tipai.
The newest restaurant here is Palaash by Chef Amninder Sandhu, where you can sample a seven-course degustation menu with winners like the smoked aubergine, peanuts, coconut, cinnamon, beetroot, and bamboo smoked jackfruit served with Indrayani rice wrapped in turmeric leaves.
The food served at Palaash.
This meal is cooked by women from the local village, all of whom have been trained by the chef. I absolutely recommend you try this experience that has a choice of non-vegetarian and vegetarian fare that you can have at the cozy restaurant. It is an ode to seasonal eating, and yes, under the beautiful palash trees.
There is much to do at Tipai, which is a nature haven spread over 34 acres, and offers guests a choice of varied activities. My top recommendations are to take a guided nature walk to the beautiful Gondwakadi Lake, which takes you through a landscape dotted with wild basil.
For some rest and relaxation, take an appointment at Aaste, a Forest Spa by Tattva, which is your invitation to slow down and soak in the moment as expert masseurs work on ensuring they remove all the stress and tension from your body.
Tipai's secluded, hidden pool.
The resort is just 15 minutes away from the Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary’s Sunna Gate, and a safari is a great way to experience the many sights of the jungle.
Tipeshwar is yet untouched and serene. Combined with the stunningly conceived Tipai, the destination spells true magic. Keyur Joshi, the founder of Tipai, says, “There is so much to absorb from nature, from the place, and from the people here that I hope that one day people come for a safari but do not go as their experiences here will be more fulfilling and enriching.” From my own experience here, I couldn’t agree more.
LF Says: ★★★★.5Coordinates: Gondwakadi, Maharashtra 445302, India