India is rising on travellers' to-go list and why not? With hospitality brands like The Leela offering luxury at the drop of a hat to the luxe traveller, it is the prefect balance of modern day traditionalism
By: Karishma Parkash
Posted on: April 10, 2011
Romance and tradition are words that approach the mind when thinking of the city of Udaipur. An opportunity to experience the city in person was one I couldn’t pass up. All I can say is, getting the feel of the city’s character in person is absolutely worth it - larger than life! The city, well celebrated for its wealth of palaces encircling the serene Lake Picchola, add to Udaipur’s royal past. The latest to join the dream ring, The Leela, is the most recent and most lavish palace in Udaipur today - a must stay for the relaxed traveller or the businessman alike.
Udaipur offers a picturesque moment with the beautiful ducks and birds perfectly harmonized against the backdrop of breathtakingly magnificent palaces on the lake – a wonderful vision to watch out for. With a variety of other luxury properties at close proximity to The Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur, this particular hotel is actually a ‘jewel by the lake’, distinguished by elegance and inspired by the magic and grandeur of Udaipur’s romantic past.
Surrounded by the calm waters of the lake on all four sides and about 45 minutes from the Maharana Pratap Airport by car, prepare yourself to nestle in the lap of luxury at The Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur.
Arriving with the other guests on board a magnificent canopy after a 15-minute boat journey, it was pleasant to be greeted by a duo of local musicians and showered with rose petals. Imagining luxury with a capital L? This is it in every respect!
Spend a few seconds and notice the traditional Mogul inspired architecture, what with their splendid domes, grand courtyards and beautiful gardens. In simple words – a palace right out of a fairytale! Upon entry into the palace, the vastness and majestic nature of the place may throw you off balance. So be sure to turn to the impeccably helpful staff for help and also notice the intricate tikri work and mother of pearl artifacts adding the perfect touch of traditionalism to the very modern palace. The beauty of the property will leave you stunned, as it did me.
Service before Self
Exactly that and more happens to be at the heart of this luxurious property. Hospitality and respect is well-ingrained in the staff of the Leela Palace and it took me less than a few seconds to get acquainted with a butler especially dedicated to me. As with any traveller, I was thoroughly impressed by the graciously warm and prompt staff. Their exquisite uniforms inspired by traditional Rajasthan costumes said so much about their hospitality and willingness to help. Always greeted with a humble ‘namaste’ and a polite bow of the head, I truly felt the whiff of importance and luxury – a perfect icing for any trip.
The General Manager, Mr Tamir Kobrin, graciously shared that the services philosophy at The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts is based on India's ancient scriptures ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’, meaning ‘Guest is God’. Truly reflecting the essence of our nation, it is impossible to miss the warm and imminently unmatched Indian hospitality that the Leela has.
A perfect night’s sleep
The Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur has 80 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites. The strategic positioning of the hotel ensures that each room has a panoramic view of Lake Pichola, as well as some of the most beautiful heritage attractions in the city, like the Jag Mandir and the City Palace, which to this day, remains the residence of the royal family of Udaipur - all set against the backdrop of the majestic Aravalli ranges. Staying at the Heritage view room, I was stunned by the view from the balcony.
Other options for the guests include a choice of Lake View and Heritage view rooms and suites, Duplex Suites with plunge pools, a Royal Suite with a dome and the grand Maharaja Suite which is a treat in itself with a spacious living area linked to a connecting room, a study, a dining room and pantry!
The elegant and contemporary interiors of the rooms and suites are embellished with the design and artistry of the region. Local architectural nuances are evident in the quaint corbel door arches and grand domes of the palace. Thekri is an ancient Rajasthani art form where intricately chiselled mirrors are embedded in plaster, and is the predominant theme of the palace’s interiors. Gold-leafed floral and paisley motifs, mother of pearl artefacts and inlaid hand-crafted white marble further add to its ornate exquisiteness.
Way to the heart
A haven for gourmands, The Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur offers its guests a variety of delectable dining options, all of which were fresh and delicious, and much appreciated by my stomach! The Dining Room offers international cuisine prepared with fresh spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables from the palace’s organic gardens. For those who prefer a more outdoor place, Sheesh Mahal is a roof-top restaurant on the lake-side that offers fine dining under the stars, with cuisine from the royal kitchens of India. The Library Bar is an intimate lounge designed for guests to enjoy their favourite selection of wines and single malts. For lovers of fine tradition and heritage, I would recommend the folk dance performance held every late evening with drinks and starters – a perfect beginning to the night! Follow it up with sumptuous food and fancy drinks.
Tranquility in every sense
With the renowned luxury spa brand, ESPA, in its pocket, Leela Udaipur has nothing missing. Having heard so much about ESPA, I was charmed to say the least. An exclusive air-conditioned tented spa greeted me and I took leisure in hand browsing through the variety of holistic treatments available using natural and organic ingredients. Simply put, its world class luxury set in a modern Indian palace.
After a battle between the extensive range of Intensive Facials, Massages, Body Treatments and Signature Ayurvedic Treatments they have, I opted for a foot massage that was so invigourating and relaxing that I extended the duration and did it again! Do note the Leela Udaipur Ceremonies, a unique set of treatments combining Eastern and Western therapies performed in stunning Rajasthan inspired tents.
The Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur is a modern-day palace with every luxury that you may desire – all under one roof.