Saturday, February 9, 2013

DESERT SYMPHONY



One of the most interesting properties that I have visited in the recent past is the Serai  (  part of the Relais and Chateaux group) which has 21 air conditioned tents set in a hundred acres of scrubby terrain in the heart of the Thar Desert, a half hour drive from Jaisalmer.



The whole resort is built out of honey coloured sandstone and pearly white canvas and the Zen- like spaces are furnished with local artifacts like tall black urns with reeds, camel statues and durries. The furniture is all collapsible and compact and every piece is packed and put in storage when the camp closes for the summer.


My swish tent suite with high ceilings and windows with nets had a Victorian study, throw cushions in brilliant indigo, a huge bed on a stone platform and a fantasy-in-stone bathroom with two stylish basins and a rain shower.




 I just loved the small details: brass service buttons to summon your personal butler or housekeeping, monogrammed paper with camels embossed on it, novels bound in vellum, leather pouches to hold a torch and a hair dryer, glass stopper decanters with citronella based products.







The focal point of the resort is an elevated infinity pool modelled on the lines of a step well or a baoli with canopied loungers on all sides



The food at the Serai was an eclectic mix of Western and Indian specialities. The menus varied with every meal, and offered a wide choice, ranging from cold soups and salads, to a Wild Mushroom risotto and traditional Rajasthani dishes. I just loved this Rajasthani Thali.




The staff was in traditional attire - with a multi-coloured saafa or turban and the managers in Khaki.


 The Serai even has a Spa created by Raison d’Etre, one of the leading Spa companies in the world, housed in tents of course. My feet were bathed in a sandstone basin of warm water and in the soft glow of candlelight,   skilled hands rubbed me with a ground mixture of tulsi, saffron and honey in a sesame oil base.


The best experience that I had was my own private sun downer excursion- a cross country drive  on a desert jeep with a butler and driver, through small villages or dhanis with mud houses, children waving, men with turbans sitting under trees and camels munching on the ker trees.
At the end of the drive, I had  my private dune, a snack table and a 
drink, watching the sun go down!



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