Tuesday, June 27 2017

LifeStyle

Oasis in the Wilderness

Tree House Resort
 
It’s every child’s dream to climb up a fl ight of wooden stairs into their very own tree house. When that tree house comes equipped with the best conveniences that money can buy, it becomes every adult’s dream too. Aekta Kapoor hops over to the Tree House Resort near Jaipur and fi nds nature for company.
 
 
Admit it, when you think of ‘eco resorts’, what fi rst comes to mind is bland food, hard beds, zero air-conditioning and mosquitoes. So when your car winds its way through an arid Rajasthani region into a sudden burst of green oasis, and stops at a Bali-esque porch replete with Buddha heads amidst lush trees, you can already sense that you’re in for more. Here are cobbled pathways winding through dense foliage, rippling artifi cial rivers and fountains, gazebos and ancient wooden structures, and peacocks and rabbits. And the best part is that you never really have to give up on creature comforts even as you snuggle into the welcome lap of nature – the rooms have split air-conditioning, Wi-Fi access, modern décor and bathrooms, and the softest beds technology could come up with.
 
My fi rst stop is the little store by the reception. Here I indulge my senses in a wealth of Ayurvedic therapies, healing oils and cosmetics, scented candles and a pair of organic buckwheat-seed pillows from the Omved brand. Soon, embarrassed by my incorrigible shopaholism, I gather myself and venture out to explore the property, only to be stopped in my tracks every few feet as I stare at the natural and manmade delights on display. The 18 rooms at this boutique property are mostly built on steel stilts atop old, large trees – the rooms have holes in the fl oor, walls and ceiling to accommodate their tree’s branches. “These are living trees; they are still growing,” informs co-owner Sunil Mehta. The entire area, called Nature Farms, is spread across hundreds of acres and is a privately developed farmhouse community; within this, Mehta and his partner have put up the Tree House Resort across three to four acres. “It began as a personal tree house, and slowly grew into a full-fl edged resort as friends and acquaintances demanded that we allow them access to this heaven too,” smiles vice president Anvita Mehta, who is also Sunil’s daughter-in-law, and a management graduate from London.
 
Artifi cially greening the otherwise arid area over the past four years has led to a fall in temperature and rise in groundwater level – the entire terrain and geography has already been modifi ed for the better. More animals and about 56 species of birds now coexist side by side with the residents of the resort, which include staffers hired from neighbouring villages. This CSR activity has won the resort the Gram Bandhu award for rural empowerment from the area’s Panchayat. They have also won awards for their extensive rainwater harvesting.
 
Despite its idyllic ambience – you have the twittering of birds as background music – there is actually plenty to do here. Head out for the golf course, lush even in the height of summer. Or lay in the landscaped, very privately located pool. Indulge in your favourite racquet sports such as tennis or badminton. We had a ball trying out archery with the thoughtful forest reserve offi cer’s assistance. There’s an old army jeep you can borrow to take a spin around, and if you prefer less polluting modes of transport, there’s a camel ride awaiting or a bunch of cycles of different sizes to choose from. In the evenings and nights, you can go for a jungle safari in the Aravalli hills – besides deer and a few wild rabbits we didn’t see much even with highbeam torches, but our tour guide more than covered up by creating a suspenseful mood!
 
When you’re tired of the outdoors or if the weather is too harsh, head in for the indoor activities. A game room for kids and teens has enough to keep even the adults in the family well entertained – there’s carom and chess, and a Sony PS3 that offers many hours of animated shouts and hoops of joy. There’s a well-stocked billiards room and then, of course, there’s the Taruveda Spa. Try the signature Taruveda massage, which uses special herbal oils to soothe frayed nerves. The masseur employs a combination of Ayurvedic and modern massage techniques to knead all stress out of the muscles, leaving you sparkling fresh.
 
And throw all thoughts of boring food out the leafy window. Machaan, the main restaurant here, serves authentic Rajasthani food that will leave you smacking your lips. They also serve continental, Italian, north and south Indian cuisines. Choose from indoor or outdoor seating depending on the weather, and be prepared for fl avourful surprises. For urban-bred nature lovers, it doesn’t get better than this.
 
 
 
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