Luxury Holidays: High Up On the Tree Top
The Tree House Resort, Jaipur; Photo Courtesy: The Tree House Resort
It feels like another world when you look at things from the vantage point of a tree house. Nestled up in the trees, you feel one with nature, and experience a whole new sense of luxury.
The Tree House Resort, Jaipur
Off the NH8 highway in Jaipur, driving through dusty, desert roads you hardly expect to spot a sea of green in the middle of barren land. But, that's exactly what the Tree House Resort is all about. Here, they know how to take care of you, so as soon as you enter, you can forget about the worldly worries and just focus on the scenic landscape around you. Sprawling over acres of land, The Tree House Resort has the Aravalli Range on one side and the Aravalli forest on the other, ensuring that it's enveloped by natural terrain. The resort's many tree houses are named after a particular bird and are dubbed 'nests'. Once at home in your tree house, you'll notice the view, which is truly an experience to enjoy from atop. A haven for bird lovers, wake up to a bird song every morning, while you enjoy breakfast in bed. When you finally muster up the will to leave your perch, you can revel in the company of the animals around, from feisty rabbits to languid ducks.
Set off on a safari ride to spot deer, hyenas, peacocks and more wildlife. While the meals are buffet style spreads, the variety on offer will keep every palate happy. The outdoor dinner is a perfect setting to enjoy the starry sky and the delicious food. But the jewel in the crown of this Jaipur hideaway is its beautiful bar. While sipping a delicious Bloody Mary and feeling like you've been transported to Mughal times, you can listen to the bartender regale you with stories about how most of the staff in this beautiful oasis is from the villages around, who have been trained with the values of service and graciousness that the owners, as hosts, have so well mastered. The best way to finish off your trip is a visit to the quaint Aviary spa. Here, the aviary provides a safe haven for previously caged and injured birds, who cannot survive in the wild. Their chirping will enthrall while you enjoy the magic touch of the spa therapists. On your way out, make a quick pit stop at the Nature Shop to acquire a beautiful painting, some handicrafts or just some divine organic products from OMVED to remind you of your trip here.
The Machan, Lonavala; Photo Courtesy: The Machan
The Machan, Lonavala
Probably the best place for a rejuvenating getaway for the weary city folk of Mumbai, The Machan has become a favourite among nature lovers who can't say no to luxury. This luxury eco-resort has amazing tree houses that peek out of the leaves to spy a beautifully expansive view of the flora and fauna all around. Each tree house is situated 30 to 45 feet above the forest, so the feeling of oneness with nature precedes every experience. Perfect for those who want to escape the noise and pollution of the city and commune with nature, The Machan is a hideaway that is run on completely sustainable resources, so rest your conscience. The luxurious Heritage Machan has four levels and is built to accommodate a family. Adapted around a wild fig tree, this tree house has a main deck surrounded by glass and affording a tremendous view, along with a dining table, a lounge, a double bed, two balconies and two bathrooms with rain showers, one of which even has a bathtub. Forty feet above the main deck is the aptly titled Crow's Nest where you can lounge under the stars and look out into the biological wonder that is just 17 kilometers from Lonavala.
Following a spiral staircase, you come to the Hanging room, which is suspended from the main deck and surrounded by glass on three sides, giving the illusion of being suspended in limbo in the midst of a forest canopy. Further down is the loft from where you can enjoy the view of a mountain peak and a valley and watch the sun and moon rise. There are many activities for adventure junkies who don't just want to sit in a tree house. An enlightening experience awaits you if you choose to go bird watching. Jambulne is a biological hotspot and one can spot a variety of birds, both resident and migratory. If ancient Indian history is something that floats your boat, there are plenty of sites around that you can visit at leisure, including the Lohagad Fort and the Karla and Bhaja Caves. And finally, as is common knowledge, the best way to explore a place is on foot and in keeping with that philosophy, The Machan also organises treks of assorted difficulty levels to suit your preferences. Although, you can visit any time of the year because of the comfort provided by the verdant forest canopy, the monsoon season evokes an irresistible magic as the forest comes alive and sings. That said, each season has its own charm. So go ahead, and be one with nature.
Tree House Hideaway, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve; Photo Courtesy: Tree House Hideaway
Tree House Hideaway, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
Of the many national parks and tiger reserves in India, the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve has a distinct advantage in the form of the Tree House Hideaway resort. Roughly six hours by road from Khajuraho, these five tree houses are spread over a thick forest that merges with the land of the tiger reserve. Talk about living in harmony with animals! While perched in your luxurious tree house that is equipped with every plausible facility, it is quite common to spot a wandering wild animal or two. This jungle hideout is akin to a Tarzan and Jane tree house, except that it's bedecked with modern bathrooms, a mini bar, backup power facility and loungers in the balcony.
Each tree house is designed such that it blends seamlessly with nature, using regularised wood, and the know-how of local staff. Even the interiors are tastefully chosen to reflect the beauty of nature with earthy tones and subtle touches. For those travellers who want to make the most of their time in the jungle, Tree House Hideaway has taken the liberty to suggest schedules so that your visit can be both, educative and leisurely. You can ride in an open top jeep, accompanied by a guide, who will take you into the reserve and allow you to get up close to the wild animals, and if you're lucky, also spot the big cat. You can even choose to ride atop an elephant if you dare to get closer to the tiger. Go bird watching and sit by the watering hole, and spot a few animals there too. The Bandhavgarh fort is another must-see on your visit. You can pack a picnic lunch and take in the view from the highest point of the tiger reserve. Delicious spreads, including barbeque can be enjoyed at the dining hall, which is interestingly built around a Mahua tree, the flower of which is used to produce local liquor in these parts. Split into two levels, the ground floor is the dining area, while the bar is located on the terrace and is cheekily called the Watering Hole. This hideaway is a true gift from nature. To be so close to the creatures of the jungle, while still enjoying the luxuries of the world outside, can only be counted as a blessing.
Carmelia Haven, Kerala; Photo Courtesy: Carmelia Haven
Carmelia Haven, Kerala
Situated amidst beautiful green plantations, in Vandanmedu, Thekkady, around 150 kilometers from Cochin airport, this resort will add a certain zest to your holiday. Playing among the clouds, at 4,000 feet above sea level, the aroma of all the spices at the plantation resort will overwhelm your senses. Discover how cardamom, pepper, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon are cultivated as you take in the sights, sounds and scents on your stay here. You can even sample a variety of fruits like pineapple, mango, guava, banana, litchi, papaya and rose apple, and unlikely ones like mangosteen and rambutan.
While this resort affords you the option of living in a cottage, or an underground cellar, the truly amazing abode are undoubtedly their tree house wood cabins called Erumadam in Malayalam. Surrounded by a balcony, this quaint wood cabin presents a view of the expansive cardamom plantations as far as the eye can see. A great way to relax here is to visit the spa specialising in the natural way of Ayurveda. You can choose from a range of packages addressing a host of health problems and under the supervision of Ayurvedic doctors, you will come out feeling like a new person. You can visit the charming spice shop to stock up on these natural spices, even as you immerse yourself in the peaceful plantation lifestyle. Watch dance performances or step into the woods and enjoy a barbeque and bonfire. Around Carmelia Haven itself, there is much to see and do. You can visit Thekkady and go on a boat ride or you can trek in Gavi and Parunthumpara. Another must-see is the massive statue of Kuravan and Kurathi, two local historical characters in Ramakkalmedu, named so because it is believed that Lord Rama stepped on the rock. Once you set foot inside Carmelia Haven, you might never want to leave.