Opened in 2012, the new Fairmont Jaipur blends the traditional Raj architecture and décor of Jaipur, the historic “Pink City,” with the most modern amenities. It’s the first Fairmont in the region and it does a great job mingling the old and new in an elegant way with vast public spaces, high ceilings and grand chandeliers. Even bathrooms incorporate old touches such as an interesting step-up, oval mud-patterned bathtub in an arched alcove.
“Dinner at the City Palace of Jaipur can feel like an Arabian Nights fantasy,” says Kohli. “It’s still a living, working palace, and if the royal family is around, they spend time with the group. We like our guests to dress in local dress attire; we get their sizes in advance and have their outfits ready, and clients like to take them home and wear them at parties. But more important, dressing up immerses guests in the culture.”
Dressed in their flowing outfits, guests enter the palace gate where they are greeted by camels and elephants adorned with colorful textiles and jewels, and dancers with fire torches lead them into a decorated courtyard.
“We re-create the past as authentically as possible,” explains Kohli. “We might have cultural dances and invite guests to join in. And dinner might often be a Thali, where each person gets a round plate with a lot of small bowls, each with a different dish. It’s a very formal way of eating as a group, often accompanied by live Indian classical music and capped off by fireworks, a traditional way of celebrating special occasions.”
The next day, the group might head out in jeeps through a bio-reserve forest to Dera Amer to play elephant polo. They arrive in a forest clearing to see two teams of elephants in full regalia with seats on their backs, as they were centuries ago. After a demonstration match, clients can mount the elephants and compete in a game of polo.
Kohli says, “It’s one of those dream travel experiences that seems right out of the movies.”