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Rajasthan Deluxe Tour vs. Ultra Luxury Tour???

Rajasthan Deluxe Tour vs. Ultra Luxury Tour???

Aug 1st, 2004, 05:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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i'm amazed about all this discussion about hotel rooms and the lux of it all, but yet i do not see one mention of the reason you are presumably there for: to see and experience the country, its people and its culture....have i missed something???
accomdoations are essential and lux ones are very nice, but this all seems a bit over the top to me...
i had to interject this...sorry...
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 06:38 PM
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This may sound shallow on my part, but once you have stayed in true 5* accomodations and grown accustomed to traveling in a certain manner, it is really hard to go back to anything less.

Of course I, and any other traveler to India, is going to receive the full treatment on culture, history, etc.
However, once I have had my fill of it during the day, I would like to enjoy my nights perhaps like a Maharaja would, surrounded in opulence and with the very best food and service.

This, I believe, is really the only reason why anybody would want to stay in 5* accomodations. Sure, I could stay in acceptable places in India for $100 per night or less, but I like to have trips that I bring long treasured memories. While I will experience similar events during the days during the tours of the historical places, it is the nights and early mornings that will be the dividing line between the type of customized tour I want and the type of tour that the masses choose to take.

I offer no apologies for wanting only the best accomodations. My wife has a very difficult time leaving the comforts of home behind for anything less than what she already enjoys at home, and I can totally appreciate her perspective. So, if it takes places like Amar Vilasa and Udai Vilas to make it a memorable experience, then I am all for it.
Roccco is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 11:35 PM
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Hi. I got great advice here when I was planning my trip, and I thought I would let you know my own experiences (2 cents' worth). I was totally satisfied with not only the hotel properties themselves, but with their locations too. They are where you want to be and so absolutely fanstistic with some old-time charm. I opted not to stay at the Oberoi properties in both Jaipur and Udaipur, and after getting there I was even more pleased that I did not choose them. Their costs to me were not only unjustifiably high but also they are newer (less old-world charm) and also not located in convenient places, in my opinion.

Delhi: Imperial in Delhi (got automatic upgrade). Glad you are staying there. I couldn't imagine going to Delhi and staying anywhere else.

Jaipur: Rambagh Palace. Old palace hotel with tons of charm. (We went to the Samode Haveli for lunch and had a look around. We were so glad to be staying at the Rambagh Palace, although it is a little farther from the main streets.)

Udaipur: (looks like you've gone back and forth between the Lake Palace and the Udai Villas, hummm. ) We stayed at Lake Palace and couldn't have been happier. You can get a glimpse of the Udai Villas in the distance from this hotel and we were glad to be where the action was. Just a short boat hop from the city and palace. We thought the hotel was magical, in addition to its setting with the view of the palace during the day and the lit-up one at night. It was a truly memorable experience, and where else can you stay in this world in a hotel(former palace) in a middle of a lake?? There is always a debate about this at Fodors, but my vote is clearly with the Lake Palace.

Babiron is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 02:23 AM
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Bob, here's my perspective -
1. In India, there are few accommodations between "basic" and luxury. From following the discussions on this forum, it appears that even "2nd tier" places can be a bit run down - I assume there will be enough glitches and things that go wrong on our India trip that I want to factor out any additional possibilities.
2. With all of the crowds, chaos and filth in India, one needs an "oasis" to get away from it all at the end of the day.
3. Relatively speaking, these luxury accomodations are not all that expensive so it is a great opportunity to experience some of the best of in the world at a low cost.
4. If I was travelling overseas 6 or 8 weeks every year instead of 2 weeks every other year, I might think differently.

I hope this helps.
Craig is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 05:35 AM
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No, you are not reading to much into my mail. It was my very own experience. We actually did 6 drives, three in the very very early morning and two in the late afternoon. Never got close to a tiger. Some people see something, some not, in a different area, at the same time. It's a pure gamble, as it is not a zoo you are visiting. Chances seem to be rather slim though. The place is vast and the number of tigers is after all rather limited. It's really a matter of putting the Ranthambore visit into a comparison with the things you can otherwise go and visit. We dropped Jaipur to do Ranthambore, reserving Jaipur for a next trip to India, and I must admit, I regretted that I made that choice. But, then again, one tiger sighting (and some are lucky) would have changed the feelings completely. My message is simply: there is definitely nothing close to a certainty that you are going to see tigers. Good luck
cram is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 06:34 AM
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Thanks for the clarification. I would be pretty disappointed if I didn't see a tiger. I just went on an 11 night Zambian safari and it took until my 9th night before we saw a leopard. However, while I was disappointed for 8.5 days, there were still hundreds of other sightings of elephants, lions, hippos, crocodiles, waterbuck, impala, puku, birds of hundreds of varieties, etc., to hold my interest.

In Ranthambhore, on the other hand, I am worried that there may not be too much happening other than birds and the occasional antelope, to really satisfy my wildlife viewing needs.

Without Ranthambhore, I would likely just fly straight from Jaipur to Udaipur, and strike Bundi and Ranthambhore from my itinerary. And if that is the case, I would likely spend a couple nights in Singapore since my flight will likely be on Singapore Airlines and have a mandatory stopover in Singapore.

The most suspect lodging in my itinerary is definitely in Bundi and Ranthambhore. Perhaps it would be better to skip Ranthambhore. I have the burning thought in the back of my mind that it is just going to be such a letdown for a person that has been twice to the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve in South Africa, to Matetsi in Zimbabwe, and twice to South Luangwa National Park in Zambia.

Without Ranthambhore and Bundi, my itinerary would look like this:

Delhi - 3 nts at Imperial Hotel in Heritage Suite

Agra - 2 nts at Amar Vilas in Luxury Terraced Room

Jaipur - 3 nts at Rambagh Palace in Historical Suite

late morning flight to Udaipur

Udaipur - 3 nts at Udai Vilas in luxury lake view room with semi private pool or Lake Palace Hotel in luxury lake view room.

Singapopre - 2 or 3 nts at best possible hotel.

Anyone here with any comments on switching Singapore for Ranthambhore/Bundi??? I wouldn't save much on the lodging, even with fewer nights since Ranthambhore and Bundi had the least expensive accomodations.

There is a strong chance that I will be going to South Africa towards the end of 2005 and that will satisfy my gameviewing urges.

The only other option would be to find a way to Sri Lanka for 5 or 6 nts, and try my luck at Yala National Park, but that is mostly for leopard viewing, something that may be better left for Africa.


Roccco is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 06:59 AM
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Roccco - I have been on safari to Kenya twice and seen all of the "big five" on multiple occasions. While Kenyan safaris may not be exactly the same experiences as those you had in southern Africa, we are going to Ranthambore with the attitude that it will be a "different" experience than an African safari. Yes, we will probably be a bit disappointed if we don't see a tiger but it will also be a mid-vacation break from the chaos of the Indian cities we are visiting.

Keep in mind that since you are going in late March (?) it will be prime tiger viewing season at Ranthambore because the heat causes the tigers to come out looking for water.

Sherbagh has been reviewed on Frommers and they speak very highly of it with the only downside being no pool. Of course you may NEED a pool AND a/c if you go when it is hot.

BTW, most of my Kenyan safari time was spent in luxury tented camps with no problems (we also spent time at private reserves). However, my safari trips were in 1987 and 1995 - I would not feel comfortable going to Kenya right now.
Craig is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 07:13 AM
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Rocco, I have been watching your indecision with interest. Here are my thoughts.

1. As I have mentioned before, as you have done African safaris I think you will be disappointed with Ranthambore, esp if you really like to see lots of action. I have gone on many drives (probably 15 in all over the years) and have only seen tigers on ONE drive. I enjoy being out there and seeing other wildlife, the beauty of the landscape etc. I have never been to Africa, however, and when I do get there I imagine that my days of going to Ranthambore will be over.

2. Not sure about your timing, you did mention trying to get there for Holi. Personally, I think it would be too hot in April, but I have mentioned this before and as your in-laws will not be with you as originally planned, it is up to you. I would expect temps in the 90s and over 100, esp as you move into April. I have two minds about Holi, it can be kind of rough and if you aren't in the spirit to be drenched with colored water (which may not wash out of your clothes) you might want to give it a miss. If you want to see a really unusual Hindu celebration, and as you have to lay over in KL or Singapore, you might time yourself to be in either place for the Thaipusam, which takes place in January or February. Devotees piece their bodies with skewers which hold up huge headdresses and walk barefoot for many miles There is firewalking and other similar physical feats going on at the temples. This festival is not even celebrated in India any longer, just in Singapore and at the Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have seen it several times in Singapore and it is defiantly worth seeing. I think the date this year is January 25. I haven't been to the elephant festival so I can't comment, but I would say if you want to see a spectacle go to the camel festival at Puskar which is usually in mid-November, when the weather is good as well.

3. I would definitely chose the Rambagh over the Samode Haveli, esp if your only reason for choosing the Samode is shopping. The shopping is quite spread out, and so being at the Samode will not be an advantage, IMO. I love the extensive grounds and the views from the Rambagh. There is also a small but good shopping arcade there as well. In my experience, many shops are open in the evening, so you could sightsee and then do some shopping before or after dinner.

4. As to living like a Maharajah, as you do some reading on India you will discover that many were just ordinary people with a title, but had clerical day jobs and very little money. The legendary wealthy ones were Hyderabad, Gwalilor, Baroda, Jaipur, Jodphur and maybe Udaipur. However, you could NEVER live like they did even by getting the most expensive suites at any of the Oberois. The way they lived is really out of everyone's league. . . .wanting to stay in a nice hotel is one thing, but don't imagine it is anything like what the Nizam of Hyderabad would have experienced!

5. In Singapore, I would stay at the Ritz-Carlton, but there are many other excellent options, you are quite spoiled for choice there.
Cicerone is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 10:00 AM
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I wholeheartedly support Roccco's decision of staying in premium accomodations while in India (and elsewhere). No modern day tourist (which means someone on a 2-3 weeks of travel) is likely to come back with an enlightened view of a culture or place merely by mingling with the locals he or she encounters. So it is moot whether one stays in some ragtag place or in 5-star comforts. Personally, I prefer the 5-star comforts (I am from India, now living in Silicon Valley) and think that the Indian 5-star hotels are a unique experience. I can afford 5-star comforts while travelling because I don't waste money year-round on many of the toys that infect the lives of so many people. So Roccco, go for it!

I will second Cicerone's recommendation that if you can arrange your India trip say from Nov 15 to Feb 15 your experience will be so much the better.
agtoau is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 10:14 AM
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Thanks everybody!

This isn't getting any easier. When I looked at hotels for Singapore, not only did I find the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton, but I also found, just a 45 minute high speed catamaran trip away, the Banyan Tree Bintan in Indonesia. 2 nights in Singapore with a grand finale of 3 nights at the Banyan Tree Bintan sure looks heavenly!

I would check off Singapore and Indonesia to the countries I have visited so far. It may be very nice to end the trip in such beautiful natural surroundings after "experiencing" India for 10 nights.

Roccco is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 11:24 AM
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Several thoughts on the Bintan plan.

If you search for Bintan you'll see a couple of comments on the Banyan Tree that I posted not long ago.

My husband and I decided to go away for the millenium at the last minute and of course everything was booked up and everything was priced through the roof. Anyway, I was determined and we ended up with 3 nights in Bintan including the millenium and then a week in Bali which was fabulous.

We stayed in one of their Villas looking out over the rock with a lovely deck and jacuzzi. They had firworks on News years Even and we had a couple of nice meals including a special pre perpared BBQ on our deck.

It was good for us because we spent a couple of days getting over the jet lag and enjoying the spa which like all Banyan spas is really wonderful...every detail is exquisite.
However, while it worked for us, because of jet lag and the difficult of finding anything else (everywhere I wanted in Bali was already booked)I wouldn't recommend as a truly "get away from it all" location.

While the resort itself id lovely and the service is excellent the location isn't ideal. The beach wasn't great and it was somewhat polluted. When you looked out to the sea you could see container ships plying the channel.

At the time hey were building another hotel right next door which was incongruously Italian looking! Bintan as a whole is a weekend place for people from Singapore and on the northern end of the island it is nothing but one resort after another which makes it very sterile.

Anyway, it isn't somewhere I'd rush out to...if I happened to be in Singapore for a while I could see going there for the weekend but I don't think it's really a destination resort. While Bintan would "tick Indonesia off the list" in terms of countries visited, it will give you no sense of the culture...frankly like so many high end places it could be anywhere.

Hope that helps.

PS I have to say from the reviews I've looked at UdaiVilas would be my choice over the Lake Palace which sounds somewhat hit or miss in terms of the rooms and service.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 11:54 AM
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I very well understand your feelings and your fear of getting frustrated. At any rate, I was in Ranthambore. I know very well what you mean with the comparison with Zambia. I happen to have lived four years in Lusaka, and had ample opportunity to do the parks (Luangwa, Kafue, Savuti in Botswana, Hwange in Zimbabwe, etc). Believe me, there is no comparison with what you have experienced in Luangwa or Kafue and what you can expect in Ranthambore. Maybe others think differently, but I would opt for an alternative. Why do you not spend some more time in Rhajastan which is fabulous. You could take in Jodpur or Jaisalmer. You could also consider to travel Agra-Khajuraho (one of the most impressing sites I have seen in India) and then on from Khajuraho to Delhi. There are flights, and there is also a possibility to travel in a combination train/car Agra-Jhansi by train and then on for about 2.5 hours by car to Khajuraho. A day in Khajuraho and the next day fly to Delhi. You will definitely not regret the effort of getting to Khajuraho.
If you drop Ranthambore, you will have to drop Bundi and Kota as well, I suppose. That is a pity, because particularly Bundi is wonderful. But, again, Khajuraho, Jodpur and/or Jaisalmer are more than just a compensation for the picture of a tiger in your dining room in Ranthambore and the maharadja palace of Bundi, however beautiful and interesting this may be.
I would at any rate suggest to use your time in India, not in Singapore. India has enough to offer, and it may water down your impressions if you have your India experience, already fairly short, mixed up with exposure to a totally different culture and environment. Get carried away by India, do not mix. That would be my advice
cram is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2004, 04:43 PM
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Man...what a mess!

Instead of the fog starting to clear, it is thicker than ever.

I guess if I scratched Ranthambhore, I could always do something like this:

Delhi (3) - March 13, 14 & 15
flight to Udaipur to meet car/guide for the remainder of itinerary
Udaipur (3) - March 16, 17 & 18
Jaisalmer (3) - March 19, 20 & 21
Jodhpur (2) - March 22 & 23
Jaipur (3) - March 24, 25 & 26 (Elephant Festival & Holi Celebrations)
Agra (2) - March 27 & 28
Transfer to Delhi for flight home

Right now this is one big mess. I think I just need a couple days off to clear my head and now I must begin research on other options besides Ranthambhore & Bundi. Jaisalmer/Jodhpur seems like the next most attractive option, but then again maybe I want to go to Sri Lanka for 5 or 6 nights. The wildlife viewing at Yala National Park is supposed to be very good and the prices are very reasonable in Sri Lanka.

Thanks for all the feedback even though it has only confused me more!
Roccco is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 10:28 AM
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Okay...let's try this again!

How about this one???

Delhi, 3 nts at Imperial Hotel, Heritage Suite

Agra, 2 nts at Amar Vilas, Luxury Terraced Room w/ Taj Mahal View

Jaipur, 3 nts at Rambagh Palace, Historical Suite

6 to 7 hour drive?

Bundi, 2 nts at Haveli Brij Bhushanjee

4 to 5 hour drive?

Deogarh, 1 nt. at best available lodging (they have a heritage place that is supposed to be very good)

Udaipur, 3 nts. at Udai Vilas in Luxury Room w/ Lake View & Semi-Private Pool


How does this one look??? I'll save my gameviewing for Africa, but at least this one puts Bundi and Deogarh on the map and has me driven from beginning to end (then an air transfer back to Delhi and home).
Roccco is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 10:29 AM
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Also, since the Elephant Festival and Holi are on the same dates as Easter this year, I will likely be going in mid-February instead.
Roccco is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 08:28 PM
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My comments on your confusion (just hope I do not compond it!) :

(1) as u are likely to be going mid feb it is a good idea to scratch Ranthambore. I went to Ranth mid April this year and saw 5 tigers including 2 at 10 feet distance. But if seeing tigers is your primary obj of Ranth your earlier timing was much better so I second the idea of ditching it.

(2) Jaipur stay with rambagh - Raj Vilas is more of a resort/spa experience while Rambagh is a converted palace. Sure u will love it.

(3) Udaipur stay with Udai Vilas. I stayed there Dec 2002 and we went to Laka Palace for dinner. I was shocked at how run down Lake Palace has become and we were very happy not to have stayed there. If you really want to see Devi garh plan a meal there but changing hotels for 3 nights is not a good idea IMHO. Ask your tour guide whether Devi Garh is en route in or out of Udaipur for u and stop for a meal.

(3) Do not combine S'pore or Sri Lanka - save them for future trips. IMHO Sri Lanka justifies 2 weeks as it has an amazing amount to see - beaches, wildlife, tea estates, Colombo itself. I would also note that if you shop in India (which you should plan to! e.g. a silk carpet) the S'pore halt may be a pain as u will be lugging heavy bags.

(4) Jodhur is another option - Aman resorts has recently taken over the Umaid Bhawan. I stayed there before it was taken over by Aman and have always loved the property. Must be even more amazing now. U can see it on www.amanresorts.com.

(5) Go to www.heirtagehotels.com which has a short description of various rajasthan cities/states to help you plan.

(6) Jaisalmer you could look at Klla Bahwan - www.killabhawan.com. Very boutiqey and lovely.

(7) In terms of planning :

Del-Imperial hotel
Del-Agra transfer by train - the train station is near the Imperial and it will be an interesting journey. is a fast train. Also, u will have enough driving thereafter.
Agra-Jaipur by road and see fatehpur sikri en route
Jaipur - Jodhpur-Jaisalmer-Udaipur or whatever else you decide by road

Udaipur-Delhi fly back. By now you will be sick of driving and the flight connection is good. Both Indian Airlines andJet fly.

Mail me if you want further advice. By the way, if these quotes were for end march I find them expensive and suggest you shop around some more. Mid march peak season ends and rates drop. Is your travel agent quoting more for mid Feb?
hobbes is offline  

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