After a bumpy, half hour ride from Kukas Highway that involved coaxing a bunch of nonchalant cows to give way, we reached the Tree of Life Resort and Spa in Jaipur just before dawn. A groggy resort staff with a smile on his face welcomed us with a copper bracelet that was supposed to attract positive energy and showed us to our very own private pool villa.
The sky slowly changed from an inky black to blue flecked with hues of orange and violet and birds began to chirp all around. Despite the drive, I had no other option but to leave the luxurious interiors of Cassia, our villa, and take my cup of tea to the lawn by the pool. Gusts of cool breeze tingled my skin even as the mellow rays of the sun hit my face. Flowers—red, yellow, purple, white—were blooming in every corner of the lawn. Tiny lime yellow butterflies fluttered by, bees buzzed past me and I closed my eyes to savour the feeling. I could identify almost six different birdcalls and I thought to myself—am I in a little slice of paradise?
Nestled in a valley between two ridges of the primeval Aravali range, the resort is spread over a sprawling 7 acres of verdant land. Cheerful orange-coloured domes, beautifully manicured gardens dotted with fruit trees and flowers, the aesthetics of the property are inspired by a mix of nature and Rajasthani culture. Built using sandstone, lime and natural stones, the 13 luxury villas of the resort are named after different varieties of flowering trees common in India. The colour pattern of the interiors follow this theme as well.
Our villa included not one but two lawns, one by the entrance and the other by the pool. It had separate sitting areas with plush sofas and vibrant upholstery, yet there was a minimalist streak that dominated the interiors. My favourite area was the huge French window, complete with a cozy window seat that looked out to the pool, just perfect for curling up with a book in the drowsy afternoons. The bedroom was well-appointed with a queen-size four-post bed, a study table and multi-coloured rugs. The dome of the villa was done up with intricate mirror-work; as the bed lies right under the dome, this is what I woke up to in the mornings. One can tell how much attention has been paid to every detail.
Breakfasts were always by the pool, and it was a sumptuous spread of pancakes, waffles, fresh fruits, your choice of juices, coffee and cereal. Lunch was à la carte and it included a wide variety from continental to Indian. Chef Mahendra made sure to make dinners an elaborate affair. To that end, he came to our villa early in the evening to discuss the night’s menu with us, so our orders were placed much before we went over to the resort’s 8-shaped restaurant, aptly named Ashtam. The laal maas and makai murg ka shwet were to die for and so was the dessert—a lovely pua served with a dollop of creamy rabri.
All this and I still hadn’t arrived at the spa! The resort pays special attention to wellness with a lovely spa and personalised yoga sessions. The pool villas also have private spa beds in the lawn with open showers for those who want to enjoy spa-sessions in their own villas. I opted for the stress-relief massage. It was a thoroughly relaxing session where the masseuse used special techniques to focus on knotted muscles and stress-prone areas of the body. It was so good that I almost fell asleep!
You can also go for village visits, and that’s what we chose to do after breakfast on our second day at the resort. We were ferried on a vibrantly adorned tractor by Kaka, the humble man who owns the land that the resort is built on. He showed us around the adjoining village called Kukas and even took us to his house where we were introduced to his pet, a camera-allergic buffalo called Rinku.
We were spoilt silly with a hedonistic rose bath in the villa’s open-air sunken tub, complete with candles, on our last night at the resort. The following morning we went on a trek to the surrounding hills. The mountain girl in me was utterly thrilled. It was the last thing I was expecting on a trip to the desert state of Rajasthan! The Tree of Life had completely lived up to its name.