We ‘commoners’ often wonder what it might have been like to be a royal. The stories we’ve heard, the books we’ve read or the films we’ve seen all paint a picture that seems far from reality. Jaipur in general harkens back to the royal life of the past, with the city’s iconic pink walls, the royal havelis that have been converted to heritage hotels, and iconic architectural gems.
Returning to Jaipur after many years, I was greeted by the familiar pink walls, while the traffic on the streets piled on. As we left the rush of the city to get on the National Highway, the empty road invited us with open arms. With the Aravalli Range giving us company, we cruised along. In the distance, a sparkling white structure, in stark contrast to the brown hills in the background, caught my eye. It was my destination. As we turned into the gateway, I was treated to a full view of the JW Marriott Jaipur Resort & Spa.
This is JW’s ninth property in the country, having opened its doors four months back and already having become a hot wedding location. My first impression was that it was ‘grand’, but a sort of ‘contemporary grand’. Let me explain. Unlike most luxurious heritage properties that are renovated, this one has been built from scratch. There is a newness which is indeed refreshing. To give visitors a feel of olden-day royalty, the property has borrowed elements from the past. Local artisans were employed to create a piece of royal grandeur that can be experienced alongside modern facilities. The whole property is painted in shades of white, with royal blue and green designs. There is a play of gold and silver on doors that glint in the afternoon sun. Traditional tikri (mirror art) designs and jalis (lattice screens) add to the aesthetic appeal, while marble fountains sprout up all around.
Among the many categories of rooms the property offers, I stayed at a royal pool room, one of their most popular ones. Access to your own plunge pool in the soaring heat of Rajasthan indicates a weekend where one alternates between the water and the comfortable bed. There is simply no reason to go to the common swimming pool in the heart of the resort.
Dipping my toes in the water, my stomach rumbled. I sought out Sukh Mahal, the popular all-day dining restaurant, which is done up in pleasing shades of white, bronze and black to reflect different shades across the day. Here, one can opt for buffet or à la carte. If you opt to order separately, do try the laal maas (local meat curry) and daal panchmel (made with five lentils). Both tasted fine, though I prefer my mutton more spicy.
For a peek into the lives of the local women weavers, one can head to nearby Manpura village with the Jaipur Rug Foundation, which the resort will happily arrange. These rural women are artists and entrepreneurs. A fixed income provides them economic stability, while the work gives them dignity.
For dinner, if you want to eat a royal meal on silverware in candlelight, book a table at Mohan Mahal. Inspired by the iconic Sheesh Mahal, Mohal Mahal took two years to create, with over 3.5 million pieces of mirror. There are no lights, just candles and on a water body in the centre. The soothing sound of water is the perfect accompaniment to the traditional thali (₹3,500 plus taxes). You’d better be starving all day for this experience. The non-vegetarian thali had three appetisers, soup, bati and churma (local specialities), mutton and chicken curries from the region, and then three kinds of dessert. The downside to this experience is the massive quantity of food which diners often don’t want.
To round off a relaxing weekend, try the spa. Opting for 60 minutes (₹6,000 plus taxes) of massage, my body felt pampered.
While certain sections of the resort, such as the rooftop dining restaurant, is still not open, and small kinks that need to be worked out, overall, it’s relaxing, quiet and luxurious; elements that make for a pampered royal weekend.
Location: Off NH 11. The airport is 32 km away; approx. 40 mins
Accommodation: 200 rooms (including 22 terrace rooms, 16 studios, 41 pool rooms,1 palace suite, 1 presidential suite)
Tariff: ₹15,000 approx. onwards
Contact: +91-142-6666000, jwmarriottjaipur.com