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The pandemic has undoubtedly impacted every aspect of our lives, including the hospitality industry. As wanderers, we too can do our bit in helping the domestic situation improve– if not global–once the travel bans are lifted by doing what we do best: travelling! Embark on the ‘Local for Vocal’ bandwagon and unwind at these 10 luxurious Indian boutique resorts at the first chance you get. By Bayar Jain

1. Suryagarh Jaisalmer


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Living in uncertain times and fretting about the future’s doom can make it easy for us to forget our traditions and roots. Jaisalmer, a land doused in colourful mysticism and countless dunes, make this reconnect easier. Suryagarh Jaisalmer, however, amplifies it even more. Bringing a tonality of princely India with tinges of traditional opulence lies at the heart of this five-star resort. Whether you choose to reside in the profoundly nostalgic havelis here, spacious suites, or even the cosy rooms, the palatial vibe is sure to make you feel like royalty. While here, you can even choose to channel your inner warriors with Dhanurvidya — their archery workshop or get lost to the tunes of Mehboob Khan – an artist of international repute – at a live cultural evening.

2. The Tree of Life Resort & Spa, Jaipur


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Situated less than 40 kilometres away from Amber Palace in Jaipur, The Tree of Life Resort & Spa is an abode of quiet itching to be your temporary home once the situation improves. Nestled in the rolling beauty of the Aravalli hills, this 13-villa resort offers relaxation and beauty in every inch of its seven acres of inviting land. Built using local architectural style and Rajasthan‘s signature colourful persona, the villas here are guaranteed to take you through centuries of tradition laced with a modern touch. To amp your ‘local’ contributions further, you can pair these with experiences such as trips to the nearby elephant village, dabbling in farm life, or even becoming a teacher for a day.

3. Mihir Garh, Khandi


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When a resort is resurrected from a fort, an inviting vacation is bound to follow. Home to nine magnificent suites, each of which radiates luxury, Mihir Garh redefines indulgence to add nostalgic class to its definition as well. Numerous alcoves, lounges and common areas commanding a spectacular view are designed to bring intimacy – with yourself and another, a welcome step in what could possibly be the new avatar of travelling. From village safaris to royal picnics, from the novel experience of riding some of the finest specimens of horses, to watching an antelope prance past, or simply gazing at the magnificent night sky after a Shikar Dinner, Mihir Garh will keep you yearning for more.

4. Chamba Camp Thiksey, Ladakh


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The best way to get away from the current chaos and reconnect with oneself the first chance you get is by escaping to the serene monasteries of the mountains. In such cases, Ladakh‘s Thiksey Monastery is the spot for you, and Chamba Camp Thiksey is the ideal hideaway to snooze for the night. Effortlessly putting the word ‘glam’ in glamping, this retreat offers spectacular views of the snow-capped mountains from the luxury suite-like tents. What could seem like a lonely affair is made glamorous with experiences such as rafting, wiFi at 12,000 feet and picnic lunches amidst the most picturesque spots!

5. Ri Kynjai – Serenity By The Lake, Shillong


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With a name that literally translates to ‘Serenity by the Lake’ in Khasi, Ri Kynjai is the right space to break free from the worldly chaos the first chance you get. Perched near the calm Umiam Lake in Shillong, nature lovers can choose to laze around in perfectly appointed cottages, or relax with traditional Khasi spa treatments followed by a dinner deliciously heavy on local delicacies. The more adventurous folks can embark on beautiful hill treks, boat rides and island picnics. Of course, while you’re here, a trek to the Shillong Golf Course – dating back to 1889 – is a must!

6. Primrose Villas, Chikmagalur


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Tucked away in the mountain tops of the Western Ghats, Primrose Villas is a pleasant three-and-a-half-hour drive away from Bengaluru, making it a safe spot for your post-lockdown weekend sojourn. Boasting of a 360-degree view of the stunning landscape and a sweet space away from the city’s mundanity, this tranquil resort is an ode to luxury. Think villas replete with whiffs of coffee beans from the nearing plantations, Victorian-era furniture, and magnificent glass windows to bring the outdoors indoors.

7. The Serai, Kabini


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Stillness lies at the heart of Kabini, and The Serai excels at it. Located on the Southeastern end of Nagarhole National Park, Kabini is home to one of the largest numbers of elephants in Asia. The river attracts these majestic animals in big herds. Besides, over 300 species of birds are spotted throughout the year. If this plethora of wildlife is not sufficient to pull you towards The Serai’s abode, then the jungle safaris and water sports available here might entice. Alternatively, for the laid-back few, the rusticity of stone walls, wooden floors, and sounds of the flowing river is sure to do the trick.

8. Marari Beach Resort, Mararikulam


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Nothing is more local than an Indian resort tributing the fisherfolk of the region. The seaside Marari Beach Resort in Kerala’s Mararikulam echoes their dwellings in style and celebrates their distinct sensibilities in the cuisines served. Celebrations of the thriving ecosystem, too, will find a way to weave into your experience here. Infused with a strong native aesthetic, the roofs are thatched with coconut leaves, and open-skies bathing will bring you a step closer to Mother Earth. The serene, balmy private pools and sea breeze will work its magic into lulling you into deep relaxation.

9. Kanha Earth Lodge – Kanha National Park


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Offering myriad and enriching forest experiences that explore the finer nuances of wildlife, community living and sustainability, Kanha Earth Lodge celebrates nature’s biodiversity with full gusto. Tucked in a small hamlet bordering Kanha’s buffer zone, this 16 acres of natural forest land has 12 luxury cottages to tease you – each inspired by Gond tribal architecture with open verandahs providing unhindered and stunning views of the surrounding environs. A multitude of unique nature walks, birding experiences, riverside picnics and cycling expeditions aside, our favourite is its sustainability initiatives. The luxurious fanfare is not compromised despite the environmentally sensitive, low-impact accommodations designed using local stone and waste wood.

10. Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar


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Set in six buildings dating to the 18th Century, the Ahilya Fort Hotel in the heart of the country – Madhya Pradesh, has three acres of magnificent courtyards, fountains, and gardens to take your breath away. The hotel’s gardens, designed and planted by Prince Richard Holkar, are spread throughout the property, glimpses of which permeate through the dining spaces as well. The organic bageecha here, or vegetable garden, provides the kitchen with seasonal salads, vegetables, and herbs, picked fresh each day to dress your plates. While in one corner children can play with bunnies, ducks, goats and the resort’s Royal Pug, the adults can pamper themselves to a traditional nimadi massage.

Related: #SomeGoodNews: Air India To Now Evacuate Stranded Passengers Within The Country