Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be moving to a foreign country to live, let alone a country in the Middle East. Over the 2009 Christmas and New Year’s holidays, my husband Roger and I discussed what we wanted the next part of our life to be like. He thought that before retiring, he would like to do one more airport project but only if he could find something very interesting. I half-jokingly agreed that would be fine but could he try for an exotic location? As usual, Roger came through and soon we were headed to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. This blog is a recap of our "leap-of- faith" wanderings around the Middle East and beyond. We joyfully share these expat experiences.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Travel to India - The Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel, Udaipur, A Regal Experience

NOTE: . . . . This is the continuation of my “Incredible Elegant Journey” to India with my sister Paty and good friends Jani and Kathryn.  

Arriving in Udaipur after a short plane ride from Delhi, we are once again royally welcomed by a merry band of greeters. The airline people are there inquiring about the flight - "a bit of a hard landing," - a greeter from the hotel welcomes us profusely and a representative from Elegant Journeys (our tour operator) checks that all is in order. They swiftly gather our belongings and whisk us away in a private car.

We are all a bit anxious on this first "in-country" excursion of our 11-day trip to India. Still a bit dazed by the masses of people and the jumble of Delhi, we are not quite certain what to expect.

The Udaipur streets are every bit as chaotic as Delhi, if on a more delicate scale. Traffic still goes in crazy directions, all manner of animals freely roam the streets, entrepreneurs of every description are in every nook and cranny and the people we pass are constantly smiling.

We know "we are not in Kansas anymore" but we are totally unprepared for our "Royal" Udaipur stay.

Udaipur - the City of Lakes . . .  this gives Kathryn a chuckle, “They need to come visit me in Minneapolis if they want to see a “City of Lakes!”

I will have to agree with Kathryn on that one. While Udaipur’s lakes are very nice (it has 8), Minneapolis does boasts more than 20 lakes.

However, Udaipur’s claim to “The Most Romantic City” does have a chance. Lake Pichola surrounded by the Aravilli hills provides a perfect romantic backdrop for the picturesque collection of gracious palaces sprinkled around the lake like delicate lace lily pads.   

"Oh Roger! Where are you?"

Our first glimpse of Lake Pichola is enchanting. Waiting for us by the dock is our canopied launch and smartly dressed pilot who will take us across the lake to The OberoiUdaivilas Hotel. It is on this short voyage that we see our first view of the stunning palaces in and around the lake.

The Lake Palace
We pass, what claims to be the most romantic hotel in the world, The Lake Palace on Jag Niwas Island. Sitting like a fine white marble sculpture gleaming in the middle of the lake, it was built in the 17th century. This regal haveli (private mansion) is of typical Menwar architecture and was used by many Manaharas as a summer palace. Today it is the five-star Lake Palace Hotel. While we do not get to see the inside of the Lake Palace, later on we all agree that it would be hard to imagine anything finer or more romantic that our Oberoi Udaivilas.

Our royal treatment continues when we arrive at the hotel’s dock. After a brief meandering walk through lush gardens; we are warmly greeted at the gates of the hotel by a solicitous manager, Jan Tibaldi, who throughout our stay, sees to our every need. 

As we enter the central courtyard we are dazed by the majesty of the perfectly manicured scene. We are told that the hotel’s architecture is inspired by the romance and splendor of the ancient grand palaces of the area.  The more we see of the hotel the more we believe this.

As we walk down the entrance portico we are showered with red rose petals. This is the ceremonial Indian welcome for honored guests. 

"India has some amazing traditions. I have stayed in many places around the world but this is the first time to experience a shower of roses. Do they do this for Kate and William?" ponders Paty as she gayly basks in the petals.

And our ceremonial welcome is not over yet! 

Entering the hotel entrance an exotically beautiful sari-dressed woman greets us with dab of oil on our foreheads as a “good welcome.” Another greeter offers refreshing, and surprisingly delicious, rose water tea. 

At this point we are all speechless.

But more opulence awaits us.  

The hotel is stunning in every detail. I understand why it is ranked the #1 Resort in Asia by the 2012 Travel & Leisure Reader’sSurvey. 

We are escorted to our rooms through a maze of covered walkways that are adorned with, what we later learn are, “Indian Miniature Paintings,” depicting royal processions. 

We pass exquisite lush gardens and softly bubbling fountains with an occasional private pavilion.

Our escort stops in front of “The Great Moghul Suite” and beckons me and Jani to enter. Paty and Kathryn are escorted to “The Regent Suite.” The Oberoi has graciously upgraded us to a suite that is elegance with a capital "E." In these surroundings, we feel quite “Regal.”

Our suites are truly palatial. The living room is beautifully appointed in warm shades of honey beige and persimmon with beautiful Indian carpets and interesting antique furniture. I can feel the calming effect instantly. 

The bedroom,with it king size four poster bed, is majestic and has a view of our private pool but it the spacious tub in the bathroom that undoes me. 

There is nothing that takes away the weariness of travel like soaking in a warm bath overlooking your own private garden. 

A beautiful dining room and separate office space completes the interior.

Our private pool overlooks the turrets and domes of the resort. Supremely lovely!! Chaise lounges sit to one side and a raised terrace looks very inviting for “a fresco” dining.

Oh did I mention that the suite comes with our own private butler? In fact, throughout our entire trip we have a private butler at our disposal. This may be the one thing I miss the most when I go home.

"The Oberoi in Udaipur is so crazy beautiful. They gave us an upgrade to a suite that was sooooo beautiful." gushes Kathryn, " You want a pool towel for your private infinity pool? No problem. Poolside there is a basket you open to find, wrapped in a beautiful cloth, your beach towel. You want to order breakfast? No problem. You place your order in a woven scroll and leave it outside your door and it will be whisked away. Wrinkled clothes? No problem. Push the "Butler" button and a charming gentleman appears and takes your clothes to be pressed. Everything is so gracious and gorgeous I do not want to leave!" 

An extra bonus for Paty, Kathryn and Jani is complimentary yoga at 7am - and they did not miss a day!  

As the sun sets over this beautiful palace Jani and I slide into our private pool’s cool water and toast our great Indian adventure! We love India!   

Postscript . . . .

Photo Album . . . 

Photos . . . while Jani and I took thousands of photos on the trip sometimes we did not capture the best pictures to demonstrate the beauty of the site. I have taken the liberty of borrowing a few photos from the Oberoi Udaivilas web site so you can see some of the finer areas of the hotel. 


  1. Beautiful photographs. Mrs. C and I are considering a trip to Inda next year. Your pictures make me want to go even more.

  2. India is an extraordinary area with delightful expected view. India is a nation of various custom and enhancing society. Tourists opposite the globe are lured to the rich society and hypnotizing scene of Trip to India

  3. What an incredible place. India is certainly a place of contrasts if such luxury exists.

  4. The contrasts between the opulence we experienced and the poverty we saw among the people we passed in the streets was striking. It was hard for us to understand how there could be such extremes. In my research I learned that it has been this way in India for centuries.

  5. India MUST be on your bucket list. But be certain to give yourself plenty of time - it is a place to be savored not rushed! Highly recommend Elegant Journeys for planning your trip. They were fantastic.
    PS... also make certain your see the film The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel. Will give you an amazingly entertaining look at just what India is like!

  6. Oh my - so amazing. I have to go there. I can't wait until my husband says the kids are old enough for india - I can't help but feel like I'm treading water until that happens. Udaipur is definitely one of the top on the list once I get there!

  7. It is really informative and encouraging. I like it very much because the description was very realistic.


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