Thursday, November 24, 2011

Indian Accommodation Reviews...

Our safari started in Delhi. The population of Delhi is 18 million. Once we landed in Delhi, we stayed at the Lalit Hotel.
The  Lalit hotel is very clean, the staff are friendly, the grounds are safe and the food is very good. We went to Agra for a couple days to see the Taj Mahal, so they were kind enough to lock our big wildlife lenses in their large safety deposit boxes until we got back. The boxes are based on a two key system like a regular safety deposit box. It was nice to be able to relax while in Agra knowing that my camera equipment was safe.  A tip for requesting a room? Ask for a room away from the train tracks so your rest is quieter. It was a nice stay, but I wouldn’t stay there again. When I am 20,000 miles away from home, I like to keep in touch with my business, home and I like to blog daily. If I am staying in an expensive hotel, I think it is very poor form for a hotel to charge for internet service too. There are lots of hotels that have enough class and customer service to realize that nickel and diming is low class and don’t charge for internet service. Next time while in India I will stay at one of them.

While visiting the Taj Mahal, we stayed at a hotel called The Trident in Agra. Agra has a population of 4,380,793. The Trident hotel is the perfect hotel to stay at while visiting the Taj Mahal. It is clean, safe, and a ten minute drive from the Taj Mahal. The staff are great, the rooms are quiet and comfortable, the grounds are gorgeous, the pool is beautiful, they have free internet and a free business centre and the food is absolutely amazing! The next time I am in Agra, I will look up the link to this hotel from my blog and book it again without hesitation. I would strongly recommend that anyone interested in seeing the Taj Mahal stay at this hotel.

After arriving back at Delhi, we stayed one more night at the Lalit hotel, then flew from Delhi to Jabalpur and had lunch at a really swanky hotel in Jabalpur.( I can’t remember what it is called, right now. It will come to me.) The population of this city is 1,267,564. The lunch was fantastic! Okay, now do you remember when I spoke earlier about the suggestion that we needed to bring spare rolls of toilet paper? Here it comes. Not to worry, it is PG… so, after lunch I looked for the bathroom before our four hour drive up the windy mountain roads to Bandhavgarh. The bathroom in this swanky beautiful hotel is the most gorgeous floor to ceiling marble bathroom that I have ever been in. It is architecturally creative and beautiful. I get into the bathroom stall and notice that there is water all over the place. There is less water in the shower room of a water park! It’s a good thing that I looked around before dropping the trousers as I quickly noticed the culprit of the mess. I believe it is part of the muslim culture not to use toilet paper. In many bathrooms there is a hole in the floor and a water tap to assist you in cleaning yourself. In this bathroom there was a high pressure sprayer like something you would use to spray the dirt off your car. I had visions of spraying something that I didn’t want on to something that I would have to wear in the car for the next four hours. There were just so many issues around the discomfort of that idea and my lack of experience with that method that I decided that my best option was to go to the car, sneak some toilet paper, hover and go western style!


Four hours later we arrived at NatureHeritage. This resort to me is like a three star resort or so with five star service. It is very comfortable, the people are very friendly and speak quite good English. They jump to help you and carry your gear at any opportunity. They never needed to be asked to help us with our luggage or photography equipment. Every day on safari we have bags of lenses and photography gear to lug a short distance to and from the jeeps. The staff were always at our door ready to help us and always on time. They were fantastic! The food at Nature Heritage is abundant, tasty and every lunch and supper were different on every day. I couldn’t believe the amount of different foods that they served us. They had wireless internet for us and even though it didn’t always work, even when it was down, it would only stay down for a couple hours, then would be back up again. We had a fantastic stay at Nature Heritage. I will definitely stay there the next time that I go to Bandhavgarh and would recommend without hesitation that anyone going to Bandhavgarh stay there as well.

From Bandhavgarh, we drove four hours back down the windy roads of the mountain, had another great lunch at Jabalpur at that same restaurant in the beautiful hotel (I still can't remember the name of it) then continued on four more hours to Pench where we reached our next hotel reservation at the Tiger Corridor. The Tiger Corridor hotel has the appearance of a five star resort. It looks fantastic, the rooms are spacious and beautiful, it has a fancy dining room and bar the entry to the resort is grand and beautiful. But what is it really? Well, they put 6 photographers with heavy gear that has to be lugged twice a day in the very end chalets. We walked at least 125 yards to the jeep and from the jeeps to our rooms after the game drives . We then walked to and from for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The chalets while spacious are so far away that they are very inconvenient and lacked that intimate feel  that a resort would offer if the chalets were located in a closer proximity to the necessities. Also the staff do not go out of their way to help you with your bags. When we have to carry 50 pounds of camera gear 125 yards four times a day with no help it does become quite challenging. It wasn’t so bad for me, but my roommate is a lady who is 5’1. Her gear almost weighs half of her body weight and they would watch her struggle with it without offering help, so between the two of us, I had all of my gear and some of hers and it was a challenge for both of us. We were just barely able to carry all of our gear that distance and would always have to stop for a break to re-group before getting to our room. If a resort is going to have this kind of set up and are going to book photographers, they really should use their heads and either book them closer rooms or have golf carts to assist the photographers get to and from their rooms with their gear.

The food was quite good. The wait staff did a great job as did the cooks. The food was quite tasty, but they didn't offer much variety. It was generally similar meal to meal with a couple exceptions in each meal. They didn't put near as much effort into variety of meals as did Nature Heritage.

The one saving grace of the tiger corridor is their naturalist Devies. He was amazing. He went above and beyond for us and was fantastic! A couple of the managers and one of the waiters also had very strong customer service skills, but as a team they were pretty weak. Their jeeps are very comfortable for tourists with point and shoot cameras, but are completely inappropriate for serious photographers with professional equipment. I was very happy that we contracted out the jeeps and guides outside the resort as they were much more functional for photographers. Lastly the resort didn’t offer any wi fi or internet service of any kind. To me this resort is a 5 star resort appearance wise, but a 1.5 to 2 star resort service and functionality wise. I will not be back.

I hope this information helps anyone who may be interested in traveling to similar areas that I visited in India. Of course these are just my opinions. I made sure not just to rate these places, but to provide reasons why I was either impressed or not happy with the places that we stayed so you can decide for yourself if these resorts may be places that you may consider on your adventure as the reasons that I may like or dislike a place may or may not bother the next person.

Happy Trails
-Greg

3 comments:

  1. I totally love this place and have to visit again this coming December for holiday season with my family.

    Hostels Buenos Aires

    ReplyDelete
  2. Of Course I am totally agree with you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Taj MahAl is a place where you don't get satisfied even after seeinG several times!!

    ReplyDelete