Ever since I relocated to India in 2012, I have been meaning to get on to a FAM tour. Having been on several FAM tours in South Korea from 2005 to 2012, it was baffling not to be even on one in my own country.
But all that was going to change.
Earlier this month, me along with four other Delhi based bloggers received an invite from Mr. Rizwan Shaikh, General Manager, Fairmont Jaipur to review the hotel, including their new Indo-Persian fine dining restaurant called Zarin.
Here's a summary of my FAM tour experience of the Fairmont hotel.
The tour was planned to perfection by the PR. That said, no matter how perfect the planning is there is always some room for improvement.
Monday, July 20, 2015
3 am to 6 am
My train from New Delhi Railway Station to Jaipur Junction was slated to arrive at 6 am, which meant I had to wake up at the crack of dawn and leave the house by 4.30. I don't remember waking up so early in my life before. But wait, that wasn't the only glitch.
The cabbie who came to pick me was a complete douche bag. First, he forgot to carry his wallet. Second, his cab broke down just few seconds after arriving at my door. I had to request random people to push the car. And finally, he made me pay for the fuel (remember, it was a prepaid taxi booked by the PR).
The only silver lining was meeting Vickrham (a. k. a. Vicky) at the station. Vicky is part of The Writers Collective of India (TWCI) and writes here.
6 am to 12 pm
The train arrived at Platform 2 on time but there wasn't any sign of other bloggers. As soon as we boarded the train, we met Sudipto De, who writes on a food blog called Salts and Sandals.
|Vicky, Sudipto, and Moi|
The train took a halt at the Delhi Cantonment railway station, and it was here that we met the remaining bunch - Reena Batra from Travreviews, Saumya Chandel from See I told you, and Vidisha Puri from Quotient Consultancy Services.
|The Fantastic Four Bloggers|
Even though I was cool and distant with everyone throughout the FAM tour, I bonded extremely well with Vicky and Reena due to similarities in the way we think and approach life.
|Reena & I|
12 pm to 1 pm
On reaching the Fairmont hotel, we received a royal welcome with Nagada (a huge drum), flower shower (using Rose petals), and Ravanahatha escort (Ravanahatha is an ancient bowed violin).
|Royal Welcome at Fairmont - With Nagada & Flower Shower|
The Fairmont hotel resembles a living fortress that gleefully combines the glories of the past with modern-day comforts. Every aspect of the hotel - be it the architecture, layout, decor, or hospitality - is inspired by the legends of two of India's most celebrated rulers – the Mughals and the Rajputs.
|Royal Welcome at Fairmont - Ravanahatha Escort|
The customary traditional welcome didn't end with the tika and showering of rose petals. We were escorted through the Char Baagh (four gardens) courtyard to the lobby area where we revered in the mellifluous melody of the Santoor. The arrival experience, which also resonates with history, gives you a sense of the privileged world.
|Santoor Player at Fairmont|
It wasn't long before we were joined by Jorley and Deepak, who work as the HR Director and F&B Director, respectively, at the Fairmont Jaipur. To mark the start of a wonderful association, we assembled at Anjum (the tea lounge and day bar) and raised a toast with champagne.
1 pm to 2 pm
As I made my way towards the signature room, I couldn't help but notice the intricate frescos in hues of blue, gold, and red adorning the walls of the hotel. It reminded me of the local artisans and craftsmen from Rajasthan, who continue to carry forward the legacy of the Mughal aesthetic with ease, elan, and perfection.
|Beautiful work of art at Fairmont|
For some quaint reason, the warm low lighting throughout the hotel gave an intimate feel. The vintage Shekhawati furniture, carved silver antiques, large velvet 'pankha', and rich upholstery make you part of a beautiful love story from a bygone era.
To say the room was majestic would be such an understatement.
|Fairmont Signature Room|
Signature rooms at Fairmont are bespoke residences that exude classic heritage influences - with poster beds, camel bone inlaid furniture, walk-in bathrooms with the distinct pink city stone bath tubs, Mughal styled low seating day bed and discreet arched windows overlooking the Aravalli hills.
Understated yet opulent, the level of detailing in a Fairmont room will leave you asking for more. For instance, to add a touch of playful romance and provide a royal chamber ambiance, the staff has perched a parrot - the lucky mascot of Fairmont Jaipur - right next to the bed in every room. The parrot is still considered a traditional companion and confidante of royalty in Rajasthan.
2 pm to 5 pm
After a quick shower, I headed straight to the adjacent room, where we were supposed to meet for lunch.
|Huge Bath Tub at Fairmont|
The first lunch was an ensemble of special crafted Indian/Continental food like -
- Som Tom Salad
- Fish in Lemon Coriander sauce
- Ayam Curry
- Stir fried Asian vegetables in Black Bean Sauce accompanied with Jasmine Rice
- Pula Mai with Sticky Rice
- Lemongrass and mint mojito
- Selection of tea and coffee
|First Lunch at Fairmont Jaipur|
Post lunch, I stepped out for a walk-through of the hotel while others chose to take rest. Minutes later, it dawned on me that Fairmont Jaipur is not just a luxury hotel but an experience in privileged elegant living.
It is a grand contemporary escapade to celebrate the finer things in life. The hotel truly captures the essence of Jaipur's rich history and culture through its design and architecture.
|Fairmont Swimming Pool|
5 pm to 6 pm
At 5 pm, we gathered at Anjum for the Fairmont High Tea experience. It was a chance to know each other well over an unrivalled selection of authentic, high quality teas.
|Anjum - The Tea Lounge|
Sitting in the lobby area and enjoying my hot beverage, I couldn't help but notice the ornate murals and comfortable lounge style sofas all around. The view of the majestic willow Stream Spa from Anjum gleaming against the azure pool is a sight to behold.
I was told that Anjum is a popular haunt for holding tea tasting sessions. Also, the Fort Lighting Ceremony takes place just outside Anjum each evening.
|Fairmont High Tea Experience at Anjum|
Slowly yet steadily, as the conversation grew deeper, Anjum transformed into a romantic evening lounge with stars on the ceiling twinkling away.
6 pm to 7 pm
This was the hour we had all been waiting for. A tour of the property by the Front Office Manager, Naveen Dogra.
Fairmont is the brainchild of Ratankant Shiv Sharma, who is the Chairman and Managing Director of Triton Hotels and Resorts. The property was inaugurated on August 9, 2012, and the hotel is now gearing up for its third anniversary celebration.
The inventory boasts of 199 rooms and 3 suites. If you're planning to visit the property anytime soon, you must know that the Fairmont rooms are further classified into four different categories:
- Fairmont rooms (leading) - Starting range INR 9k plus taxes
- Deluxe rooms - Starting range INR 11k plus taxes
- Signature rooms - Starting range INR 13k plus taxes
- Fairmont gold rooms - Starting range INR 15k plus taxes
|Fairmont Gold Room|
Most rooms measure the same in size (450 square feet); however, the pricing differs due to amenities and views.
The starting range of three suites is a whopping INR 35k plus taxes.
To render the feel of a fortress, a hydrophobic lime plaster called "tadelakt" is used on both the interiors and exteriors of the hotel. Fairmont adorns 3600 pillars and 95 chandeliers, and just like any other royal palace in Jaipur, this one too has a Char Baagh (four gardens) courtyard. Each part of the Char Baagh has 14 trees, making it 56 trees in all.
7 pm to 8 pm
We hit the pool for some time before heading to the elegant Aza, Fairmont's library bar, for a quiet evening of aperitifs and signature cocktails with Deepak, the F&B director.
|Aza - The Library Bar|
As the jaali doors of Aza opened to welcome the bloggers, I couldn't help but draw a parallel between the regal bar and a royal emperor's hunting lodge. The beautiful decor of Aza is further complimented with deep leather wing chairs, vintage cognacs, rare single malts, a wine cellar, and smell of leather bound books. Also on display is a varied collection of 'liquid history'.
We stopped by at the exclusive whisky appreciation station that features an exotic collection of aged and rare malt whiskies. It was here that we got a bird's eye view of the 'Private whisky collection of the Maharaja', from an era of quiet elegance.
Aza exudes an old-world charm replete with an experience in laid-back classic luxuries. With its warm interiors and silent black and white movies, you're sure to enjoy every moment of your time here.
9 pm to 10 pm
It was time to draw the curtains but not before a royal dinner at Zoya, the all-day dining restaurant. Zoya delights you with an array of eclectic dining options. What better way than to end the day with an authentic Rajasthani cuisine!
|Zoya - All-Day Dining Restaurant|
All in all, I was ecstatic to stay at the Fairmont.
|Fairmont Experience - A Must-Have|
If you're looking for an oasis of luxury, head to the outskirts of the Pink City, where in the quiet recess of the Kukas lies a testament to the marvelous history and culture of Rajasthan. Thank you Fairmont for the lovely memories!