Three stunning resorts in India and the architects who designed them

We are always on the lookout for stunning hospitality projects in India that showcase interesting building techniques and follow earth-friendly principles of design. In this post, we bring you a curated list of resorts in India that vacation dreams are made of. We also look at the firms and architects responsible for bringing these spectacular spaces to life. Read on to get inspired for your next project or to plan your upcoming holiday.

The Kumaon

The Kumaon is a modern-day mountain retreat located close to Binsar National Park and the historic town of Almora in Uttarakhand. Guests can look forward to idyllic long walks through the forest and dinner under the stars, far from the hubbub of the city. Built by Sri Lankan architects Pradeep Kodikara and Jineshi Samaraweera of Zowa Architects, the property is inspired in part by the work of a master of Tropical Modernism, Geoffrey Bawa. Bawa was known for structures that blurred the boundaries between the indoors and the outdoors and The Kumaon, too, brings nature in with rotating, floor-to-ceiling walls of glass that frame spectacular views as far as the eye can see.

Luxury Resorts in India | The Kumaon | Palmex India

Nearly all elements of the construction are hand-made on site and are sympathetic to the location. The razor-sharp, geometric shapes of the chalets are contemporary and clean. Materials like wood, stone, and bare concrete in shades of slate grey, browns, and muted cream, together, evoke a sense of pared down simplicity and stand out against riotous colours of the forest, mountains and skies. At the same time, the spaciousness of the rooms, and the privacy afforded by having just 10 villas spaced wide apart is attractive to the luxury traveler who is looking for some real alone time with nature.

Forest Hills, Tala

Why choose when you can have it all? This seems to be the guiding thought driving the creation of the 160-acre holiday retreat Forest Hills, at Tala, in Maharashtra, just three and a half hours away from Mumbai. Located close to Kuda Caves, where Buddhist monks sought zen almost 20 centuries ago, Forest Hills holds the promise of transcendence for a different kind of seeker today. Vacationers can choose from completely different styles of accommodation set in isolated pockets of the sprawling property. From ‘container homes’ fashioned out of shipping containers, barn cabins, glass houses, to rustic-seeming cottages, Forest Hills has it all.

The Glass House at the Tala | Luxury Resorts in India | Palmex India

But their two-level 2000 sq ft ‘Glass House’ is particularly eye-catching. Built by the good folks at Architecture BRIO, an award-winning studio based in Mumbai, the eco-friendly space is perched on top of a cliff, with a river flowing lazily close by. Architects Robert Verrijt and Shefali Balwani who run Architecture BRIO, have both trained with Channa Daswatte in Sri Lanka, and draw inspiration from the legendary Geoffrey Bawa as well. Verrijt and Balwani channeled him while creating this space that playfully demolishes the boundary between the exterior and the interior, privacy and exposure. Trees clamber above and below and wrap themselves around the structure, and from a distance, the villa seems to appear and disappear from amidst the greenery. Deceptively simple looking, the interiors are a toned down sea of white and brown. The spaces flow into one another, separated by curtains and curved glass walls that offer tantalising glimpses of the forest just outside.

RAAS, Jodhpur

Fancy staying in an iconic 18th-century haveli fit for kings? Then RAAS, Jodhpur beckons. This luxury boutique hotel architected by the Delhi based Studio Lotus offers dazzling views of the imposing the 500-year-old Mehrangarh Fort and is part of Jodhpur’s old town or Walled City. Stretching over 1.5 acres, RAAS houses 39 contemporary rooms that share space with three lovingly-restored heritage buildings that flank an ancient courtyard and date back to the 17th and 18th century.

The RAAS in Jodhpur | Luxury Resorts in India | Palmex India

The original buildings and courtyard are the anchors to the RAAS experience and have been painstakingly restored by traditional craftspeople who used materials like lime mortar and Jodhpur’s famous red sandstone. The newer spaces built around these period structures echo the luxury of a bygone era with the use of materials like hand-cut stone and feature traditional Rajasthani Jharokhas or latticed stone windows that shield guests from the harsh Jodhpur sun. Interiors are regal and hark back to a time of Rajput rulers with high ceilings, majestic arched doorways, carved sheesham furniture and resplendent furnishings, fit to make the visitor feel like royalty.

Not surprising then that the RAAS has won numerous accolades including a Special Mention at the DOMUS International Award for Restoration and Preservation, a nomination for the Aga Khan Awards and has been adjudged World Holiday Building of the Year at WAF Barcelona.

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Preeti Prakash | Journalist

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