Inspired by Indian architecture and heritage, ITC Grand Bharat is an oasis of luxury in midst of a rugged terrain.
Gurgaon, for us residing in Delhi, does not conjure up great memories. The Millennium City bubble has gone kaput for me a long time back as I could no longer stand traffic snarls. But, last month something odd happened when I found myself at ITC Grand Bharat for a mid-week spa treat. Gurgaon became less unbearable.
Braving bad traffic and heavy rains, I reached the resort an hour late from what I have anticipated. Before I could curse the weather and anti-carpooling Indian mindset any further, I heard bugle at a distance as I entered the resort. I rolled down the window to peek outside and caught a glace of an uniformed guard blowing the trumpet. At the porch, four uniformed guards gave me military-like welcome, complete with a salute. I could not help but smile.
The word that best describes this all-suite resort is grand. Everything is colossal…entrances, high ceilings, rotunda dome in the Sangam lobby, stretches of greens overlooking the building, and rows of villas. My golf cart was promptly brought in to drop me off to my suite in Hampi villa. While driving through the lanes, I spotted villas named after Mughal, Maratha, and Chola dynasties. The architecture is influenced by stepwells of Adalaj in Gujarat, Mukhteshwara temples, royal palace of Baroda, and ghats of Varanasi.
“It took four and half years to build the resort. It has four Presidential villas, 100 suites and a 27-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus inside the estate,” Riya, our hostess says. As soon as I settled my luggage, I found my way to the semi-private lap pool and sat at the edge looking at the gardens beyond; feet dipped in the cold water. I cursed myself for wasting too much time solving calculus in my growing up years and not taking swimming lessons instead.
It is strange how we feel hungry a lot more when all we want to laze by the pool. I dragged myself to the Aravali Pavilion as my stomach growled. Lunch was an unhurried affair as I ordered steamed river sole ginger in cilantro light soy sauce from its Swasthya cuisine menu prepared using locally-sourced produce. As I finished my lunch with a cheesecake, I could not help but ask my hostess about the pastel floral wallpaper. “It is actually hand painted,” she says. I went to examine it closely and decided to take a round of the resort once I am done with what I was there for…a day at Kaya Kalp-The Royal Spa.
An entire level is dedicated to the spa complete with its own plunge pool, a lounge, steam and shower areas. But, before a guest goes in for a spa treatment, they are ushered to the resident Ayurvedic physician, Dr C. Shreenarayan for a consultation. Little did I know that I was in for a surprise!
As I sat in a room staring at the incomprehensible paintings, the physician asked questions about my lifestyle, work, food preferences, and sleeping patterns.
“What time do you sleep and wake up?”
“I sleep around 1 am and wake up at 8.”
“What is your breakfast like?”
“Wheat flakes and milk, some dried fruits… if I don’t skip it.”
“How is your stress level?”
“Do you get angry easily?”
“I would say, I have zero tolerance for stupidity.”
I fought my urge to ask him what has these random questions, which did not seem to impress him anyway, anything to do with an hour of my blissful beauty treatment? He held my wrist to study my pulse. “You see the painting in front of you. It represents vata, the space. You have a dominant vata and you need to change your lifestyle accordingly,” he said. Apparently, I have been doing everything wrong in my life…eating, sleeping, even taking a shower! And here I was, thinking I am fairly disciplined. I learnt that what we think is healthy or good for us, more often than not, is against our dominant doshas. Our preferences in terms of food, sleep, cold or hot showers, even the way we react in a situation, are decided by the doshas, and it is best to rewire our life around it before it is too late.
As I walked towards the spa room for my head and shoulder massage, I noticed a Tree of Life mural with pomegranate fruits, inspired by the gardens from the Mughal era. My spa therapist, Sonam gave me a foot bath before directing me to the spa bed. Unlike the wooden bed used during Ayurveda therapies, this one was softer. My head and shoulders were massaged using precise hand movements and I could feel the stress knots pop open at the back of my neck. The deadlines, the stress and thoughts seem to melt away in oblivion as I slipped into a slumber. I woke up with a soft sound of a miniature gong. I would have been embarrassed for dozing off but Sonam told me that it is a complement for a therapist. I thanked her as we walked out, talking about her home in Bhutan and her life in Gurgaon. She seemed to be fine with the city. May be my thoughts were changing too. I also checked out the Hamam room on my way out.
Sipping on to green tea, I looked at the Aravalli hills from the spa terrace and thought to myself that some hotels do not have decades of history behind them, but they are build to create one.