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The wonder of this splendour

As Le Meridien, Jaipur, launches its specialty Rajasthani cuisine restaurant this coming Saturday, a posse of beautiful people will descend on the hotel.

Photo: S. Subramanium.

Lit up for luxury... A view of Le Meridien, Jaipur, which offers a lavish experience for the well-heeled tourist.

IF ROYAL inclinations are a fashion yardstick, then this coming Saturday, all roads should lead Jaipur's gentry out of the city, because that's where the State's royals will be heading: Onto the Delhi-Jaipur highway, where Le Meridien, Jaipur has spread its lavish wares over 24 acres and is gearing up to launch its specialty Rajasthani cuisine restaurant, Surya Vilas.

Open for the past 10 months, the hotel is already showing signs of doing great business, and the management claims up to 100 per cent occupancy.

It is a welcome change to find a hotel highlighting the food of the region in which it is located. Otherwise, it almost seems as if the five-star catering business had decided that Mughlai was the only flavour of fine dining, as far as Indian cuisine is concerned.

Rajmata Gayatri Devi will formally inaugurate Surya Vilas, informs Renu Sangwan of Le Meridien, while the whole of the Jaipur royal family is expected to join in, besides Col. K.S. Garcha, the man behind Indian polo, and others.

Situated at Kukas, just off the immaculately maintained road that brings daily traffic from Delhi to Jaipur, the hotel radiates opulence.

Many offerings

Elaborately illuminated, the building literally glows at night. Within the grounds too, the swimming pool, which looks deceptively shallow but is deep enough for adults, gets its share of romantic lights. In the evenings a bazaar is set up for guests to get a taste of the traditional haats, displaying mirror work, beads, puppets, fabrics and toys, as well as traditional performances by puppeteers, dancers and musicians.

However, it is to be hoped the management will eventually consider setting aside a place to present the traditional performing arts, instead of making the singers and dancers walk among the guests in the restaurants, lobbies, etc., a technique many hotels across the country use to attract foreign guests but which denigrates the arts.

The traditional Rajasthani welcome pattern made of inlaid marble in different colours has been used as a motif on walls and floors throughout, while tapestries and carpets highlight the aesthetic spirit of the region. If entertainment and relaxation options include everything from a state-of-the-art fitness centre to Yoga with an instructor, the traditional game of chaupar to a mini film theatre with a choice of titles in English and Hindi, not to mention a children's club, beauty salons, spas and the like, the choice of rooms is just as lavish. If the single and double rooms and four suites, are not enough to lure you, there are the villas, where for approximately Rs.9000 a night, you can live in fairytale luxury. Here, the wonders include open-air bathrooms, which allow you to experience nature's beauty without even getting wet in the rain.

The effort to integrate the innumerable arts and crafts of Rajasthan into the interiors and exteriors of the building has yielded a definitely aesthetic blend of tradition and modernity in Le Meridien, Jaipur, and the architect deserves plaudits.

ANJANA RAJAN

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