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Dusit Devarana – Befitting the Gods

Thailand’s Dusit Group opens its first luxury resort in a corner of Delhi. And the aesthetically built hotel has won our admiration!

Thailand’s Dusit Group opens its first luxury resort in a corner of Delhi. And the aesthetically built hotel has won our admiration!

While we increasingly realize that Delhi is badly in need of green lungs, the city’s residents generally are reconciled to the fact that to reconnect with nature, they have to travel some distance. Well, possibly no longer. The Dusit Devarana, the first hotel by the Thailand based group, has just opened in Delhi. It is incidentally also the first luxury resort hotel for the group anywhere in the world, a rare case when a Thai hotel starts a sub-brand not in its own backyard, justly known for setting global standards in hospitality. The Dusit Group is one of Thailand’s most famous, and off late, has been spreading globally.

Let’s see if its facts and features impress you. The resort is spread in about eight acres. This vast spread, however, has just 50 rooms, with the average space per room being extensive to put it mildly. All rooms, and there are three categories of each, are sized 650 square feet each. Room amenities include round-the-clock butler service and iPads to control for all gadgets. There’s a 102 metre pool – that’s more than twice the length of an Olympic size pool – between the blocks set amongst landscapes gardens. There are over a 1,000 trees on the property. And to think literally, Devarana does mean garden for devas or gods!

Enter the Thai heaven
The entrance, though on the busy National Highway 8, is discreet, so be on a lookout for it. Design fans, start taking mental notes. The Thai colour for royalty, purple, starts with a dash right here, and is woven into multiple facets of the hotel. You drive into a square, spacious courtyard where guests are dropped off. Note the walls – besides acting as a sound barrier, their surface is covered with metal ficus leaves, in effect a huge art installation. The architect, the renowned Lek Bunnag, who has also designed the Four Seasons Resort in Chiang Mai and Langkawi, the Sofitel So Mauritius and the Oberoi, Bali, besides the Trident, Gurgaon, has chosen to keep the interiors minimalist, creating spaces of serenity.

Further on, an imposing door opens to what is referred to as the ‘dome’ building. Though you won’t get a clear line of vision here – intentionally – pause a moment to take in the intricacies of design. A lot of effort has gone in to create the simple, minimalist look. Note the boat shaped marble tables, the strikingly hued glass panel, the net and glass topped ceiling which filters light to reflect the different times of day creating shadow play, the beautiful moon doors, recessed niches and arches set in stone, and clover leaf patterns – a motif that goes across the hotel. This area opens to a long pool with hugging greens and a family of friendly ducks!

Spreading the net
Dusit Devarana is positioned as a luxury spa destination, says Mr Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director, Bird Group. “We would like to serve the discerning tourist who wishes to enjoy a luxurious residence while in India. The top-end of the corporate sector will love staying here too with our superb location near the airport and excellent, quick access to Gurgaon or important addresses in Delhi.”

The built-up area, just 2.6 acres, comes mainly in two blocks. The northern block, besides rooms, which include 11 Grand rooms that open to the pool, providing private access to it, also houses Iah, the in-house bar. Though there is no official word on the expense incurred to develop the resort, just the fact that every detail has been minutely debated makes it a delight for the customer. Birgit Holm, General Manager, who has been on the project for the last two and half years, takes pride in pointing out details such as the beautifully carved door handles, moon doors or the bird topped receptacles in all rooms. Staff uniforms have been created by well-known Indian designer Suneet Varma, and staff to guest ratio is about three and a half.

The outdoor pool, touted to be the longest in Delhi at 102 metres, is temperature controlled. The marble used in the property is from Greece. Terrazzo has been widely used for surfaces, and there is a fair amount of work in bronze and brass, though largely understated. The design incorporates local motifs as well, as well as those from the past, including the Isfahani pillars in hardwood. All public areas have ceilings that are 25 to 30 feet high, helping to create a spacious feel, adds Mr Jaideep Anand, AGM. The ambience of the property is uniquely serene for a bustling destination such as Delhi, though there are parts where the summer sun maybe a tad too much even for a short walk! For those so inclined, there is even a little temple in a corner.

Pampering the senses
The southern block is fronted by a set of gigantic stone columns inspired by those at Elephanta caves, and opens to a restaurant. Dining options include Kiyan, which offers world cuisine, and you will be grateful for leaving that diet behind during your stay, for Executive Sous Chef Nishant Choubey conjures up some magic on the table. There are no buffets. Instead, the chef has opted for set meals delivered out of a no-expenses spared fancy kitchen. Attention to detail is evident in each dish, both in presentation and the flavours. Expect charcuterie platters and quinoa! And much else of matching levels! Add the amethyst wall and an exquisite metal tree by product designer John Bowman, and no surprises that this is likely to be the focal point of stays here.

Iah, the bar caters to younger clientele, offering trendy mixology options, boutique brewery beers and new age wines. An added destination will be Kai, the Mayfair London based Michelin starred restaurant serving Chinese cuisine. It is expected to open later this year and is going to be housed in an outdoor luxury tent next to the southern block.

With the Thai tradition of excellence to uphold for its spa, the azure and silver Mughal design themed Devarana Spa also has a lot riding on it. There is a block for meetings and conferences, though the hotel is quick to admit it will only be able to host up to a hundred or so people, ruling out the mega Indian wedding. A more intimate social function or top end corporate meeting is more the target.

Room interiors are as noteworthy. The designers have certainly pushed the envelope. Many rooms feature a bathtub directly adjacent to the couch and the French windows, the day beds are enticing, the amenities are from Asprey’s Purple Line, the washbasins appear more like oversized flower vases. Tech comes in at every step, from the ergonomically designed furniture to the iPads that have all the room controls in one space.

The hotel has been about four years in the making, and is opening with a delay of about a year, less than average compared to hospitality projects in the country. Well let that not bother you, for an urban oasis is now right at hand!

Dusit Devarana, Samalkha, NH-8, National Highway 8, Samalka, New Delhi, 110037

Suman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on tv. Yes, current politics bothers him.