Proactive service, where the host pre-empts and anticipates the requirements of their guests, is rare. Even though India is at the forefront of high levels of service in the hospitality industry, it is rare to find hotel staff acutely tuned to the needs of their guests. Lebua Corbett’s staff, Adarsh, Deepak, Chef Kala, Rahul, Harish, Anil, Sandeep, Balwant and so many others, were all delightfully proactive and picked up on our needs even before we’d voiced them. I’m sure Faisal Nafees, who is the General Manager, India Operations for Lebua Hotels & Resorts, had instructed them well, even so, each person on the staff at Lebua Corbett, went beyond what was expected of them.
The property is still quite new and they’re working on minor issues, greatly benefiting from the feedback guests like us provide. Already, on weekends, the property is almost fully-booked. Considering it only opened in June 2018, that’s saying something.
Lebua Corbett provides a getaway like no other I’ve experienced and it starts right when you arrive at their parking lot, which is a few kilometers away from the property. Once you leave the road, you need a 4-wheel drive to traverse up a hill-side to actually get to the property. You can choose to sit inside the insanely comfortable Isuzu, or, like me, you can choose to sit in the open at the back – but be prepared to have a solid grip on the bars so you don’t get bounced out! The adventure begins, literally when you arrive and that is an experience no amount of money can buy.
The rooms are comfortable, to say the least. We stayed in the suites, three of them side-by-side. I was in room number 608, which had the best view out of the three. From the balcony, I could see the mountain range, the lawn, the pond and, if I was patient and lucky, some birds too. Oodles of sunlight, a table and a chair, and I was set for painting and drawing after breakfast and before lunch.
A Signature Tisane tea service, with cookies made in-house, was a delight as the evenings got colder and the Sun started to drop behind the mountains. Akanksha was my hand-model for this photograph.
The abundance of wild and domesticated flowers in and around the property, made for beautiful table arrangements ( Deepak, the Food & Beverages Manager was especially adept at putting them together. ) and hair ornaments and beautiful colorful photographs in general. I must have photographed a ton of plants and flowers and leaves while we were there from 16th to 20th December. As usual, it was hard for me to narrow down on the number of images to showcase our experience – there was a LOT that happened and there’s no way I can show everything without making this blog post load forever!
Apart from the prompt, pre-emptive service, another thing that impressed me endlessly was the drinking water. There are no plastic bottles in the rooms. Glass bottles, with Himalayan water ( treated with reverse osmosis ), are re-filled and left for guests. The property isn’t 100% single-use plastic-free but it is their goal to achieve that soon. Commendable because that is VERY hard to do. Drinking mountain-fresh water, in a crystal clear wine-glass, beside the pool, was bound to happen. I wish they had a heated swimming pool though. My brother-in-law was adventurous enough to take a dip nonetheless. ( I know heated pools are generally indoors and that would serve to separate guests from the natural beauty of the property but still, I missed swimming. Maybe a trip in the summer season is in order! )
Breakfasts and lunches under the open sky are a luxury. Especially when you get to do so in air that has an AQI of 20. Adarsh, the Resort Manager, mentioned that the AQI at the location was 20 but my brain, broken with the 1,000 AQI of Delhi, couldn’t comprehend it.
“AQI ia 120 you said?”
“No no, it’s 20,”
“Are you sure? Must be at least 120.”
I couldn’t stop thinking of how I could possibly fill up some tanks of that air and bring it back with me to Gurgaon. Our trip to Lebua Corbett, has definitely stretched all of our lifespans at least a little bit.
Oh. And the food. When we were planning this trip, I knew the property was located a little bit off from the main road and in general, availability of fresh produce is a problem in the hills. So, my expectations when it came to dining, were quite low. Chef Kala proved me entirely wrong. We ate mostly Indian and local cuisine and it was wonderful. They use local ingredients as much as possible. We did ask the Chef to satisfy our craving for breakfast eggs and the staff went out of their way to prepare excellent eggs in six different forms!
Gin and tonic, in the sun by the pool, was my poison of choice throughout the entire vacation. A bonfire and mulled wine were also on offer one night and we all made good use of that offer. It does get quite cold at night and a grassy dinner got more dewy than we’d bargained for! Brrrrr.
There’s not a lot of walking involved from the reception / lobby area below to our rooms or the farther rooms at the property. At each turn, there’s something to see though, so I was forever stopping and soaking in and photographing. Which is just how I like it. A blue sky only furthers these delays.
Having been inside the Jim Corbett National Park only once previously, that too in probably 1994-95, I wasn’t expecting anything when Lebua arranged for a safari for us during this trip. The number of times I’ve heard disappointing stories about multiple safaris and no sightings of anything whatsoever, was depressing anyway. But, a safari was in order and I was going to photograph the jungle and landscapes, if nothing else happened.
And then, just before we were getting close to the deadline of getting out of the Park, my mother spotted Sharmilee and the driver and guides positioned our vehicle in such a way that the tigress crossed the trail just about 15-20 feet in front of our vehicle. I’ll share more photos in a separate blog post because I have to document it with slightly more photographs of the Tigress, even if shaky and hazy.
When I posted an update about the Tigress spotting on Instagram, someone asked me if the hotel had “arranged” for the sighting! Hah! If that was possible, I’m certain none of the Lebua staff, who have been on multiple safaris with guests would have complained that they hadn’t spotted a single striped cat till date!
I was also inspired to create an art piece of course, I was carrying my acrylic paint pens for exactly this kind of inspiration. I was also inspired to create a piece with the colors of the sunset and the flowers and will post about that as well, soon.
That last photo, the one of the moon, is through a telescope. Biplab brought it out on the first dinner night and had I not been freezing, I would have spent more time looking through it. This is the first time I’ve photographed anything through a telescope.
So many firsts on this vacation. Experiences like these spoil me and my expectations go way up, anticipating similar service from future vacations.
Many thanks to Lebua Corbett, Saraca Estate for taking care of all six of us – and especially my parents. Including locating the medication my Dad forgot to carry.
We drove from Gurgaon to Lebua in our personal cars. The rest of the stay was courtesy the resort.