Fort-turned-resort Alila Fort Bishangarh
The extraordinary transformational journey of the fort can be witnessed as you step into the property, taking complete care to retain the original structure in its full integrity while reinventing it for the 21st century.
With a legacy of six generations and two centuries plus, Alila Fort Bishangarh is perched atop a granite hillock in the midst of a vast expanse of the Aravalli range. It is surrounded by hills dotted with havelis, villages and temples. Alila Fort Bishangarh was originally built as an outpost guarding the kingdom of Jaipur (Amber) against the invaders from the north.
Almost a decade ago, as the fort stood abandoned in a dilapidated condition, inhabited by thousands of bats and monkeys, the owners decided to breathe new life into its reincarnation as a boutique resort while maintaining its stark sanctity. The 231-year-old warrior fort was converted into a heritage resort in 2017 by Hyatt Hotels and Resorts.
Saji Joseph, General Manager of the property, tells BW HOTELIER that the family wanted to share the history and experiences of the warrior fort within India and rest of the world. “Alila Fort took eight years of patient restoration work to combine design and architecture of the times and have used more than 90 per cent local materials in line with the sustainable plans. The feel of living history within the fort where one has spent their childhood reading about them is surreal.”
The extraordinary transformational journey of the fort can be witnessed as you step into the property, taking complete care to retain the original structure in its full integrity while reinventing it for the 21st century. The fort-turned-resort used to draw major bookings from the United Kingdon, Europe and USA before the pandemic but now is being discovered by country’s enthusiastic travellers.
“Post-Covid, we have been discovered by our very own Indian diaspora from neighbouring cities, Delhi-NCR and even Jaipur, making a trip for a surprisingly different holiday experience. With air travel opening up along with more cases of vaccination been done, we have guests from Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and also Mumbai and Kolkata,” informs Joseph.
Bishangarh, an unexplored region of Rajasthan as a destination, is covered on all sides by the Aravalli range and is home to more than 14 varieties of birds. Alila Fort is a magical destination of conscious luxury living. The drivable distance from Jaipur (75 km) and Delhi (200 km) makes the resort a safe haven for travel enthusiasts and families with children, apart from celebrations and social events of boutique size.
BATTLING THE PANDEMIC
The biggest advantage of Alila Fort Bishangarh is the open spaces within the fort and also at the base of the fort. The lawns are designed to host 1000 guests and with the new norms, 50-100 guest are more than comfortable with the distances and space for their events. The design of the fort itself makes the inside of the fort constantly filled with fresh circulating air unlike a regular hotel building. “All Covid-related protocols are maintained for sanitisation and guest services. We were among one of the first hotels to completely have every single member of our team vaccinated, and we have managed to keep that bubble with our team within the fort. All of this has given the confidence to the guests visiting us and making us their destination choice for celebrations, given the strict compliance we have maintained throughout,” Joseph puts in.
ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY FRIENDLY
The property is completely self-reliant with water resources and provides water to the village in times of crisis. Energy saving design has been used for plants and machinery and the resort makes sure it recycles the waste.
The property is inclined towards not using plastic but in case when used, they ensure its biodegradable and recyclable. “We grow organic seasonal vegetables in our own two acre farm. Twenty per cent of our workforce is from the village which helps them be a part of our eco-system. We are currently reviewing more inhouse projects to improve and support our vision towards sustainable business practices,” Joseph adds.
TECH & IT
The role of technology has taken a front seat in current times and the industry has got a sudden push due to the pandemic to adapt the new-age technology at the hotels. Sharing his views on similar lines, the GM says, “Tech goes hand in hand with times that keep changing rapidly at a pace that we all need to keep abreast with. The future will be to continuously upgrade and reach out to a larger global and national audience which can be achieved only by adapting tech into our current operations, to seamless and fast communication and various service touch points within the day to day operations.”
TOWARDS A BETTER TOMORROW
Saji Joseph feels every individual has their own definition of ‘luxury’ and in the new normal, he defines luxury as, “a safe open spaces, nature, fresh air to breathe without having a mask on as the biggest luxury one can get.”
Having the freedom to travel and experience a holiday, where you take back conscious learnings and curated culinary experiences in this new normal, is truly Alila – Surprisingly different. Jospeh adds, “The luxury we provide for today’s discerning travelers.”
“The pandemic has taught us the value of conscious travel and experiences, let us all be patient and move with the times in a controlled and safe environment and continue to live another day in hope of a new and better world for the generations ahead!” he concludes.
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