As India celebrated it’s 69th Republic Day on the 26th of January 2018, Laveena and I boarded a flight to Udaipur in Rajasthan. Udaipur, was founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II and was the former capital of the Mewar Kingdom. After a short hour-long flight from Mumbai, we landed at the Maharana Pratap airport, where we were greeted by Kamal Bhati, the regally dressed chauffeur from The Leela Palace, Udaipur. This was our first ever stay at a Leela property and we were beyond excited about what lay ahead.
Early December, during a long weekend holiday, Laveena and I packed for a safari and travelled to Ranthambore in Rajasthan, India, in search of the majestic Bengal Tiger. We were greeted at the Airport by our chauffeur Jagdish, from the Aman-I-Khas. Our 3-hour long drive from Jaipur airport, was peppered with interesting conversation with Jagdish, who was bursting with enthusiasm, and showed a keen desire to share with us, his knowledge about the National Park, which he said was formerly a hunting ground for the royals of Jaipur. He also talked about the Ranthambore fort, the local Marwar culture and just as we were getting further engrossed in his detailed description about the Indian Government’s Project Tiger, he suddenly slowed the vehicle down and stopped by a local village belle selling guavas, which he promised would be the tastiest, we had ever tried. We couldn’t resist and with his help, we handpicked a bunch of freshly plucked fruit, which Jagdish cut with a kitchen knife he borrowed from the young village girl. He sprinkled some chilly powder and salt on the guavas and we feasted on this delicious snack. Less than 30-minutes later, we drove in through the gates of Aman-I -Khas, a luxurious camp, located at the foot of the Aravalli hills, a short 15-minute drive from the National Park.
As members of Taj InnerCircle, India’s largest hotel loyalty programme, valid at over 80 hotels locally, and at 16 hotels at iconic international destinations, we look forward to our yearly stay-cation in our city of residence. Over the years we have enjoyed our free weekends as ‘Taj InnerCircle’ members, at the Vivanta by Taj – President, Taj Lands End – Mumbai and our favourite, The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai, a property we love dearly and have celebrated many a special occasion at. For us, the Taj brand embodies a perfect mix of sophistication and warmth, with high standards of services and etiquette from their staff.
This year, a friend recommended we spend our weekend at the Taj Santacruz, the brand new luxury hotel, located near the domestic airport in Mumbai.
Executive Chef Honza Štěrba and his team accepted yet another prize “plate” at the awards ceremony held at the Mercedes-Benz showroom in Prague 4. Czech restaurants are rated each year as part of a nationwide survey in the food, service, and interior categories. Piano Nobile is also part of the winter Grand Restaurant Festival, which takes place from January 15 to February 28. This year’s theme is superfoods – those which have been scientifically proven to have beneficial effects on health and longevity. The “superfood” phenomenon is gaining importance worldwide. Nowadays people want to live more healthily, take care of themselves both physically and emotionally, and even experiment a little. The requirement was that at least one course contain one or more superfoods that are local, seasonal, and grown or raised with love.
Piano Nobile’s awards ceremony menu featured:
Wild duck • Celery root • Apple • Chestnuts • Village sauce and Cedar chocolate • Buckthorn • Clementine marmalade
Steeped in history, this European city of a hundred spires, seems to have frozen in time. As one walks along the charming pebbled streets, one cannot help falling in love with the beautiful Gothic churches, the Baroque buildings and the red-roofed homes. With a special place in our hearts for this city, which has culture at its core, Laveena and I were lucky to have returned to Prague after a wonderful stay at Chateau Mcely (Pampered like Royals at Chateau Mcely).