A royal affair at Alila Fort, Jaipur

Located en route to the Golden Triangle, Alila Fort Bishangarh is India's first warrior fort-turned hotel, writes Mili Semlani

Home to India’s famed royals, Rajasthan often lends an image of grandiose, intricately decorated palaces and heritage structures. But Alila Fort Bishangarh is hoping to add some contrast to the palatial skyline.

Strategically set en route the Golden Triangle it is India’s first warrior fort-turned hotel. Retaining the magnificent fort and making it a functional property with 59 suites and rooms took the architect and designer, a husband-wife duo from Jaipur, nearly a decade to become what it is today.

“The fort was last inhabited in 1915. Work on its transformation commenced In 2008 after the royal family of Shahpura who owned the fort joined hands with the Alila group,” said GM Binny Sebastian.

Sustainable development

Within three hours from Delhi, it opens doors to an authentic rural experience as the fort is set right inside the village and co habits with the local population of Bishangarh. A blend of modern luxury and local experiences, Sebastian said they they “want to start right,” and that is why even within just two years of its openings they have adopted sustainable practices keenly.

Not only are all the amenities eco friendly but they also source a lot of local artisanal products like pottery from the village it is set in (Bishangarh) to promote the economic welfare of its people. They also employ local farmers to cultivate their in house organic farm and conduct village experiential tours for guests to abide by the mission that was a key feature of Alila’s alliance with the royal family.

“When was the last time you went to a village,” asks Sebastian as he states how the urban staycationers that often pick this place for special occasions and anniversary celebrations are actually embracing these local tours for a true village feel: “We don’t bring the artisans to us, we take the guests to them.”

Wedding spree

With the weather in favour from October-March, its rooftop restaurant overlooking the Aravalli mountain ranges is slowly emerging as a curatorial wedding destination.

Riding high on unique, off-beat and secluded; the fort and its limited capacity serve well for senior leadership meets and intimate ceremonies.

Along with 59 suites, spacious rooms, three restaurants and a bar, the main structure of the fort also houses a ballroom for up to 180 people.

Besides, a small trek down the fort opens up to an open lawn, pool and an ongoing extension to add more occupancy; thus turning it into a wedding location for those wanting a break from the palace-like ambiance.

“Between the rooftop restaurant, lawn, poolside and open deck on the reception lounge; guests have plenty to choose from and curate every event in a different setting,” said Abhishek Palit, banquet manager and assistant events manager at Alila Hotels.

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