Tea under a gazebo, a picnic by the river, sundowners by your private plunge pool… and all this along the fringes of a dense forest known for its Bengal tigers.
Expect luxury in the wilderness at Tipai, set beside Maharashtra’s Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to Indian leopards, sloth bears, and bison among its 170 species of wildlife. This 38-acre property is the first offering from Wildlife Luxuries, a company that crafts bespoke stays in unexplored wildscapes.
The brainchild of Keyur Joshi, who is also the co-founder of Make My Trip (an online travel company), Wildlife Luxuries was established in 2016. After a few years of research and understanding the evolving taste of travellers, Keyur is ready to formally launch Tipai in October this year.
“I spent a lot of time with future travellers and 20-25 year-olds to understand what they look forward to on a holiday. That gave me an insight into how important sustainability and localisation are,” says Keyur. Having built a career in travel, Keyur says he wanted to up the consumer experience in the hospitality sector and that is how Wildlife Luxuries came about. Personalisation, sustainability, and experience are the three things that travel is pegged on, he believes.
“We want to do luxury in a sustainable manner and focus on experience. If this works out it opens up so many possibilities,” says Keyur, adding that the company’s second objective is to make sure the local environment and ecology benefit from what they do. Keeping this in mind, the staff are all from the local villages. They are being trained to become bartenders and butlers among others.
“When we started building this 15-villa property, we decided to use whatever is available in this place. It was an interesting challenge for us,” he says. They also wanted to keep it chemical and plastic free. “We looked at what the villages around us were doing in terms of construction. We used rammed earth and stones to build the villas. When it came to furniture, we did the same thing and made them with what was locally available,” says Keyur.
The other thing is, we want to understand the objective of the trip and cater to their needs accordingly,” says Keyur explaining, a person travelling with family may have a different set of requirements from someone travelling with their friends or parents. “The idea is to customise everything, right from the mini bar to toiletries. Since we wanted to keep plastic out, it took us a while to find a toothpaste that doesn’t come in a plastic tube. We found someone who makes them in glass jars,” says Keyur.
Places that have not been explored are on Keyur’s radar. He talks about Melghat, also in Maharashtra, which has a beautiful forest. Each property will look, feel and offer different experiences because of the localisation, he adds.
Creating personalised experiences is key here. Starting with the menus. Keyur says he does not believe in standard buffets. However, from Japanese to Mediterranean, a guest will be able to get everything, it’ll be all made of local produce, he says.
While activities can be customised, at Tipai, guests can indulge in bird watching, safaris, Nature walks, photography classes, and fishing. They can laze on a machan or sit by the lake. One thing that Keyur says he has noticed in India is, a lot of people need a 9-5 schedule for their holidays. “But here, there is plenty of time to also not do anything,” he says. “We want them to hit the pause button.”