The Homestead Location and Setting
The Homestead is located 250 kilometers from Delhi and 70 kilometers from Nainital, in the vicinity of Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. Around 20 minutes by road will take you to one of the park's entrances.
The understated approach to The Homestead gives nothing away about this property's magnificence. However, when you arrive, it's likely to take your breath away. The Homestead itself is imposing enough, but its grounds are even more captivating. Wander though ancient trees, colorful climbing plants, and luscious orchards.
The property wasn't always like this though. It has been a true labor of love. It was purchased and founded in 1952 by the parents of current owner Bunny, who lives there with his wife Amu. At that time, the area was thick forest, grassland, and swamp that was teeming with wildlife -- tigers, elephants, and herds of deer. Given the impeccable state of the property nowadays, it's hard to imagine! Slowly the land was cleared and farming began. For almost 15 years, the pioneering days were spent living in mud huts, with oil lamps.
The hosts, Bunny and Amu, will regale you with fascinating tales of the old days, including when Bunny famously killed a man-eating tiger. You really couldn't wish for more entertaining and kindly hosts, who are also very well traveled. Their love of people is evident from the way they interact with both their guests and staff, who they treat respectfully like family members. They're also very active in the community, willing providing support and education to the poorer villagers.
The Homestead Accommodations
The range of accommodations at The Homestead is extremely versatile. Whether you prefer old world or modern, a cottage or a room, there are options to meet every requirement. And they all have their own special appeal.
What really impressed me though, was the host's attention to detail. The nights were chilly when I stayed there in early February, and I was absolutely delighted to slip into my very comfortable bed and find it already warmed by an electric blanket. Other items that I appreciated in my room were a tea and coffee maker, selection of magazines, and natural Ayurvedic soaps.
Personally, my pick of the accommodations is the deluxe room above the Spa Pavilion. Newly constructed, and thoroughly modern but with a Zen touch, the Spa Pavilion is one very relaxing place to be. From the private sitting area outside your room, you'll be able to recline on a sun lounge and be soothed by the sounds of running water and meditative music wafting up from below. I truly felt so peaceful there, I almost fell asleep whilst drinking a coffee! This room does require a climb up a set of stairs though, so only stay there if you're in good health.
Room rates start from 5,000 rupees ($112) per night for a double deluxe room, and go up to 8,000 rupees ($175) per night for a deluxe cottage with a double suite. Rates are inclusive of breakfast. Two children under five years old can stay free.
It's also possible to book the entire property (catering for up to 20 people, including children) for 60,000 rupees ($1,320) per day. This rate includes all meals, non-alcoholic drinks, and snacks.
The Homestead Facilities
The Homestead has many facilities of a resort. First up is the in ground swimming pool. The Spa Pavilion, designed by Bunny, also offers everything needed to rejuvenate and unwind. There's a jacuzzi, Turkish Hamam (steam bath), and small gymnasium with a surprising array of state-of-the-art equipment including electronic massage chair.
As you explore the extensive property, you'll come to know what a creative handyman Bunny is. His input can be seen all over the property, with the most impressive pieces being the huge thatched umbrellas that he's made from discarded satellite dishes. There's also a barbecue area, and children's play house, constructed by Bunny. It's impossible to guess that Bunny previously ran a pharmaceutical factory.
The plethora of food that's served at The Homestead is another treat. It's world cuisine, reflected in the hosts' passion for food. Amu supervises the kitchen herself, and special dietary requirements are taken into consideration.
For those guests who are in the mood for romance, there's a special private outdoor dining tent, complete with white chairs that have heart patterns on them. Really, what more could you want!
Wireless Internet? Yes, that's available too.
The Homestead Activities
The Homestead is a marvelous place just to pamper yourself. However, there are plenty of other things to do if you feel like being more active. The hosts will be happy to take you out in their jeep, or arrange a jeep safari to Corbett National Park for you. It's also possible to ride an elephant, go star gazing with a computerized telescope, go camping, go fishing, and go on nature walks.
In the evening, the highlight is sitting around a bonfire (or poolside in warmer weather). Bliss!