“Maharaja Express, A Royal Journey of India “
Suzy’s Signature VIP life-enhancing journey for 16 privileged guests
Dec 3 – 11, 2024
Imagine!.. A private guided tour of the Taj Mahal at sunrise with your own personal photographer. An invitation for dinner in a palace with Prince Lakshyaraj Mewar, son of the Maharaja of the House of Mewar and King of Udaipur. Exclusive Chattoti culinary extravaganza with drums, magic, Rajasthan dancers, astrologer and more under the stars. Lunch with elephants at one of the world’s finest wildlife conservation sanctuaries. Or imagine arriving to your 5-star resort and being draped in rose petals from a hidden man perched on the roof. How about a mountain hike with champagne, a floating spa, pigeon flying, rickshaws, spice bazaars, your butler at the Taj Lake Palace and more.
Let us unveil to you India’s finest treasures on our exclusively curated events that dreams are made of.
Join me on this dazzling Namaste experience like no other into the golden age of travel, reminiscent of the royal Mogul legacies. You know, glorious India is my favorite country, with its energy so contagious it keeps calling me back. Come discover this land of contrasts.- splendor and rags, elephants and tigers, 2 million gods, 100 different languages and endless colors, it truly is a world in one country. You may have read my blog on my site inspection of new experiences and places here. Although I’ve visited dozens of times, this India trip blew me away. I told the hotel managers, “ I must share these places that exceed all expectations with our clients.” I’m still reveling in those memories and can’t wait to lead your exclusive private tour with our private guide throughout.
Atithi Devo-“ The guest is equivalent to God“. This philosophy is the guiding principle of hospitality in India. No other country offers such impeccable, old-world service in stunning properties of extreme opulence. We need to say 6 stars for this ultra-luxury vacation that I personally curated for you, yet our price is half that of high-end operators here. Limited to only 16 privileged guests, you’ll experience world-class service in the top Leading Hotels of the World.
Immerse yourself into the true heritage of India on this authentic journey. We delve into the hidden treasures in Agra, Udaipur, and Delhi, with the World Heritage Sites, famous monuments and exclusive palace visits to the Taj Mahal. Each day is a lesson in history and an adventure in grandeur. It’s a kaleidoscope of cultural and culinary delights along the way, even with some surprises thrown in for you. We begin in our luxury hotel in vibrant Delhi, for the most unique tours into the old and new India, along with a pile of fun. And December is the best time to visit India for perfect weather and festivities!
Then, to Agra, home of the Mogul Empire, to view the famous UNESCO sites and my beloved elephant sanctuary Wildlife SOS. Our home is Amarvillas by Oberoi, a palatial resort renowned for its hospitality and enviable location. Each room faces the Taj, just 600 meters away. Get your best photos from sunrise to sunset. Get lost in the terrorist gardens, fountains, and pavilions. Want luxury? Enjoy daily fruit basket, and your own model replica of the Taj and white chocolate, unique spa therapies, swimming in the “best hotel pool in the world, “ and so much more. There is pre-breakfast, breakfast, staggering lunch, options, high tea, and even dining under the stars can be arranged by your butler. We get private access to tour the Taj by golf carts to the front entrance, surpassing all crowds and worth its weight and gold.
Finally, onto the colorful state of Rajasthan, filled with palaces, religious marvels, museums, and scenic wonders. Udaipur, “ Venice of the East”, is its jewel in the crown. We explore this serene city of lakes with such laid-back charm that you’ll forget you’re in India. Tour the architectural wonder of City Palace, home to Maharani families from the 15 to 17th centuries. The fascinating complex of several palaces was constructed over 400 years, starting in 1599. Then to the spice bazaar and a home cooking class.
The epitome of elegance and the “most revered hotel in the world” is your home, the Taj Lake Palace. Floating on Lake Pichola looks surreal. Once a palace built in marble, it is majestic architecture beyond imagination. For 278 years, this luxury hotel hosted countless dignitaries and celebrities, from Jackie O to Tom Cruise, and now You! Guests arrive in elegant boats. Only residents may enter for the exclusive privilege of staying in this historic treasure. Elegant rooms are appointed with your own butler. Despite being its own small island, there’s plenty to do – the Java Spa for floating massages, the pool, yoga, 4 gourmet restaurants, boutiques, evening cultural shows, and guided heritage walks.
The most ethereal moment of all my travels occurred here at the evening lamp lighting ritual, called the “Ballad of the Birds “, a phenomenon of nature at precisely 6:40 PM for a one-hour chorus from a thousand parrots and sparrows flocked to the trees by the lily pond. So dreamy it brought tears to my eyes. The TLP is not a hotel. It’s a marbled magical legend. If you want all your senses fully awakened, come experience the best of Classic India. We invite you discerning travelers to do it in style. Just once in your life, because you deserve it. Dream it. Believe it. Book it. Like me, you’ll never forget it.
“ Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi.
Our Glorious AFS Itinerary
Click here for the Trip Tips
Dec 3 – Departure Fly USA round-trip to Delhi.
Air details and more coming soon to you and trip tips. Prepare your hearts for our most ultra luxury vacation ever as we discover India’s most exclusive treasures!
Dec 4 – Welcome to Glorious India
Upon arriving in Delhi, expect a warm welcome complete with vibrant garlands and friendly greetings before our team escorts you to the hotel (check-in is 2 PM).
As the current capital of India, Delhi has a 3000-year history and is the culmination of seven previous cities. The city boasts an enticing mix of old and new, featuring governmental structures, medieval palaces, and lively markets all within its thriving urban landscape. Delhi is truly a city ripe for discovery.
Overnight at Trident Gurgaon
|Trident, Gurgaon – a mere 25-minute drive from Delhi airport is my favorite hotel for serenity and crazy Delhi. You won’t want to leave. Surrounded by 7 acres of stunning gardens, walkways, courtyards, reflection pools, and fountains, as well as a spa and infinity pool, this award-winning establishment is situated in the New Delhi National Capital Region. Enjoy the hotel’s resort-like atmosphere,|
Dec 5 – Full day Discover Delhi Tour
Following breakfast, we’ll drive past India Gate, a memorial constructed from Bharatpur stone commemorating the 70,000 Indian soldiers who perished in World War I. The names of 13,516 British and Indian soldiers who fell during the Afghan War of 1919 are inscribed on its arch and foundations. We’ll also pause for a photo opportunity at Rashtrapati Bhawan, formerly the Viceroy’s residence and now the official home of India’s President.
Later our group will embark on a half-day heritage walk in Old Delhi to immerse ourselves in the rich history of the area. We’ll explore Shahjahanabad, situated on the banks of the River Yamuna, and marvel at the splendor of Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. Additionally, we’ll sample aromatic Indian spices at Khari Baoli (Asia’s largest spice market), browse the intricate lace and sparkly sequins of Kinari Bazaar by rickshaw ride. Then we receive blessings at A Gurudwara – a revered Sikh temple, a fascinating experience deep into the spiritual side of India.
This afternoon lends a totally unique experience for captivating photos with India’s popular folk sport. Step back in time with us, as we explore the intersting art of yesteryear Pigeon Flying! On this fascinating journey, uncover the hidden history and beauty of this once widely-practiced tradition. From ancient messages to friendly competitions, the world of pigeon flying awaits you as our hearts take flight with the birds into a bygone era of intrigue and adventure. Guided by a Kabootar Baaz (pigeon fancier), we’ll learn to engage with pigeons using a whistle, stick, and a bag of feed atop a picturesque Haveli rooftop. This unique interaction offers an incredible opportunity to control a flock of 50 pigeons as they flutter between rooftops. Back to our beautiful hotel for High Tea.
This evening we will enjoy a private AFS exclusive Kathak dance performance accompanied by sumptuous food. This mesmerizing display of traditional Indian dance is sure to deeply touch our cultural spirits as it unfolds amidst Hindustani (Indian) classical music. Every floor of the Haveli offers unparalleled views of this enchanting spectacle.
Once we have savored dinner, we will return to our hotel.
B, Dinner at Dharampura Haveli
Overnight at Trident Gurgaon
Dec 6 – Wildlife Elephant Sanctuary, Oberoi in Agra
After a gourmet buffet breakfast, we check out and board our private coach towards Agra, around three hours. Embark with us on an offbeat journey as we uncover the hidden gem of the SOS Elephant Village on our way to Agra with lunch. I’ve been supporting SOS for years. Each time I’ve learned so much from the conservation staff and love to bathe the Ellies. You’ll have plenty of time to connect with these gentle giants who were rescued from abuse. Experience the majestic beauty and enchanting stories of these majestic pachyderms that await you in this unique sanctuary. They also rescue leopards to sun bears as well as other animals here. Please read all about it. Trust us, this is one detour you won’t regret! https://wildlifesos.org/
Continue 1 to 2 hours drive to Agra, home to the magnificent Taj Mahal, renowned for being one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The mausoleums, fort, and palaces showcase remarkable architectural splendor, serving as a vivid reminder of the city’s rich heritage.
Our stay for the next two nights is at the 5-star, uber-lux Oberoi Amarvilas, a paradise nestled in the heart of India’s iconic city, Agra. Built in a style inspired by Moorish and Mughal architecture, the resort is a splendid display of terraced lawns, fountains, reflection pools and pavilions with rich interiors that take you back to an era of Emperors and Princes.With breath-taking views of the magnificent Taj Mahal and a level of opulence that exceeds your wildest dreams, this is a destination that promises an unforgettable experience.
Rest of the day free to relax, replenish & rejuvenate yourself and explore. Early to bed for a wonderful morning ahead.
Overnight Oberoi Amarvilas B,L
Dec 7 – Taj Mahal, Costume Party, Royal Chattori Feast
Today is a day of magical experiences, so we start early at 6 AM with a Sunrise Visit to the Taj Mahal, an absolute must. Travel from your hotel by golf carts for a guided tour of the iconic Taj.
Witness the iconic monument bathed in the soft hues of dawn as the first rays of sunlight illuminate its majestic beauty, capturing the essence of this timeless wonder and the awe-inspiring views it offers along with our private photographer for AFS.
We return to our luxurious sanctuary for a sumptuous breakfast and an afternoon of pool surfing and spa hopping or, for some, a curated shopping spree. I will also offer other suggestions to do in this fascinating city for you on your free afternoon.
As the afternoon unfolds, teams reach our hotel rooms to help dress us in Indian attire for a colorful and fun evening.
7PM – Imagine attending our own private circus! Chattori Gali is a well-known name in the Indian street food industry. It is renowned not only for its delectable cuisine but also for the vibrant music and dance performances by local artists. Among these performances, the Dhol walas (Punjab style) and the nomad tribe showcasing Kalbeliya and Ghoomar dances are particularly famous. Additionally, the Terah Thali Dance and the Traditional Fire Act showcase the daring talents of various folk artists, leaving the audience captivated and in awe of their cultural heritage. Other highlights include mesmerizing magic shows, where artists showcase their tricks and create visual illusions and hypnotic experiences. Puppet shows, narrating tales from ancient times that are typical to Rajasthani culture, are also a major attraction.
Visitors can also engage with an astrologer, get beautiful Mehandi and henna designs on their palms, and indulge in various activities. The ambiance of Chattori Gali is so regal and enticing that one cannot resist immersing in its charm.
The sound of dhol reverberates through the air, inviting everyone to dance to its evergreen beats. This rhythmic experience not only brings pure joy but also keeps one feeling energized and alive. Chattori Gali is also known for its diverse culinary offerings, ranging from chaat, coconut shakes, and Pav bhaji to mouthwatering sweets, South Indian delicacies, Dahi wadas, Sabudana khichadi, chilly paneer, pulao, chole tikki, and faluda. The taste and aroma of the food are truly out of this world, allowing you to savor delicious meals while the sun sets and the
Overnight at Oberoi Amarvilas B,D
Dec 8 – Private AFS Charter Flight to Rajasthan, Villages and TLP.
You are our VIP’s and your transport today to Udaipur will be a private flight. Welcome, on a picturesque journey to the “Venice of the East” – Udaipur. In the next two days we will explore the enchanting city known for its majestic lakes, breathtaking palaces, and rich cultural heritage. Brace yourselves for a tour filled with dreamy boat rides, romantic sunset views, and a glimpse into Udaipur’s royal life. So, sit back, relax, and immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of Udaipur.
Cultural visit – From the airport, we are whisked to the Bhil village. Once at the village a warm welcome awaits from the locals, symbolizing true Indian tradition of “Atithi Devo Bhava” – “The Guest is God”. The village is nestled close to the Aravali mountain range, providing a beautiful view. We spend time interacting with the local people, witness their way of living, residing in simple huts, and learn about their everyday life. Children bring so much joy to our AFS groups and we always encourage our travelers to carry supplies for them as we proceed to visit a school in order to experience the education system. (I bring lollipops, bubbles and pens).
Concluding the village walk, we will embark on a soft hike that offers an amazing experience of the Aravali Hills, immersing you in the beauty of nature and tranquility. As you ascend the hillside, you will encounter the local flora and fauna found in the region. After approximately 20 minutes of hiking, we will reach the Lake viewpoint at the hilltop. Here, a setup awaits you with champagne and fresh fruits, allowing you to indulge in the mesmerizing view, peaceful surroundings, and stunning panoramic sights of the city. This location offers a captivating view of the hilly region and the picturesque lakes.
Now is the time for the mystery to unfold as we drive towards our floating hotel, which can only be reached by private boat for resident guests only. An exclusive jetty and a colorful boat transports us to the “Taj Lake Palace”. You will truly feel as if you stepped into a fairytale now.
Have you ever been to a place so captivating that you simply never wanted to leave? Well, get ready to be bewitched by the majestic charm of the Taj Lake Palace – a destination that will make your heart skip a beat and your wanderlust soar. This enchanting palace, nestled in the middle of Lake Pichola, has attracted distinguished guests such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II, and the King of Nepal since transforming into a hotel. Situated on a four-acre island in Pichola Lake, the hotel appears to float on turquoise water. The complex showcases graceful white marble architecture adorned with cypress-shaded courtyards, gardens, and fountains. The blockbuster movie Octopussy was filmed here. See the cool menu of James Bond cocktails in the bar.
Overnight at Taj Lake Palace B
Dec 9 – TLP, City Palace, a Royal Dinner
Morning free to explore our floating Palace. There are many interesting experiences at the hotel. If you are a morning person join in a Yoga session or experience the ultimate relaxation on a boat spa. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or someone seeking a blissful escape, this is the perfect indulgence for you. Enjoy a Palace Tour by a historian provided by the hotel. Walk the corridors of the palace with a historian and let him rewind time and take you back to the glory of the bygone era. It is so fascinating as he transports us to the magical Royal days while showcasing the hotel’s archival wall.
After visiting, we’ll be gathered in Jharokha restaurant, where sparkling wine will be served.
Ballad of the birds -Enjoy the bird life near Lily Pond or you may comfortably sit in your room and look through your window to gaze upon the birds that fly across the sunlit waters or in the garden to look at the birds in the shrubbery around. All seasons are good for bird watchers, but it is the winter months when thousands of migratory sparrows, parrots and local species are gathered together on this island of lush gardens.
Palace Tour – Time to be regaled into visiting the incredible City Palace – built on the bank of the Pichola Lake by Maharana Udai Singh in 1570. The impressive complex of several palaces is a blend of Rajput and Mughal influences. Half of it is still occupied by the Royal family, and a part has been converted into a museum. There was always a feeling of magic in the air at Palaces in Rajasthan, which were once residences of the royal families.
The creation of heritage restaurants and venues within the walls of these fabulous palaces allows us to experience history in its original way. The monuments have been restored & designed to recreate the royal lifestyle to allow visitors to relish the royal experience that completes the visit to these Kingdom capitals. One could get lost for a week exploring the expensive palace, which is the size of a small city. Please read up on the Mewar empire and its fascinating history spanning 1500 years!
Tonight, by invitation as distinguished guests, we enjoy dinner at City Palace with the presence of a Royal Family member. The 76th Maharaja of Udaipur and custodian of the House of Mewar under Lord Shiva is now 81 years old. His cherished son, Prince Lakshyaraj is the embodiment of reality here.
(Please understand I wrote this itinerary a year out however our host, Prince Lakshyaraj is subject to availability. Final details will be presented Oct 2024.)
Overnight at Taj Lake Palace B, D
Dec 10 – Udaipur to Delhi flight, Bazaar Visits.
Savor the morning time at the Lake Palace.
Transfer to the airport for our short flight back to Delhi. We will have some free time to shop at Khan Bazaar or visit Dilli Haat, before checking in for our final night at the hotel in India.
Overnight Trident Hotel B
Dec 11 – Delhi Departure to USA
Our hotel rooms will be available until noon.
Due to the limited number of spots available, we have decided to offer this exclusive access only to a small group of individuals off our waitlist.
Deposit: $1200, then 50% due July 1 and final payment Aug 1.
Land Price and Internal Air Price – $5995 + 298 for two internal flights per person twin occupancy and based on 16 participants.
(Single supplement $3475 additional). Yes, we know this is high end, but we are delighted with our price. You can find similar programs to ours at theluxurytraveler.com, averaging 12k to $18,650. Know that a portion of your booking will support our favorite charity, Tabathasheart.org, in Kolkata.
Includes: 8 nights first class accommodation, services of English speaking tour manager throughout trip, tours by private coach, daily tours with all entrance fees to monuments, buffet breakfast daily and meals stated above, Old Delhi heritage walk with rickshaws, village visits, SOS elephant sanctuary, Taj Mahal, City Palace with Prince, private charter flight to Udaipur, domestic flight return to Delhi, all service and hotel taxes, AFS GTL and more.
Not included – International air. Gratuities estimated at $150 per person to be collected later. Visa ($25 at present)