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Friday, September 23, 2016

Orange County: Palace Themed luxury Resort in Hampi

Orange County is undoubtedly one of the finest luxury property chains in Karnataka. They have a very successful resort each in Coorg and Kabini and their third property has been recently operational at Hampi, since April this year. Though I have experienced several other luxury properties such as Suryagarh, ITC Park Sheraton, Club Mahindra resorts and so on, I had never been to Orange County. This wish was fulfilled with an opportunity to stay at Orange County Hampi for 2 nights and experience their hospitality first hand. This trip also gave me an opportunity to explore Hampi after 10 long years...



Before heading there, I had my curiosity- what is so unique about Orange County. During my short stay, I had good opportunity to observe various simple but effective features of OCR Hampi that sets it apart. Let us take a look one by one.

Calm and peaceful location:
OCR Hampi is located a calm and peaceful location away from the city. It is about 8 kms from Hampi core zone. On one side there is Atal Bihari Vajpayee Open Zoo that is coming up, on the other side is the TB upper canal. Several acres of space is left vacant intentionally. Even in near future, probability of some other buildings coming up around Orange County is near zero. This ensures lots of privacy for the guests and an exclusive, calm environment to live in.

Palace theme: 
Given that Hampi is a famous UNESCO world heritage site known for its 15th century prosperity during the Vijayanagara empire, the Hampi campus of Orange County Resorts is built with palace theme. (OCR’s Kabini campus is  built with wildlife/tribal theme while Coorg facility carries plantation theme.)- Almost every item used in the OCR Hampi property is custom designed and fabricated exclusively for Orange County. The doors, fans, lamp posts etc are built with an intention of creating retro feel.


Above: Corridors with palace like arches and lamp posts
Below: Power buttons with retro feeling


Above: The bar with elephant theme near Tuluva restaurant(license awaited)
Below: Grand Entrance with stone roads, intentionally kept rough to give experience of how roads were during 15th century


Lots of rocks are retained as is through out the orange county campus- a resemblance of the stones that tell the story of cultural and financial richness the land once possessed.

Abundance of space: 
Any other property developer would have easily built a 500 room hotel if given a campus the size of Orange County Resorts. But OCR has been very particular that they need quality and not quantity. The Orange County Resorts-Hampi facility has only 46 rooms, under 4 different categories with cheapest rooms offering excess of 900+ sq feet of space- larger than most entry level apartments in Bengaluru.



Upon entering the premise, there is a vast half a km long drive way till the reception, aiding in royal feel of a grand arrival.



Responsible Luxury: 
Orange County has taken several initiative to reduce harm to the environment. Some of them are
  • RO treated water in all rooms, instead of bottled mineral water. This reduces number of plastic bottles being used. Even during outings, water is supplied in re-usable glass bottles with a cork.
  • Shower Gel on demand: Shower gel is believed to add unnecessary chemicals into the water. Thus OCR rooms do not stock shower gel by default. Only if guest requests it is supplied
  • Option not to wash bed-sheet: Guests are encouraged to keep a card on the bed should they wish not to have their bed-sheets replaced everyday. This saves lots of water otherwise spent in washing the room linen
  • 50% of the staff are locals and lots of consumables are procured locally.

Romantic dining/Private Dining: 
OCR can arrange a private dining in the rooms (except the cheapest category Nivasa rooms, others get open balcony/private pool etc where private/romantic dining can be arranged. The tower near Tuluva is also identified as a spot for Romantic Dinner.

Best of staff: 
Over 50 people were reportedly interviewed for the post of a historian and the best 5 were hired. When we went on trails these historians commanded lots of respect from local people. This person- Balbant Singh was the face of Orange County in its Tuluva and Bahamani restaurant. Most senior staff have been around for several years.



Custom made rooms for differently-abled guests
Orange County Hampi maintains 2 rooms in ground floor designed exclusively for differently-abled persons. Thus people with special needs can be taken care at par with regular guests.

Luxury Spa
Orange County Hampi offers luxury ayurvedic experience inside the campus, with a four room spa. Spa is operated by a Mysuru based firm and has four rooms total- two are operational at present and 2 more are expected to be ready by September end.


Lotus Mahal inspired club room: 
On the left side of the main building is a smaller, two story, pink coloured building which is inspired from the lotus mahal in Hampi. This building houses the Spa, a reading room (getting ready) and a specialty restaurant called Bahamani. The Bahamani restaurant serves only dinner, has limited seats and requires prior reservation. Dining at Bahamani was a different experience due to dark ambiance with candle lighting, cool breeze and maximum attention by the staff.


Guest Profiling and customization:
Not many hotels care for you when you are not in their premises. OCR people checked on me while I was heading to Hampi and also on my return journey, just to ensure that everything is fine. They maintain guest preferences, most staff can remember a guest by his/her name after a few interactions. When I tried only a few items from the menu at Bahamani, the chef came over and asked if everything is fine and why I am not eating much. Amount of attention guests get makes them feel as if they are the kings in this palace.

Respect for privacy:
Kids are not allowed in the mail pool located next to Tuluva to keep noise levels low. There is a separate pool for kids besides the activity centre. This ensures rest of the guests can relax and dine in a calm and quiet area. Similarly Jal Mahal gets no terrace and restricted space in the backyard, for extra privacy.

Few more campus photos from Orange County Resorts, Hampi


Level 1 has a spacious lounge area and open terrace offering panoramic view of the campus

 
When I visited, some part of the OCR Hampi was not yet ready- the reading room, the bar, the custom safari vehicle (shown below), business centre and part of landscaping are going on in full swing at present and is expected to be ready by this month end.
I am told Orange County gets half the bookings from travel agents and remaining via direct bookings. Close to 80% are repeat customers, indicating high level of satisfaction among the customers.


Overall, my 2 night stay has been very memorable and felt as if I am living in a palace.

Reaching Hampi: 
Hampi is about 300kms from state capital Bengaluru and is accessible by road and rail from BLR. Hubballi is the closest airport but has limited flights, thus flying to Hubli may not always be convenient in terms of time and money. Do check anyway. Bengaluru airport is the most convenient.

Things to do at Hampi:
Primary activity will be to explore the ruins of Hampi- stones and buildings that tell the tale of once prosperous land. Orange County can organized trails along with knowledgeable historians so that guests can get best of the experience while exploring Hampi. I have planned a few posts detailing some of these trails that I got to experience.

Other activities could be to visit Bellary, Tunga Badra Dam at Hosapete.

8 comments :

Jyotirmoy Sarkar said...

Beautiful place it is, loved the pics.

Tales of Travelling Sisters said...

Orange County properties never seems to disappoint any of its guest! Beautiful captures showcasing how wonderful it would be to stay here! Thank for sharing...:)

Anonymous said...

but what is a point spending 32000+ per day you could have been any south east asian countires for 4 days.

bob

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Bob: Orange county obviously doesn't target budget travelers. Their customers are in the super rich segment who do not mind spending large amount where they see value.

@Swati- True

@jyotirmoy- Thanks

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Hema & Suma: True that. Thanks

kalpak vartak said...

It is OK for BAPJADEki kamaai or BHASTRACHAI kamaai.
Article is very nice,informative & know , what is the luxury means.
Thanks.

kalpak vartak said...

It is OK for BAPJADEki kamaai or BHASTRACHAI kamaai.
Article is very nice,informative & know , what is the luxury means.
Thanks.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

:)