Satpura National Park and Tiger Reserve can surely be regarded as one of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in India, and a gem known to only a few. As is the Reni Pani Jungle Lodge.
Brothers Faiz and Ali have defined new benchmarks in not only the design but even service and quality levels with their lodge, not easy to emulate by others in the business. Consider this:
* Rooms: You will not be blamed for not wanting to step out. The rooms are spacious, very well furnished, and designed keeping all guest needs in mind. An alcove allows you to sit comfortably, the beds are perfect for a good night’s sleep for safari-rattled bodies, and the bathing area has its own walk-in closet and dressing area. The verandah is just right for your morning cuppa. The mini bar allows you to make your own tea and coffee, and comes with a cookie jar. The showers provide hot and cold water when you need. The interiors are what you may want to copy for your own bedroom back home.
* Service: If the butler has to pick you at 7:30 p.m. for dinner, he will be there at that time precisely. Yes, you are allotted butlers to take care of your needs and to guide you around when it’s dark. This service culture has been imbibed all through. Housekeeping, chefs, waiters, guides, porters – it is difficult to fault anyone. They are all good at their job, are receptive to guest needs, are all well turned out and will always serve you with a smile.
* Location: The lodge stands in the middle of a thick forest, left intact to the best extent possible when constructing the buildings. You step out of your cottage and are at once surrounded by trees and other flora, as well as streams that overflow with water during the monsoons. Many a bird and animal come visiting; your hosts strictly advise you against walking around in the dark without a butler and a flashlight lest a leopard decides to take you home for dinner.
* Attention to detail: The mini bar in your room has a pair of small scissors – to make it easy for you to cut open milk powder and coffee sachets. Such attention to detail is to be seen all across the property; you will not be found wanting a torch, a bottle of water, a blanket or anything else for that matter. They are all there when you want it, where you want it.
* Meals: Talk about pampering guests, and in style. You know the chefs and servers have made quite an effort whenever you sit down for a meal. The spread is not too vast (thankfully, else we would all end up looking like gluttons) but tasty, wholesome and mostly organic. The setting for dinner changes every night – you may be sitting in a clump of trees one day, and by the poolside the next. Lamps and other decorations under the open skies make it a romantic’s delight.
* Conservation: Little goes to waste at Reni Pani. Much of the furnishing was crafted from disposed off furniture and fittings when its sister property, the Jehan Numa Palace in Bhopal, underwent a renovation. Look up in the dining, and you will see the chandelier designed from used ceramic soup bowls. The management sources as much of fruits, vegetables and dairy products from surrounding villages and markets, and half the staff comprises locals. Electricity and water consumption is minimized to the best extent possible; generators come on only when really required. Filtered water is available, and guests need not open plastic bottles.
* Safaris: The folks at Reni Pani know their forest. The naturalists, and Faiz and Ali too, are all highly knowledgeable and in sync with the wild. Talk to them about what interests you, and they will put it all together for you. They are ever willing to share stories and anecdotes – don’t miss the opportunity to get it all from them. The safaris will be much more enjoyable when you go in well informed.
* Liked Best: The design and setting of the lodge, and the extremely caring and personalized service. And the style with which everything is done – nothing opulent or flashy, but always making it look special.
* Liked Least: All good things have to come to an end, and you have to check out of Reni Pani eventually. Your hosts get to stay on. Apply for a job – you may just get one.
Reni Pani Jungle Lodge
Village Reni Pani, Tehsil Sohagpur
Madhya Pradesh, India
Tel: +91.93019 99223 / 93019 99198
Reni Pani Jungle Lodge, Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh: A bedroom
Reni Pani Jungle Lodge, Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh in the main building lounging area