For once I had no expectations. I was traveling around Gujarat, making it up as I went, when the invite came to stay at Woods at Sasan. I readily accepted, had no wifi to see where I was going and simply turned up. If anything, given that this was Sasan Gir, home of the Asiatic Lion which is the only reason I’d heard of the place, and given the name, I was expecting a classic wildlife lodge. I was wrong.
The design is modern, elegant and all focused around sustainability. The landscaping all focused around an existing 8 acre mango orchard, and the grounds resplendent with organically grown bamboo and lemon grass automatically encouraged me to breathe, and it’s not often that happens!
The staff, on first impressions were professional and personable, an impression that was to continue. It has been 22 years now that I’ve been doing hotel reviews in India and one learns to be more forgiving in simple homestays and more discerning (okay, downright picky) the higher the rating and I soon realised that if I was to find fault here, then I was going to have to be picky – what fun! But I struggled to find much to fault – ultimately. Once that is, that I realised that the overriding concept was of a wellness and lifestyle retreat and not a classic safari lodge.
You see, they focus not just on the wildlife but on the people, the characteristics of the destination, the food, the nature and overall well-being, wellness isn’t just wellbeing as we know. At Indian Experiences, we are all about discovering destinations differently and what struck me was how the team at Woods at Sassan have come up with a whole host of excellently thought out and curated experiences to showcase all aspects of the region. They want a stay at Woods to be about you finding your path, discovering what it is that is important to you in a stay.
Of course I had to go on safari, how could I not? They naturalist Jeetendra was excellent and we had an amazing safari seeing leopard as well as a lion on a kill, even Jeetendra was astounded at my luck, but having got that out of the way, I was free to choose my own path. I opted for a nature walk, a narrow-gauge train ride and to visit the local tribal village as well as to venture out to see the thread and nail art being produced, a local art and craft.
It is this type of discovery that is my meditation and makes me happy. Others chose a more classic wellbeing journey, opting for yoga, spa treatments and appreciating nature from the gardens of their rooms. I did partake in my first ever Sattvik meal and was pleasantly surprised, tasty, plenty of small course options and not horribly filling which also made a pleasant change.
I had been on the road for 4 weeks by the time I arrived and was feeling pretty jaded. But staff attuned to their guests moods and requirements, the healthy options for food, not being over-faced which is a big bug bear of mine when on the road. Space, comfortable, well thought out rooms and great service meant that despite keeping myself busy, I left feeling refreshed.
Yes, overall I was impressed by my experience of a stay here, I only wish, as always, I’d had longer.