We check into Woods At Sasan, a biophilic retreat that offers a slice of forest life
If a slow and nature-immersed life with a focus on wellbeing is what you’re looking for, then Woods At Sasan is the perfect getaway.
The cool weather, clear skies and colourful landscapes make November a beautiful time to travel and embrace the outdoors. And to take advantage of the season’s offerings, we flew to Rajkot and found ourselves driving along the tree-lined roads of Sasan, Gujarat to a destination that’s redefining the concept of luxury in the wild.
A four-hour drive from Rajkot Airport via Junagadh, Woods At Sasan is a biophilic retreat on the fringes of Gir forest. Equally fit for a family getaway, a solo adventure and a destination wedding, the property offers accommodation in 38 rooms across four categories nestled among springy bamboo groves and 16 acres of lush mango orchards.
We arrived on a Thursday evening and the moment we laid our fatigued eyes on the property, they gleamed with awe at the verdant lawns, contemporary architecture and interiors dotted with local
artworks. The receptionist greeted us with a traditional beaded Tulsi mala and offered a refreshing Variyali Sharbat in a kulhad to keep us company while they quickly finished up the check-in formalities.
We were then escorted in a buggy through the thick greenery of the property to one of the charming and compact Woods Studios. Blurring the line between the indoors and the outdoors, the room, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, a private garden and a patio with a coffee table was a juxtaposition of luxury and comfort.
Enhanced by traditional bead-work, hand-woven macramé wall-hangings, hand-dyed khadi linen and local delicacies crowding the tables, the studio promised an experience soaked in the heritage of Gujarat. We slipped into the cosy bathrobes and holiday mood as we settled in the bed for a while before heading out for the first activity of our trip.
After a quick nap, we freshened up and were taken on a tour of the property’s sustainable initiatives. Built in and around lush greenery that blends into the forests of Gir, the retreat is an amalgamation of sustainability and contemporary architecture designed to attract a variety of insects and birds
to offer nature-based experiences to guests.
The interiors of all structures have been designed using local stones, reclaimed wood and iron, and bamboo-based materials. What makes this place even more rejuvenating is its air which has 33 per cent less carbon dioxide than the average air that we breathe. It also has an organic Edible Garden where the staff grows local fruits, herbs, vegetables and other plants of medicinal value.
Post the tour, we headed to Som Wellbeing, a space dedicated for wellness treatments. Following the ancient Indian principles of holistic living, Som Wellbeing offers a bouquet of treatments that cover ayurveda, naturopathy, acupuncture, yoga and meditation. After a one-on-one consultation with an expert, we proceeded to a Sound Healing session which introduced us to Tibetan bowl meditation techniques to calm the mind. We were also encouraged to take a walk on the acupuncture path outside the spa as it helps create an energy flow through the body and heals various diseases. The therapeutic session helped us relax but the herbal tea and the turmeric and chocolate cake offered at the end of the session had us determined to make healthier lifestyle choices.
Our first day came to a close with Sattvic Silent Dinner, a candlelight dinner curated by Wellbeing Chef Haresh Patel. Set in the silence of the night beneath a star-studded sky, the experience of dining on
the green lawns was curated to heighten all our senses. We began the meal with a bowl of hot vegetable broth for the starters and for the mains, we were served green Thai curry with rice. We wrapped up the final course with a portion of beetroot halwa.
Bungle in the jungle
We rose early the next day as the anticipated activity listed on the itinerary was an escorted jeep
safari to Devaliya Park accompanied by a personal guide. The 412- hectare fenced-off sanctuary created by the eco-tourism department of Gujarat is home to Asiatic lions, leopards, small cats, antelopes, sambars, chinkaras, blue bulls and several species of birds.
Besides animals like foxes, mongoose and blackbuck, an early morning trip to the park may also increase the odds of spotting a pride of lions feeding on their morning hunt. We were lucky enough to witness the magnificent sight. However, the highlight of our safari was the birds-eye view of Devaliya and a section of the majestic Gir forest from the vantage deck of the park.
On our return to the property, we relished the mindfully curated Sattvic Breakfast by Terracotta,
one of their restaurants that serves Indian and international classics around the clock. The breakfast is a culinary experience where a flautist plays melodius tunes as you savour healthy delicacies like Green Moong Dosa and Moringa & Kala Chana with Laccha Paratha.
Post the healthy, fulfilling meal, we found ourselves seated on the patio basking in the soft golden
rays of the sun as we did some light reading. Soon, the clock struck 12 and we made our way to check out the cute little Mango Bar. Located in the heart of the property, the poolside swim-up bar boasts an array of signature detox drinks, healthy concoctions, farm-fresh mango delicacies and light bites.
On the other end of the bar is a small entertainment zone that offers indoor games like table
tennis, giant-sized Jenga, carrom, a pool table and more. We opted for a glass of orange and mint mocktail to keep us company while we settled down on one of the in-pool ledge loungers with our feet dipped in the water. The bar is an ideal place to unwind and spend a lazy day. Then we visted the open air library a few steps ahead of the pool and decided to check-out their collection of books.
An hour later, we made our way to Alfresco, a diner at the poolside deck serving wood-fired pizzas, sumptuous sandwiches, creamy pasta and more. We kicked-off our lunch with a bowl of piping hot
Pea Soup and Crispy Honey Mustard Vegetables for starters. We then indulged in Saffron Emulsion Ravioli as we took in the soothing views of the azure pool and the foliage around it.
Dressed in accordance with the ’90s theme, we were excited to scratch off the sundowner activity, Vintage Tea Tale, from our itinerary. We took off for a riverside excursion in a turquoise 1948 Ford Super Deluxe Flathead V8 car as the sun began to descend toward the horizon. Parked before the serene Hiran river, we hurried to capture some aesthetic photographs before the golden hour disappeared into the night.
While we snapped some Instagram-worthy pictures of the beautiful vehicle standing before the river, our chauffeur spread a small yet delectable spread of freshly brewed tea and a few quick bites on a portable table. It was a one-of-a-kind regal experience to be seated in silence as we took note of the birds on the trees, tiny minnows in the merrily-flowing stream below and the sky slowly changing hues.
On our way back to the property, we took a brief detour around the Sasan village where we met with several local communities to learn more about the Siddis — a tribe from Africa who have settled in Gujarat for centuries now.
We were eager to end the day but little did we know that a surprise awaited us at dinner. We walked towards the pool and noticed a romantic fairy light set-up in the lawns opposite Alfresco. The specially curated dinner was called BBQ Dinner Under The Stars. We spent the evening grilling our
preferred veggies and dining by the bonfire.
The third day started quite early as we hopped into a jeep and rode to a nearby hill to catch the sunrise. We spent the morning watching migratory birds while relishing the breakfast spread on the bonnet. We came back and got our hands dirty as we attempted to make pots and mugs with the help of a local craftsman.
The staff then escorted us to the property’s signature restaurant, Swadesh, to get a taste of the authentic vegetarian Kathiawadi thali that included local dishes like Kesari and Palak Dhokla, Khandvi,
Leelva Kachori, Moong Dal Bhajiya, Shrikhand and Kadhi. The restaurant is decorated with various kinds of antiques found in Indian households such as boilers, stacked tiffin boxes, and vases. The local thread and art on the ceiling of the diner is a feature not to be missed.
The last leg of our trip to Woods At Sasan concluded with a session of relaxing and rejuvenating aromatherapy at the spa that offers a full-body massage with aromatic oils. The day came to an end with a tribal dance performance from an indigenous tribe of Africa settled in Sasan. We hit the bed after Som Ahar, a thoughtfully curated Ayurvedic meal.
It was now time to leave and we found memories of the sun setting over the forest, the quietness encompassing the infinity pool, and our brief visit to Devaliya Park fill up the recesses of our minds. If a slow and nature-immersed life with a focus on wellbeing is what you’re looking for, then Woods At Sasan is the perfect getaway.
Nearest railhead is Sasan Gir, while the nearest airport is Rajkot. Flights connect Bengaluru to Rajkot via Mumbai.
Rooms start at Rs18,500++. At Sasan Talala Road, Gir Forest, Gujarat
The writer visited the property on invitation from Woods At Sasan