- Bissar Akbarpur, Haryana 122102, India
- 91 1267 285500
You’ll find ITC Grand Bharat after a little over an hour’s drive south-west of New Delhi’s Indiri Gandhi International Airport in north India. The luxury retreat sits on a 3000-acre (1214-hectare) estate in the Aravali Hills and it features a 27-hole complex designed by Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear’s first signature course in South Asia. Before you hit a ball, the grand Indian architecture of the hotel’s main building and apartment complex will strike you. The pale, ornate buildings are set against lush manicured grounds and the golf courses. It made an impression on Canadian golf writer Dave Finn when he visited. He described it as an “oasis of tranquility.”
“The ITC Grand Bharat is maybe the most opulent hotel you will find anywhere in India.”
Aerial Shot & The Golf Course
It is interesting to note that India was one of the first countries to embrace golf after the United Kingdom. The Royal Calcutta Golf Club was founded in 1829 and claims to be the oldest golf club outside of Britain. The All-India Amateur Championship had its inaugural event there in 1892. ITC Grand Bharat’s courses were completed in 1996. A Golf Academy is attached to the resort, where you can book in for a lesson and swing analysis.
The golf club includes The Ridge, The Valley and The Canyon nine-hole courses. Following Nicklaus’ design blueprint, Landbase India transformed barren land into lush fairways and greens with the help of organic nutrients from leaf mold, farmyard manure and Neem cake.
The Ridge and The Valley nines combine as a signature course of some note. The Indian Open was held here in 2000 and 2001.
The Ridge has fairways that narrow, favoring accurate hitting over distance. Three of its holes have water hazards running along one side of the fairway. The Valley is kinder to longer hitters, offering wider landing zones off the tees. The Canyon nine is one of the most picturesque in The New Delhi Capital Region, with views of the surrounding hills and mountains. A number of its par 4s are driveable but not without risk. Dave Finn summed up what is on offer: “Each course offers a variety of short and long holes, with plenty of bunkers, strategically located water hazards and undulating greens.”
Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa
The challenges: On the championship course, undulating fairways that narrow towards the green, long water hazards, well-placed bunkers and some long par threes.
When to play: Open year-round, although it can get chilly in January. The courses are closed on Mondays.
Par: Ridge (36) – Valley (36) 72. Valley – Canyon (36) 72. Canyon – Ridge 72
Yardage: Ridge – Valley 7114 yards, 6505 meters. Valley – Canyon 6708 yards, 6134 meters. Canyon – Ridge 6676 yards, 6104 meters
Slope: Ridge – Valley 140. Valley – Canyon 134. Canyon – Ridge 134
Rating: Ridge – Valley 73.8. Valley – Canyon 71. Canyon – Ridge 71
Best hole: Hole 11 on the championship course (the Valley nine’s hole 2) will challenge for distance, playing 224 yards (205 meters) off the back tees. The green sits on the left side of the slope with bunkers guarding it. There is out of bounds from tee to green and an element of risk and reward depending on pin placement. The hole consistently plays over par in championship events.
Restaurants, ITC Grand Bharat
The pro says:
“The hillocks and knolls of the Aravallis lend themselves ideally to create enticing fairways, cunning greens and engaging waterways, which are enough to quicken any serious golfer’s heart.”
– Priya Puri, Head Golf Professional, Classic Golf & Country Club
The resort experience:
ITC’s philosophy is to create hotels that are “rooted in the soil” and ones that show off the grandeur of India’s heritage and culture. ITC Grand Bharat is in keeping with that – nationally-inspired architecture and interior design, and gracious Indian hospitality. The opulent hotel was voted Best Resort in Asia in Conde Nast Traveler USA’s Readers’ Choice Awards in 2015 and 2016. The resort features 100 suites, four Presidential Villas and Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa, a facility with nine treatment rooms that was awarded Best New Spa (Resort) at the GeoSpa AsiaSpa India Awards in 2016.
Dine and wine:
Thank God for Indian food – you can have this and more at ITC Grand Bharat’s five restaurants and two bars. Enjoy regional cuisine including Mewati Barbecues at Apas Promenade, European fare in The India Room and ‘Swasthya’ cuisine (eating for health and taste) in the Aravali Pavilion. The Peacock Bar is a good spot to unwind at the end of the night with a glass of fine wine. After your round, at the club house, the Nineteenth Hole specializes in serving fine spirits, or sit down in The Sandpit for lunch or dinner.
The Deluxe Suites (70 meters squared, 753 feet squared) offer a choice between terrace access or a lap-pool. I’m going with the lap-pool. The interiors are modern and classy – there’s a lounge in the living area facing a 42in LCD TV, quality bed linen, tub and dual vanities in the bathroom, plus a bathrobe and slippers. All suites are serviced by Retreat Hosts that aim to go beyond what a traditional butler service offers. Short of hitting the golf ball for you, that sounds good. The Presidential Villas (532 square meters, 5726 square feet) come with a personal chef, which is fine provided he knows when its bedtime. There’s also a dip pool and jacuzzi, a sauna in the bathroom, and an elevator that takes you to two bedrooms on the first floor.
The Club House
Kay Kalp spa features a 90-minute Golfer’s Recovery treatment that sounds appropriate. Deep tissue massage with warm herbal poultices aim for your sore spots and loosen your muscles. The acupressure scalp and foot massage help rejuvenate the body.
For those keen on getting busy outdoors, take a Segway tour, go zorbing (rolling down a hill inside a giant ball), or try some badminton, squash or tennis at the resort.