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Our home away from home in India was the Amanbagh Resort. Amanbagh comes from the Hindi words for peace and garden. And a peaceful garden it was, an oasis in the middle of the Aravalli Hills. The trip from the New Dehli airport to the resort took six hours, and while the roads were occasionally rough, the sights were never short of spectacular. Countless cows (which are, of course, sacred in India) roamed the streets, while grey langur monkeys seemed to inhabit every tree.
That was the first instance of what would become a recurring theme on our trip: animals. One of the locations chosen for a photo shoot was a long-abandoned village where the empty homes and temples are inhabited now by goats, monkeys and peacocks. Other shoot locations featured tigers, elephants, camels and cobras. While some of the crew couldn't resist touching the cobras, I had no interest in checking "holding a deadly snake with no hospital nearby" off my bucket list.
As friendly as the animals were (save for the occasional thieving monkey at the Amanbagh), they were no match for the resort's staff. Guy Stanaway, the executive chef, happily volunteered to give us a lesson in baking roti, the unleavened bread that we all ate as if it were junk food. And everyone wore smiles, from the attendants at the huge marble-and-sandstone pool to the Jeep drivers who take guests on sightseeing trips. But when you spend your days at a place like Amanbagh, it must be hard not to smile.
Ajabgarh, Rajasthan, India
Rooms: 24 suites, 16 pool pavilions
Prices: from $550