CC Africa and Taj Hotels Unveil First Indian Safari Lodge

New York- November 8, 2006:- – Mahua Kothi – the first in a series of Indian safari lodges under the joint auspices of Conservation Corporation Africa (CC Africa) and Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces – opened last week in central India’s Bandhavgarh National Park, home to one of India’s highest density tiger populations. The name, “Mahua”, is derived from one of India’s most beautiful trees, the Madhuca Indica or butter tree, with “Kothi” meaning homestead.

The inspiration behind the design of Mahua Kothi is the local architectural style with its traditional, handmade clay-tile low slung roofs. “This vernacular lends itself perfectly to the CC Africa / Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces’ core ethos of leaving a light footprint,” says CC Africa’s Creative Director Chris Browne, “as the building materials are organic and the work was undertaken using the ancient methods of local tradition.”
Located in the province of Madhya Pradesh, 190 km from Jabalpur Airport and 210 km from Khajuraho, the 40-acre grounds of Mahua Kothi feature twelve beautiful new jungle suites – or kutiyas. The entire feel of Mahua Kothi is the design child of Chris Browne who has combined the opulence, facilities and luxury of the finest African safari lodges with India’s colors, textures, materials and fabrics. The lodge is constructed in indigenous style by families from the neighboring community. Each kutiya is accessed through a private courtyard with shaded seating and mud floors, and features a mélange of earth tones, woven textiles, antique brass, wooden shutters, tapered mud-colored walls hand-finished in lime and earth washes, open rafters with roughly- hewn wooden beams and hand crafted tiled roofs. The color palate ranges from mud to lime, burnt orange and rust.

“But it’s not all about bricks and mortar,” says Steve Fitzgerald, CEO of CC Africa, “because the heart of the guest’s stay is the interpretive wildlife experience led by CC Africa-trained naturalists who will bring the jungle alive through with their skill and education.” Mahua Kothi’s team of guides have spent months learning the CC Africa ethos under the tutelage of head ranger, Sarath Champathi, trained by CC Africa at its ranger training school in South Africa’s Phinda Private Game Reserve. “To paraphrase the election campaign of a beloved American president, ‘It’s about the animals, stupid!’” says Fitzgerald, “because they are why we do what we do.”

Announcing the opening of the first luxury jungle lodge, Raymond Bickson, Managing Director & CEO of The Indian Hotels Company Ltd., (the official name of Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces) said, “We are very excited to launch the Taj safari experience. India has a vast and bountiful wildlife offering. It presents guests, naturalists and nature lovers with a fascinating alternative to Africa. At the Taj, we have always believed that there is tremendous opportunity to leverage these unique offerings with a luxurious product that integrates into its environment.”

At Mahua Kothi, guests will discover the bamboo jungle of Bandhavgarh National Park and learn about the rich biodiversity of central India on twice-daily safaris in specially designed Tata open 4×4 safari vehicles. They will also view tigers while riding elephants and look for Bandhavgarh’s ten Star Birds (a program unique to Taj/CC Africa). Back at the lodge, guests are pampered with a private butler service and delicious regional meals served with fine wines. Special culinary highlights include “bullock cart breakfasts,” picnic lunches under the Mahua tree and ‘chowki’ roof dinners under a star strewn sky.

Tropical forests and woodlands, steep rocky hills, flat grasslands in the valleys below, dense jungle, a 2,000-year-old fort, and 10th century statue of Lord Vishnu make Bandhavgarh one of the most beautiful parks in India. In addition to India’s legendary Bengal tiger, the forest is also home to leopard, chital (spotted deer), Indian wild dog, jungle cat, wild boar, sloth bear, nilgai and civet.

“We are delighted to partner with CC Africa and Cigen Corporation in this venture,” Bickson continued, “and together, we will make a concentrated effort to improve the quality of safari management in India and take it to international standards, while promoting wildlife and eco-tourism within the country.”

CC Africa / Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces’ second luxury safari lodge, Baghvan, is set to open on February 1, 2007, also in Madhya Pradesh, on the border of Pench National Park. Pench was immortalized in Rudyard Kipling’s classic “The Jungle Book”.

About CC Africa Conservation Corporation Africa (CC Africa) is the continent’s leading Ecotourism company and one of the most comprehensive safari operators with exceptional lodges and safaris in Africa’s most breathtaking wilderness locations. The company is well known for its success in creating a business that has reaped viable financial returns through long-term investment in commercial wildlife conservation. With over 30 years of tour operating and safari planning in Africa, and a strong focus on guided and walking safaris, CC Africa’s portfolio consists of 38 high-end private game lodges and camps across South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. Some of their internationally acclaimed lodges include Phinda, Londolozi and Ngala in South Africa and Mnemba and Ngorongoro in Tanzania.

About the Chaudhary Group One of the largest business groups in Nepal — with interests in Food & Beverage, financial services, infrastructure and the hospitality sector, the Chaudhary Group’s Cigen Corporation has, over the last decade, grown extensively both in its local markets through partnership arrangements and in other Asian markets through direct investments. The Chaudhary Group and the Indian Hoiel Company Ltd. are partners in Taj Asia Ltd., which is the vehicle through which the partners own, operate and plan to expand their hospitality interests in the South Asian and Asia- Pacific markets.

About Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces Established in 1903, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces is one of Asia’s largest and finest group of hotels, comprising 59 hotels in 40 locations across India with an additional 16 international hotels in the Maldives, Mauritius, Malaysia, Australia, UK, USA, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Africa and the Middle East. From world-renowned landmarks to modern business hotels, idyllic beach resorts to authentic Rajput palaces, each Taj hotel offers an unrivalled fusion of warm Indian hospitality, world-class service and modern luxury. The Taj, a symbol of Indian hospitality, has recently completed the centenary of its landmark hotel, The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Mumbai. Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces is part of the Tata Group, India’s premier business house.

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