The Desert Resort today, stands as a testimony to Thakur Kesri Singh Ji—the founder who put Mandawa on the world tourism map.
The resort was set up in 1985, institutionalising Thakur Kesri Singh Ji’s vision of a sustainable tourist destination—tying together the preservation of local culture with employment generation at the grassroots.
When the idea for the resort was first conceived, Castle Mandawa, the family-run heritage hotel was already in operation, catering to guests from across the world. Thakur Kesri Singh Ji had dedicated his every waking hour to the business, often working through weekends and holidays. It was to ensure an immersive cultural experience in Mandawa that the seeds for The Desert Resort were first sown, on a family holiday to Nepal.
Initially started as one night in a desert camp for the guests of Castle Mandawa, the resort soon evolved to become a tourist destination in its own right.
Founded on sustainable practices of living and designed as per the traditional principles of Vaastu, the resort has captured the essence of the desert through its mud-wall architecture and local craftsmanship. Till date, all materials are locally sourced and crafted by hand.
The resort’s interiors and finer touches are the work of Darshana Kumari, Thakur Kesri Singh Ji’s wife. Darshana Kumari is the founder of Sri Tanabana—a design company that works to revive ancient weaving traditions and supplement the income of hereditary weavers. Under her tutelage, local women of Mandawa have been engaged in making mandana patterns, artefacts and adding all finishing details to the interior decorations.
Thakur Kesri Singh Ji invested all he owned into his venture, watching the resort rise bit by bit, his determination and the strength of his conviction far surpassing all expectations. For he—in the true spirit of a pioneer—pushed the limiting boundaries that defined travel and tourism in those days, developing heritage properties as tourist attractions long before heritage hotels became the trending hotspots they are today.