There’s an Indian custom of treating guests like gods: Sun City Club & Resort, situated in the state of Gujarat, excels in hospitality, offering a wealth of all-inclusive services and facilities for members and affiliates.
Some clubs pride themselves on their historic surroundings and strict adherence to long-established traditions and membership rules. And then there are the clubs that are redefining the concept of a private members’ club, expanding their scope to include services and amenities that one would not expect to find in the more sedate establishments. The Sun City Club & Resort is just such a club. Located in the city of Vadodara in the state of Gujarat in western India, the club – which opened on 1 January 2017 – bridges the divide between club and resort. Situated in acres of beautifully tended lawns with shrubs and trees, this is a club on a truly grand scale. With function rooms, multiple banqueting halls, guest rooms, a cinema, a spacious gym, a spa, a gigantic pool and even a waterpark for kids, no wish is left unfulfilled.
Club culture arrived in India in the 19th century with the British and soon there were numerous private members’ clubs in the main cities. Indian royalty discovered the pleasures of the club lifestyle and the culture remained even after independence. Long the sole preserve of the major conurbations, in recent decades clubs have been opening up across the Indian subcontinent – including Vadodara, an important industrial, cultural and educational hub in Gujarat. Vadodara, India’s 18th-largest city, is roughly 140 kilometres from the capital of Gujarat and its major industries include petrochemicals, engineering, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics and IT. Gujarat is the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, two great iconic figures of India’s independence; one of the biggest local attractions is the world’s tallest statue, the 182-metre Statue of Unity, erected in honour of Patel and inaugurated in 2018. Vadodara is home to the oldest cricket ground in Asia, called Moti Baug, the largest university in Gujarat and numerous historic buildings, including the Laxmi Vilas palace, an extraordinary edifice built by an exceedingly wealthy family at the end of the 19th century. It is four times the size of Buckingham Palace and at the time boasted unheard-of amenities such as elevators. Possibly everything in the city takes the palace as its scale, and so it comes as no surprise that the very generously proportioned Sun City Club & Resort sits in a couple of acres of prime green land on the outskirts of the city.
Opening a club designed and built by a group that specialises in constructing deluxe family homes to cater to the city’s businesspeople and their families was a canny move. The brief was to create a space where members can combine work, socialising and family time in luxurious surroundings – an objective that has been perfectly achieved.
Upon arriving at the colonial-style clubhouse and stepping into the beautifully appointed, central lobby, the most difficult question is what to do next. Some quiet time in the library?
A business meeting in the fully equipped executive conference and meeting room? Perhaps a few laps of the pool or a session in the sports centre with its gym? Other options here include a games room, a 96-seater movie theatre and a huge Kidzania play area where the younger guests can romp. The club doesn’t just aim to make guests feel luxuriously at home, it also wants to provide a serene oasis where members can achieve a balance between work and play, business and family.
Gigantic celebrations and functions are very much a part of Indian culture, and the club is ideally equipped to host weddings, parties and corporate events with no fewer than five huge banqueting halls and a party lawn with space for several thousand guests. The multi-cuisine restaurants caters to all tastes, from traditional cuisine to more Western options. Guests can stay overnight in one of the 37 guest rooms, and there are roundthe- clock housekeeping and room services. The club’s sports complex is vast, and includes tennis, badminton and squash courts, billiards and outdoor workout equipment. However, in terms of exercise, the centrepiece of the club is the huge pool, with its mini water park for children and an exotic sunken bar for the adults. Sun City Club & Resort has over 1000 members and offers a choice of over 100 annual events, ranging from concerts to Holi celebrations and Christmas festivals. The location is convenient: the airport is a 30-minute drive away and Vadodara station is on the main line between Delhi and Mumbai.
Hospitality occupies a special place in Indian culture, and guests are held in the greatest respect. In fact, there’s a common saying, atithi devo bhavah: the guest is god. And you’ll find that at Sun City the gods are treated very well indeed.