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    From left, Yamuna Achaiah, Andrew & Mrinal Peris & Leila Alvares

    Some holidays are special because the owners go that extra mile — from riverside spas to hands-on plantation life experiences

    Captain K’s getaway@Coorg
    Leila Alvares’ little homestead set in 75 lush acres of coffee and pepper plantations has just two rooms for visitors. But they are spacious and prettily appointed with crackling fireplaces, well stocked mini fridges and as Alavres points out ‘a television switch right next to the bed’. She runs the place virtually single-handedly, assisted by her two enthusiastic children who enjoy taking you on estate walking tours, introducing you to their dogs, or their vast selection of board games and foosball table. If you prefer solitude, you could simply soak in the pool or pick a book from the library and relax in a hammock. “Being a foodie myself, I enjoyed curating the menu to include three types of breakfast, local treats for tea and a five-course dinner with some Coorg specials. I even throw on a delicious barbecue on occasion and cater specially to very small children,” she explains. Wallet factor: Rs. 7,500 ++ for two adults and one child below four  years. At Kadagadal Village, Madikeri. Details: 08272  200274/ captainksgetaway.com

    Kavya Madappa

    Kavya Madappa

    Gitanjali@Mysore
    At Gitanjali, a cosy four bedroom homestay at the foot of Chamundi hills, the Achaiahs welcome those looking for a change of pace from the impersonal hotels and touristy lodges that proliferate Mysore. Yamuna and Farok also offer you plenty of cultural activities and niche tours that give you a glimpse into the history of the city from a long-time resident’s perspective. Or a hearty dose of Kodava culture with grand costumes and energetic dances. Meals are eaten with the family, preceded by a jovial cocktail hour and the menu is deliciously wholesome – family recipes made from organically grown produce from their farm. After a hectic day of shopping (thanks to Yamuna’s tips) and sightseeing, it’s a perfect place to totally unwind with a cup of freshly brewed coffee or a G&T later. Wallet factor:
    Rs. 6,000 upwards per couple. Details: gitanjalifarm.com

    River woods@Chikmagalur
    Avathy, a 100-year-old coffee estate with the stately Bhadra river flowing alongside, is home to Andrew and Mrinal Peris. He is a hands-on coffee planter and she is an artist. Together they welcome you to their charmingly rustic homestay decorated with Mrinal’s paintings and collectibles from her travels. It’s a great place to stop over for some home-cooked Malnad cuisine or a barbecue and bonfire with the fireflies for company. And to go fishing, kayaking or river rafting. Andrew enjoys showing you around the plantation, while the bubbly Mrinal keeps you engaged with anecdotes and folklore. The three rooms and two spacious cottages come with conveniences to make city slickers comfy. Wallet factor: Rs. 4,500 upwards per couple, inclusive of full board. Details: 9448139791/riverwoods.in

    Amanvana@Coorg
    Guests who stay at this boutique spa say it’s like falling down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole and entering a world of wine spas and

    Victor Dey

    Victor Dey

    tiny magical islands. Kavya Madappa, the spirit behind this boutique resort, has 19 bungalows to offer you with skylit bathrooms and private courtyards filled with plants and birdsong. The Kaveri River serves as the hub for most outdoor activities — Madappa will put together a picnic basket and send you off on their unique eight-island trek or arrange anything from a romantic candlelight dinner to a wonderful head to toe three-and-a-half-hour reflexology session by it. The Amanvana spa itself is set in a sunken area by the pool and she will customise treatments to suit you, from wine facials to coffee scrubs and exotic vinotherapies.
    Wallet factor: Rs. 32,000 for a two-night package that includes four spa treatments and full board. Details: 8276 279353/ amanvanaspa.com

    Tranquil@Wayanad
    14 years ago, the owners of Kuppamudi Coffee Plantation figured that it would make perfect sense to allow people to experience the serenity of a coffee plantation with its walking trails and magnificent views. Victor Dey, a director in the company, and his wife, Jini, took on the homestay project, designed the lovely guest rooms, pool and gardens, and infused the place with old world hospitality. A stopover at Tranquil comes with a delightful dining experience — with Victor’s bonhomie and Jini’s formidable repertoire of secret family recipes. The Dey kids and grandkids are also part of the set up at Tranquil, so you feel you have come home for the holidays, except you can also treat yourself to ayurvedic massages, lounge in the pool or take in some wildlife. A Christmas celebration at Tranquil comes with all the trimmings — beautiful heirloom yuletide settings and a lavish feast of glazed ham, roast turkey and flambeed pudding. New Year is brought in with barbecues, bonfires, sing-a-longs and much merriment in the company of the Deys.
    Wallet factor: Rs. 8,000 per couple including full board. Details: 9947588507/ tranquilresort.com

    —Jackie Pinto

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