With a newly-launched spa, nature walks and an incomparable cocoa experience, The Tamara Coorg indulges all your senses.
The hills are alive… with the sound of crickets and the smell of eucalyptus and rain-drenched earth. Any residual bad humour from an early morning flight and six hours in an SUV, battling Bengaluru’s traffic and small-town dusty roads, are whisked away in the cool, bracing winds of the ‘blue mountains’. The winding roads of the Nilgiris, in Karnataka’s Western Ghats, are taking me to a quick weekend getaway in the heart of Coorg. The picturesque The Tamara Coorg—nestled amidst 142 acres of a functional, organically-certified cardamom and coffee plantation, and 28 acres of virgin forest—is an idyllic retreat where I discover, soon after I arrive, luxury melds seamlessly with the rustic and natural.
A hot towel and a cup of ginger-jaggery tea greet me, but I don’t linger over it as my hostess, Shruti Shibulal, the promoter and director of the resort, tells me there is a lot to explore. And keeping my abbreviated trip (just a day) in mind, I decide to pack in as much as I can. Like a magnificent lunch at The Falls restaurant (it gets its name from the waterfall running underneath it, which you can see through plexiglass flooring), where the chef treats me to local favourites like pandi curry and kodambuttu. I walk off the heavy meal with a tour of the estate, listening to the resort’s naturalist, KD Bopanna, a local Kodava and a fount of knowledge about the area’s flora and fauna. From learning how to differentiate between the ripe red berries of the arabica and robusta coffees to unearthing red snails and pill millipedes, it is ideal for guests like me who are not adventurous enough to go on the uphill treks that promise great views and aching calves.
Any sore muscles I have from the walk, I decide to pamper at the resort’s newest addition, The Elevation. Housed in a 100-year-old plantation bungalow, the spa is the heart of this serene retreat. With five treatment rooms (three for Ayurvedic therapies and two for western ministrations), a Jacuzzi, a temperature-controlled pool (ideal for the cold weather) and an upcoming yoga deck, it encourages guests to embark on a wellness journey and rediscover their anthar mauna or inner silence. Spa manager Prashanth Belavadi suggests I try something from their range of signature Ayurveda-based treatments, like the Aranya Shaili Anubhava (a body scrub made from fragrant local wild rice, `6,250) and the Signature Coffee Therapy (`4,375/ 60 min). I choose the Kalpa Anubhava Coconut Indulgence (`6,250), an indulgent, two-hour session where the masseuse begins with a scrub made from freshly-grated coconut, sugar and honey, followed by a relaxing massage with cold-pressed coconut oil (to re-activate the circulation and flow of energy), and ending it with calming stream of warmed oil poured on to your forehead.
Though I’m tempted to soak in the pool, I am curious about the yoga deck, where I’m told sessions will begin with the lighting of 250 oil lamps, and yogis who practice ashtanga yoga will lead classes that will combine asanas and chanting. “We will engage different parts of the property to create a treatment plan for guests,” says Belavadi, explaining that their curative packages (of three, five, 14 and 21 days) will include a detailed wellness consultation, specially-crafted menus, Ayurvedic treatments and yoga.
Rooms from Rs 17,000.
Among the trees
As the sun sets, I hail a buggy (the best way to get around the sprawling property) to my private cottage, one among 56 spread across the property. Built on stilts, the Balinese-style wooden villas with traditional Kerala shingle roofing, blend into the surroundings and give incomparable views of the tree-clad hills and valleys. While the 660 sq ft cottage, with contemporary furnishing, is beautiful (with a big, white bed enticing me to catch some zzzs), the sun deck holds my attention for a while—a great place to sit counting stars, munching on coffee-bean encased chocolates.
Before I bid goodbye to the resort the following morning, I squeeze in a ‘Blossom to Brew’ experience at The Verandah, the resort’s gift shop, cafe and mini coffee museum. Bopanna gives me a demonstration on how the coffee berries are dried, graded, roasted, ground and then brewed into the most delicious coffee I’ve ever tasted. Needless to say, I pick up a couple of packets of coffee to take home, for I know every sip of the rich dark brew will bring me back to the sylvan environs.
—Surya Praphulla Kumar
The writer was invited by The Tamara, Coorg