As we drove into the stone paved driveway of The Tamara Kodai in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, I felt like I was stepping back in time to the colonial era with this charming property&rsquos handmade and wood-fired Winchester-inspired tiles, stone walls and verandah floors laid with auction-bought railway sleeper wood.
Sensitively constructed to compliment the environment, the sustainably designed property has 53 suites. After unwinding at my Superior Luxury Suite, I took in its elegantly designed wooden staircase colour popped with embossed handmade tiles, Madras-pattern roof, stained glass doorway and hand-picked hardwood furniture.
A wooden door sliding divider separated the living room from the bedroom. I soaked in the hill station vibe while sitting in the balcony of the suite sipping freshly brewed filter coffee. The IFRA certified refillable, pH balanced paraben-free preservative and cruelty free toiletries, glass bottled RO- purified filtered water and eco-friendly room slippers sync with Tamara&rsquos philosophy of the sustainable good life.
Heritage blended with luxury with 24 hours dining, reliable Wi-Fi, an LED television, well stocked minibar, an electronic safe and a king-sized bed.
I relished my breakfast on the lawn peppered with blossoming pear trees and acacia trees. Sun kissed, I chose a wooden bench and table with birds chirping around to enjoy my morning meal. The Tamara Kodai has two restaurants - Bistro 1845 and La Providence. The French-styled Bistro 1845 is a resto-bar whose sumptuous Indian, European and Asian cuisine had me coming back for more.
The Kodai mash, a signature cocktail with brandy and a concoction of wild gooseberries, fresh ginger, lime juice and honey paired well with beetroot kofta curry, dungar aloo palak and kairi wali bhindi. There was lip-smacking spicy Kerala beef fry, chicken ghee roast and spicy deep-fried anchovies. The nip in the air, the warmth of the bonfire, the twinkling sky above and the delicious food summed up my decadent dinners at Bistro 1845.
La Providence is an aesthetically designed restaurant with heritage appeal. Housed in the 1800&rsquos original La Providence building, it offers a lavish multi-cuisine buffet. The day I dined outdoors, I gazed at the hills and lush forest cover. The next day, the indoor dining replete with a colonial inspired chandelier and mezzanine floor upped the old world charm.
Going local, I savoured infused cauliflower rasam with green tea, hill garlic mushroom rasam, radish vada, potato and green peas mappas with appam, ragi idiyappam with bamboo shoot curry and panchamirtham.
The Sustainability Factor
The Tamara Kodai&rsquos sustainability goals are aligned to the 17 UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Some of the eco conscious and people-focused initiatives include 51% local recruitment among its employees, 40% of local procurement, gender equality via pay parity and extensive water conservation. Of the 8 acres of property land, 1.5 acres are reserved for flora and
Shruti Shibulal &ndash CEO, The Tamara Leisure Experience says, &ldquoIn keeping with our commitment to responsible hospitality, The Tamara Kodai is the epitome of sustainable measures. All through the renovation of the property, existing materials such as wooden window frames and staircases were restored, reinforced, and reused. A small organic farm, extensive rain water harvesting and experiences that protect environmental sanctity have been included. When sustainability and responsible hospitality join hands, it boosts environmental, social and human capital and can make a lasting impact on the mission of sustainability&rdquo.
The Indulgence Scale
Being a spa junkie, I booked two signature therapies at The Elevation Spa of the property. The treatment of Hema Pushpa Anubhava with its pink rose salt scrub and Indian rose oil massage strengthened my bio-field while the Ayurvedic Abhydhara with the abhyanga massage followed by shirodhara calmed me and improved my circulation.
Kodaikanal&rsquos only temperature controlled swimming pool, a yoga room overlooking the hills, conference halls, indoor games area, crèche and library make The Tamara Kodai a favourite for a luxurious vacation, a corporate event or a destination wedding.
The travel desk arranged for my excursions to La Saleth Church, Christ the King Church, the 3000 year old Poombarai Murugan temple, Mannavanur Lake, rabbit farm and sheep farm. I also explored the terrace farms of Poombarai village, saw how eucalyptus oil was extracted and went for birding and nature walks.