The Paradisa Plantation Retreat is an exceptional boutique hotel set in the Sahyadri mountains of the Idukki region of Kerala. The hotel was the brain child of Indian entrepreneur Simon Paulose. Rescuing and restoring old Keralan houses with their ornate wooden ceiling tiles and timber work, Simon moved them up into this remote location amid his organic coffee and spice plantation, furnished them with beautiful antiques and opened the hotel to the discerning visitor, in 2000. Each cottage overlooks a stunning mountainous landscape which at one time would have been full of India’s exotic wild animals.
|A room with a view|
Tiger paw prints were last seen here at a watering hole about eight years ago, but the country’s national animal is elusive now and few in number, so you are unlikely to encounter one during your visit. Our cottage with its own balcony, was called Tiger Springs in recognition of this special sighting.
|Chill out chairs|
|Simon and his team|
The food here is really quite something. Simon’s team of talented chefs (Saju, Subin, Suneesh and Jomon – in that order) take local ingredients and fresh spices and serve up meals worthy of any Michelin star restaurant. A breakfast would typically be a huge fresh fruit platter, coffee from the plantation and a freshly made appam or delicate white pancake made with rice flour with a touch of yeast, served with honey and coconut milk.
|Fruit first thing|
Meals are served in the open restaurant overlooking this stunning landscape of the Western Gods.
|Anyone for a Tyford’s?|
|Only the freshest will do!|
Another fascinating feature is that, on the Tyford tea plantation, there is the second oldest golf course in India. The Peermade club is an exclusive course created in the 1920’s, but a visit may still be made by special arrangement. Alex who has travelled from Austria to volunteer at the hotel for three years running, showed us around the coffee and spice plantation and as a yoga aficionado loves the tranquility of Paradisa too.
|Coffee to go|
Paradisa also benefits the local population, sharing water, bringing electricity, a telephone exchange and creating jobs – Simon is a passionate supporter of sustainable community tourism. The Paradisa Plantation Retreat is truly a special hideaway – don’t expect it to be easy to find, but it is a very easy place to be. With a stunning location and exceptional hospitality this really is a unique way to experience India.