Stopping by the woods
Pots of pandi curry, some specially brewed coffee and 120 acres of plantation. Get the nature experience at The Ibnii, Coorg, a seven-star resort at Madikeri
Everything everyone ever said about the mountain air is true, I come to realise, as my car pulls up into the rain-drenched driveway of Ibnii, a 7-star eco-luxury resort located in Madikeri, at Coorg. As I breathe in the fresh smells of pine and petrichor, a smiling front office executive (Babita) escorts me to their reception-and-lobby area, Kaadu (meaning forest).
My phone refuses to pick up a signal (secretly I am relieved) and Babita assures me that the Wifi password will be handed over with my room keys. I gingerly make my way across a walkway bridge (great spot for a selfie) that leads to this tree-house style lobby, made entirely of wood, and sits on stilts about 20 feet above the ground. It offers not just stunning views of the property but also that of a cascading pool and a lake that’s misted over. A few minutes later, a brew of chukku kaapi arrives, a heady concoction of resort-grown coffee, honey and spice, which assures me that all is well with the world once again.
A pool with a view
I climb onto the golf cart with all my luggage and Babita requests me to hand over any plastic bags I might have, with a warning that this is the only time the cart will be available for my use during the course of my stay, as guests are encouraged to explore their vast property on foot. The Ibnii, I am told, prides itself on being an eco-luxury hotel and generate minimal plastic waste, in addition to growing their own produce, and recycling rainwater.
I step into a 2,000-odd sq foot private pool villa called Kopi Luwak. There are 22 of them, where architecture matches aesthetic. The décor here primarily sports a lovely shade of coffee. In addition to an A/C that also works as a heater, air purifiers in the bathroom and a four-poster bed, personal touches – such as cookies at the counter for midnight snacks, a good night message written on a robusta leaf – have been added too. While the jacuzzi in the villa fills up with hot water, I sit by the plunge pool, which offers me a stunning view of the twilight sky above, greenery as far as I can see, and cool comforting silence.
Tranquility amid the trees
The pool villa, as beautiful and private as it is, can be a bit too much for one person — something I perceive only when I experience a stay at the wooden cottages here. Called Arnetta, this is the next best thing to a tree house and is perfect for the solo traveller or the honeymooners. There are about 10 cottages in all, and they come fully equipped with a spacious sit-out where you can indulge in some bird watching. Unfortunately, I did not spot a single bird, but I did witness a swarm of fireflies buzzing about the tree right outside the sit-out, casting a golden glow, just bright enough to capture a video that I could #latergram.
An explorer’s paradise
There’s plenty to do on the vast property. After a nature walk with the in-house naturalist, who stopped at regular intervals not only to point out a woodpecker or to examine the trail of a ladybug, but to also encourage the group to actually use their DSLRs. I am invited to get a sneak peek into their Presidential Suite (with rooms for a butler and a maid), which is as private as it can get. Inner-peace-seekers can head to the Yoga Deck that sits at the edge of the lake, while those who like to fish can request for a fishing lesson. But I, the eternal lover of anything strawberry, requested to be shown their strawberry farm instead, where I got to taste some exquisite fresh strawberries and even pocket some for my return.
The estate manager, a handsome local named Poovaiyya makes timely appearances every evening to serve as a guide to The Ibnii’s famous coffee trails. Along the course of the walk, he patiently explains the difference between arabica and robusta varieties of coffee, and even plucks some seeds to show us. The long walk ends at Kaldi Kaape, with a mocha latte, homemade muffins and a live demo of how coffee is processed, packaged and pressed.
The resort currently has four restaurants apart from Kaldi Kaapee. I am welcomed at Fig, the multi-cuisine restaurant that specialises in regional favourites, by Chef Ranjan who also doubles up as the F&B manager. While pandi curry trumps pasta for dinner, the chef tells me that they even make their jams and sauces in-house. I got a taste of their signature sauces and dips (request for the beetroot dip if you ever visit) over dinner the next night at Masi Kande, the barbeque diner which offers the perfect ambience and a light meal for all those who crave to dine under the stars. Ballelle is their vegetarian restaurant with its own kitchen that dishes up some soul-satisfying thaali meals for lunch and dinner. Elevate Lounge, the bar, currently wears a desolate look, as the resort is still awaiting its liquor license.
Pool villas at Rs19,000+taxes per night and wooden cottages at Rs9,000+taxes (Valid till July 31). Details: ibnii.com; (The writer was at The Ibnii, on invitation by the resort)