Poetree Sarovar Portico at Thekkady is perfect for nature lovers and adventure junkies looking to vacation in the South
IF COUNTRY roads, mighty mountains, and blue waters make you feel at heaven (think John Denver), here’s the perfect holiday idea for you. With the summer heat showing no mercy on us, don’t think twice if you are considering a weekend getaway uphill Kerala. I, of course, didn’t.
It took me a three-hour car ride from Madurai International Airport to reach Thekkady, one of Kerala’s tourist paradises. While the 2 pm weather (at 28 degrees) didn’t offer much respite, the lush greenery surrounding the roads that led to my destination felt refreshing.
Located in a secluded village of Ottakathalamedu, roughly 3km from Kumily, Poetree Sarovar Portico (a property of Sarovar Hotels and Resorts), the four-star eco-resort is probably one of the few luxury resorts in the area with stunning views on every side. Perched on a mountaintop and surrounded by acres of untouched forest, a breathtaking view of the Sahyadri mountains as well as the Periyar Lake are the main highlights at this four-year-old resort.
Right from the lobby walls to the number boards on the room doors to the coasters of your water glass, everything at the resort offers a fun fact or a piece of trivia about the flora and fauna of Thekkady. “In many ways, Poetree is embracing its vision to be one of the best eco-resorts here. Apart from controlling the power/water usage in the resort and actively recycling discarded things such as room linen, indigenous plants that consume less water are planted excessively around the resort. We also use glass water bottles instead of plastic ones and have bird baths and nest boxes installed for birds during the summer,” says Senthil Thangavel, General Manager at Poetree, as I sat down with him for a chat.
I got to the club room that was allotted for me, in which the main highlight was a private deck that offers a spectacular view of the mountains. After grabbing a late lunch, I’m given a guided tour of the property by one of the staff.
The resort offers club rooms, two kinds of cottages, and a two-floor presidential suite. While the oval-shaped deluxe cottages, with thatched roof (made of elephant grass) and mud plastered walls are
enveloped by foliage and flowering plants, the independent circular cottages surrounded by canopies of tall trees and cardamom plants come with a private balcony overlooking the green landscape. The most luxurious of them all, the presidential suite is perfect for travelers who seek complete privacy. With its interiors done up in a gold theme, the space has a private sun deck with a stunning view of the lake.
One interesting thing about Thekkady that attracts tourists is that there is no dearth of fun and adventure activities here. I decided to follow the activity chart prepared for me and headed for a spice plantation visit first. I was given a 45-minute guided tour of the spice farm (spread across five acres) where I was described the features of many plant varieties including strawberry, peppermint, vanilla and the coffee varieties they grow. A quick chai fix from a local tea shop later, I was taken to Mudra Culture Center for an evening of Kalari and Kathakali.
Excited viewers filled up the seating area surrounding the Kalari ring inside a rather dingy hall. Lights went down as the artistes started their stunts — demonstrating their raw power and impressive body control as they did everything from sword fights to jumping through fire rings, leaving us all wide-eyed at the end of the one-hour performance.
We then head to the Kathakali Center, which was just a few meters away. The small theatre was soon occupied by two Kalamandalam Kathakali artistes who beautifully performed a snippet from the Ramayana. The one-hour performance was humorous, entertaining and will teach you a thing or two about the ancient art form. I decided to call it a night after an elaborate dinner buffet (continental as well as Indian dishes) back at the hotel.
I was woken up on time for an English breakfast buffet, after which I got ready for the activity of the day — boating. A two-hour boat ride through the Periyar Lake is a must-do activity when in Thekkady. The ride will take you through the tropical backwaters of Idukki, and around the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, known for its large population of elephants. If lucky, you will get a good look at a herd of bison, deer, and many migratory birds as well.
While the list of evening activities included everything from elephant rides, jungle walks to safaris and treks, I chose to spend my evening doing what I had been looking forward to, all the while. As I occupied the topmost deck of the resort with a cup of strong elaichi tea, facing the mountains and watching sunset, I knew what my favourite part of the trip was.
Rooms from `6,500 and upwards.
(The writer was at Poetree by invitation.)
— Fathima Ashraf