With unending chains of hills and spice plantations – Thekkady is one of the most fascinating Natural Wildlife Sanctuaries of the country located in Idukki district of Kerala. Periyar wild life sanctuary spread over an area of 777 Sq Kms is a bountiful treasure of tropical flora & fauna and a rich tribal culture.
Set in the beautiful landscape gardens overlooking the green clad mountains of the Periyar Forest is Cardamom County Resort – A Nature Retreat. Thanks to the folks at Mystikal Holidays and Cardamom County Resort, I was invited for 2D/1N stay at this ethereal beauty.
Cardamom County is the first ISO certified four star resort in Kerala. Set atop a small hillock with over 42 lovely cottages, that blend into terraced slopes. The architecture and landscaping of the entire resort has been thoughtfully created in deference to the ethereal beauty of its natural surroundings.
I checked in around 1:30 PM and was welcomed by the Cardamom County team at the reception with a garland and tikka. The herbal drink on offer was quite refreshing for the humid afternoon. After the check-in formalities, Mr Praveen Warrior – Resort Manager briefed about the property and its facilities.
The resort has three categories of room – Periyar Cottage that faces the periyar forest, County Cottage – that face the all-natural spice gardens and the Suites. County Cottage was the category of room for my stay. At first glance itself, I immediately fell in love with the room. With a 36sq cm of dimension, the cottage was facing the all-natural spice gardens.
The cottage also had its own little patio where one could enjoy the lush natural habitat. The window side day bed and the cozy writing desk was an extra bonus. The interior of the cottage was quite simple and yet elegant. The terracotta flooring and the Antique wooden king sized bed only added onto the elegance.
Wifi Connectivity, In room electronic safe, Shoe horn & slippers, Iron & Iron board, Coffee & tea amenities, Hair dryer, Dental kit & shaving and bottled water from the reverse osmosis systems were some of the amenities in my room.
The bathroom was quite spacious too with a separated bath and WC area.
A fruit basket and assorted kerala snacks of Banana chips & kuzhalappam is provided on a complimentary basis. Absolutely loved the tube shaped Kuzhalappam which was made of cumins, grated coconut, coconut milk and rice flour.
Since an elaborate dinner was already planned, I decided to go light on lunch and was content with the mushroom risotto which was absolutely delicious.
After lunch, Mr Annas – the front office assistant took me on a tour of the entire property. One of the attraction of the property is the All Natural spice garden and the organic farm. The resort cultivates its own fruits & vegetables along with some exotic spices. Kerala Banana, Rose Apple, Mango, Guava, Jack Fruit, Custard Apple, Papaya, Pomegranate and avocado are some of the fruits that they cultivate while Cardamom, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Turmeric and Kokum are some of the spices in addition to the different exotic vegetables.
Mr Annas also gives me an insight into their Responsible Tourism Initiatives. The resort has its own natural water harvesting pool in addition to the two wells. No water is sourced from outside the premises. Also, the water to the flush tanks is channeled through gravity water flow technique which helps avoid the use of electric motor pump that inturn saves 1095 units a year. The energy efficient bulbs are used across the property too.
The responsible tourism initiatives was quite evident in the cottages where you’d not find any trace of plastic and instead only recycled paper & cloth bags.
The resort also has in house sports like tennis, caroms etc. I was most interested in the library which apparently has a huge collection of books which are over 100 years.
Ayura – the green leaf certified wellness center offers tailor made stress-relieving therapies using handmade medicinal oils. They also provide the guests a first-hand experience of preparing the medicinal oils too.
After some me time at the library decided to relax a bit by the swimming pool. By evening almost around the sunset, the sight of lush greenery, the chirping of birds with a hot cup of masala chai and piping hot snacks was absolutely magical.
After freshing up a bit headed for an evening cultural retreat of Kathakali and Kalaripayattu – the traditional art forms of Kerala which were at a stone throw’s distance from the hotel. The experience of watching these art forms is something which is highly recommended!
Back at the resort – I had a traditional Kerala meal arranged at All Spice – a traditional restaurant which offers a tribute to its own name. With an ethnic mix of traditions and natural ingredients, All spice sources its produce from around the resort to create food experiences from farm to the table.
Pavaka (bitter gourd) pickle, Inji Pulli – sweet & sour ginger pickle, Mezhukkupuratii curry, Pulliyinchi – ginger & vegetable curry, Ulli Theyal – pearl onion curry, Thakali Rassam – tomato soup, Nadan Kozhi Curry – kerala style chicken curry prepared without coconut, Meen Ularthiyathu – stir fried fish in kerala spices, Banan Chips, Chakara Vati and Payasam Semiya were the delicacies presented in a thali format and each of them absolutely delicious. Jomon – sous chef and Deepak – Sr Supervisor made sure that my experience at All spice was absolutely brilliant.
Day 2 began with a one hour guided meditation at Ayur followed by the routine gym and swimming. The breakfast had an elaborate spread of South Indian, kerala and Continental delicacies. I was content with Aval Nanachathu – A traditional brown colored sweetened rice flakes with coconut & jaggery along with Spiced Tea.
After this I spent a lovely morning in the outdoor patio with around 20 different species of butterflies for company. The green tea was just another bonus post which I had to check out!
All in all, the experience at Cardamom County has been nothing short but terrific. A definite recommendation when you are in Thekkady.