It’s an exquisite view from behind the sheer curtains of the four-poster bed – French doors opening out to a private patio beyond which the infinity pool reflects the lush green hills. You’re in one of the elegant pool villas at Reen Resorts Aanavilasam Plantation Thekkady, a seven-acre property surrounded by hills. When the rains arrive, Thekkady is the place to head to, and not just for the Periyar Tiger Reserve, but also for the lovely stay options that have sprung up here.
Reen Resorts Aanavilasam Plantation Thekkady is just one such option. Although it’ll take you a while to find it, once you reach, you realise that all good things are worth the effort. With its six spacious rooms, the boutique property is a perfect blend of countryside charm and pure indulgence. Elevated wooden bridges lead to your room; luxurious open bathrooms with smooth pebble floors, wrap-around verandahs with views of the plantation and a lovely living room replete with a fireplace complete the picture. A short guided stroll around the plantation will have you sniffing cardamom, and peeking into byres.
This is the perfect place to bunk down at especially if you’re planning to visit the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Despite the name, the chances of spotting the cat here are slim, but the early morning treks through the thick jungles and boat rides on the picturesque Periyar Lake make it worth a visit nonetheless.
Not too far away is a completely different but equally fantastic stay option. Indhrivanam has only one delightfully cosy cottage.
Reen Resorts Aanavilasam Plantation Thekkady sure lives up to the eco-friendly tag and a chat with the owner Sarah over a meal reveals all kinds of interesting nuggets about nature. Work off all that delicious, fresh veg food, with a walk along the mapped-out trails, one of which leads through the property’s wilderness to a gorgeous viewpoint. The owners incorporate rainwater harvesting, compost all biodegradable products and use dry toilets. Yep, you read that right. Don’t worry, it’s completely hygenic and uses sawdust and water to get rid of waste, which collects in a bucket at the back and is regularly emptied into the composting area. It’s really not as strange as it sounds; other than having to squat a little differently, you’ll hardly notice the difference.
If you’re in Thekkady for a romantic retreat, a lovely option lies hidden within a 100-acre cardamom plantation. Mayapott is perfect for a quiet escape. Built around the natural rock formations in the area, the structure is divided by a pretty little waterfall and meandering brook running the length of the property. On one side are spacious rooms designed with the intention of bringing a bit of the natural beauty indoors. There’s also a quaint stone bridge that connects the rooms to the dining area. When you’re ready to tear yourself away from the room, explore the working plantation where you’ll be taken through the processes involved in the production of spices and also get to taste some. The early morning guided hike up to the surrounding hillock is a must-do here. The seven-odd kilometre trail winds its way through the plantation past a few tiny waterfalls to the top where the two of you can settle down and enjoy the incredible panoramic views of Thekkady’s hills.