Night has fallen and we have entered the driveway in the dark. We ascend the slope and quickly find ourselves at the reception building. The light of the lamp welcomes us and we are greeted with ‘smiling eyes’ by the masked staff. We have arrived later than scheduled and we are politely requested to hurry if we do not want to miss the cultural events of the night. A quick visit to our cottages to freshen up and we are at the open air stage, witnessing the Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam artistes performing for our pleasure.
We are at the Carmelia Haven, a lush resort whose glory is now cloaked in the darkness of the night and it is only the morrow which will literally bring to light its several acres of undulating terrain, swathed in clusters of closely knit tea and cardamom shrubs. This verdant tapestry presents a tranquil façade that belies the enthusiasm that it can generate among its delighted visitors.
So push through the knotty stems and the dense network of leaves and follow me on a tour of this enchanting haven that lies in the village of Vandanmedu near the town of Thekkady in the Idukki district of Kerala, India.
Carmelia Haven was yet another luxury resort that we had the pleasure of experiencing during the pre-mart media tour organized by the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society at the KTM 2022 event that was held in Kochi from May 5th to 8th, 2022.
Unfortunately, our stay here was extremely short, almost a mere overnighter, hence I did not really get to capture the place in its entirety.
About Carmelia Haven –
Carmelia Haven, true to its name, is a veritable garden of Eden like retreat, deep in the arms of nature. This 55 acre splendorous property that came into existence in 1995, abounds in cardamom and tea plantations. Apart from these commercial crops, it is forested by a multitude of trees and plants ranging from fruits, vegetables, flowers and other decorative plant species.
The 55 acres hold 30 acres of cardamom and 10 acres of tea plantations. The remaining 15 acres are occupied by the reception, resort rooms, the restaurant, swimming pool and other features.
The stay –
The resort has a total of 25 cottages, categorized as Deluxe, Jacuzzi villas and treehouses. Being a chill hill station, none of the dwellings have air conditioning.
Deluxe cottages –
Each cottage is named after a popular place in the locality. Mine was Shankurundanpara which is an ancient temple.
The cottage is very spacious and has all the standard amenities like television, tea/coffee, bed and bath linen, toiletries etc.
One has a choice of bathing in the bath cubicle or in an adjacent outdoor space amidst the pebbles and plants.
These are enchanting houses, made of wood and perched on solid stilts. It is quite thrilling to stay high up among the trees and gaze at the stunning views.
These are also popular among honeymooners and in their anticipation, the double bed is duly adorned with flowers and other romance inducing paraphernalia, which of course we promptly defiled by squatting alongside for highly unromantic solo pictures 😁
Jacuzzi villas –
These are the fancier alternatives, with a jacuzzi, private garden and verandah with a view.
The Kolumban restaurant serves both local and multicuisine fare in buffet as well as a la carte options.
Kolumban while sounding like a local gravy, is actually the name of an ancient chieftain of a local tribe, who existed during British times.
Features and Facilities –
The reception building is located high on a hillock and offers the guests their first panoramic view of the property, that is if they arrive when daylight is still on.
The swimming pool on the other hand, is hidden down below in the valley, its presence revealed by the flashes of blue that peep out from under the surrounding trees.
There is a basketball court for those who want to burn calories on their vacation. Yes such creatures do exist 🤨
There is also an outdoor stage for cultural performances.
Ayurveda center –
The Ayurveda center called Rithgeham, offers various treatment packages.
Wishing Well –
Well it is a well but I named it Wishing, wishing it made my wishes true. And I wished that our stay could have been longer. Alas it did not heed me this time but I hope it has stored my plea in its depths and my request will well up in the future!
Banquet Hall –
Natukootam which means ‘an assembly of people’, is their banquet hall located above the restaurant. This is equipped with modern conferencing facilities.
Within the resort –
Bird walk and property tour –
The knowledgeable and friendly guide leads you over hill and dale, educating you about the plantation, the various fruits and organic vegetables grown and also the several species of bird and animal life that abound.
Of course, with my luck, the Malabar Hornbills and Giant Malabar Squirrels which are supposed to be teeming in the resort, decided to take a vacation to some other tourist spot I guess and though I was yearning to see at least one of each, I had to content myself with a mere poster.
The walk takes us past cardamom plants that tower over us and finally culminates in a charming pond, which now lies mostly covered by green.
Activities in the surroundings –
Kailasam, 22 km away, is another property of Carmelia Haven and this private destination is open exclusively to the in-house guests. Guests can picnic here and visit the 1500 acre cardamom estate and the cardamom processing factory and also experience trekking, off roading jeep safari and a boat ride.
Apart from this, the resort is not too far away from the popular Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady, the Periyar lake, the Idukki Arch Dam which is one of the highest in Asia and other places of heritage and culture and scenic beauty like temples, mountains, waterfalls etc.
Getting there –
Carmelia Haven is 130 km from Cochin International airport and 150 km from Madurai airport.
The nearest Railway major station is at Kottayam, 125 kms away.
The resort is around 23 km from Kumily bus stand in the town of Thekkady.
Taxis would be the most convenient way to get to the resort from these places.
Carmelia Haven Resort, Vandanmedu, Thekkady
Idukki – 685 551
Phone – +91 86069 98678
E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
Please Note –
On this trip I was hosted by the Kerala Travel Mart Society and partnering hotels, as a media invitee and I thank them for the hospitality. My narration is based on the inputs I received from various sources as well as my personal experiences.
May 3rd, 2022