Part 1 – An Overview
The word Sterling is defined as Splendid, Superlative, Stellar and other laudatory adjectives. Sterling Holidays, one of India’s leading experiential holiday brands, seeks to remain true to its name and pull out all the stops to make the holiday experience a memorable one for their guests. In a bid to stay on the cutting edge of hospitality, they are constantly redefining themselves and providing extraordinary experiences so that the traveller can ‘Holiday Differently’.
This is the story of my visit to Sterling Wayanad. Live the experience with me as I narrate a tale of luxury, comfort, delectable cuisine, exciting activities, fascinating jungle visits, exclusive tribal interactions, sheer beauty and much more, all under the protective umbrella of responsible tourism that Sterling strives to maintain.
About the Sterling brand –
Being my first interaction with them (hopefully the first of many :-D), it would be in order to put down a few lines on the brand and what it stands for.
Sterling Holidays is a major player providing holiday experiences in India. Incorporated in 1986, this 32 year old company spearheaded the concept of Vacation Ownership in the country and currently stands at 29 resorts across 26 destinations.
They now also project themselves as an Experiential holiday company with resorts that are categorized lightly under Forest, Hill Station, Beach, Riverside and Heritage. These options cover activities which include safaris, adventure, water sports and even pilgrimages. In short, they have someplace and something for everyone !!!
They also have 4 more destinations in Maharashtra which have been acquired from Nature Trails, which offer quick getaways for nature and adventure enthusiasts.
The Sterling ‘Discovery Mascot’ has been derived from the Rajasaurus Narmadensis (a dinosaur of Indian Origin which inhabited the Narmada region). He has been named Raja Rex and is quite cuddly and tame, unlike his real life predecessor 😀
Sterling also has a logo which is a tricolor swirl that represents movement and dynamism.
A useful offering that commands mention, is that Sterling now provides holiday insurance to its members and guests. This is currently complimentary and covers trip cancellation, baggage loss, missed connections, personal accidents etc. Details can be found here.
About Sterling Wayanad –
This is their newest property and falls under the category of Forest/Jungle. Located around 10 km from the nearest town of Sulthan Bathery and 16 km from the Muthanga Rainforest, this falls in a region that is known to be one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala.
Barely 2 years old, this toddler is growing up fast and becoming very popular in the Wayanad region.
Spread over 13 acres of undulating land, the place has been transformed into a picturesque and charming getaway that is easily accessible from all the major cities.
Situated bang on the main road and yet having access to dense jungle right across, this is an ideal destination for enjoying the bounties of nature and wildlife, sometimes even without leaving the comfort of the room.
The beauty of the place is visible right from the porch. The indoor and outdoor decor throughout the property, is jungle themed and begins right from the stone flooring of the portico with the various leaves of the region etched into the tiles. The reception area is aesthetically done up with its comfortable couches in rich reds and greys.
On our arrival, we were welcomed with fragrant garlands of cardamom, a tikka (meaning dot and not the edible variety 😀 ) on our forehead and a welcome drink.
Apart from the smiling humans that greeted us, we also had a gorgeous, colorful member of the insect family that got us all excited and a really brave person among us (read yours truly :-D) also posed with the creature, alien face, wriggling feet and all.
During our stay, we were also taken on a grand tour of the place to get a sense of what they offer their guests.
There is an interpretation center on the first floor, which also functions as a mini library. One can also watch wildlife documentaries and movies on the screen there.
A bar has already been designed on the same floor and awaits in silent hope for the licence that will free it from bondage 😀 An alfresco terrace space extends beyond the bar, where private events can be arranged for up to 20 people.
There are a total of 61 rooms made up of classic, premier and privilege suites.
The classic rooms adjoin the reception block and can accommodate 2 people. Some of these rooms are road facing and because of the strategic location of the resort, this also means forest facing. From these rooms, one has the ‘advantage of vantage’, so to speak, for wildlife like elephants and deer are commonly sighted from the snugness of one’s own balcony. The rest of the classic rooms are ‘resort’ facing, which also ensures a scenic view of the property and the hills in the distance.
Further down along the driveway, are the Premier rooms that are paired cottage style. They have lake facing balconies and are slightly bigger than the classic rooms. The sofa can be cleverly opened out to create an extra bed to accommodate the third guest if any.
The Privilege suites are garden facing and have a small living room and kitchenette in addition to the bedroom. This can accommodate 4 people.
There is also one Bungalow which is a cluster of all 3 room categories and can house 12 people. It also has a common living room space. This block is meant for large families or big groups who want to stay together and overlooks the swimming pool.
All the rooms have features like flat-screen TV, mini fridge, air conditioning, safety locker, hairdryer and electric kettle and what I liked best of all was that the rooms had ceiling fans. I have always thought that fans were a must in hotel rooms because they eliminate the need to switch on the AC most of the time. It is a power saving feature and I have always rued that most hotels do not provide such a simple solution. Kudos to Sterling for the inclusion.
The washrooms are also aesthetically done and are squeaky clean. They are compact and easy to keep dry with the neat shower cubicles.
The decor in each room bears the leaf motifs of either one of the 7 major local trees/plants. One can see the sprigs of neem, bamboo, pipal, betel etc, right from the front door to the cushion covers to the bed runners to even the washroom walls.
Apart from the various categories of rooms, the premises also contains a cafe and in house bakery, a large restaurant, a conference hall and terrace that can accommodate 350 people with provision for Barbecue and bonfire, a games room with several indoor games, a spa, an adjoining herb garden, gym, swimming pool, organic kitchen garden and outdoor recreation installations like zip line, paintball target shooting, archery, pottery and many more (details in the next post).
Wide pathways that are topped with non skid paving, provide access throughout the property.
Glistening green mossy walls vie for attention among walls that are covered with paintings of wildlife and vignettes of village and tribal life. Amidst the subtle luxury, one is constantly enveloped by the aura of rusticity … a simplicity that one has sought on the holiday, while leaving the big bad city behind.
The paved tracks are kept free of private vehicles, which are housed at a common parking lot at the entrance. A comfortable buggy is the means of transport to get oneself and one’s luggage to rooms that are at a distance from the reception. All access is also friendly to the differently abled.
The landscaping pays attention to plants of the habitat and indigenous vegetation like neem, pipal, bamboo etc abound in the premises. They also have several fruit trees like mango, avocado, mulberry and jack fruit. Exotic flowers brighten the place and also attract butterflies. They actually have certain locations where the butterflies congregate in spring time, enticed by the nectar laden flowers.
A majestic fallen tree trunk makes for natural decor, accentuated by the stunning begonia (I think) that grows naturally out of its top end. A great place for a group picture (which we eventually could not click due to incessant rain)
There is a man made water body in the center of the property which had its origins in a mountain stream of yore and this beautiful little lake is also visible from some of the premier cottages. There are plans to breed fish and grow lotus and other aquatic plants in it. This lake also makes for a nice location for photo ops.
Sterling Wayanad has future plans to expand further with the addition of more rooms and a spice garden of their own, where guests can have an educational tour and learn about the local herbs and spices.
Weather and what you should carry –
During the rainy season that lasts from June to September, one would need raincoats or umbrellas to deal with rain that can at times be incessant.
The resort also provides large umbrellas and they can be found in their stands or in little nooks here and there.
In the cooler months, warm clothing would certainly help and a pair of sturdy walking shoes would be a must at any time of the year.
Phone and internet connectivity –
At present, there is poor or no phone connectivity inside the resort but the WiFi does work through the premises albeit being a bit dodgy at times. The staff however, is ever ready to help out and fix connections. The intercom is a blessing and one can stay in touch with the staff at all times from the rooms, some of which are at quite a distance from the main entrance.
Visitor profile –
A resort of this caliber is suitable for almost any kind of traveller, be it a family, couple, single occupant, businessman, etc. The place has something or the other for everyone. Bird watchers, nature lovers, artists etc will find this to be a real treasure trove.
Social and environmental commitment –
Sterling is committed to enhancing local economy and the lifestyle of the local villagers and takes care to employ people of the surrounding community as well as patronize local produce.
They are environmentally conscious and make use power and water saving sensors in common washrooms and other areas.
They also take an active part in the Swach Bharath Abhiyan crusade, by conducting frequent cleaning operations in the vicinity of all its resorts and offices.
They have also launched an educative campaign at their resorts called Save the Sparrow which is a part of their continued endeavor to be eco friendly.
Best time to visit –
Wayanad being in the jungle region, enjoys a salubrious climate all year round with temperatures ranging from a pleasant 18-29 deg c through the year. As such, any time is a good time to visit the place and it is one of Kerala’s most sought after destinations. However, the tropical monsoon climate means a significant rainy period and hence one would do well to understand the weather patterns before making holiday plans.
October to March is the peak season when the rains of the monsoon give way to the reign of winter. April – early June is the summer season albeit moderate and school holidays bring families in droves to the resort. Late June to early September is the monsoon and there are heavy and unpredictable showers. Of course this would be the time that the pluviophiles would rejoice 😀
Getting there –
Sterling Wayanad can be accessed by private vehicle or bus from major cities like Kozhikode (105km, 2.5 hrs), Coimbatore(230km, approx 5 hrs), Mysore (115km, approx 2.5 hrs), Bangalore (270km, approx 5.5 hrs) etc. The nearest airport is at Kozhikode.
My Journey –
I was a part of a social media group who were hosted at Sterling Wayanad. We were transported in a mini bus from Bangalore.
The journey was extremely comfortable with good roads and sufficient Tea and Pee stops along the way. Breakfast was at Hotel Midway Mysuru, which is named so because it is probably half way to Mysore from Bangalore 😀
The drive is pleasant and scenic and in certain patches, one is treated to the sight of sunflower and marigold stretches, with their golden heads coloring the landscape.
Once the grand entrance is made into jungle territory, there is also an unfailing scope en route, to spot deer if not any other wildlife. Of course with luck, there could be more interesting sightings but we were there during rainy season, hence our chances were slimmer. I made do with gazing at the check post of the forest department 😀
We had left Bangalore at around 6.30am and despite all the halting, we made it to the resort at 1.30 pm, right in time for lunch 😀
Private cars can actually make it in around 5 hrs.
Our return journey likewise, was on the same route and we left at around 11am to reach Bangalore at 6.30pm. Our lunch that was packed by Sterling Wayanad, was had at the banks of the Cauvery in Srirangapatna.
Booking and Contact –
They are located at –
Sterling Wayanad – Address: Sultan Bathery, Valluvadi Rd, Kidanganad, Kerala 673592
Email for general enquiries – email@example.com
For more pictures see My Facebook – Sterling Wayanad – Part 1 – an Overview. Also catch me on My Twitter and My Instagram
Aug 6th-8th, 2018
Please Note – I visited Sterling Wayanad on the invitation of Sterling Holidays, which sponsored my entire trip and I thank them for the same. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.