To describe it a piece of Paradise would sound clichéd but I cannot think of a more fitting line for the aptly named luxury homestay, Strelitzia Villas at Paradise Plantation.
These are a set of luxury villas tucked away in a magical little clearing, deep within a paradisiacal coffee plantation.
With a name that is inspired by the Bird of Paradise flower, the Strelitzia, I get the urge to drag the phrase a step further and call this place a small bit of paradise within a larger paradise.
So near and yet so far … yet another common phrase slips out of my fingers as I attempt to depict the location of this most uncommon and gorgeous homestay, which despite lying a mere 500 meters from the main road, manages to render a serene sense of being a distant and secluded 50 kms away.
Located in Chikmagalur (or Chikkamagaluru) district in the state of Karnataka in the southern part of India, this homestay joins the list of burgeoning luxury options in this region albeit being of a more private and personalised category and that is what sets it apart from most of the other resorts and getaways.
So prepare to be amazed at the splendor that has been carved out in the midst of nature, as you step into the lavishly fitted yet extremely eco-sensitive environs of the villas and their surrounding lush landscapes, which despite being of man-made design and creation, yet manage to retain a natural and uncontrived feel.
About Chikmagalur –
Chikmagalur city (once a tiny town) is the headquarters of its eponymous district. The name translates to “Younger daughter’s town” since in the days of yore, it was said to have been given as dowry along with the younger daughter of Rukmangada who was the chief of Sakkarepatna, a nearby town.
Chikmagalur’s biggest claim to fame, is that it is the birthplace of coffee in India and it also is the largest producer of this heady bean in Karnataka. Its location in the Baba Budan belt of the Western Ghats that stands tall at an elevation of 1090 meters (3580 ft) above Mean Sea Level (msl), makes its environment conducive for coffee plants that flourish well at an altitude of 800 – 1800 meters above msl.
The mountain range was originally known as the Chandra Drona Parvatha due to its crescent moon like contour and obtained its new name from Baba Budan, a Sufi saint of the 16th century, who initially smuggled in the coffee beans from Yemen, thus beginning the saga of coffee in India.
The city albeit small, is surrounded by mountains and the hilly regions with their verdant rainforest landscapes, innumerable water bodies and waterfalls, trekking trails, wildlife etc, have gradually put the place on the traveller’s map, after inexplicably having remained off the mainstream tourist radar until just a few years ago.
For me, Chikmagalur is where my grandfather owned a coffee estate a few kilometers away from Chikmagalur city. Hence this was also my holiday destination ever since the time I was born. Nearly every school vacation was at the estate, thanks to which my childhood was spent climbing trees, scraping elbows and knees, picking wild berries, chewing on beehives dripping with fresh honey, scaling mountains, trekking on unending paths, fishing in ponds, playing in fields, and generally revelling in the glories of nature.
About Strelitzia Villas –
It was a pleasure for me to discover that these villas were located in the same region as my grandfather’s earlier estate and hence this trip was more of a homecoming for me, than a holiday away from home.
However, I must mention that my memories of this once familiar territory, were now blown away with its transformation from the simple and rustic, into this swanky little space right in the middle of the woods!
Nestling tranquilly within the 13 acre lush coffee estate of Paradise Plantation, lie 2 luxurious villas which opened their doors 2 years ago in 2021. Created by Pradeep Rebello and family, this space is intended to provide a bespoke and lavish experience to discerning guests who seek private and classy retreats to spend their holidays.
About the owners –
Pradeep Rebello is a 3rd generation coffee planter and also an engineer by degree. He hails from a family of renowned estate owners who have made their home in that region for several decades.
Well known and well reputed in Chikmagalur, he is also a man with great vision and futuristic ideas. The modern setting which also seamlessly blends in an eco friendly manner with the traditional, is his brainchild and he has been ably assisted in this project by his equally talented wife Pearl, his son Sam and daughter Suzanne. The brilliant concept and design of this venture is the outcome of their combined visualization and vision.
The graceful Pearl is a special educator and gold medallist. Her talents also extend into the kitchen and the excellent cook that she is, she has played the main role in raising the culinary standards of Strelitzia Villas. The place would not be the same without her artistic and creative touch.
Sam is an undergraduate at the Cornell University, NY. This young all rounder never fails at anything that he puts his mind to and the flawless design and execution of the villas is credited mainly to him.
Suzanne is a 12th standard student of commerce, who plays her part like the rest of her family. She is the one quietly holding fort in the background and can be depended upon to step in and take over, wherever and whenever necessary, making sure there are no hiccups in the smooth running of the place.
Features and Amenities –
The Paradise Plantation coffee estate has made space for 2 luxury villas under the banner of Strelitzia Villas. Named Sienna and Cedar, both these villas lie snugly within their very generous individual compounds and though located within a few yards of each other, yet manage to remain private and exclusive.
Apart from the 2 bungalows, the kitchen facility and the staff residences are also situated unobtrusively on the premises. And other than a fruit orchard with chikoo, avocado, banana, fig etc and a profusion of flowering shrubs, the place is pretty much untouched by any other feature and stays true to the theme of enjoying nature in its intended form … pure and unsullied.
The Stay –
The villas are to be booked in their entirety by a single group but the access to each room is distinct and one can have their privacy despite being a part of the same bungalow.
The homes are equipped with the usual amenities like wooden cupboards, couches, coffee tables, hangers, hairdryer, iron, torch, 24 hour hot water, bath linen, toiletries, first aid kits, mosquito repellents etc.
Apart from this, each exclusive living space (bedroom) is individually furnished with different sets of chic elements and thoughtfully handpicked items of décor.
This is a wheelchair-friendly and a pet-friendly property.
A short video showcasing the features and activities –
The Sienna –
This is a delightfully luxurious 3 bedroom villa with a façade that is as pretty as a picture. The bedrooms open out into a common wrap-around porch fringed with climbers, from which swaying strings of flowers descend like colorful streamers. One corner of the porch has a table and chairs which can be used for dining or working and the rest of the porch is lined with comfortable seats where one can just sit all day, transfixed by the sheer beauty that lies around.
An equally charming gazebo next to the villa, can also be used as a dining space when there are more number of guests.
The sprawling landscape with its natural undulations and mini hillocks and mounds, is truly a lavish space measuring a whopping 22,000 sq ft, which is around half an acre. With a large swing, wooden tree stumps for seats, rustic and handcrafted wooden tables, provision for a bonfire and barbeque, a tiny ‘tunnel’ in the mound, a quaint bar fabricated with thatched straw and wood and a large semi-oval lawn bordered by dense clusters of Silver oak that stand guard like sentinels over the coffee shrubs, this place can easily pass off for a fairyland of sorts. Throw in the adjoining fruit orchard (minus the apple tree), and you have your own mini Garden of Eden. Very very tempting indeed (pun intended).
The interiors likewise, are equally splendid with premium fittings and classy décor. My favorite was the ‘coffee table’ which took on a literal meaning, being a glass table top of sorts, filled with actual coffee beans.
All the bedrooms have a ground floor with a double bed or 2 single beds, ensuite bath areas with shower cubicle, toilet, washbasins and dressing areas and a mezzanine floor with beds.
Bedroom 1 has a spacious seating area too, a double Jacuzzi and also a sauna which has been charmingly fabricated using a traditional huge copper pot which is embedded in the bathroom and heated from the outside using firewood. The resultant steam is released in a manually controlled manner within the bathroom, thus creating an innovative sauna effect. This pot is called Baan in the Konkani language.
Bedroom 2 has a single Jacuzzi.
Sienna can accommodate a total of 10 people.
The Cedar –
This villa is an equally impressive home with 2 bedrooms with a living room in between. Like its neighboring villa, this too is endowed with lavish trappings and stylish décor.
Its exteriors are bestowed with a similar vast, private landscaped garden bordered by the all pervading coffee plantation. There is an exclusive area earmarked for bonfires and barbeques. A designer rock pond the the end of the garden, adds a touch of Zen.
The verandah wraps around the sides and back of the villa, with comfortable seating to enjoy the lush green views.
The living room sports a wooden bar and and a mezzanine floor with comfortable mattresses. The 2 bedrooms are on ground level, with king sized beds and similar trappings as are available in the villa Sienna.
The bathrooms are en suite and both have the advantage of individual Jacuzzis, apart from all the other features.
Cedar can accommodate a total of 10 people.
The venues for dining are multiple and one can decide where one wants to eat, based on one’s whim and fancy. The gazebo or porch or lawns are charming spaces and the staff will be happy to cater to the guest’s choice of setting.
Being a plantation that is distant from the town, the menu has to be pre-decided before arrival, so that the kitchen staff can be well prepared. Due to a bit of miscommunication, we had some confusion regarding our meals but our feedback was received and I have been informed that the lapses have been corrected now.
While there is a set menu which the guest chooses from, one can also make special requests like Jain food or allergen free dishes etc, which will be fulfilled if possible.
Breakfast is complimentary for the guests and covers the usual range of South Indian to North Indian, bread etc. The menu also offers some local dishes from the regional Malnad cuisine like akki rotti, neer dosa etc.
Lunch, tea time and dinner are a la carte and are prepared as per pre-order.
The kitchen is equipped with a microwave, gas stove, oven, refrigerator, water purifier, dishwasher, toaster, induction plate and a grinder. Guests can use the facilities for minor tasks like reheating of food. Crockery and cutlery are also provided.
Reheating and consumption of non-vegetarian food is allowed.
Barbeques are organised in the designated zone, with prior intimation.
The costs for all the meals are based on various factors.
For food options outside the homestay, one can go to Kuduvalli village or or Aldur which are 1 km and 4 kms away respectively and in opposite directions. Very basic types of eateries are found in these 2 places but Chikmagalur town/city which is 14 km away, has better restaurants.
Kuduvalli has this tiny coffee shop cum store called KA 18 which is ok for a quick bite. There is ample parking and a very clean washroom too.
Activities within the plantation –
Barbeque, bonfire and camping in tents can be arranged with prior notice. Costs are as per specifications.
A plantation tour is also organized in an open jeep or Thar CRDe, where you are driven on paths flanked by coffee bushes in various stages of display, depending on the season. I was happy to have chosen the best time, namely the flowering season and it was truly magical to whiz past the lush and profuse blossoms, stopping frequently to satisfy my excited camera 😎
There is also a small water body where a gentle ride is organized on a small wooden raft. It is amusing to glide past the tiny little fish who put on a mini Dolphin like show for us, with tiny little leaps in and out of the water.
In the evening there is a trip to the viewpoint where a glorious sunset can be viewed. The distance and difficulty level of the climb is not much and one can trek right up to the top. It is a motorable road though, for those who cannot climb.
All these activities are charged based on various factors and one can discuss this at the time of booking.
There are also a set of indoor games for those who prefer a quiet time.
But as they say, the best things in life are free and hence just chilling out in the garden, going in and out of the little tunnel, ‘swinging on the swing’, strolling around the villas or soaking in the Jacuzzi (some people just like to photograph the Jacuzzi :-D), are the other options to entertain oneself.
Things to do in the Surroundings –
Chikmagalur has sufficient ammunition to lure tourists across a range of interests. Being a hill station, it naturally offers opportunities for trekking, hiking, visiting waterfalls etc. The staff at Strelitzia Villas will assist with cab bookings or tour itineraries if needed.
The Mullayanagiri peak is one of the popular treks.
This land of coffee plantations also has an interesting Coffee Yatra Museum in the city where one can learn about the journey that coffee makes from shrub to cup.
The Bhadra Tiger Reserve at Muthodi is around 30 km from the city.
In addition, there are a few famous Hoysala temples like the Veera Narayana temple at Belavadi, the Chennakeshava Temple at Belur and the Hoysaleshwara Temple in Halebeedu. These architectural marvels in stone are within 30 – 35 km distance of the city and are a must visit.
Visitor Profile –
Since the entire villa has to be booked by one party and booking of bedrooms separately by different people is not permitted, it makes economical sense to book it for a group of people, optimally equal in number to the maximum people allowed.
Guests of all ages are permitted. There are no restrictions of any kind, on the category of visitors and that includes unmarried couples, bachelors etc, as long as it is clear that illegal activities are not going to be indulged in and that peace and decorum are going to be maintained.
Remember that the villas are in a gated plantation and hence there might be other guests on its premises in the other villa.
The place is also suitable for guests who are differently abled. All access is via the ground floor and ramps and other facilities are provided for wheelchairs etc.
This is also a pet friendly property with additional charges for the animals. And of course the guest is expected to supervise the pets at all times to ensure their safety and that of the surroundings and of other people’s on the premises.
To summarize, these private luxury villas in their idyllic coffee plantation setting, are ideal for any type of occasion, whether it be a rejuvenating break from the mundane to get away from it all or celebrations of intimate nature or family events, corporate events etc
It is a perfect place for artists, photographers, adventure enthusiasts, professionals who want to ‘work from forest’ and those who want some Me-time to do the most important thing which one should occasionally indulge in, namely NOTHING!
Best time to visit –
Chikmagalur is a year round destination. The weather especially within the coffee plantations, is pleasant even in summers. Rainy season has its own charms, though outdoor activities may be restricted. Winters are cold but actually quite lovely and are also a great time to visit.
To summarize –
June to August is the rainy season. A great time for pluviophiles and those who are content with staying indoors and watching the magic shower around them.
September to November – Very pleasant weather. Not as chill as winter. A good time to be outdoors. The landscape is lush and green after the rains and the coffee plants sport the green baby coffee berries, which the flowers have transformed into.
December and January – Peak winter. Invigorating chill temperatures. A wonderful time to see the coffee plants adorned with ruby like ripe red berries. Can also witness the coffee picking and processing.
February is glorious in the springtime. A lot of bird activity. Nature at its vibrant and colorful best.
March and April are when the coffee buds burst into blossoms and drape the shrubs with ethereal white, jasmine like flowers. A stunning sight, which from a height could be easily mistaken for a sprinkling of snow.
May is the ‘so called’ summer, where the sunny daytime turns extremely pleasant as evening falls.
Pro tip –
To witness the gorgeous coffee flowers in full bloom, visit during March 15th – April 15th. You will have to check the exact dates prior to going because these blossoms are at the peak of their glory only for a very few days before they drop off to make way for the baby berries.
To see the ripe red coffee berries adorning the shrubs, visit between December 15th to January 15th.
Phone and internet connectivity –
The property provides a reliable free Wifi connection for its guests.
Environmental and Social initiatives –
Eco friendliness is given prime importance here, which is evident from the very existence of the plantation. The bare land which was purchased in 2010, was afforested from scratch and the entire verdant plantation now stands testimony to the effort.
Most of the furniture and woodwork has been crafted from the wood grown in the estate.
Drinking water is provided in glass bottles.
Instead of air conditioners, they have an innovative system of air cooling which uses a concept of reverse exhaust air transfer, using ordinary exhaust fans installed in the walls near ground level.
The rooms are also of double height with high ceilings fabricated from earthen tiles.
These measures ensure that the homes are pleasant even in peak summer.
People from the surrounding villages have been employed wherever possible, thus generating income for the locals. They also have a healthy percentage of female employees.
What is available and what you should carry –
There is a generator for power back up which can support all appliances, WiFi etc, in case of a power failure.
Considering the terrain and possible activities, carry a pair of walking shoes, a cap, sunglasses, sunscreen, a backpack, a camera etc.
The type of clothing you need, is weather dependent but being in the midst of a plantation, it is cool throughout the year especially between sunset and early morning, so it is always a good idea to carry at least 1 coat even if it is summer. Winters are quite chill, hence equip yourself accordingly. When I visited in mid March from a Bangalore which was rapidly heating up, I actually needed a heater in the room at Strelitzia. You can laugh at me but I really was shivering 😀
Daytime is warm in the ‘so called summer’ months, so carry light, cotton wear.
And as always, carry your ID card with you.
Additional Information –
Open air parking is available for up to 2 cars per group.
Smoking is permitted in open areas.
CCTV cameras are installed in outdoor areas for security.
Loud music or any activity that is disruptive to nature and to the general peace, is not permitted.
The space can be booked for events, shoots, day trips, picnics etc.
A refundable deposit may be collected before check-in.
The host does not live on this estate but lives not too far away in his other estate. However, he is always accessible on the phone and will also come in person if needed.
There is a caretaker on the property, who is the point of contact for attending to all other general issues (he was away when we visited).
The resort provides accommodation for the personal staff of their guests. Check with them for the rates.
Getting there –
The nearest airport is the Mangalore International Airport which is 135 km away and the journey via the ghats (mountains) takes around 3.5 hours.
Kempegowda International Airport, Bangalore, is 280 km (5.5 hours).
Driving down from Mangalore or Bangalore, is the most convenient way to get to Strelitzia.
One can also take a bus from Mangalore or Bangalore. The homestay is around 14.5 km (approx 30 minutes) from Chikmagalur Bus Stand and just 4 km from Aldur bus stand.
Taxis and autos are a possibility for last mile accessibility.
Things of interest en route from Bangalore –
A few major places of interest en route are –
Sravanabelagola Jain temple – 12 km off the highway and 145 km from Bangalore.
Shettihalli Rosary Church – 30 km off the highway from Hassan
The Hoysala temples of Belur and Halebidu are a few kms off the main highway. Plan for a few hours for visiting each one.
Booking and contact –
Kuduvalli Post, Kuduvalli Village
Chikmagalur, Karnataka – 577133
Phone – +91 8217391718
Email id – email@example.com
Please Note –
This trip was in collaboration with Strelitzia Villas 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.
For more pictures see My Facebook – Strelitzia Villas, Chikmagalur
This itinerary was specially curated hence some of the features might have been personalized accordingly. Before booking, please check the facilities offered in your package.
Mar 19th – Mar 21st, 2023