Parisons Plantations, Wayanad, Kerala

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I have been to Kerala countless times, yet I don’t get tired of it. The reason is simple- its natural beauty and impeccable hospitality! I have been to Cherai, Wayanad, Munnar, Kovalam, Cochin, Fort Cochin, Calicut, Malappuram, Trivandrum, and Poovar. And all have been very memorable trips. In October of 2017, I will be going to Varkala. An off-beat beach destination with sunsets to die for. After that the only thing pending on my list will be the Backwater of Kumarakom and Thekkady.

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In May 2017, we wanted to go to a place within driving distance from Bangalore (about 5-6hrs max). So our options were – Kabini, Chikmagalur, BR Hills, Wayanad, Bandipur, Coorg, Masingudi, Hampi and Mysore. We narrowed it down to Wayanad because all other places were either too warm, or too expensive or sold out.

As you must have figured by now, I do not like staying in big hotels. The search is always on for a cozy little place which makes your stay very personal and has a story to tell about itself. So, the hunt for the perfect stay in Wayanad, began. There were the usual suspects like Vythiri Resorts and Windflower. But they were too far and too expensive. As I researched more, Parisons Plantations caught my eye. It looked warm and luxurious at the same time. The rate was roughly INR 8000 per night per room (full board). Kabini was coming to that much per head per night!

Website: http://plantationexperiences.com/

The place is relatively new for tourists so the reviews were not too many. But whoever did contribute, gave the place a 9 or above. I also read that alcohol is not served or permitted on the premises. Now, because we were taking parents along, we were not too concerned about that. We just wanted a beautiful, relaxing stay with great food at an affordable price. Perhaps, I am biased towards tea garden bungalows, considering I come from Assam (the tea capital of India) but this really seemed like a good gamble for our weekend getaway. So I booked 2 classic double rooms.

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This is what happened…

We took the route via Kabini to get to this place. However, Parisons is a 4000 acre plantation and google maps made life a little difficult for us in the last 10-15kms. We were being taken from the narrowest of streets with no sign boards at all. At one point we decided to ditch the maps (mostly bcoz there was no signal) and ask locals about Parisons. They directed us in all directions because we were surrounded by Parisons gardens 🙂 Nobody specifically knew the tourist bungalows. So it got a bit tense. The hotel staff was not reachable and we were just going round and round in circles. Finally, we got mobile connection and managed to reach the property with the help of an auto guy who was kind enough to take instructions from the hotel and escort us till the gates.

So please put Malabar Road or Mananthavady or Talapoya as the location on the Maps. Even when you ask locals, ask for Mananthavady or Parisons Talapoya gate.

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2.

At the time of booking, I was not aware that there are 2 bungalows in the gardens. Talapoya and Cherakara. Booking.com did not specify this anywhere. When we reached the property after the 5.5hr drive, we saw Talapoya first. The former is the larger one of the two with a swimming pool and gymnasium etc. It is 200 yr old British bungalow with massive rooms and halls. This is also where they have the spa, sauna and steam rooms. We were totally blown away! But then we were told that our bungalow was in Cherakara- 2 kms from there. It is the smaller bungalow with only 4 rooms. We were immediately filled with regret. I felt I made a mistake. And that we should have booked in Talapoya. But how was I to know?

The staff told us that as residents of Cherakara, we were allowed to use the pool and the gym at Talapoya. We saw that as some consolation and drove to our bungalow. Cherakara was a cute little property with a large lawn and a swing. The rooms were big and well done. All our regret just vanished because we soon realized that this was a far more personal space and the entire staff was at our beck and call.

 

We got the peace and quiet we were looking for. The lawns were just marvelous and the view of the tea gardens from Cherakara was far superior. Plus we got to use the pool and the gym at Talapoya, so essentially we had the best of both worlds 🙂 There was nobody to stop us from dancing in the rain, playing music, hogging the swing 🙂 We had the place entirely to ourselves. 

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3.

Since I am married into a Bengali family, food is the primary factor to decide the success and failure of a property/holiday. So I was under tremendous pressure for that to hit bull’s eye. And believe me when I say that Parisons just knocked it out of the park! Daisy, the chef just single-handedly took the holiday to the next level with her cooking. If for nothing else, book this resort for the food. It will be totally worth it. It was truly the highlight of our stay. I would like to make a special mention for Balakrishna, who took care of all our needs through the weekend.

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4.

There are several walking trails around the property and they even have a recreation centre. We played TT while we were there. But they also have tennis, badminton, billiards etc. So do carry your sports/walking shoes along. The tea gardens are just beautiful and are very well maintained. We drove to the top of the Brahmagiri hills and saw a fantastic 360 view of the estate.

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My verdict: Overall Parisons Plantation was just the perfect choice for us. We loved every bit of it. Stay in Cherakara if you want privacy and a homely feel.

My rating: 4.5/5 There is absolutely nothing for me to criticize. But yes, a glass of wine would have been nice in that setting 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ragamaya Resort & Spa, Rajakkad, Idukki, Kerala (Not really in Munnar but as pretty)

We had a long weekend this May and wanted to spend it in the hills. So we decided to fly from Bangalore to Coimbatore and then drive to Munnar from there (5-hour drive as per Google). As usual, the most renowned and highly rated resorts in Munnar were already taken. It is during this frantic search for accommodation that I stumbled upon Ragamaya Resort & Spa. The image gallery looked fantastic! Almost too good to be true. But this place even had the reviews to match the phenomenol pictures. Plus Cleartrip was running a good offer for Citibank Customers. So I booked us for 2 nights @ just 6000/- per night. Their website looks like this: http://www.ragamayamunnar.com/

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Now for the real experience…. Some points of caution:

First, we made the mistake of flying to Coimbatore and not Cochin. I say this because, while Munnar was a 5-hour drive, Ragamaya was another 1 hour 15 mins away. So it took us 6 hours 15 mins to reach the place. With breaks it comes to nearly 7 hours. From Cochin the resort is just a 3.5 hour drive. So if you plan to go, don’t make the same mistake 🙂 Secondly, when you think of Munnar you visualize tea gardens and bunglows right? This resort is not in Munnar in the literal sense. It is in a place called Rajakkad, Idukki. So if you want to be around tea gardens Ragamaya is not the right choice. Thirdly, there are very few signboards for the resort when you drive from Munnar. We saw a signboard only in the last 5 kms. Rest of the way was shown by Google maps. And the last mile is a muddy road which makes you wonder if you are going the right way 🙂 Not the best feeling if you have been driving for 7 hours! But stay patient…. …because once you reach Ragamaya the fatigue and anxiety just vanishes.

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Forget the tea gardens… this resort has the most stunning view of the Ponmudi Lake and the thick western ghats rain forests. Every room faces this picturesque set up and you feel relaxed and at ease almost instantly. We had booked the Raga Premier room which was contemporary, spacious and minimalist. The large balcony is where you will spend 70% of your time – I can guarantee it!

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Once you digest the majestic view, there are some cool activities to explore. You can go boating, fishing, trekking (night and day), cycling, shopping etc. We took a jeep ride to the lake for boating and fishing and boy was it adventurous! There is no proper road to the lake, so the 4X4 just makes its way with the help of pure engineering muscle. It is one bumpy ride but so worth it! You must try it! The staff is very courteous and enthusiastic. Typical of Kerala 🙂 Even the spa was surprisingly good. For a young property (5 months old) , Ragamaya fared very well on most fronts.

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My verdict: Ragamaya Resort is quite a find. Secluded, adventurous and unique is how I would describe it.

My rating: 4/5 The food could be better and they should have more signboards. Plus the resort has no liquor license yet 😦