Last week I reported that as part of the Women’s Day celebrations in Bangalore, The Serai Resort and Cafe Coffee Day invited bloggers from Bangalore to a weekend retreat.
Tanisha (my beautiful niece pictured on the right), was invited and being her thoughtful, sweet self, she made arrangements for me to join the group. Thank you, Tanisha, for making this unforgettable trip possible!
The Serai Resort is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. It is a luxurious five-star resort that sits in the middle of one of the most beautiful and serene coffee estates in Chikmagalur. It was a five hour drive from Bangalore to the birth place of Indian coffee. When we reached Serai, we were greeted with garlands of jasmine flowers and cold coffee at the lounge.
The view from the lounge was intoxicating. The Western mountains, forests, and towns formed a background to the villa-tops and palm trees close by. The grounds of the resort were landscaped with shrubs, potted flowers, manicured lawns, and the infinity pool. To the right of the lounge was the restaurant, Odyssey, where we were to have our meals and to the left was Oma Spa. After lunch we were taken to our villa.
Tanisha and I shared Villa No.11. It had a low stone wall creating a private abode. As we walked into the courtyard the first thing we saw was our own pool, gazebo, and a small garden.
Our bedroom had high ceilings, rosewood floors, and huge sliding doors that led to a grand bathroom with sunken tub, shower, dual sinks with modern fixtures, and up-scale toiletries. We rested, freshened up, and were taken on a tour of the resort and the facilities. The tour ended with high tea, under a tent on the helipad. We were served petite sandwiches, dry nut biscotti, carrot cake, coffee, and tea.
To the delight of the food bloggers in the group, the Executive Chef of the Odyssey, Tony M. Jose, led us through a demonstration of chocolate making. He also showed us how transfers were applied to them giving them a custom-made, professional finish. Each of us were given a sample and, as usual, I ate mine slowly – savoring each bite!
A surprise barbecue and dinner by the pool was planned to complete the evening. The table setting was tastefully done with flowers, candles, and lanterns. The main course was a unique Malnad feast. The dishes were exotic, even to my experienced Indian palate. Upon reading a bit about Malnad cuisine, I found out that many of the ingredients used for these dishes are available locally, in Coorg, and Chikmagalur. Dessert was molten cake and ice cream. It was a lovely end to an impressive day.
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I enjoyed the Indian cuisine immensely. The spread included idlis, dosas, uthappams, omelets, chutneys, and sambar. Every meal we had at the Odyssey was exceptional.
A visit to Kudregundi, a 400 acre plantation, was on our agenda for the next day. We were going to have the “bean to cup” coffee experience. Once we arrived at Kudregundi, I hopped into a comfortable jeep and the younger ladies were loaded in the back of a tractor! I am thankful that I wasn’t in the tractor, because I would have definitely had some broken bones! The girls, nevertheless, had fun as evident by their screams, laughter, stops and starts as we climbed the slopes of the plantation. The view was magnificent – huge, tall trees with pepper vines wrapped around their trunks and luscious coffee plants below.
When we got back to the resort from our day trip, we were ready for the premier Oma spa. In Sanskrit Oma means ‘life giver.’ We were each offered a one hour treatment, of our choice. Wow! By the end of my session, all I could do was go back to my villa and sleep! I heard that the girls had a great dinner that night with a live singer and guitarist while I was dreaming!
Thanks to Faiza, a photographer extraordinaire and blogger, we had a photo shoot and group pictures taken the next morning. We then boarded our bus for the long ride back to reality.
My deepest thanks for letting us experience, a bit of heaven on earth, goes to the staff of The Serai Resort and Cafe Coffee Day, and to the organizers: Deepika, Rohita, and Ashvita.
To the brilliant, talented, and beautiful ladies, Tanisha, Swapna, Alicia, Imsu, Ankita, Manvi, and Smrithi – it was a pleasure experiencing the trip with you. Your contagious love for life and your passion to achieve your dreams continue to inspire me.
To my readers, I invite you to visit their blogs. I am sure you will be as inspired as I am. Click on their names above to visit their awesome food, fashion, photography, travel, and illustrator blogs.
Photo Courtesy: Faiza Sheikh