These days the whole travel industry is abuzz with phrases like off-beat destinations and off-beat holidays. But, in my mind, the premium form of travel is when you experience a destination and form delightfully special memories. I call this ‘Experiential Travel’. And it includes immersing oneself in the culture, its people, its nature, its history, its food and its treasures. And did I say that you need not sacrifice on the luxury aspect.
Take Coorg as an example. Popularly referred to as the ‘coffee country’ or ‘Scotland of India’, it is one of the most popular getaways from Bangalore. A lot of people seek solace in its green surroundings during their holidays. But, a lot of these Coorg holiday itineraries are about exploring the attractions of Coorg. Won’t it be great if we connected closely with its coffee making industry? Won’t it be great if we connected with its indigenous people? Won’t it be so much better if we made a connection with the place and experienced it in its truest form?
Won’t it be a dream holiday if you stayed in traditional luxury, understood the entire coffee making process, indulged in the nature and wildlife of the Western Ghats, connected closely with the local people and gorged on the delicious food of Coorg. Isn’t that what we dream for in a holiday: luxury, top location, great food, tons of relaxation and an overall special location? The icing on the cake would be a solid local connection. It would be a one of a kind experience right?
I got to experience such a dream holiday at the Pollibetta area of Coorg when I stayed at the Thaneerhulla Heritage Bungalow, one of the luxury properties managed by the Plantation Trails, the hospitality group run by Tata Coffee Limited. I stayed in very tastefully designed traditional luxury that is located amidst many acres of coffee plantations and pristine forests. I had my own private butler who always looked into every small detail and every need of mine. I was always treated to lip smacking local foods dished out by their in-house chefs. And did I tell you that there is no other property in sight and all you have for company is oodles and oodles of greenery, omnipresent smell of coffee and sounds of the forest.
This worked like a magical holiday for me as I am one of those travelers who is a foodie, seeks quieter destinations, looks for a deep connection with Mother Nature and connects with the place through an enlightening learning experience. This learning can come through history, culture, people, food, nature or absolutely anything. I have been to Coorg like over 40 times in the past two decades, but till Plantation Trails, I never got to understand how the coffee industry worked and what it takes to get that hot brew of coffee in your morning cup.
All that changed when I went on many plantation drives as part of Plantation Trails’ ‘Bean to Cup’ program. It was on one of these plantation drives that I got to know that coffee flowers smell like jasmine, understood the differences between Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta, tasted the delicious ripe coffee pulp, understood the de-pulping and air drying of the coffee beans and basically learnt the beautiful process of how the seeds of one of the most exotic plants on planet Earth ends up in my cup every morning and helps me kick start my day. And it is not just coffee I got to learn about. I made an equally sound connection with vanilla, cardamom, pepper (white and black), silver oak, jack fruit and many more. I had never made such a deep connection with the plant kingdom and I absolutely loved it.
The birdwatcher in me was also on overdrive mode as these plantations and the surrounding forests are full of exotic species like hornbills, minivets, racket tailed drongos, bulbuls, barbets and many more. Those early morning and late evening plantation walks were like gold dust for me. Even when you can’t spot these birds, you can still hear them and you feel like this is heaven. That is a luxury for all urban people like me who live in our concrete and glass jungles. Greenery, plantations, nature, birds and pure air is such a natural stress buster. I am one of those people who would just go to a place for that alone.
The plant kingdom and nature are my areas of interest, but I think this place is best for those who just wish to unwind and have a relaxing holiday. There are many for whom holidays are just getting away from their busy lifestyles and putting their feet up in scenic locations. All the properties of Plantation Trails are totally aligned towards these kind of holidaymakers. Whether you are a large family with children or a young couple, you will appreciate the purity of this place, its impeccable levels of service, great local food, oodles and oodles of nature and so much heritage luxury that you feel like kings and queens.
So, the next time, you plan a trip to Coorg, think ‘Experiential Travel in Coorg’. And when you wish for ‘Luxury Experiential Coorg Holidays’, take a look at the lovely heritage and plantation bungalows of Plantation Trails that are scattered all over Coorg.