Words by Bindu Gopal Rao
An expansive retreat set amidst a forest in the verdant Western Ghats in Karnataka, WelcomHeritage Ayatana Coorg pleases with its scenic and remote setting.
Located about a roughly six-hour car drive from Bengaluru, this new retreat is set amidst 110 acres of verdant greenery with just 20 acres used for construction and boasts a waterfall along with a range of modern comforts.
The rural district of Coorg is well known for its lush landscapes and the resort’s elegant cottages only serve to showcase and enhance the surrounding beauty. From fantastic mountain views from private balconies to taking a dip in the infinity pool with views of the waterfall, Ayatana is the place to go when you need to escape to nature.
The 50 key property has 36 standard cottages, 13 suite cottages and one presidential suite that are well appointed. The décor is chic, using tones of beige and brown, interspersed by the art on the wall that highlights the local flora and fauna. I stayed in one of the luxury suites that also had a partial view of the in-house waterfall.
This suite comes with a spacious living room and a king-size bed as well as a bathtub and a large private balcony that overlooks the forest. The bathroom amenities are from Biotique, a local brand that promotes Ayurveda and natural beauty. A coffee and tea maker, television with Netflix and YouTube as well as a small safe are part of the in-room amenities. The large bathroom and dressing space add to the overall expanse of the room.
The presidential suite offers a complete view of the waterfall and is the most expansive room at this property. The cottages are located at a comfortable distance from each other which makes it relevant in today’s times when the need for a socially distanced vacation comes to the forefront. This is also a retreat that offers a rare forest view instead of coffee plantation views that are more commonplace.
As the resort is usually busy, there is a buffet served for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the GlassHouse restaurant. The best part of the restaurant is its alfresco space that overlooks the majestic in-house waterfall, arguably the biggest draw of this retreat. There is a covered as well as open outdoor seating here.
Executive chef Babeesh, who helms the kitchen, ensures an extensive spread of Asian, North Indian, South Indian, continental and local Coorg cuisine are laid out in separate sections. There is also a separate dessert counter as well as a live kitchen area. A high tea takes place every day in the evening at The Forest Tavern, the bar where you can sample snacks and cookies over coffee and tea. This is where a pool table is located so you can also play a game against the backdrop of the waterfall and the chirping cicadas. If you are celebrating a special occasion, you can book a candlelight dinner in advance where you will be given a celebration cake, a bottle of wine as well as a five-course meal.
A recommended activity when here is to go for a nature walk with the in-house naturalist Pradeep who will give you an education on the local flora and fauna in an hour. The forests here are home to a dumuki rudraksh tree and you can also see the black tamarind trees, jackfruit and the kokum (a local fruit used as a souring agent) trees. The fish tail palm tree used to make toddy a local liquor is also seen here.
On the walk you can also spot several butterflies like the blue mormon, peacock pansy and grass yellow butterfly as well as flowers like the ginger torch, spider lily, princess flowers and dragon plant. In the right season, Coorg is a delight for birders, being home to 306 of the 1,200 odd species sighted in India.
You can also book a session at the Wilderness Spa for a relaxing massage. A kids’ play and recreation room with indoor games as well as rope activities and a zip line (weather permitting) are some other activities here. You can also book a jeep for an off-road safari to a hilltop nearby as well as book a trek in the surrounding hills. A bonfire is lit in the evening when there is no rain.
If you are looking to explore the area, do check out the stunning Mallalli waterfalls that are close by. A visit to the Pushpagiri hills is a good idea especially if you like to trek. In all, if you are looking for a getaway that is invigorating to your senses, head to Ayatana.
All images ( excluding butterfly ) courtesy of Create studio