GreenWoods Resort, Kumily (Thekkady)



After the long drive (including a shopping break!) we took an extra 20 minutes to find Greenwoods Resort even though we were right next to the rear entrance!! Greenwoods was closing for some renovation tomorrow and hence our stay would be for one night only. They had carried over our payment from our previous cancelled booking and hence we didn’t spend anything extra.

We received a warm welcome with a “spice” necklace and a drink and had an easy check in. We were allotted one of the Kanana (Deluxe) rooms and quickly dumped all our luggage.  The room was spacious and very clean. Although Greenwoods is in the middle of the city, it is such a large property with plenty of greenery and you don’t feel you are in a city or town. The room overlooks a lot of their trees and greenery.

We quickly made our way to the restaurant to have a late lunch. The restaurant is huge and the decor is excellent. We ordered very simple dishes, but they were served well and were tasty. Even though there was a large group of foreigners, we were well attended to! After lounging around the room for a while we set out to explore the resort. There are some interesting trees and shrubbery and a small section with birds and animals which my son enjoyed a lot. The highlight of the resort is the treetop tea shop. We loved climbing

The treetop coffee shop!

The treetop coffee shop!

the ladder and then crossing the rope bridge to enter the shack on top of the trees. It has an olden village vibe. We loved relaxing on the side and sipping hot tea. They even brought some fresh juice for my little son.

They also had a good looking swimming pool which we unfortunately did not use as it was too cold.

The morning was also well spent. The water pressure in the shower was terrific. The breakfast buffet was awesome and very filling. As we checked out and looked forward to going to the Periyar Reserve, we were given an umbrella which they trusted us to return.

Overall, this was one of the most professional stays we had had. The hospitality was great and the rooms were clean. I can certainly understand why this is one of the top rated resorts in the Thekkady Region!



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Cruising the backwaters

With the weather becoming wild at times, we were concerned that our HouseBoat cruise and overnight stay would be a unpleasant. Last night we spoke to the houseboat owner and he assured us that we would still enjoy it.

We checked out of Aveda and took the short drive to the houseboat which was docked and ready for us. The crew were courteous and we boarded it after parking the car. J was wearing his spiderman shirt and was IMG_20150930_134317visibly excited! We were soon chugging away into the lake as everything was serene. It was warm and we caught a glimpse of all the resorts lining the lake. The wind picked up and we docked at a spot for some delicious lunch. It tasted authentic and was not too spicy. There was a drizzle and the wind got stronger. We had a half hour adventure as the winds pushed our boat away off the docking area, but the crew expertly managed to manoeuvre it back! It gave us a slightly anxious time, but IMG_20150930_133805we knew we were in the hands of pros!

The wind and rain were strong, but the cruise was still fantastic. Watching the sun set as we cruised was lovely. We couldn’t get into the canals, but managed to explore one where we bought some fresh king prawns. We docked for the night and enjoyed the serene calm away from the bustle of the city life we were used to. Thankfully, there were not much mosquitoes. Dinner was sumptuous with the prawns we’d just bought.IMG_20151001_075450

Our plans to watch a movie on board didn’t really work out! We should have brought a USB stick with some movies. The night was relatively calm and the noise of the water flowing was quite peaceful. We had a good nights sleep and woke up refreshed to another delicious breakfast and a one hour cruise again where we explored a canal and watched the folk go on with their lives on the banks of the canals and lake. We even managed to see a full rainbow!

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Soon we pulled in for our final docking and after profusely thanking the crew, we waved goodbye and drove away in search of more adventure…..

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The endless swimming pool at Aveda Resorts, Kumarakom

The guy who looked at the dripping roof and soaked floor in our allotted room went back to reception. Within a few minutes we got a call from reception apologising for the leak and they offered to upgrade us to a larger cottage with a private plunge pool!! We soon had people carrying our luggage to the new room across the pool and while they did that we strolled down to the restaurant for a buffet dinner. The restaurant is IMG_20150929_201738open on all sides and this makes it airy and comfortable.

The buffet spread was not massive, but the food was good. They had a short entertainment as we had dinner near the pool. The rest of our stay was magical. We strolled back to our huge room which had a IMG_20150929_195607bedroom and a living area. The icing on the cake was the massive bathroom with an open shower at one end. The shoer area did not have a roof and all that was above you was the sky. They also had another shower area that was covered if you wanted more privacy!

We spent the rest of the night sitting out on the verandah looking onto the pool. It continued to rain, but we didn’t care! We slept well and woke up to the gorgeous view of the pool again. After a sumptuous  breakfast it was pool time! The pool almost ends at the edge of the lake and it looks like it actually flows into the lake! We literally spent hours in the pool. The water was not too cold and was very clean.IMG_20150929_195616 There were coconut trees planted in spots in the pool and this added a nice touch to the experience.

Sadly IMG_20150930_110551we had booked only one night here as we wanted to do an overnight houseboat cruise. We enjoyed showering and packed up. The check out experience was lovely too and we couldn’t take our eyes off the pool as we reluctantly walked away. Goodbye Aveda, we will be back!

The good:

  • The best pool we have ever used
  • Great bathroom
  • The basic rooms are small but the cottages are big.
  • Excellent hospitality. We felt welcome and the way they quickly managed the leaky roof situation.
  • Good restaurant and very good food choices. The service is discrete and friendly.

The not so good:

  • Leaky roof in some rooms
  • The rooms and cottages are right next each other as they are all poolside. So if you leave your curtains
    open people can see in. Also there will be people walking right in front of your room or cottage as they go to the lakeside or the reception/restaurant
  • No lifeguards! While there were people constantly cleaning the pool, I saw no lifeguards. So be with your kids at all times.
  • The real backwater experience with canals and bridges is not there. If you want this you need to look at other options.
  • They are a small property
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Checking in to Aveda Resorts, Kumarakom

The slower than expected drive from Munnar to Kumarakom meant that we entered Kumarakom later than expected. As we turned Aveda Receptioninto the final road to a line of resorts the clouds were already darkening and the sun was low in the horizon. The huge gates at the entrance opened for us and we entered the short driveway and parked in a corner. The reception was open on all sides and well spread out. We sat in comfy sofas as the check in formalities were done. The centre of the large reception area is a small area with water that has fish swimming in it. Overall it was a very relaxing check in.

Aveda is a small property with the highlight being an awesome pool. As we were escorted to our room, the swimming pool looked even better than the pics! All the rooms were poolside! As we entered our room, our priority was to get into the pool ASAP. DSC_5835
Just as we finished changing, the clouds sent down a drizzle of rain. We managed to get into the pool for a short while before the rain got too heavy and we were forced to retreat back in to the room disappointed. As we changed and got ready for dinner, the next disappointment hit us – we noticed a leak on the roof at our room entrance that made the room wet and soggy. A combination of reaching late, lots of rain and a leaking room was the worst that could happen – would our stay at Aveda tuDSC_5920rn out to be a bad decision?

With trepidation we called the reception and informed the receptionist about the leaking roof. Within a few minutes they sent a person with a mop and bucket. Our hearts sank… The guy looked at the dripping water and the wet floor. What happened after this turned everything around!

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Driving to Kumarakom

After another lazy breakfast at Tall Trees Resort, we slowly checked out and went to the Tea Factory in Munnar before heading out to Kumarakom. We descended via the road to Kochi. The scenery was a little different. There were more trees and woody scenery than Tea estates.

It rained intermittently, but this did not disrupt driving. The winding roads and scenery were a pleasure. I wondered how auto rickshaws rode on this road – slowly chugging away! The Kerala buses were the scariest part of the drive as they whizzed past without acknowledging my existence. We noticed a couple of small landslides due to the rains.

 

The weather got a little warmer as we hit the plains. We then drove through Kerala country roads. The drive was slower than we expected as the roads were not very wide and twisted around a bit. We could rarely cross 80 KMPH. The drive was very relaxing. We stopped in some place for some fast food in a small mall. The fried chicken and burger was nice and we had a clean toilet break too!

Google maps kept us on track with a few exceptions. There was a small turn off which said “Kumarakom” and the roads beyond this was potholed. We slowed down quite a bit and the clouds made the sky gloomy. JJ was impatient and set a new record by counting slowly to three hundred! As we neared Kumarakom the touristy feeling crept in as we saw signs and ad boards for resorts. There were some short bridges as the backwaters drew closer to us. We had chosen to stay in a Resort called Aveda mainly because it had an awesome swimming pool. It is on a road with a line of resorts. We hoped to spend as much time in the pool, but the darkening clouds started ominous – would we be rained in to the resort?!

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The Tall Trees Resort (part 2): exploring the resort

The constant rains in the evening and our laziness meant we spent a lot of time exploring the Tall Trees Resort.

Surroundings: The resort is set in a sprawling area of rich biodiversity – lots of trees, flowers, shrubs and greenery. There’s a brook that flows right through and there are a couple of quaint bridges. There are plenty of places to capture beautiful photographs. We loved exploring lots of the resort in total peace. Its even more beautiful when there is a light mist that rolls in! You don’t get the tea valley views that a lot of other resorts have in Munnar – so this isnt the place if you want to sip coffee looking onto sweeping views of tea plantations.

Facilities: Outside  the restaurant there is a heritage room with lots of history, photos and two huge books. You can play chess, carroms and table tennis. There is a good spa, although we didnt use it. My friends said it was very nice. There is a postal centre (where you can send a postcard). In the resort they also have a kids play area which will keep children entertained. They have a Tree Shop with little things on sale which we did not visit – seemed interesting though. In high season, they have planned activities like trekking and campfires which we did not have during our stay.

Service: The people at The Tall Trees Resort are professional and friendly. The restaurant service was quick, although our dinner on the first night was not that great. Room service and cleaning was very efficient. We got an iron box for our use on demand and they also loaned us two huge umbrellas when we went to explore Munnar during the day.

Overall, we were very happy that we chose to stay at Tall Trees. It certainly brought back memories of our honeymoon. We felt we should have squeezed in one more nights stay if we had the time! But then our vacation had just started, and as we checked out of the resort, there was plenty of action to come!

PS: A review of our room and restaurant is here: https://blogjob.com/roadtrip/2015/09/27/the-tall-trees-resort-part-1-stay-and-food

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Top Station, Munnar

After a lazy morning and a good breakfast at the balcony in the restaurant of Tall Trees, we realised that the only day we had to explore Munnar wrainwindowas today. We decided to do the drive to Top Station and some sight seeing along the way. We started off and I already missed the dashcam as we drove out of Munnar amidst fantastic scenery. We didnt have a set agenda at all. We stopped at what looked like a popular spot for photos and then restarted. We crossed the dam, and stopped  after a while for more photos outsi
de the lake. The weather was holding on and we felt positive. After the Kerala border, the roads got worse, but the drive was still good. We reached Top Station and were greeted by the strange sight of an ambassador car being lifted off the road as it looked like it had stalled. Then things went downhill…

We couldnt find parking and almost grounded the car on a big watery dip we didnt see. Then it started drizzling and within minutes the clouds opened up. We parked in a spot and decided to remain hostages in the car. We chatted, snacked and kept taking meaningles pics of the rain through the car windshield.
Slowly the rains eased and we decided to grab our two big umbrellas (courtesy Tall Trees Resort) and started the walk. The first section has views over the mountains and valleys on one side and crowded makeshift stalls on the other side. The first viewpoint was itself breathtaking with a gorgeous view tstation2DSC_5457into the valley and towering mountains beyond that. The walk to the second viewpoint is a bit strenuous! There are no shops to distract you and you soon reach the projection that is fenced for safety. The view is again awesome. The setting is very serene and thankfully there were not many people to create a noise or distract us. We remembered the honeymoon from 8 years ago! This is a place you could just sit and watch the scenery for an hour! The short trek back gets you quite breathless if you are not in good physical shape. The coffee shops after the walk back are a welcome source of energy and rest. We were very thankful that the weather gave us enough time to explore Top Station.As usuatstation3l we were running well behind schedule and our tummies were grumbling a bit. We snacked on cookies and some juice and started the drive back. Would we find a place to have lunch?

 

 

 

 

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The Tall Trees Resort (part 1): Stay and food

After driving through the rain we entered Bison Valley Road after crossing Munnar city and a bridge. Tall Trees Resort was where we had spent 4 days in 2007 after our wedding and we really wanted to relive our stay!

IMG_20150927_171446The check in was pleasant with a small glass of flavoured tea. Tall Trees had upgraded us to a deluxe cottage after realising our vacation mishap in April. We unloaded our luggage to the room and I parked my car. The personal car parking spot is small and on a steep incline. There are more spots for cabs and a separate dorm for drivers to stay and eat.

Room: The deluxe room is on two levels. The entrance level is the large living areIMG_20150927_172856a and has a seating area, all the tea and coffee stuff and a bathroom. IMG_20150927_172841There is a balcony that opens behind it. A narrow winding (metal) staircase leads to the lower bedroom area. The stairs are extremely narrow and a bit noisy – I was constantly worried JJ would fall as he ran up and down!. The bedroom is cosy with a large, comfy bed a balcony sit-out and a spotless bathroom. There was a TV, enough storage areas and a safe. JJ called this cottage his octopod and we all soon became octonauts as per his demands! The bathroom and general decor were different from our stay 8 years ago. The shower sent hot water under good pressure and was a pleasure to use! The only downside was IMG_20150927_172850that the lighting in the bedroom was dim and often we had to use our torchlight to get stuff out of our bag.

There was a pleasing natural fragrance of spices in the room that was very nice. The balcony was the best part of the room as you sat amidst trees. We felt ‘away from it all’ and in general enjoyed the ambience so much, we didnt care that it was IMG_20150927_172804raining and we could not really go out for the evening. I loved waking up every morning making a cuppa hot coffee and then walking/lounging in both balconies watching the sunlight stream through the tall trees and vegetations, listening to birds chirp. Our vacation was off to an ideal start!

Restaurant: The walk up to the restaurant in the rain carrying my son literally took my breath away – I was huffing and puffing! Thankfully their buggy car service helped us halfway through. There is a set of steps and a shortcut which was easier. On the other days, we didnt have any trouble climbing to the restaurant. The restaurant has a great setting with a glass roof that looks out into the tall trees. There is some limited seating on a balcony outside. The furniture is quite dated and the fabric on the seat was not really clean. The food is a bit of hit and miss. The dinner on our first night was bad: they got one dish wrong and the food taste was very average. However the general ambience and service was good enough for us to simply sit and relax. Breakfast buffets on both days were good and the service was good with dosas, appam, eggs and a lot of extras made to order in addition to the buffet. We skipped dinner on our second night and dropped into the restaurant late for some dessert and enjoyed it.

View from the balcony sit out:

We didnt explore much in the resort on our arrival – more on that is here: https://blogjob.com/roadtrip/2015/09/28/the-tall-trees-resort-part-2-exploring-the-resort

 

 

 

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Lunch Stop at Club Mahindra, Munnar

It was past 2 PM and we decided to stop in Chinnakanal for lunch. We randomly chose Club Mahindra and drove onto the narrow road to the entrance. As we entered the premises the clouds let loose  a torrent of rain. I barely managed to park the car and we scrambled into the restaurant. I cursed the fact that I had forgotten to take our umbrellas for the trip!

The restaurant was spacious and looked great. Since the buffet was pricey (about Rs. 900/person) and we wanted to grab a quick lunch, we went ala carte. The menu was not cheap either, but we were in a mood for some fast food – chicken nuggets for JJ, fish and chips for me and a club sandwich for R. The setting was nice as we looked onto a small valley and trees. They had outdoor seating too which was unfortunately rained out!

The serving took longer than expected and to be honest the food was disappointing. We didnt expect gourmet stuff, but seeing burnt nuggets, slightly soggy chips, and an overdone fish was not exactly what we paid so much for. The sandwich was great and the fish tasted good. We had a lazy lunch as the rain poured in Munnar.

The service was friendly and partly made up for the average food.

The restrooms were clean enough. The rain started to decrease as we refreshed ourselves. We had to walk to the main reception to make a payment with a credit card. We lounged around in the balcony for a while and decided that we needed to leave. Munnar was about an hour away. As we left we were impressed with the views and a friendly security guard took some family pictures for us. Overall the resort looked great and the location was fantastic. I hope the average food was just a one-off exception.

The next leg started off with a disaster. As I got into the car, I didn’t realise that the dashcam was on the floor and stepped on it. While the camera survived, the holder to attach it to the windscreen snapped and couldn’t be fixed. I was really looking forward to making some videos of our drive and it looks like this may not be possible…..

 

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Driving to Munnar

After a restful night, fantastic breakfast and a breezy checkout from Hotel Hemala we embarked on our drive to Munnar. We exited Karur in a few minutes and once again were on the highway. The road was fantastic till just beyond Dindigul.

As we approached Batlagundu we slowed down and the half hour we took to cross Batlagundu was terrible – broken roads and lots of haphazard traffic. The section near the bus stand is pathetic. I wish they would have a bypass for this section. We then saw the mountains appearing closer. We have driven this section in the past on our trips to Kodaikanal. Although narrow, the roads are good and most of the traffic is sane. We passed Eden Gardens – the place we stopped for coffee on our drive to Kodai (for my wedding). We fondly looked at the right turn that would have taken us to Kodaikanal, but continued straight down.

The road got narrow and a bit worse beyond this with some unlaid sections especially near Periyakulam.

We bypassed Theni and went past Bodi to finally take the turn that started the climb to Munnar. The hills were no longer part of the background – they were all around us. The surroundings got more lush green and tall trees were on one side and a steep drop on the other. The Xcent struggled at times to find the right gear. I had to coax it to downshift on some sections and to overtake. But I loved the way it hugged the winding curves and took the hairpin bends. We could feel the temperature drop.

I found that Kerala bus drivers didnt care about you and probably didnt realise they had brakes on their vehicles. Thankfully there always seemed enough space for us to continue. We were also amused seeing autorickshaws chugging along the road!

The scenery slowly gave way to mesmerizing views of the valleys and the tea estates – miles and miles of fresh green, manicured tea plantations that were breath taking. This was the best part of the drive. There were a couple of view points and we stopped amidst some greenery for short photo ops. The air felt fresh and light. Work, buildings, dust roads, deadlines and projects were now a distant memory as our minds went into complete vacation mode.

Dark clouds gathered and a light drizzle hit us as we reached Chinnakanal after 2 PM. The drive was awesome and I never wanted it to stop. But then we couldnt possibly drive and drive and drive without food could we! We decided to take a break and have lunch at Club Mahindra. Would the weather let us down?

 

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