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GRT Hotels

11 In Destinations/ Recommendations

How To Experience Kodaikanal Like An Insider

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Home is where one feels a sense of belonging, and the staff at Great Trails Kodaikanal by GRT Hotels offered us just that. Their warmth and hospitality didn’t terminate at the boundaries of the beautiful resort. Enabling us with a guide and a comfortable ride, they gave us a pore over of some of the most amazing sights and experiences known to locals alone. And for us travelling like a local is the real deal; because, that it the only way to take trips that matter and experience what any place has to truly offer! So, do yourself a favour and see Kodaikanal through the path less travelled. Skip Kodaikanal Lake, Bryant Park and the usual and choose from a variety of experiences curated by Great Trails Kodaikanal.

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Aerial view of Great Trails Kodaikanal

The Great Trails Trek

I’m no early morning birdie, especially when someone suggests going on a trek. So I’m writing this segment purely from the eyes of Prashanth. The guided trek begins at 6 am from the resort and on your way up the hill you notice potato farms, lush green fields and local people heading to work. As you go along, the climb gets slightly steeper, offering you aerial views of the resort and private bungalows around. On reaching the view point (where the trek ends) you will be smitten with breathtaking views of Elephant valley. It’s a time-lapse galore for any photography enthusiast.

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Potato farms along the way

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Morning birdies who made it for the trek along with our guide Mr. Bala

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Perks of the trek – stellar view!

 

Strawberry Farm Experience

And you thought Strawberries were only grown in Mahabaleshwar? Nah! High altitudes and cool climatic conditions in the hills of Kodai, actually offer the perfect environment to grow these luscious red berries. Hence, the GRT Group created their own strawberry farm located 30 mins away from the resort. They seized the opportunity of being the only ones to do it in this region and they didn’t just stop at that. The farm today also cultivates organic vegetables like broccoli, capsicum etc. When we visited the farm (end of July) there were a handful of strawberries to pick and the workers had just planted a fresh batch. So we got lucky to see the first step of cultivation, along with tasting the end product of this process.

Great Trails Kodaikanal

I would like to pick you!

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Going on a sweet adventure – that’s what newly planted strawberry plants look like

 

A treat for the eyes and tastebuds at Poombarai Village

A cluster of tiny houses married with lustrous green paddy fields, enveloped in clouds. This is one hell of a view you will get to witness on your ride from central Kodai to Mannavanur Eco Tourism site (with a slight detour of course). Poombarai village, located in the heart of Palani Hills is mainly famous for two things – Poondu (garlic) and Poombarai Kuzhanthai Velappar Temple, which is over 3000 years old. The people of this village are extremely friendly and the kids exude with innocence. The stash of garlic being sold on the roadside called out the curious foodaholics in us. They were unlike anything we’d seen. So robust and flavourful, we decided to buy a whole kilo and take it back home. We did put it to the test and Prashanth said “it was a catalyst in creating a smashing spaghetti aglio e olio.” Thumbs up for that!

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Now that’s one hell of a view – Poombarai village

 

poombarai village

Keep smiling kids. Happiness looks gorgeous on you’ll 🙂

 

Discover the unknown at Mannavanur Eco Tourism Site

What do you do when you are headed to a place you’ve never heard of, especially when it’s a government lead initiative? You mostly disregard it or hold very low expectations. But to our surprise the Mannavanur Eco Tourism site turned out to be a stunning hamlet comprising of five ecosystems. Unadulterated views of meadows and rolling hills instantly transported us back to hills of Scotland. The beauty of this place is so mesmerizing that you could sit here all day long not wanting to go back. The best part – hardly any tourists and you get to interact with horses, sheep and rabbits. The centers established here promote agro-tourism and offer you a chance to peek into their development programs.

Great Trails Kodaikanal

No, it’s not a movie set; It’s a picture perfect postcard from Mannavanur Eco site

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

This sheep decided to show off it’s individuality

 

Picnic on the banks of Lake Mannavanur

We’ve travelled long and far discovering so many lakes, but setting up a picnic spot in these serene locations never occurred to us. So when the folks at Great Trails Kodaikanal turned a picturesque location into a makeshift lunch spot, we couldn’t have asked for more. Imagine gorging on Biryani while you enjoy the vistas of Lake Mannavanur – just perfect! And once you’re done satisfying your appetite, you could give riding on a coracle a try too.

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Happiness is sitting under a tree and looking at the sky through the leaves

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Staff of Great Trails Kodaikanal setting up our lunch spot

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Food tastes better by the lake

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Everyday is a picnic when you’re with friends

 

Explore Berijam Lake and it’s ecosystem

Berijam Lake is a scenic freshwater reservoir that is hidden amidst dense forests near the beautiful hill station of Kodaikanal. The area surrounding the Lake is rich in natural beauty and makes for a perfect photography haunt. Visitors can also take pictures of animals and birds, which are seen in the catchment area of this lake or the trail that leads to it. We spotted plenty of monkeys, bison and wild boars. The absence of sound and stunning landscape will surely have you coming back again. Located closer to Mannavanur Eco Tourism site, visitors are allowed through the forest to visit the Lake from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on all days. Entry is free, but ensure you’ve applied for permission through the forest department. But if you are visiting under the booking with Great Trails Kodaikanal you have nothing to worry about. They will take care of it all.

Berijam Lake

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hands of man – Berijam Lake

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

The whole objective of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.

 

Planning a trip to Kodaikanal? Let us know if this helped. Also feel free to leave us a comment with your questions or doubts and we will do our best to make it as smooth for you as it was for us 🙂

Disclaimer: We were guests of the GRT Hotels & Resorts and Firebrand Labs. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely our own. 

 

2 In Destinations

All You Need To Know About The Great Trails Kodaikanal

Timber Chalet Great Trails Kodaikanal

You know it’s a window of happiness when it opens up to majestic mountain views and an emerald green landscape. Luckily we’ve found this heavenly abode at the gorgeous Great Trails Kodaikanal by GRT Hotels. Located in Kodaikanal, hailed as the ‘Princess of Hill Stations’, where hotels come a dime a dozen; Great Trails is a breath of fresh air!

Getting there

If you are looking to escape the hubbub of the city, then escaping to the hills is certainly a great idea! Thankfully, hilly retreats like Kodaikanal are just a short drive away and if you drop by the Great Trails, you can make a memorable trip out of it. After a three-hour drive from Madurai, via one of the country’s most scenic routes made special by impromptu animal visits and misty mountain views, we arrived at Great Trails Kodaikanal by GRT Hotels.

A verdant retreat

Spread over a 7 acre estate, the Great Trails is a rejuvenating haven set amidst the cloud capped hills of Kodaikanal. As we made our way to the resort, we noticed potato farms spread as far as the eye can see. A welcome adorned with warm smiles and a knockout welcome drink got us all animated. You’ll be greeted by cobbled pathways, that are lined with British style cottages. At regular intervals, you’ll also chance upon patches of colourful blooms, spots of greenery, and outdoor spaces where you can lounge or play.

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Aerial view of Great Trails Kodaikanal

 

welcome drink Great Trails Kodaikanal

Passion punch on arrival

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Spots of blooms

Pop of wood

Futhermore, the rooms at Great Trails enhance your stay by offering majestic views of the towering mountains. Luxurious yet cozy, the Rock Cabins & Timber Chalets offer two unique lodging styles. We made the Timber Chalet our home for the weekend. Built from sustainable Indonesian wood, the room comes with floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing you to wake up to the beauty of nature. But even in the midst of this rustic landscape, the rooms have the luxuries of wifi and space heaters.

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Timber Chalet interiors

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Floor-to-ceiling windows perfect to soak in unadulterated views

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Rock Cabin interiors

The art of entertaining

The rest of the property too has plenty to hold your interest. So if you thought you’d come and live a monk’s life here in Kodai, wait till you read this! In addition to a good deal of adventure sports and outdoor activities, Great Trails Kodaikanal also houses the longest Zipline in South India. Thrill seekers, it’s time to take a plunge into serenity.

From obstacle course challenges to endurance testing treks, they have it all. But if you are in no mood for heart racing games, opt for recreational activities like Table Tennis, Chess, Carrom etc. All in all, leave the planning to Activity Co-ordinator Mr. Bala and he will ensure that people of all ages are engaged, whether it’s walking on ropes or swinging rods in foosball. The best part, it doesn’t just end there. As the night gets younger, they create an atmosphere of merry making with a bonfire, barbecue and karaoke. Friday night done right, eh! 😉

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Outdoor games and activities

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Nights around the Bonfire are the best

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Chef Isrifil killing it with the barbecue

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Friendship is found in people who are just as funny as you

Comfort food at it’s best

Whistler’s Cafe, the resort’s main restaurant opens out to a large garden overlooking farmland and mountains, promising a meal with a view. The buffet at the restaurant is quite lavish for Kodai standards. Their scrumptious and extensive menu included South Indian and Italian favourites; from an authentic Podi Dosa to a fanciful Pasta Arrabiata. The Chefs at Whistler’s Cafe do nothing short of creating a hearty stock of goodness that lead me to my bed where I settled into a long snooze.

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Eat well for breakfast and shine all day!

 

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Friends that eat together stay together

 

One crisp morning, with Prashanth still asleep, I stood on the veranda with only the mountains and the soft, distant chirping of birds for company. Warm and content, I felt enveloped in the immutable peace of Kodaikanal.

Great Trails Kodaikanal

Beautiful sights don’t ask for attention – View from our veranda

 

Planning a trip to Kodai? Click here to learn more about their latest offers. You could get upto 50% off on your stay! So what are you waiting for… Book now!

Disclaimer: We were guests of the GRT Hotels & Resorts and Firebrand Labs. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely our own. 

0 In Food

How to score a Spa treatment during your Lunch break

Radisson by GRT Hotels

It was 1 o’clock in the afternoon and after a slightly tiring journey from Bangalore to Chennai, we decided to pull up for lunch at Salt Co. 531 (Radisson Blu by GRT Hotels, Airport Road) before we headed to Mahabalipuram. Somewhere between last minute packing, making it to the train station, returning phone calls and answering emails we skipped our breakfast and settled for an average one on the train. So, by the time we made it to Salt Co. 531, we had grown a massive appetite. All we wanted to do was fill our tummies and refuel for the rest of the day. But the team at Salt Co. 531 threw in a surprise that exceeded every lunch spread we’ve ever been for.

What was the surprise?

Lunch therapy – A wholesome rejuvenating experience that begins with an express and oil-free spa treatment at Bodhi Spa. Furthermore, followed by a sumptuous buffet prepared on pink Himalayan salt blocks which one can savour to their hearts content.

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Gorgeous stairway leading down to Bodhi Spa

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Entrance of the restaurant

Who is it for?

Overworked minds and underfed tummies – said so by Mr. Shashikumar U., General Manager of Radisson Blu by GRT Hotels Chennai. Lunch therapy was specifically designed for a new breed of Indians! Working individuals who feel drained and achy by the time the clock strikes noon. Now, thanks to Salt Co. 531, you’ve found the perfect excuse to squeeze time for that perfect ‘R&R lunch-cation’ that will definitely add a spring in your step!

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Quirky corner of the restaurant

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Natural accents and decor elements

Two-minute Takeaway

Guests are graciously welcomed with sparkling welcome drinks and swiftly transferred to the Bodhi Spa to settle in for a relaxing massage. Their award winning masseuses perform an invigorating 15 minute head and shoulder massage that hits the right notes and releases tension. Our hunger pangs were gone in seconds thanks to the magic worked by their hands. Post the massage you are escorted to the restaurant where you are introduced to a plethora of dishes cooked over pink Himalayan salt blocks. Mind you, this process not only tantalizes your taste buds but also elevates the freshness of the dishes, and it’s pretty much evident with every bite you take. It is also believed that this cooking process stimulates circulation, regulates blood pressure and removes toxins from the body. What a perfect way to blend Gastronomy & Wellness! Kudos to the team at GRT Hotels for not just introducing, but also executing this brilliant concept.

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Chaat Trolley

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Dessert before mains always!

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Basil Pinwheels & Caprese Salad

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Let’s dig in!

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Peri peri fish with green peas ragout definitely stood out

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

A counter that makes ‘all things sweet’

 

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Keeping my eyes on the prize

Glimpses of Entertainment

Oh! And watch out for the staff at the restaurant. As you dive into main course, they sheepishly come out of nowhere and break into a dance. Their moves on popular Bollywood tracks will definitely put a smile on your face. If you are shameless like me, you can join the bandwagon and shake a leg too 🙂

Radisson by GRT Hotels

Why not a game of foosball after all that eating eh?

 

Tips:

  • The restaurant is open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. However, Lunch Therapy is available only on weekdays between 12 noon and 3 pm. Hence, make your reservations accordingly.
  • While you are there, do stop by at the Great Indian Kabab Factory and relish their Galouti Kebabs. It’s as close as the ones you get at the iconic Tunday Kababi in Lucknow.

Where:

Radisson Blu by GRT Hotels, Airport Road,
531, St. Thomas Mount, Kannan Colony, Pazavanthangal,
St. Thomas Mount, Chennai 600016

For reservations call 044 30853545

Damage:

Rs. 2,000 for 2 people (approx.) excluding VAT & service charge

Rating:

Ambiance: 4/5
Taste: 4/5
Service: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5

Disclaimer: We were guests of the GRT Hotels & Resorts and Firebrand Labs. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.