When I start writing a blog the Title comes naturally – the Title represents in a few words the essence of what I carried back from the trip , but this time I struggled – there is so much to talk about at the Taj Coorg its difficult to capture it in a few words . This is both good and bad – good because there is so much to talk about and not so good because its missing its core positioning.
Coorg has transformed – 8 years back when I made my first trip to Club Mahindra the drive time was 4 1/2 hrs and the notable resorts were Orange County & Club Mahindra – today the drive time from Bangalore is 6 – 7 hrs and there are many more properties and home stays that have mushroomed. With all the crowd you tend to stay away from the town and the sights outside and prefer staying in a resort – for that the Taj is a great property.
The property at Madikeri is embedded in greenery. Its a 180 acre property (built up area of 30 acres) at an elevation of ~ 4500 feet on a lush verdant rainforest valley. The design is harmonious with nature and from every where – the lobby , restaurant , rooms you get an unobstructed view of the green , misty valley and the hills beyond.
The property has 63 spacious rooms in 4 varieties (Superior Charm, Deluxe Delight , Premium Indulgence Cottage , 5 Pool Villas and the Presidential Suite) – We stayed at the Premium Indulgence Cottage – a well laid out 1400 sft room that could easily accommodate 2 adults and 2 children. Room rates are from 18 – 35 K / night inclusive of breakfast.
The Main Lobby is an impressive building that rises above 200 feet , built in a simplistic Zen Design it has an aura of great energy balance . Its open, large, spacious and has an excellent view of the valley.
This main complex houses the plunge pool , a small activity centre , the well designed Jiva Spa that offers a wide variety of treatment including some that are very local (Gudda Bath) and a well equipped Gym. The plunge pool is a big hit – its a heated pool with a mind boggling view of the rain forests and hills – and the kids never want to leave its premise.
Rooms are designed along the hill slope so a walk up to the main lobby / restaurant can be a tad tiring – but the electrical buggy service is always around to pick you up. The pavements / foot paths are concrete , well finished and have the stamp of perfection – so no fear of slipping on rocks and rubble as you walk up & down.
The best things to do here is soak in the nature and go for long treks. The hotel organises two good treks to the nearby hills – easy 2 hr treks. Our guide Abhishek was exceptional – very knowledgeable and friendly. The highlight was our discussion on the Kurunji Flower – the rare blue flower that blooms once in 12 years and covers the hill slopes ( that why the Nilgiris are called the Blue Mountains) – its famous in Munnar but close to the Taj the hills we trekked are also full of Kurunji Flowers – so Sep 15 – Oct 15 , 2018 you may want to book a package at the Taj Right now.
(And if you are wondering whats the khaki covering on our shoes – those are cloth flaps for leech protection)
The restaurant is multi cuisine – serves a wide variety of dishes form India, to Local , Continental – there are 4 restaurants FernTree , Nelliki (Local Cuisine), Grill (Outdoor BBQ) , Dew a Small health Food Cafe and the Hive Bar – but we ended up going to the main one Fern Tree most of the time. Service & Food is good and dinner for a family of 4 is about INR 200o – INR 3000 (Without Liquor)
They have a few more activities – Sat evening Local Dance, Mountain Biking , Zip Lining , a well maintained but small conservatory, Pottery Studio , Baking & art classes for Kids , Archery , Virtual Golf …. A large olympic size outdoor pool , an amphitheater for holding functions / marriages. 3G Network is available all across the property and Wi Fi at decent speed is also complimentary.
Unlike most properties in Coorg & Chickamagalur the Taj is not a coffee estate, Its not a Spa /Yoga Retreat like Ananda or Shreyas or Swaswara, Its not a honeymoon Corporate Offsite location like Tamara – so the question – What is it ?
And thats the question I carry back with me – is the Taj Coorg becoming an upmarket Club Mahindra catering to the weekend family traffic from Bangalore – that would be sad and not doing justice to a property of this stature. Are noisy kids spoiling the peace and the harmony of the place ? Can you enjoy the divine view from the plunge pool when you have a few brats noisily tossing the ball around. Can you have a relaxed romantic candlelight dinner or a peaceful breakfast with a howling baby in the next table and a hassled mother desperate to calm it as the husband is busily taking photos.
We went on the Dushera weekend and the hotel was full – barring one Foreign Couple the entire crowd was Bangalore families with 1 – 2 kids each. I would urge the Taj to revisit their positioning and decide what is the clientele they would like to attract. Many properties today have a Kids above 12 only rule – maybe the Taj should explore something like that.
Running a property like this in the hills is not easy and the staff , the general manager do a great job …. but I would like to leave them with a few suggestions
- Entertainment every evening – Live entertainment like light music , a Sat evening local dance is good but you need something 7 days
- Nelliki needs something more than authentic local cuisine – its looking empty
- You need more restaurant space
- Too late but would have been good for the rooms to have been designed with a His / Her basin and a Powder room – with large rooms that can accommodate 4 , you need more bathroom space
- The Treks could be longer
- Yoga session starting at 8AM is a no go – I normally attend Yoga sessions in all the properties that I visit but missed it out here – I don’t think you are attracting people who will do Yoga at 6 AM – also with such an amazing property the Yoga sessions needs to be done outside in the midst of nature – not in a closed room
- I think you are underpriced – there are high end Homestay’s in Chickamagalur and Binsar that charge over 20 K / Night ( Primrose, Mary Buden estate etc) – yes its true that money does not buy class , but for a property of this stature if you want to target the right audience you need to relook at your rates.
As the friendly GM said – maybe I should come back when its not so crowded on a weekday , and I definitely will. Having been to Club Mahindra, Orange County, Windflower and now the Taj – I would strongly say that when it comes to the beauty of the property and the rooms – the Taj is the best in Coorg.
Few More Snaps