When The Serai invited eight bloggers to celebrate Woman’s Day at their lovely resort in Chickmagalur I did a double take. Really? I was swamped with work that week. I quickly asked for the names of the rest of the bloggers. I didn’t know anybody. (My interest was fading). They wanted me to come and spend two days getting fawned over and pampered. (Interest awakened). Have a look at the website, they insisted. I peeked into it reluctantly. (Wow, Desire generated). They called me back. There was a spa treatment involved, Will I be able to make it? (Resolve weakened). I cancelled my meeting. I was going to the Serai!
We met at the Café Coffee Day Square on Lavelle road. (Serai and CCD are owned by the same parent company). After introducing ourselves and tucking into the breakfast at CCD, we got ourselves into a minivan and drove out of the city. It’s amazing how ten women who have never met before can talk till their jaws drop. No need for introductions, thank you very much!
The Serai is located in a 70 acre Coffee Plantation in Chickmagalur. Chickmagalur means ‘the town of the younger daughter’ in Kannada and is also the place where coffee was first cultivated in India. After a five hour drive we arrived at the resort. The high ceilinged reception area is cool and welcoming. As we smiled at each other in appreciation, the staff welcomed us with a refreshing glass of cold coffee and a string of jasmine flowers. (A little embarrassed to be treated like royalty really, but somebody’s got to do it!)
After quickly tucking into the lavish lunch buffet, we headed to get a first peak at our residential quarters. Now I purposely say residential quarters and not room – you don’t call a villa with a private pool anything less! King-sized beds with the softest pillows, a gorgeous bathtub with a garden view, a shower open to the elements, toiletries from Forrest Essentials to pamper myself and fresh fruit laid out on the coffee table. Bliss … I was slowly getting used to this!
A quick dip in my private pool (how awesome is that) followed by a nice hot shower, we met for a quick tour of the grounds. Lets start at the top. The resort is bang in the middle of the coffee plantation and you can see the blue outline of faraway hills from the lovely upper deck near the reception. The resort lobby is flanked by the restaurants and bar deck on either side. One level lower you have the most gorgeous part of the resort for me – the infinity pool. A channel of water runs down from the pool area and the villas are situated on either side of this pathway. Cycling trails, grassy lawns, water bodies and big leafy trees complete the picture.
We rounded off the tour at the helipad, where high tea was arranged for us. For those of us who din’t want to walk all the way up to the Odessy restaurant (where a Chocolate making Demo was to happen) – a yellow golf buggy was sent to fetch us. I walked up the path – I needed to burn off the calories from lunch and tea. As I rounded the corner, I saw an exquisite table being laid out for dinner by the pool. Flowers, candles, crystal and china – someone’s going to have a wonderful night!
The chocolate making demo was something I missed because someone from office called me! (yes, the resort is well connected… unfortunately!). However I trudged in just as the chef was unmolding the chocolate and thankfully got to taste the goodies!
Time for dinner they said. We all moved towards the dining area, but were quickly guided outside. The lovely table I had seen earlier in the day was set up for none other than us! All I can say is …it really took my breath away! The Serai had organized a barbeque by the pool. As we ooed and aahed, the waiters generously filled our glasses with wine and the conversation flowed just as generously. Grilled lamb chops, sear fish, chicken satay, corn on the cob, paneer skewers, grilled aubergine and zucchini were some of the delicacies served with different dips. No complaints there, I kept the grills coming. Little did I realize that it was just starters and the chefs were waiting to serve us some authentic malnad (local) dishes for our mains. How could I say no to that? Kai Kadubu (steamed rice balls) served with chicken curry, akki roti, midly spiced local pulao, badnekayi (aubergine) playa and more. We ended with some dumroot (dessert made from pumpkin), chcocolate lava cake and of course ice cream. What a perfect night! All that was left was to snuggle under the rich quilt covers and have happy dreams.
The night before some of the girls had made a plan to go cycling. Me being a non-morning person quickly declined. But after a wonderful night’s sleep I was raring to go. Unfortunately thinking and doing are two separate things and four of us were pooped after just two rounds of cycling on the slopes! (Note to self – increase fitness level).
Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day and the resort had an elaborate spread. I was partial to the sugared doughnut and the wonderful made to order omlette with peppers. I finished with a glass of carrot juice – common I need something healthy to assuage my guilt for binging!
We were going to Kudregundi estate to get a first hand feel of how coffee is grown and harvested and finally turned into the beverage we all love. (ok, me not so much! :P). The Serai calls it the Bean to the Cup Experience. We got to ride in the back of a tractor (yippee!) and even dip our feet in a cool stream. The heat was a blistering 33 degrees that day and my shoulders were beginning to resemble the color of coffee. How befitting the estate! After a few rounds of fresh tender coconut water (we bravely drank straight from the coconut – no straw!) we were ready to witness the birth of a steaming hot cup of coffee.
Long story short – beans are plucked, washed, de-pulped and dried (they look pale green). The they are roasted for half hour till they turn a nice chocolatey brown. (you’ve seen this in stores). Then the beans are ground to get coffee powder (ah! The aroma). The Coffee powder is then mixed with Chicory (the bark of a tree) to give it the characteristic strong, bitter taste that Indians love. (Most countries just like their coffee pure and unblended). The final step is to heat milk and then add the blended coffee powder in and strain into a cup. Add sugar if you please and enjoy! (P.S. this cuppa was one of the best I’ve ever tasted … and quite frankly liked!)
We got back to the resort and I was happy to jump into the infinity pool for a couple of laps. We also lazed in the water exchanging funny stories and laughing so loud that I thought I would drown! I almost forgot about my aroma massage scheduled that afternoon. Well, I said almost. There was no way I was missing this!
The signature offering was a Coffee Scrub to invigorate the skin. But after being sun burned in the morning, I wanted something to soothe my skin. I opted for the Aroma Massage. Warm lemon grass and almond oil was massaged into my skin with nimble strokes and deep pressure for 45 minutes. As I stared into the pretty bowl with jasmine flowers and listened to the soothing music I felt every bit of stress that was hiding in my muscles fade away. I even got a hot almond oil, head and face massage before being sent off to the steam room to sweat the toxins from my pores. This was followed by a lovely bath and I was sparkling new!
We all felt like a million bucks after the spa treatment and promptly got all dressed up for dinner. Who can resist the charm of a singer playing the guitar and crooning ‘You look wonderful tonight’? The live music set the tone for yet another fun night with great food.
A gorgeous breakfast with fresh off the pan masala dosa’s were perfect mood lifters. Next came the most embarrassing part of the trip – a photo session with our very talented photographer (who also is brilliant fashion blogger). Despite all my giggling and embarrassment she put me at ease and we managed to get a lovely picture of me by the pool. (I told you that was my favorite part of the resort). Group pictures followed and then I rushed to pack my things. Bye bye wonderful room… bye bye private pool… bye bye luxurious bathtub. (It’s so easy to get used to this kind of luxury!)
Dear Serai – Thank you for this fantastic experience and making us feel like royalty for a weekend. I can’t wait to come back here with my someone-special J
P.S. Deepika, Ashitha and Rohita – you rock.
To the wonderful, fascinating and very talented ladies who accompanied me on this trip – Lots of love to you and I’ll always cherish the amazing camaraderie.
Why don’t you take a peek into their world and come away as fascinated as I was!
Pic Courtesy: Faiza Shiekh
Mugthihalli Post, K M Road,