This eco-tourist resort near Puducherry allows you to really let your hair down!

Holidays ultimately come down to the summary of the overall experience at a place. And when the promise of a holiday-with-a-difference came my way, I was only more than willing to lap up the opportunity to see if it would deliver…

A speed-and-you-miss turn from the highway leading to the main city of Puducherry led me to a quiet seafront resort, the entrance giving no hint of either the remaining 31-acres of the property or the experience awaiting me. It unwound slowly while I signed in at a traditional four stone-pillared Mandap that serves as the reception, warmly welcomed by the staff, sipping on a hibiscus-flavoured drink with a battery-powered vehicle waiting to take me to my accommodation. The scene at the Dune Eco Beach Village served as a hint of the promise of a unique experience, aided by elements as assorted as the ones that make up its name.

Daunting task

But before you pack your bags for a getaway at the Dune, I realised that a daunting task awaits you. You first have to choose which of the 50-odd accommodations at the property you wish to stay in. Eachone, designed by different designers, is unique in terms of theme, architecture, interiors, furniture and location. There’s the Silver room, Bangle House, Bamboo House, Karaikudi house, Gramam House, Flex house, Tower House, Pop House, Bay Watch Houses…

While the bed in the Silver House is located right beneath a 16,000-litre water tank, the Tower House is located right on top. Its view, open Jacuzzi beside the bed and a room with ‘what a view!’ on top make it perfect for honeymooners and couples looking for an exciting new way to holiday.

I was housed at the Artist Studio 2, a classy, smart accommodation that comes with a private pool; nothing too adventurous. But the design and architecture of a few accommodations cause them to have their own requirements from guests as well — like the Nawabi House has a bedroom without walls and the privacy is taken care of by the surrounding compound wall and its location at the corner of the property. The Baywatch accommodations have open shower areas and are nature-cooled (read ‘no A/C’). So are you open to the kind of freedom it grants, ready to while away time without cable TV and share your room with a few bugs, lizards, butterflies and occasionally a frog? If you are game, it’s worth a try. And the insects…well, you’ll get used to them. Just like you will to the real concept of ‘eco-friendly’.

From the time I hopped off the battery-powered Bijili to the time I stretched out on the bed made out of recycled wood, it’s all eco-friendly. I ate organically in-house grown and prepared food, pedalled back to the room in the bicycle provided by the resort while setting eyes on a patch of forest land being afforested, showered in warm water heated by solar-powered water heaters, wrote letters in recycled paper... It was like getting practical lessons on living in harmony with nature without actually realising that you are learning it. That’s Dune’s way of being thought-provoking, without being preachy.

Reclaimed material

Even the furniture and building materials are all reclaimed from real houses. The Karaikudi House, for instance, has beautiful intricately-carved wooden window frames and pillars that originally belonged to a real Chettiar House. The bed in the Nawabi House is made from three different bed frames. And the chairs in the FUN (Food You Need) restaurant were reclaimed from a ship at the recycling yard in Gujarat. They are all put together compactly that not one stands out.

And speaking of the restaurant, there are two in the property — FUN restaurant and the Seafood bar, which lives up to its name. The menu is innovative (Lotus stem kebab, Stuffed cucumber with angel hair pasta, cold pumpkin soup, millet biriyani…) and the food is tasty too, but takes a while to get to the table though. Some of the items on the menu are hypotoxic; you should try it to see what eating a toxic-free food feels like: easy on your tummy and taste buds.

Another way to unwind at the Dune is by hitting the beach that has a single secure private entry to 700 metres of the coast line. A few metres away, the shore is quite active with fishermen going about their daily business in their boats and trawlers. If you want to hitch a ride with them, just ask the reception on your mobile room-phone that makes it easy for guests to reach the reception or room service from anywhere in the property.

If not the beach, there’s always the swimming pool with a deck facing the sea, or try your hand at a game of tennis, milking the cow, shaping a clay pot, or petting the animals in the farm, which include a camel, rabbits, turkeys and four in-house dogs that would make good company for your kids and pets. Dune’s a true family destination in the real sense of the word. .

At the end of my stay, I checked out happily with the knowledge of having discovered a place where you can truly let your hair down and relax. The fact that I stayed in a place that has 70 per cent less carbon footprint than other hotels only added to the feel-good factor.

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Facilities

Ayurveda Spa and treatment at the Veda Spa

Acupuncture, Acupressure, NAET (Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Techniques), Energy treatments, Trauma treatments, by Dé.Mé.Lés

Soon to open water spa — Watsu, Chromotherapy and Hydrotherapy Gym

Arrangements for taxis, airport picks-ups and drops, sight-seeing

Contact:

Phone + (91) 413 2655 751 + (91) 936 44 55 440 - (Fax) + (91) 413 2656 351. Website: http://www.thedunehotel.com/

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Sight-seeing options

Puducherry city 12 km away

Auroville

Sri Karneshwar Temple, a pyramid-shaped Nataraj temple built by Karan Singh, just a two-minute walk away from Dune

Tropical evergreen forest (earlier called ‘magical’ forest due it’s uniform change of colour in a particular season)

Mahabalipuram/ Mamallapuram