USP: A 180-degree view of Coonoor
It's a misty evening at McIver Villa, a heritage bungalow built in the early 1900s. And, what a way to start a holiday — with a 180-degree view of Coonoor. Across the manicured lawns, the beautiful blue hills unfold.
Run by Junaid Ali Sait, the seventh generation of the family that originally owned the property, the villa is promoted as a high-end destination. French couple Peter and Fado run La Belle Vie, the French restaurant. It is mostly organic fare with vegetables from their kitchen garden. One is assured that the flour, sugar, oil (only olive oil), and meat are organic too.
There are three categories of rooms, all of which are named after the family-owned estates. Blackwood is huge, has a private sit-out, wooden floors and seems to have been designed keeping honeymooners in mind. The colour scheme is romantic pink with a dash of yellow.
The main block has two smaller rooms — the cosy Balfour done up in green and pink and Montecute, resplendent in green and yellow). The slightly larger room, Creswell, is in yellow and pink. There is a common living room with a book shelf and a fire place. I choose Creswell.
Colworth and Cromwell, the other two rooms, are done up in orange and red. All the rooms have a working fire place and the bathrooms are lavish.
Period furniture from antique shops across the country grace the rooms. Ambareen, Junaid's wife, has put a lot of thought into the décor, and every room is unique. Anita Mathias, the in-charge, assists with your outing plans, in case you plan to explore the surroundings.
The restaurant serves an Italian menu as well as traditional tandoor fare. It has a special menu every week. There is no fried food, no soda (“for a bottle of cola, you'd be wasting nine litres of water,” says Peter) and everything is steam-cooked. “We try and put quality on the plate. Give them pleasure food that is healthy, but not boring. And, promote the concept of consciously taking care of the body and Nature.”
I have a wholesome breakfast of fruits, home-made breads and croissant (the chocolate roll is out-of-the-world and the strawberry, gooseberry and pineapple jams are yummy).The desserts, packed with fresh fruits, nuts, honey and chocolates, taste exotic.
Soon, the morning mist yields to buckets of rain and, armed with an umbrella, I take a lovely walk in the rain. Junaid, Ambareen and Anita join me for lunch. We tuck into Thai coconut soup bursting with the goodness of fresh vegetables, satisfying pizzas, pastas, and aromatic and flavourful Thai coconut rice and Thai red curry…and admire the rain-washed hills.
How to get there
The bungalow is a 10-minute drive from Coonoor. Drive down the Wellington Gymkhana
Road (Orange Grove Road) from Sim's Park. The property is next to the old Tantea office.
Things to do
Go on a toy train ride from Coonoor.
Take make-up and health tips from Fado — she's worked as a make-up artist with big names in France.
Visit a cheese-making facility nearby.
Go on adventure treks.
The rooms are priced at Rs. 4,500, Rs. 3,500 and Rs. 3, 000 (food and taxes extra).
For details, call 0423-2233323 or 94864-14830, e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.serendipityo.com