Lesser-visited northern Kerala brims with the scenery and spirit that makes the state so magical, but with an off-the-beaten-track feel. We’ve deliberately picked two hotels that heighten this sense of immersion in the natural world: both are intimate, remote and framed by contrasting yet beautiful landscapes. They are perfect locations in which to do absolutely nothing should you choose, though each also offers plenty of activities to get beneath the surface of this region.
After landing in Calicut, your driver will escort you to the captivating landscapes of Wayanad. An area that is home to distinct tribal populations and has only recently opened up to tourists, Wayanad feels utterly removed from the Western world. Here, plantations of rubber, coffee, tea, cardamom and pepper stretch over the hills as far as the horizon, and the area is becoming increasingly well-known as a place for walking and wildlife too. Your first hotel, Pepper Trail, is right in the heart of it.
OVERNIGHT FLIGHT // 5 NIGHTS AT PEPPER TRAIL
Take a tour of the century-old plantation and learn about traditional cultivation and how coffee, tea and pepper are grown. You may choose to follow one of the numerous trails or take a coracle ride on the natural reservoir in the heart of the estate - a focal point for flora and fauna. Plus, the property's herb garden is great for those with green fingers, and we can arrange a cooking demonstration with the chef too.
As part of this holiday, we have included an insightful walk through the surrounding area, in which you will get to know the community's traditions and lifestyle. Another day, you will take a trip to a local NGO to learn about the rural empowerment and livelihood support initiatives that are made possible by the humble bamboo tree.
Pepper Trail is a charming selection of suites and treehouses set on a 200-acre plantation estate, cultivating coffee, spices and a little tea. It’s an eminently peaceful location, integrated fully with the natural surrounding, but there is still plenty to explore in the area. Our India specialist Sara recommends taking an early morning jeep ride around the estate as well as a coracle ride on the small lake.
A five-hour drive (which is short by Indian standards!) will take you on to your next destination, the charming seaside town of Neeleshwar. Though known for its temple festivals and as a centre of Theyyam, an ancient form of worship and dance, the main draw here is the beautiful swathes of remote beaches and the vast, quiet rivers. Your hotel, the gorgeous Neeleshwar Hermitage, is modelled on a traditional fishing village and sits directly on the sands of the Arabian sea.
6 NIGHTS AT NEELESHWAR HERMITAGE
We have arranged a dinner cruise along the tranquil Thejaswini River. Kick back, relax and watch the astounding scenery go by, under the light of the setting sun. A sundowner and evening meal are also included at the property one evening.
For total relaxation and wellness, there are Ayurvedic and Western treatments available at the spa. For foodies, there's an opportunity to have a cooking lesson with the head chef, exploring the varied spices and dishes of the South India and Malabar regions. There are plenty of enchanting cycle routes, and if you’re lucky enough to be travelling at the time of the Theyyam festival, we’d highly recommend you take part. Equally, however, you may just wish to relax and enjoy the tranquil surrounds, shady palm grove and the vast stretch of beach.
The charming thatched and whitewashed Keralan cottages, with modern, bright interiors, are prettily set in a peaceful palm grove facing a long stretch of beach. Service here is relaxed and personal, and the restaurant serves delicious local cuisine; you dine at tables on the sand, which sets the no-news-no-shoes tone of the resort. There is a lagoon which sweeps to the side of the hotel, perfectly close for an early morning boat trip to watch the birdlife stir for their dawn chorus.
October to April is the best time to travel to Kerala, as the weather is pleasant, warm and predominantly dry. You’ll want to avoid the monsoon, which peaks from June to August (Neelshwar closes for July, so this holiday would not be possible then anyway). However, visiting soon after the rains in October or November can be particularly lovely, as the landscapes are lush and green and water levels are high.
To welcome you to your new homes-from-home, we will arrange for a bottle of wine to greet you at both Pepper Trail and Neeleshwar Hermitage. Plus, your sixth night at Neeleshwar will be on a complimentary basis.
Revitalise is a culmination of 16 years’ work, research and client feedback. Our travel team take annual trips to each of our destinations, testing the experiences and inspecting the hotels (someone’s got to do it, right?). We are passionate travellers in our own lives, and we have all visited Asia with our friends, family or backpacks. Basically, we’ve done the legwork: we know travel. And that’s why these trips are nothing short of magical.
We understand that while you may be itching to travel again, committing to a trip right now feels daunting. That’s why we have introduced our COVID-19 promise. We promise that if you book a holiday with us, but for any reason cannot travel due to COVID-19, we will refund you the bulk of your money, up to the day of your departure. We hope that this will give our travellers a little peace of mind and help you enjoy the magic of travel anticipation once again.
An ETG experience cannot begin unless our travellers feel secure in every respect. Financially secure: we are fully ABTA and ATOL bonded. Fully supported: our friendly team is on hand to help 24/7 before, during and after your trip. Free from hassle: we will ensure your trip runs like clockwork. Plus, all our experiences are tried and tested by our discerning team, so you can rest assured every excursion you book with us is both worthwhile and ethically sound.
With ETG, the experience starts the moment you pick up the phone. We are committed to seamless service at every stage of your journey. Before you depart, your dedicated travel consultant will provide all the information and insider tips you need to get you prepared (and excited!). Your in-country experiences will be distinctive, tailored to you, and always reveal the fabric of the destination. And you will come home with memories to share - not just photos to show.