“Peaceful hillside resort, with traditional Keralan cottages and a gorgeous pool, set amid a 40-acre coffee estate”
The free-standing cottages, with names like Peppervine, Jasmine and Vanilla, are built in traditional style, with jackwood walls, shuttered windows, heavy carved doors and terracotta-tiled roofs. Interiors are pleasingly simple and authentic, with tiled floors, whitewashed walls, dark wooden furniture and a minimum of decorative touches: a candle-lantern by the bed, fresh flowers in a vase and Chettinad-style pillars framing the entrance.
Most have twin beds which can be pushed together to form doubles. If, on cloudy days, it gets a little dark, just open up all the windows and the expansive, misty, blue-green views become the décor. Showers in the bathrooms (there are no tubs) open on to little private walled courtyards, and there are private verandas with recliners for soaking up the hill country panoramas. Towels and sheets are changed every couple of days and hairdryers are available on request.
Another option is the 2-bedroom Cardamom Cottage, a 300-year-old timber house which was painstakingly dismantled, transported here and rebuilt. If you come with children, or fancy a bit more space, it's unbeatable.
Delicious and plentiful Keralan cuisine, with set dishes at each meal, is served at your table in the open-sided dining pavilion.
You can blend continental and Indian breakfasts, switching from idli (steamed rice dumplings) and crisp dosas (pancakes) with fragrant vegetarian sauces and relishes to eggs and toast with homemade banana jam. A highlight is appam (rice flour pancakes) with spicy egg curry or coconut milk and honey. Needless to say, the coffee - harvested from the plantation itself - is heavenly.
Lunch and dinner may start with a tasty tomato, garlic and cracked pepper rassam (a traditional Tamil Nadu broth to make you sweat, thus cooling your body), and continue with spicy chicken or fish and vegetable dishes such as thoran, all using crisp vegetables like beans, carrot and cabbage, chopped up with coconut, chillies, onions and mustard seeds. Desserts include a much-loved Keralan version of flambéed bananas. A word of warning: don't eat too much at breakfast or lunch, as dinner is a multi-course extravaganza with large portions!
Children of all ages are welcome and the staff at Paradisa bends over backwards to make their younger guests happy. There are few activities for little kids but older children may enjoy splashing in the pool and exploring the plantation.
There is no charge for children under 5 sharing their parents’ bed; baby cots are provided for free and extra beds are available for a supplement.
Teens (over 12)
The Cardamom Cottage has 2 bedrooms, making it a good option for families. There is no charge for children under 5 sharing their parents’ bed; baby cots are provided for free and extra beds are available for a supplement
Have a picky eater on your hands? The kitchen will turn out kid-friendly favourites: pasta with fresh tomato sauce, fried chicken cutlets, hot chocolate and banana ice-cream
Paradisa Plantation offers kid-friendly cooking classes and a customised tours of the property, pointing out exotic fruits, flowers and spices along the way
The Periyar Tiger Reserve offers boating and wild elephants (and the occasional tiger)
The many stone steps and pathways mean it may not be ideal for toddlers and kids who are scared of creepy crawlies should stay away