First of all I want to point out that this is a fair and balanced review and not some tripadvisor hatchet job that you do come across. Feel free to read my other reviews of places we stayed in on this trip around India.
Paradisa plantation was the low point of the whole trip and I couldn't recommend people more strongly to stay away from it. If you look at their website or the info on i-escape which is a very good site, you are presented with a place that says luxury, amenities, highest standards. None of which are on display.
First of all we had to pay RS1800 (£25) to get there. This is a cost that they should absorb to ferry guests to such a remote location, as when you are there you are literally a hostage so you have no choice but to spend money there, so why charge for your guests to get to you. However this was just the beginning, insofar as you literally had to pay for everything. After having drinks we were given a bill before being told that the nuts were complimentary because of some earlier problem we had on arrival! Bizarre. I don't have any recollection of paying for a bowl of nuts in any other bar on the planet, but here, it was a grand gesture!
Simon, the owner, reminded me of a bond villain circa Sean Connery. He talked a lot but I couldn't see anything around me of what he was talking about. There was no phone or Internet. Everything is run from his home three hours away in the Backwaters. Which makes things very difficult when you just want to leave. He told me I'd have to ask a member of staff if they would let me borrow their mobile! This was before we had decided we wanted to get out of the place.
Roy, Simons head henchman in the bond villains lair, and who was a very nice guy, did his best and I couldn't help think that he knew that the place wasn't up to scratch. He never argued against anything I raised with him, as he couldn't. After all, you're paying five star prices for 2* accommodation. Filthy, wet floor towels, 1970s mohair bedspread, it was like being in a hostel. The floor was dirty. About two dozen ancient light switches were randomly dotted around the room, that hardly created much light. I'm sure someone, somewhere in India was staring at their lights going on and off as we flicked endless switches to make light happen.
The pool is small which isn't necessarily a big problem except that the photograph on the website is misleading. It was covered with a line of film and dead flies which a little Asian girl pointed out loudly to her brother. That family of four were the only other people there on the 22nd Dec.
The yoga that is advertised as every morning at 7am requires 24 hr notice, because the teacher has to drive 40kms and obviously that cost is absorbed by the guest! So you end up paying London prices. Simons problems suddenly become his guests problems. The advertised ease and availability of all the activities is completely misleading.
On another point, we were told by his friend and driver that there was no alcohol available. So we stopped at a government liquor store and bought alcohol only to be offered drinks by Simon when we sat down to talk about the state of the place that evening. He was very charming and courteous as has been mentioned by many reviews but I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him and after sitting me down to talk about the problems I was having at Paradisa and trying to sort them out he then charged us for the drinks he offered when we sat down.
Simon knew the place wasn't what is was supposed to be which is why he hung around waiting for our decision to leave so he could get money from us, before he left for the Backwaters. Cash, of course! Then he tried to charge for a driver to take us the hell out of there, which I refused to pay but by that stage Simon was long gone and poor Roy was left to deal with me as we horse-traded over the bill. It was a disgrace and I couldn't wait to get out. It was a 5 day stay cut to 48 miserable hours, 2700ft up a mountain that had two fit people wheezing to get from their room to the pool or restaurant. Even poor Simon who's been there for 14 years was in a heap when he arrived at the restaurant from the pool and had a small boy run and fetch him a glass of water before he sat down to talk with me about my 'decision'.
One good thing I'd mention is the chef who cooked some really outstanding food. But again there was no menu or pricelist anywhere to be found.
The only thing I did at Paradisa was submerge myself in the film of dirt and flies and then drink half a bottle of government liquor bought gin to ease the pain and create my own stupefied paradise. Albeit looking over an amazing view. The remote location certainly has an incredible vista. It was such a disappointment that the facilities couldn't match it.
As we drove down the mountain with Simons driver! I kept waiting on an "Italian job" mafia standoff to happen as we rounded a bend to find Simon and Roy waiting for us...
Avoid at all costs, a complete and total rip-off, so overpriced and not even close to the pretty pictures that accompany its website or i-escape info. 'I' literally "escape"d from the place..!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Paradisa Plantation Retreat is set on an organic coffee and spice plantation in the hills of Kerala. The Retreat comprises traditional wooden cottages, embellished with invaluable antiques. The activities available are yoga, cooking lessons, visit to the tea factory(12 kms), visit or massage at the Ayurveda centre(8 kms), and Periyar Tiger Reserve (40 kms). There are many spectacular walking routes. One leaves the Retreat invigorated by the fresh air, pampered by the caring staff and visually delighted. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Paradisa Plantation Retreat Hotel Thekkady
- Paradisa Plantation Retreat Idukki
- Paradisa Plantation Retreat Thekkady, Kerala