A RARE retreat by the sea in Kerala

23 Aug, 2011

A RARE retreat by the sea in Kerala  and a Jungle Home in the wilds near Corbett.
With the above two hotels joining us from July , RARE now represents 20 of India’s best small boutique hotels, camps and lodges – each a unique gem powered by passionate visionaries who have given  the travel business a new perspective to hospitality. I would like to reiterate once again that RARE is more about quality, concept and destination and it gives me great pleasure to introduce two hotels that reflect the RARE ethos.
Camp Fork Tail Creek, Corbett ( Uttarakhand ) :  I must admit when I visited Camp Fork Tail creek in 2006, opting to walk up the jungle trail ( the vision still clings to the mind’s eye ) to the camp which was in the thick of nature I knew it was my kind of place – a RARE hotel. Hence it is with much happiness that we welcome Minakshi and Ritesh on board, there is no other place like Camp Fork Tail Creek and not many  can match the enthusiasm with which  they run the place.
Camp Fork Tail Creek is the forest home of Minakshi and Ritesh located on the periphery of the Corbett National Park – a wild moist jungle surrounded by dense Sal.  A “RARE” eco-lodge  Camp Fork Tail Creek functions sans electricity relaying on solar energy for basic requirements like hot water, night lighting for the paths etc.  From the time Camp Fork Tail Creek opened in the year 2000, they have consciously tread the path of encouraging local ecology creating a healthy forest in the 5 acres of barren land. The abundance of birds, insects and other wildlife that move through this forest is an example of the haven that Minakshi and Ritesh have created here.
The lodge won “The John Wakefield Most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the year 2010” by TOFT Wildlife Tourism Awards.
Accommodation :  The Camp offers 8 large en-suite mud huts ( 5 Twins and 3 Double ) created by local craftsmen some with thick thatched roofs and others with tiled  or tin roof and a private verandah or sun room.  The huts are of different sizes and can accommodate 2, 3 upto 4 people.  Each hut is equipped with twin or double beds with side tables, large sofas in some rooms can be  converted to  extra beds if required, a writing table, a chest of drawers with a dressing mirror, luggage rack and deck chairs. Hot water is on the tap in all huts.  Lighting on the camp  is by solar powered lamps.
Dining and Recreation : Guest areas for dining include The Thatch – a thatched stone structure open on all sides which serves as the dining and buffet area, The Dhaba is the tea/ coffee junction, a favourite with guests and serves tea and coffee freshly brewed in the local style.
Recreation areas for guests include The Machan -  an independent structure split into two levels with a lower lounge area and a spacious library and look-out on the upper floor.  The Acre is a hideout located in the midst of dense lantana bushes, an ideal place to look out for birds or just relax in the hammocks or rugs placed there.  There is also the ancient Banyan tree, its spread out arms perfect to pitch hammocks while the site for campfire is where informal evenings are spent around a crackling fire munching snacks and swapping jungle tales.
The “Jungle Mall” is the camp’s souvenir shop which sells locally made items as well as maps on Corbett and the surrounding areas, pictorial references on the camp’s trips etc.
Activities and pre-arranged Excursions :  For nature, bird and wildlife enthusiasts the Camp provides pre-arranged visits to the Corbett National Park, Jeep drives as well as elephant back safaris. The skilled field guides and naturalists at the Camp ensure memorable wildlife experiences including day long hikes and multi-day treks. Extended birding and wildlife trips from the Camp are organized on prior booking and include
  • overnight stays inside Corbett National Park
  • elephant back safaris ranging from 3-8 days
  • jeep safaris to old forest Bungalows in the Himalayas
  • overnight hikes on trails used by the legendary Corbett himself to track man-eating tigers
  • Trips to Dudhwa National Park
  • Mahout Training programs
  • Specialized photography trips.
All the above excursions and treks are pre-arranged on advance notice. More information in the form of day-to-day itineraries and costs are available on request.
Location and Access  :  Camp Fork Tail Creek is located 23 Kms north from Ramnagar , the final 450 mts  is an uphill dirt track that leads to the lodge  accessed on foot or by a four-wheel drive. 
The Camp is about 275 Kms by road from Delhi via Hapur, Moradabad, Kashipur and Ramnagar.  Because of its location on the “terai” Corbett also makes interesting itinerary combinations with
Kalmatia Sangam ( 4 hours by road ) , Nainital ( 2 hours by road ), Pangot, Dudhwa etc.
There are a couple of convenient train connections from Delhi to Ramnagar  the overnight Ranikhet Express  and a day connection which is the Uttar Sampark Kranti Express. 
Essential Facts :
Accommodation : 8 Thatched mud huts . Twins / Doubles :   5 Twins and 3 Doubles.
Access point : Ramnagar  ( 23 kms   ) and Delhi  ( 275 kms ) 
Closed From : July 01 to Oct 15 ( as per park regulations ).
Tariff :  ( On Request )
Conservation Highlight : Eco lodge, No Electricity, set in restored jungle.
Reservation Contact :  Sunil Yohannan : info@campforktailcreek.com
Camp Address :
Camp Forktail Creek,
Village Bhakrakot, P.O. Mohan,
District Almora, Uttarakhand- 244715.
Phone : 91-5947-287804 or 91-9411107749 / 91-9927123130
Surya Samudra Private Retreats, Pulinkudi, Kerala :   Set off the Arabian Coast on a low  rocky cliff that meanders into the raging sea ( it was the onset of monsoons when I visited ) Surya  Samudra has all the charms of a sea side resort – Sun , Sea, Sand and swaying palms. Besides it has a story to tell – an exciting past from the time it began as the whim of a reclusive German to its present ownership  - passionate owners who wish to refine Surya Samudra and help evolve to its next level.
In its present avatar under the able hands of its extremely pro-active GM – Ravindra Virkar , Surya Samudra is now a boutique beach hotel with all the essential modern comforts and service while retaining its true flavor and style of a retreat in  typical Kerala style architecture and design.  Heritage in an intriguing way the 22 cottages at Surya Samudra have been put together by painstakingly bringing together features from old homes from across the state. 
Accommodation :  Individual cottages are set in the lush tropical gardens with paths and steps leading up and down to various levels.  All 22 cottages are segregated in six categories depending upon their location, views, space and feature. The higher categories like the Octagon Bungalow, Banyan Tree Bungalow are single suites with some top end features. While the Octagon Bungalow allows for a near sweeping view of the mighty Arabian coast, the waves crashing on the cliff side, the Banyan Tree Bungalow is a tranquil space set around a sprawling Banyan tree and immense open to sky bath-garden. However all the cottages have some common features like super-efficient air-conditioning, LCD TV’s , hearty sit-outs, en-suite baths and above all the views, the views and more views – rustling tree tops, crashing waves and breathtaking views of the sea unhindered right out to the horizon or the mosques of a distant town .
Dining :  Surya Samudra offers dining in Ootopara a tiled high roof airy pavilion with a stunning mural wall on side and open in a an arc on the other looking out over the swimming pool to the sea. Here you are served the best of local cuisine and a selection of pan-Indian and continental dishes should an odd whim takes over, else in Kerala with its complete repertoire of vegetarian, meat and fish dishes you have enough variety to last you for weeks.  Kanal is their barbeque grill that comes alive as the sun goes down and the fishing boats twinkle in the inky sea. Madira is the sea facing bar – enticing you to enjoy your drink under the star spangled sky even as the spray from the sea comes up for an occasional caress.
Recreation : Life by the coast with your own secluded stretch of beach, the infinity pool for your indulgence and endless hours to sit in your own private sit-out to watch the sun set, rise and set again. Look out to the boats come out to fish, twinkle in the night and then return to their tiny coastal villages. One could spend days in this idyll.  For those who wish for more there is the option of the Spa, a library and curiosity shop.  When travelling with children the thoughtfully assembled play area with board games would be appreciated.
Spa :  Surya Samudra has an exclusive  spa– the Spa Niramaya. An expansive and restful space within the retreat Spa Niramaya is powered by an expert Doctor and his well-trained assistants who offer a range of treatments derived from Kerala’s tradition of Ayurveda as well as Thai and other systems around the world.  Signature scrubs, body wraps and polish, massages and baths are designed to revive and revitalize the work –weary guest.
Activities and Excursions :  Trivandrum city and its sites – Padmanabha Swamy temple, the Horse Palace, Napier Museum etc. are just a 30 mins drive from the Retreat. While excursions to Kanya Kumari to touch India’s southern-most tip and the temple of the goddess Kanya Kumari could be a day’s deviation.  Activities with-in the resort would include an invigorating Yoga session at one of the pavilions overlooking sea with one of the resort’s Yoga masters, a catamaran or speedboat ride into the sea, astrology sessions and live cooking classes .
Location and Accessibility :  Surya Samudra is set close to the Pulinkudi beach, a secluded cove surrounded by rocky outcrops and hundreds of palm trees. From the Trivandrum airport the retreat is a mere thirty minutes drive ( 20 kms ) , while the well-known beaches of Kovalam are just over a ten minute drive. Trivandrum or Thiruvnanthapuram is well connected by trains and flights with Cochin,  Goa, Hyderabad,  Mumbai and Bangalore. By road Trivandrum is a 5 hour drive  from Cochin and 4 hours from Alleypey.
Accommodation : 22 Independent Cottages Twins / Doubles
Access point : The Retreat is 20 Kms from Thiruvanthapuram  Airport.
Tariff :  ( On Request )
Conservation Highlight : Heritage Retreat.
Reservation Contact :   Gireesh Kumar : gireesh.kumar@suryasamudra.com
Retreat Address :
Surya Samudra Private Retreats
Kovalam, Pulinkudi, Mullur PO,
Thiruvananthapuram - 695 521, Kerala, India.  
 Tel: +91 471 2267333 / +91 471 2480413.  
 Fax: +91 471 2267124.