Ooty .. widely referred as ” Queen of the hills”, also known as Udhagamandalam is nestled in Nilgiris. Located around 300 km from Bangalore, it is one of the favourite drive-down destinations for travel fanatics residing in Bangalore. Covered in mist, cotton clouds, mountains everywhere , miles and miles of tea gardens make Ooty a popular tourist destination across South India.
I have visited Ooty many times and have seen almost all places over there. Recently when Sterling Holidays invited me for a blogger’s meet to explore Ooty with them and experience #HolidayDifferently at Ooty Fern Hill .. I wondered what new can I expect in Ooty! But I was wrong .. this time I saw a completely new Ooty … a very serene, not much explored by most. True to its tagline, Sterling holidays did give me a completely new experience of holidaying differently … wondering how ?? Continue reading the post 🙂
STERLING OOTY FERN HILL
After an overnight journey from Bangalore, we were welcomed by misty morning at Sterling Ooty Fern Hill. Amidst the stark blue hills of the Nilgiris, Ooty – Fern Hill, A Sterling Holidays Resort, stands tall with its sloping roofs and terracotta tiles. Built in colonial style… it’s beautiful. Though it’s just some 3-4 km from the city yet there is no hustle bustle.
The check in was smooth and the first glimpse of the room made me feel so cosy and wanted to tuck under a blanket right then. But then the view from the huge windows of the room .. Wow !!
How could I not start dreaming with a view like that !! Located on top of the fern hill, the view of the valley from my room was too mesmerizing. With a book in my hand and teacup in other .. I could spend hours watching the magical nature. The ambience and decor of the room were simple yet lovely.
I felt rejuvenating after a much a needed hot shower and it was time to attend my growling tummy. We headed to the restaurant to experience the culinary delight curated by the chefs of Sterling Ooty Fern Hill.
The multi-cuisine restaurant at Sterling fern hill offers mouth-watering food. It offers anything from local delicacies of the tribes from Nilgiris to Indian, Chinese and Continental Cuisines .. all accompanied with a lovely view of the property. They have a live counter too for Dosa, Omelette, noodles, roti etc where you could customize to your taste buds. The three days that I was there, I was so stuffed with food right from endless buffet breakfast, lip-smacking lunch varieties, high tea, snacks and last but not the least theme dinner. Everything was so good that i couldn’t resist myself indulging each meal… Coming back home .. I went on a detox diet for 3 days to balance all those overeating i had done.
My most favourite corner in the restaurant was this lush green outdoor seating with an awesome view of the valley. Every day I would sit there, enjoy my hot cup of tea, listening to some lovely melodious song .. golden rays of morning Sun giving a gentle warmth on a cold misty romantic morning.
After breakfast, we had a virtual tour of the property. I realized, apart from great food and great rooms, Sterling Holidays also has plenty of amenities to take care of our entertainment while in the resort. The resort has facilities for indoor and outdoor activities to keep the guests engaged. Each day at the resort is a fun-filled adventure.It offers spa treatments, activities for the kids, tight-rope walking, archery, board games and other such fun things for the entire family.
One can take a scenic walk through their beautiful well-maintained gardens .. seeing their kitchen garden, I felt wish I too had at least a small patch of something like this.
Apart from this, every evening they have some group entertainment planned. During our stay, one night, they had arranged for bonfire accompanied with local village tribal dance.
The dancers were from the Toda tribe and Badaga tribe. Singing and dancing to the tunes .. the tribes had set the mood for the night.
I too did shake my legs with them 🙂 Super fun it was … Lovely bonfire kept us warm throughout on a cold night.
Spa at Ooty Fern hill is rejuvenating and relaxing to one body, mind and soul. All the essential oils and aroma used in the spa are of premium quality. I pampered myself with an awesome ” Me time ” at the spa. The masseurs made me feel so good with utmost care & efficiency.
There is no dearth for sightseeing places in Ooty that tourists can visit. But if you don’t want those typical common places and want to explore some offbeat places, Sterling can help you plan your sight-seeing trips. During our stay, these are the places we visited :
Toda village :
Toda people are a Dravidian ethnic group who live in the Nilgiri Mountains of Tamil Nadu. Before the 18th century and British colonisation, the Toda coexisted locally with other ethnic communities, including the Kota, Badaga and Kurumba.
We were driven through the lush greens of Niligiris for around 15kms to reach Toda settlements. We were introduced to the locals and their houses, culture, food and traditions. The Toda traditionally live in settlements called mund, consisting of three to seven small thatched houses, constructed in the shape of half-barrels. They are so small that people need to bend over to enter from the main door. Toda temples are constructed in a circular pit lined with stones and are quite similar in appearance and construction to Toda huts.
It was extremely engaging to interact with the locals and understand their way of living. Farming and dairy business is their main occupation.Their tribal art includes hand knitted products like cushion covers, table cover, shawl etc too attracts travellers.
Something fascinating that I saw there and amused me so much !! As a part of the marriage ritual, there is always a custom that the suitor has to prove his worth to the girl’s family by lifting a heavy stone to his shoulders. Known as ritual stone weighing around 120 kg, it is being kept near Toda temples. We witnessed this swayamvara types of custom.
Tea Factory And Chocolate factory
I had visited tea and chocolate factory in my earlier visits, actual these are standard tourist places in Ooty. So this experience wasn’t new to me .. yet the fragrance of chocolate making process and tea making process is so refreshing.
Ooty to Conoor Train :
The toy train is one of the biggest attractions in Ooty. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Ooty is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Covering a distance of 19 km the Ooty to Coonoor route offers the most spectacular scenery along its way.
The view from the train can make anyone nostalgic.. lush green tea estates, thick forest, hills, the fragrance of eucalyptus in the air, the rustic bridges and the innumerable tunnels throughout. The whole journey is so scenic and picturesque. This awesome journey will remain in my memories forever.
Tea Estate and trek
One of the most memorable experiences of the whole trip was this picnic lunch at the most picturesque hilltop with tea plantations all around us.We drove up, in the hills to reach the beautiful, private tea estate. Though the journey was tiring .. it was all worth.The hills were covered by a carpet of manicured tea gardens and at the down the hills there were small villages. The cloudy moving mist rising out of the hills, playing a peek a boo with the trees and mountains .. oh my .. wish my words could capture the mesmerizing beauty. At 2 pm the atmosphere looked like early morning. The mood was so romantic and looked straight out of fairy tale.
A picnic lunch in the midst of a tea garden is something that I can never forget. Wish I could stay in this heaven forever.
Coming back, we came on a short walk enjoying the tea estates. Though we have been travelling from morning , this short walk made us feel so refreshed.Everything so green and that fresh air literally detoxicated my lungs.
Sterling Elk Hill Resort :
We also gave a quick visit to another Sterling property, The Sterling Elk Hill Resort. This was even bigger and better with amazing views of Ooty. There were 3 different types of rooms and each was different.
There was a huge spread of snacks and juices arranged for us made from all the vegetables grown within the property. I loved the fresh beetroot carrot juice here.
Sterling Holidays is quite well known in India for their staycations .Sterling Fern Hill is the perfect holiday destination in the beautiful hill station of Ooty. A perfect place to relax in the serene atmosphere of the resort or if one wants to head out to explore the quaint town of Ooty.The resort is perfect for family get-togethers, corporate outings and work offsite (they have conference halls and pre-function spaces). You can even have a nice destination wedding there. I was pretty impressed by their properties and their hospitality. The place was so comfortable, the staff were so friendly and helpful.
I saw a different Ooty all together this time which I had never experienced before. Thanks to Sterling holiday for #HolidayDifferently experience.