By supporting locally owned hotels and homestays we are helping to provide employment for local communities. All of the accommodation owners on this tour are extremely proud of their strong policies regarding the environment and ecotourism.
Ananyta Resort – this is a small privately owned resort set within a 1000 acre rubber plantation. There are just 21 villas situated in a wonderful location on the edge of a quiet lake on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The villa design was inspired by the renowned architects Laurie Baker (India) and Geoffrey Bawa (Sri Lanka). Their designs were based on minimalistic buildings that were eco-friendly and used only local materials. The villas at Anantya blend the outdoors and indoors and the masonry, mudwalls and handmade roof tiles are all exposed. But this is still a very comfortable resort. This resort offers career opportunities in an area that has little other than farm work.
Heritage Hotel – this Indian owned hotel was originally the British Madurai Club with the Club House designed by the world renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. It has a good position slightly away from the busy centre of town and is surrounded by 17 acres of grounds, which still contain the oldest banyan tree know in Tamil Nadu.
Rajakkad Estate – the wonderful building of Rajakkad situated up a mountain in Tamil Nadu is actually a wooden Kerala Palace that was discovered empty and unloved in the backwaters of Kerala. It was carefully taken apart and moved to its current location. There are just 7 rooms and the hotel is privately owned. The cuisine is predominately South Indian and based on quality ingredients sourced locally every day. They operate a small farm on the estate grounds, which supplies the kitchen. They have a great relationship with the people of the surrounding villages and visitors are encouraged to connect with the locals, join the activities of the temple etc. Rajakkad is also home to a large range of birds. Over 200 migratory and indigenous bird species are to be found in this area of Tamil Nadu.
Visalam is part of CGH Earth which is a group of hotels that has won many awards for their environmental policies. The family that own and manage the group are fully committed to responsible tourism and their hotels have a wide range of environmentally friendly features including – water harvesting, organic gardens for vegetables, worm farms, bio-gas converters etc. Visalam was built in the 1930s and was the ancestral home of a local trading family. The conversion to a hotel was carried out extremely sympathetically and the building retains its original features.
Mantra Veppathur – this is an eco-friendly traditional resort in Kumbakonam near Tanjore in Tamil Nadu. The hotel is set in a rural near to the Cauvery River and Veerachola Rivers. Guests are surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature so the concept of creating an eco-friendly resort was clear from the start. There are many birds in the area and their website provides a full list of the birds you might see while staying there. Food here is traditional Tamil food as made in the kitchens of the surrounding households. Cooking and kitchen cleanliness is revered and follows the ‘rules’ of the scriptures of Vishnu. Only vegetarian meals are prepared. Accommodation is in villas dotted around the large plot of land and as you return to your room you will see the water harvesting channels crossing the resort. Many typical Tamil activities are offered. This really is the place to immerse yourself in the Tamil culture.
Bungalow on the Beach – this is a 17th century Danish colonial house converted to a ‘non-hotel’ by the renowned Neemrana Group. The Indian owned group of Neemrana specialise in taking traditional buildings that have fallen into disrepair and converting them for guests – but they make every effort to not make them not feel like a ‘typical hotel’. This house at Tranquebar along the Coromandel Coast belonged to the Governor of Danish India before the British took over in 1845. Bungalow on the Beach has just 8 rooms (mostly named after Danish ships of the past. The rooms are mostly large and furnished with antiques. There is a 14th century Pandya temple and a 17th century Danish fort close by.
The Dune is an eco-hotel. There is a very long list of environmental benefits offered by the owner and staff of this hotel including the fact that they were built using reclaimed and recycled materials, not one tree was cut down, all kitchen waste is converted to compost which they use on their organic farm, etc. In addition to the environmental responsibility The Dune is actively involved with the local communities in the field of education, local capacity building, vocational training and rehabilitation following the 2004 tsunami. These activities are carried out under an Indian trust – ‘Children of the World’ (supported by the French Red Cross).
The ground handling of this tour is provided by our local agent and we supply him with more than 90% of his turnover. All of the drivers and staff are local people. Thus we have fifteen local families that are directly financially reliant upon us. Our drivers have a contract and are paid a monthly wage. This is very unusual in South India where most drivers are normally employed on a commission-only basis (not easy for such seasonal work).
All of the guides we use are local. Tailor-made vacations cater for couples or small groups and this means that our customers have the opportunity to interact with the locals. All of our customers are supplied with detailed information about their vacation. We supply general advice relevant to all customers as well as more specific facts about your particular tour. These documents offer our customers lots of advice and guidance including how to obtain an Indian Visa, which immunisations are recommended, how much to tip people, how to dress appropriately and how to behave in National Parks.
All of the guides we use are local. Tailor-made holidays cater for couples or small groups and this means that our customers have the opportunity to interact with the locals. All of our customers are supplied with detailed information about their holiday. We supply general advice relevant to all customers as well as more specific facts about your particular tour. These documents offer our customers lots of advice and guidance including how to obtain an Indian Visa, which immunisations are recommended, how much to tip people, how to dress appropriately and how to behave in National Parks.