I know the word offbeat sounds confusing when it comes to Ooty, a city that sees tourist footfall throughout the year, flocking its very famous but common tourist spots. My first time in Ooty with my parents about 3 years back was same, we did the activities most tourists do and there was nothing offbeat about it. But thanks to Sterling Holidays, I got to explore a totally different side of this cute hill station this time around. It was so much more than what I had envisioned during my 8 hours long journey from Bangalore and you will find that out as you continue reading this post.
I stayed at Sterling Ooty Fern Hill resort, one of the two beautiful properties in Ooty by Sterling Holidays, a leading experiential holiday company in India. After a very early but smooth check-in, I was looking forward to relax in my comfortable bed to recuperate from a rather backbreaking journey! This particular property is located on top of Fern Hill and my room had the most spectacular view of the mountains from its huge glass window. It was almost magical to see clouds playing hide and seek in the hills and beauty of the rising sun was something that cannot be described in words.
I got too excited looking at that view and taking pictures that I forgot to nap and before I knew, it was time for breakfast! Now I must say, if there is one thing that I look forward to on a holiday, it is the breakfast spread at the hotel. And this one did not disappoint me at all. The buffet options were endless ranging from continental to north Indian to south Indian delicacies and the restaurant was spacious with an extended glass patio outside. I enjoyed my breakfast with a view there before getting ready for my day full of adventures and to #HolidayDifferently with Sterling.
Day 1 started with Sterling team giving us a tour of the property and its services and I was excited to know that the resort offers spa treatments. There is also a separate kids play area besides indoor board games for grown-ups. For the adventurous souls, they have experiential activities like local tribal village tour, seaside fishing, exclusive tea plantation tours and more. You can even take long walks around the property and while I was at it, I couldn’t help but notice the well-mowed lawns filled with beautiful colourful flowers. The gardener also told us how he grows and recycle vegetables in his kitchen garden on the property itself.
Next on the schedule was a visit to the nearby tribal village called Toda Village where we got to chat with the local men and women. The ladies showed us their traditional handlooms, even took us to show their house and served us the traditional dessert they make for their guests. Now if you are like me and enjoy getting to know the local culture of the place you are travelling to, you should definitely experience this.
From there we moved on to do the standard tea and chocolate factory tour and learnt about a variety of tea grown and manufactured in the Nilgiris. And even though I am not very big at drinking tea, I got myself some authentic white tea that is said to have the maximum anti-oxidant content. After this we headed back to the hotel for the evening high tea. Now I was already feeling tired and needed some caffeine in my system so I settled for some coffee and fresh snacks. Later that night, the hotel arranged a bonfire dinner for all the guests along with dance performances by local tribal people. We even got to dance along with them and learnt a few traditional moves, which was amazing!
On our second day, we were taken on the toy train from Ooty to Coonoor but before that we went to check out the Elk hill property by Sterling. The lovely team even arranged a tea party for us with snacks made from their homegrown vegetables. From there we left for Ooty train station to catch the toy train to Coonoor. I must say it is one of the biggest attractions for tourists as the journey takes you through lush green landscapes and you enjoy fresh mountain breeze mixed with the refreshing smell of Eucalyptus. The sound of train moving slowly on the tracks while crossing tunnels and local villages makes it an experience to remember.
Now we reached Coonoor by lunch time and were taken in for a pleasant surprise after we got to our lunch spot. Sterling team had planned an exclusive tea garden picnic for everyone and they took us there directly from the station. The half hour ride on rocky mountain roads was rough but oh so worth it for the view! It was an exclusive tourist spot booked specially by the Sterling team for its guests, which basically means we were the only ones there and it made the experience even better.
Overall, my stay with Sterling was just perfect, thanks to the comfortable room, delicious food and their hospitality. Best part about staying with them is that they have a variety of experiences to offer which guests can choose from and even get it tailored. You can check more about them in the links shared below and can always have a discussion before booking.
Disclaimer : This post was in collaboration with Sterling Holidays but the views are solely based on my personal experience and not at all biased.