A plantation stay in the thick of a misty tropical garden of spice & coffee

Pepper Trail

Pepper Trail

Sultan Bathery
, Kerala
, India

Pepper Trail is located in the heart of a colonial plantation and is cocooned in a tropical rainforest. Despite the sprawling greens around you, the setting is intimate and draws you immediately into comfort. The main building of Pepper Trail is a colonial style bungalow that is 140 years old, which planters used as their base. The hotel has kept the main structure intact but added a touch of luxury with comfortable amenities in the rooms. The high ceilings, open verandahs and tall columns are reminiscent old of British bungalows. The tree houses of the property are the more recent additions. Built on solid jackfruit trees, they stand 40 feet above the ground and are fitted with all modern luxuries, but still aesthetically in tune with nature.

Our Rating: Premium
Property Type: Plantation

Destination

Wayanad is located snugly on the border of Kerala and the neighbouring state of Karnataka at a height of 700-2,100 metres above sea level. With 23,000 hectares of paddy cultivated in in the region, it is truly one of the greenest areas of India. Wayanad is Kerala’s least-treaded district and one of India’s undiscovered lush green gems. Here, you can explore Neolithic caves, understand the inner workings of a coffee estate or go on hikes to stand beneath unnamed waterfalls. If stage-managed Kathakali performances or general tourist tropes you’re after, this may not be the place for you.

Accommodation

The original old bungalow, known as ‘Pazhey Bungalaav’ has two independent suites, which are dotted with family heirlooms and handpicked vintage furniture. Four poster beds in sprawling rooms and a constant access to nature from the verandahs is the highlight of staying in this 140 year old bungalow. The luxury treehouses in the plantation are the new structures propped on massive jackfruit trees. These are furnished with four poster beds, have luxurious bathrooms, large indoor & outdoor living spaces, ideal for privacy.

There’s an option to stay in the original old plantation bungalow or the tree houses, where you have a special view from 40-feet above the ground – eye level to birds and top canopies of the trees. All the rooms have luxurious interiors and modern comforts, yet keeping in tune with the nature around. The seamless sync is what the traveller wants, and Pepper Trail delivers to that. The plantation trail not only helps you understand the address better, but is nothing short of being on a wildlife watch. A number of birds and animals can be spotted on morning walks, so keep a look out.

Dining

Dining at Pepper Trail is one of the most looked forward to experiences. The in-house restaurant, Pavilion, is set high up amidst the trees, and offers an unforgettable view. Local and authentic cuisine is the highlight here, but international fare is available. We highly recommend you try the aromatic dishes that the local chefs prepare for a complete Kerala experience.

Experiences

The property features a 20 meter infinity outdoor pool overlooking the plantation and there is free Wi-Fi should you need it – though we highly recommend switching off your devices to truly enjoy the natural surrounds. The Ayurveda Spa offers a range of relaxation and rejuvenation therapies. Complimentary activities like guided plantation walks, open jeep safaris, cycling, fishing, canoeing and coracle rides keep the days busy. The famous Edakkal Caves are only 15 km from the property and the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary a mere 20 km away.

The Ayurveda spa is ideal for some rejuvenating therapies by experts. The soothing surrounds complement the experience.

There are a number of treks and walking trails close to the property. Seasoned guides can help you navigate these; it promises to be a great outdoor education with interesting anecdotes and local lores thrown in. Plantation tours are a staple to draw you in the history and the workings of the plantation. You can walk, or take a jeep through the muddy trails, keeping your eyes open for birds and animals along the way. Learn about traditional methods of cultivation and how coffee, tea and pepper are grown and processed.

The heart of the estate is home to an acre-wide water body that is fed by natural springs. This is also an epicentre for local flora and fauna or to spend a lazy afternoon reading a book or snoozing on the hammock. This spot is especially beautiful in the evenings.

Perfect For

Unplugging from city life in the midst of nature. Pepper Trail offers an oxygen-filled, intensely green environs that all of us need at some time to feel truly refreshed.

Why we love this place

The tree houses are a delight to stay in. The elevated walk ways meandering through the coffee plantation offer an intriguing access to the treehouses, where you can sit amidst the high canopies occupied by birds. This is extremely exciting for kids as well.

About your host

Pepper Trail is located inside the Mangalam Carp Estate, a spice and coffee plantation which was founded in the 1800s by Colin Auley Mackenzie. Mackenzie was one of the pioneer planters of the period in this region and started the coffee, tea and spices cultivation over 200 acres of the estate. In 1932, the estate was bought by P. Balram Kurup, who had a keen interest in the cultivation of rare spice and aromatic plants. It was thanks to his efforts, that the plantation is now home to the most exotic range of flora in Wayanad. The plantation is managed by the family’s third generation with Anand Jayan at the helm, and every effort is taken to preserve the traditional farming methods established by the founders. Anand grew up in the city, but memories of summers spent at the estate surrounded by family and friends led him to choose a life in the hills over a life in the city. Thus with restoration, the idea to open up to visitors took seed and today Pepper Trail is a story of his personal journey.

Responsible/Sustainable Tourism

The fact that Pepper Trail has continued traditional plantation practices speaks for the family’s intent on keeping history alive. The charm of the 140 years old bungalow remains intact as do some of the heirlooms and furniture of the original home. Conservation of nature and keeping the wild terrains intact along with the plantation is key to Pepper Trail. A focus on excellent authentic cuisine and subtle but warm hospitality is yet another highlight.

The Estate has been the only source of employment for the local community for generations. Pepper Trail are proud that all the employees across all roles and levels are from the surrounding villages within a 20 km radius. The staff is trained to equip them with the skill needed for the various roles at the estate. The chef who specialises in Keralan cuisine has been with them for over 15 years and was retrained for his new role. The ingredients are sourced locally from neighbouring farms and markets if not grown within the estate. Local craftsmen are supported as their products are retailed at the in-house gift store. Services of seasonal workers, local guides, taxis and businesses from the local community are availed thus ensuring support to local businesses and communities.

Our Recommendation

If you are looking for a tourist-drenched destination with'tick off the list' experiences, this is not the place for you. Pepper Trail is a window to an authentic part of Kerala, tucked in the northern corner called Wayanad. Here, the highlights of the day are stories of an elephant crossing your path or a new species of frog spotted by a naturalist.

Can’t find a suitable itinerary that features a destination, experience or accommodation you fancy? All our group tours and holiday ideas can be personalised, or we can create a tailor made itinerary for you.

Our Accommodation Ratings

Opulent: Exceptional, unashamedly the best of sheer luxury. (£££££)

Luxury: Outstanding levels of 5* comfort, hospitality and facilities. (££££)

Premium: Excellent levels of comfort and hospitality and a wide range of facilities. (£££)

Mid-Range: Good levels of comfort and hospitality, with a reasonable range of facilities. (££)

Simple: Clean and simple, no frills. Often in areas of natural beauty or near wildlife reserves. (£)