Sometimes you can't help but wonder why when you find yourself in a very strange place, a long way from any attractions or much in the way of habitation. Such was our feeling when, after a long day in the car, we rolled up to the Windhaven Resort in the tiny village of Ramakal. The village has two attractions (though I use the term quite loosely) ; there’s a great big hill with a statue on top and spectacular views (if it’s not raining) and you can follow a small trail to see the footsteps of Ram (he of the Ramayana) in some rocks. Other than that, it’s hard to understand why we spent over an hour in the car to get to this place from the perfectly pleasant town of Thekkady and the same time going back the next day. Our travel agents, makemytrip.com, mostly did a great job of putting our itinerary together but sending us to the middle of nowhere for a second rate hotel wasn’t their finest achievement.
We passed the hotel before we arrived because our driver took us up the steep hill to the viewpoint before delivering us to the hotel. This turned out to be a wise move because the clouds rolled in as we stood on top of the hill and everything disappeared as we watched. When the cloud isn’t in the way you can see for miles looking out over the border between Kerala and the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. The border is one of more than just geography – Kerala is the predominantly Christian state with a history of being run by the communist party whilst Tamil Nadu is a majority Hindu state typically appointing members of parliament who are ex-film stars. The Tamils are associated with tea picking and Kerala is covered in tea plantations. That’s a very simplistic summary but the two states are quite different.
A Haven from the Wind
If the hundreds of windmills nearby are anything to go by, the Windhaven is well named. The hotel is a pristine modern building painted in an attractive shade of orange. The gardens have play equipment for children but other facilities are somewhat limited. There’s apparently a tree house bedroom but we didn’t spot it. We were thrilled to find wi-fi access, and not so thrilled to find that despite having the password, we just couldn't connect. For check in I had to spend a few minutes filling in a pretty exhaustive registration form with all our passport details and visa info – despite the fact they'd already taken our passports for photocopying. We were offered a glass of cold orange drink and then taken up to our room – the ominous Room 101.Our paperwork told us that we’d got a room that was graded 'luxury' but checking on the website, I realise that we got upgraded to the hotel’s only ‘suite’ which should cost about £8 a night more than the ‘luxury’ room. There are ‘deluxe’ (i.e. standard) rooms, ‘luxury’ rooms, the ‘suite’, the tree house and some multi-occupancy rooms with 6 or 10 beds for groups or large families. Room rates vary according to both the room type and the food ‘plan’ you want – they mysterious Indian CP / MAP /AP scheme which never fails to baffle me.