Coffee days

Coffee days
A view of of The Serai, Chikmagalur from the resort's own lobby,

Owned by the Café Coffee Day group, The Serai in Chikmagalur is a sprawling 70-acre area complete with villas, restaurants and a lush coffee plantation

Sheetal Vyas
September 01 , 2014
03 Min Read

The Serai in Chikmagalur has a recurring motif — coffee. For one, it is owned by the Café Coffee Day group, which changed the way India drinks the beverage. Two, it is set in a verdant plantation in a region that is India’s coffee hub, where plantations first moved from British to Indian hands a century-and-half ago.

The scenic route from Bangalore to Chikmagalur speedily accomplished, I swept into the Serai’s gates to stop at its lobby. This is a sprawling 70-acre place and the view shows you the long sweep from plantation, villas, restaurants and yonder, Chikmagalur town. I followed Front Office Manager Vijay Mampilli into what I now consider ‘my’ villa. But there are 28 such well-designed, spacious houses; each comes with a small pool or Jacuzzi and is wonderfully private.


The Serai has everything of the best — sophisticated occupancy sensor lighting, German bath systems, classy fittings and fixtures. I was particularly delighted with the open-plan bathrooms and their Italian glass-sheet washbasins. The high walls of the compound give you privacy, so this area has glass walls that let you decadently carry out your ablutions indoors and outdoors at once.

The furniture has clean lines, the furnishings are restrained, and the wood used everywhere, including the elegant parquet flooring, is a dark coffee brown. If unabashed use of wood pricks your conscience, in this case it needn’t — all the timber used here comes from dead trees gathered over years from resort’s own estates.

For those prone to activity, there is much to see and do around Chikmagalur. Mullayyanagiri (6,117ft), the highest peak in Karnataka, is within easy distance as is Baba Budangiri, which has a coffee legend attached. Baba Budan, a 17th-century Sufi, is supposed to have brought coffee to India from Yemen. Coffee was heavily guarded in those times but the saint managed to secrete just seven seeds in his robes, from which springs all the India-grown coffee you drink today.

But I chose heritage over activity. Chikmagalur in Kannada translates as ‘the younger daughter’s village’ and of course there is a Hiremagalur, ‘the elder daughter’s village’, just adjoining it. These were reputedly the daughters of Palegara Rukumananda, an administrator of these parts. Hiremagalur has a fine Kodandarama temple that’s worth a lookover. Belur and Halebid are in the environs too.

If you’ll be told, don’t fill all your days with active ‘doing’. This is the sort of place you go to relax in — lounge about in the gazebo by the pool, stroll through the plantations, soak in the bathtub that lets you gaze at skies. If you’d like a rubdown, there is the Oma Spa: there are many massages, scrubs and treatments to pick from, but the house specialty is a slow languorous coffee massage. There are two nice restaurants too, if you feel like dressing up for dinner — I enjoyed their local dishes and relished their ginger cake dessert.

Others have felt the appeal of holing themselves up in The Serai. The resort’s President A.P. Nanaiah tells me of a guest from Mumbai who visited the resort and stayed a whole week. He was shown to his villa and then the staff saw suspiciously little of him. Checking to see if all was well, Nanaiah found out the use his cottage was being put to: starved of space in his teeming metropolis, the guest had been pretending this was his home and he, master of all he surveyed.

The information

Location: Mugthihalli Post 577133, KM Road, Chikmagalur; 170km from Mangalore/250km from Bangalore
Accommodation: 14 estate villas and 14 estate terraces
Tariff: Rs 9,000 (villas), Rs 13,000 (terraces).
Contact: 08262-224903-14,

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