Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!
– William Butler Yeats
People have always been obsessed with travelling and there is quite a good reason for it. Visiting a new place, seeing different faces, experiencing divergent culture & language is not only exciting, but also a great learning experience. It is truly said that only with travelling you realise that you are a small part of this whole wide world and there is so much we don’t know. It’s a great way to stay humble. Sadly, in this time and age, travelling isn’t about ‘experiencing’ the experience anymore! It has all come down to constantly being pressured to take the best pictures to show off the so called ‘experience’. Don’t you all agree? I am guilty too! But I have realised that living in the moment, or better yet, getting lost in the moment gives me true happiness and satisfaction and that’s exactly what my vacation to the mountains this time was all about!
Now we always get asked, “Mountains or beaches”? Honestly, I can never answer that, cos I love them both equally! But this time I got a ‘Ooty’ call, and I packed my bags and ran away for a two night stand! (how could I not include the obvious puns!?)
Yes we always like to explore new places, but there are a few destinations that hold a special place in your heart. I am not saying this just because I am writing a blog about it, but Ooty truly is my favourite hill station. I remember my dad taking me to Ooty the first time as a kid and I have been in love with it ever since.
This trip to Ooty was quite special. Why? I had a solo travel kind of experience on this trip. This trip was organized by Sterling Resorts. Fern Hill was our abode for 2 nights and 3 days.
Sterling has re-branded themselves and has come up with an interesting concept of ‘experiential holiday’. Now what’s that? Well, I have been to Ooty a couple of times before, but my visit was always restricted to staying at the hotel/resort, taking beautiful hikes, visiting the lake and the rose garden. The typical touristy thing! Sterling Holidays has taken the task of changing this and their new motto is to ‘Holiday Differently’.
What do they offer?
I shall talk about the room, food and the hospitality in the next section and shall quickly tell you the experiences Sterling has to offer.
No matter whom you have come with, Sterling Resort has catered experiences for all of you! If you’re travelling with family and kids, their play area, activity room , party games will keep the entire family occupied. Travelling with your partner and friends and feeling little adventurous? Their outdoor activities like hammock walk, swing bridge, tarzan leap etc will keep your adrenaline levels high! And want to keep your endorphin levels high? Just head to their beautiful & therapeutic spa and relax yourself.
Now, once you experience all the awesomeness that the resort itself has to offer, they have curated some amazing activities outside the resort specially for their guests. And no they don’t just make you do the touristy things I mentioned before. Ooty has so much more to offer and they make sure to give you the full Ooty experience.
The activities that Sterling had curated for us was something I had genuinely never experienced before. Listing down our activity itenary, day wise.
DAY 1 –
We reached in the morning during breakfast. We were told that we will be heading to ‘Toda village’. Now I did not who Todas were until then. Todas are the local tribes and said to be the first occupants of the Nilgiri mountains. The are very few in number and embrace their culture. They wear beautiful hand-crafted shawls which has a unique embroidery. It was surprising to see that the women have hairstyle that looks like they used curling iron to curl their hair, but in actuality they use no heating tools or products but just hands to make the hairstyle and it takes hours to get the look! We were educated about their history, custom and culture. Their houses called ‘mund’ are made of bamboo canes. The entrance is just around 3 ft. tall and one needs to crawl into the house. It is designed so to protect themselves from the wild animals. The todas were extremely sweet and courteous. They offered us their traditional sweet (like rice pudding) made with buffalo milk. Buffalo milk is extremely sacred among Todas and they make delicacies using buffalo milk. You can read more about the Todas here. It was a an humbling and surreal experience. I highly recommend this to you guys. Travelling is all about knowing a different culture & one must definitely educate themselves about this.
Later in the evening, Sterling had a fantastic arrangement for us. They organised a bonfire for us and invited the Todas & Badagas (Another tribe from the Nilgiris) to share their folk music and dance with us. We had so much fun learning their dance moves and enjoying it with them. You can request Sterling to organize the same for you and they would happily provide you with this experience.
After the visit to Toda village and before the bonfire experience, we were also taken to the tea and chocolate factory where we saw how tea is made, the process, the benefit of each tea and also got to taste them! And of course, I bought tea and chocolates and it was the yummiest thing ever! It is a cliche I know, but how could I have come back without those?
Yes, everyone has heard of the toy train and whoever goes to Ooty takes the train inevitably. But my family and I are extremely indisciplined and always miss it! Not this time! I finally sat on the much-coveted toy train. It takes you through the caves and tracks cut out between the mountains. Yes the train is slow giving you the chance to enjoy the beautiful landscape. We went to Connoor & were told we will be visiting a tea estate and have a picnic sort of a lunch! Now, this was my best experience and the highlight of the trip! The drive to the tea estate was not the usual ones. We had to reach the top point of the peak and the road was not smooth. But the more we progressed, the beautiful it got. We drove with the clouds. We spotted wild bison and the landscape, the view, it was just breathtaking. I cannot put it down in words to be honest. It was one of the things you need to experience. I just stood there alone, gazing at the mountains, the tea leaves, the clouds. One word – FERNWEH!
The Sterling team was damn cute and they set up a sitting space for us with fruits, snacks and food! This goes down in the history as one of the best lunches of my life. It was truly the lunch with a view!
We head back to our hotel, had tea, relaxed a bit and had their scrumptious dinner and that was the end of day 2 and we slept like babies to leave the next day!
The above mentioned experiences are available for every guests staying at Sterling. You can contact them and ask them to curate packages for you and trust me they will happily get you whatever you wish for.
Amenities, hospitality & food:
- The rooms are huge and spacious. The interiors are just gorgeous and every room comes with a view! (See pic below) The bathrooms have huge mirrors with a shower cabin and rain shower. They have all the necessary amenities for you and you don’t have to carry anything with you! The room is well-equipped. They have a fully functional mini bar. The best part is they also have heaters for people like me who feel extremely cold.
- Now let’s get to the best part. FOOD. We ate like pigs. I am not kidding! We just ate ate and ate! The food was hands down one of the best things about the resort. The buffet was not like those resort buffets where they over-charge you and give you mediocore food. They make sure everything is perfect and even listen to feedback with open ears. Their live roti counter was the cherry on the cake. What adds to their yummy food is the fresh organic produce from their garden. Everything tasted just too good and fresh, leaving us wanting for more. I think I gained 3 kgs after the trip! Their collection of teas and snacks satisfied my tea-loving soul to heights I cannot express. Full points to Sterling for their extensive menu and impeccable food.
- The staff was extremely cordial and helpful. They were sweet, attentive and very hospitable. They treated us well and were quite courteous. We actually did not have any issues or problems and they provided us with everything that we wanted. Hospitality for me is a very important part of my vacation. If everything is good and the staff is rude, it is a big no-no for me and the staff at Sterling left no stone unturned in giving us the best of services.
Although we stayed at Fern Hill, Sterling Resorts have an another property called ELK HILL . We had a look at that property as well and it is gorgeous. Their rooms are bigger and they offer suites with breathtaking views. They had arranged a garden themed high-tea for us and it was the cutest thing ever! Themed parties are their star offerings and you must definitely check it out!
You can book your rooms at websites like makemytrip or booking.com or directly book with the resort if you are a member with them. They are very decently priced considering the things that they offer. Both the resorts are easily accessible from the city.
How to get to Ooty:
You could take a flight or train till Coimbatore and then take a bus or taxi, whatever you are comfortable with to Ooty. It will be a 2-3 hour drive.
You can also take a bus directly to if you’re from Tamilnadu or Bangalore. It is an overnight journey and from what I have heard, it is quite comfortable too.
Amenities – 4/5
Food – 4.5/5
Service & hospitality – 4/5
Pricing – 4.5/5
Will I revist? – Yes.
You can have a look at their website to get more information on their properties and offerings HERE
In a nutshell, my stay at Sterling Fer Hill was a great experience. I have no complaints about anything. I look forward to visiting more properties and I highly recommend staying at Fern Hill if you are visiting Ooty. I assure you won’t be disappointed.