The Luxe List 2018: The Tamara Kodai

The mindfully restored heritage property’s vast spartan spaces are minimally but stylishly adorned, with fresh coats of lime plaster and lily ponds enlivening the old cloisters. 

A suite at The Tamara Kodai.

From an intimate tented camp in the green foothills of Bali to a converted 19th-century Jesuit retreat in Tamil Nadu, our editors and reviewers have roamed the Asia-Pacific region to bring together DestinAsian’s annual collection of the year’s top hotel openings. Read on to discover which new properties stood out from the rest in terms of service, setting, amenities, and a singular sense of style.

A converted Jesuit retreat dating back to the 1840s is now the first luxury resort in the green hills of Kodaikanal, eastern Tamil Nadu. The mindfully restored heritage property’s vast spartan spaces are minimally but stylishly adorned, with fresh coats of lime plaster and lily ponds enlivening the old cloisters. Bistro 1845 occupies the erstwhile library, a space of monastic stone walls and dark timber beams where you can take breakfast amid leather-bound books or on a lovely patio attended by views of soaring verdure.

Next door, La Providence serves a lavish buffet strong on regional Indian cuisine in a former chapel. Guest accommodations occupy a series of new-built terra-cottaroofed blocks that dot the garden, each comprising four exquisite suites (there are 52 in all) done up in a French provincial style. The Tamara Kodai has also given Kodaikanal its first spa and heated outdoor pool, a lotus-shaped beauty that presides over the property from a hillock. But one doesn’t come to these hills just to relax. The resort’s suave “unique guest experience” manager Syed Mehaboob has crafted a range of activities that include treks along an old mountain path once used by colonial couriers and where leopards are said to lurk, and cycling circuits through shola forests to the picturesque shores of Kookal Lake—just the thing to set you up for a deep-tissue massage back at the spa.

91-45/4224-8800; thetamara.com; doubles from US$275.

This article originally appeared in the October/November 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“The Luxe List 2018: The Tamara Kodai”).

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