Blue mountains

The Gateway Hotel is a welcome abode for the body, mind and spirit

There’s something about The Gateway Hotel in Coonoor.

Forget that it’s 6033 feet above sea level. Forget that it’s right above Ooty, the ‘queen of hill stations’. Just remember, it is more happiness per square foot here than anywhere else in the blue mountain range. And it starts the moment you step inside this venture of the Taj Group of Hotels. Orange garlands find their place around your neck and your parched throat is given sufficient nourishment with an energising fruit juice.

Enter the colonial Superior Room overlooking the misty Blue Mountains and a garden that plays host to bonfires at night, and you know you will be pampered from sole to soul. Picture this. High ceilings, fireplace, sparkling white interiors, glass shower cubicle, luxurious bathtub in a spacious bathroom, and an in-house TV channel that teaches you yoga. No two rooms are alike, giving you the exclusivity you deserve. But the best part? You are staying in a 150-year-old Victorian building where the saints of the next-door All Saints Church once stayed.

With Gateway offering round-the-clock room service (they do up your room every time you step out), their 24×7 approach wows you. And if you don’t have company to play a round of table tennis, their in-house instructor will give you company and even teach you a thing or two on bettering your game. And the ever-helpful Manager (operations) Muralidharan will give you a tip or two on venturing out to non-touristy areas that are a lot more fun. Like the Ralliah dam that offers serenity and quietude unrivalled by others on the Coonoor scene.

Importantly, you are given food fit for a finicky foodie. Not only is the cuisine eclectic – Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Indian and Continental – it’s also prepared with much thought. You are served ‘active food’, a combination of low glycemic index foods and super foods that are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals to help you in weight management and keep energy levels balanced for a long and fruitful day of sightseeing in Coonoor and Ooty. There are more than 20 places to visit and one weekend will not suffice.

Which is why, it’s good to stay for a week to make the most of your trip out here. From watching the sun set at Tiger Hills to gaping at the Nilgiris range of mountains, Lady Cannings Seat and Dolphin’s Nose, there’s the awe-inspiring Lamb’s Rock. Not to mention, Wenlock Downs where most film shoots take place because of their rolling green mountains offering a panoramic view of the surrounding hills. And then, there’s the picturesque Pykara Boat House that make you wonder if you are in a stretch of Ladakh, minus the snow.

Ooty’s Botanical Gardens literally expand your soul. With an undulating green surface dotted with trees and flowers all around, including a well-maintained Italian garden, you will spend a good part of the day exploring the many acres of this park. Once you are out of here, you will find yourself in the middle of a shopping wonderland: handicrafts, Ooty chocolates and the many varieties of tea. To round off your day is a 60-minute session of Abhyanga, the relaxing ayurvedic massage done so smoothly at the hotel that you don’t feel your body is being pampered to health. Sole to soul, indeed!

The Gateway Hotel
Church Road, Upper Coonoor, Tamil Nadu Tel: +91423-2230021. Website: Till June 30th, room rents range from Rs 8000 to Rs 12000, inclusive of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sightseeing costs extra.

(Published in The Man, 2012)