THE SERAI – Chikmagalur is one of the premium Luxury Resort in Karnataka and is located in the heart of 70-acre Coffee Day Estate. This resort is known to lots of people across the country and abroad. Recently, they hosted a ‘Blogger Retreat’ in association with SKREEM – one of the Online Digital Marketing company. They ran a contest on Facebook to pick up 10 Bloggers from different area and part of the country. The event spanned across 3-days with various activities to showcase the resort with a Malnad touch. Let me share my share my experience being part of the trip.
SKREEM and ‘The Serai’ management seem to have brainstormed and come up with the idea of Bloggers Retreat at ‘The Serai – Chikmagalur’. They have gone away from the traditional approach of calling selective ‘Traveller Bloggers’ to come, experience the resort and share the experience on their respective blogs. As part of this ‘Bloggers Retreat’, they brought different kind of bloggers– Travel, Food, Photography and Lifestyle Blogger in a single meetup. As an analogy, it might seem to be like a college tour with friends with different characteristics, place, culture.
The term ‘Bloggers Retreat’ seemed like fun, soon after I came know that I was one among the 10 selected. There were doubts in my mind about the activities which were clarified in the first communication after announcing the list.
They pick up bloggers from various parts of our country including – New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and from our very own Bangalore. We all started our journey together from Bangalore and headed to ‘The Serai – Chikmagalur’. Let me share activities day-wise.
Day – 1
We were welcomed in a traditional manner, which involved putting a ‘Garland with Jasmine flower’ and ‘Tilak’ on our forehead. It was followed by ‘Hi-Tea’ at Blue Sky Lounge, where in they served some delicious snacks like – Sandwich, Chilli Bajji, Masala Vada, Samosa and brownie.
We also served 2 welcome drinks including the Traditional Filter Coffee in Brass glass & cup, Cold Coffee with ice-cream served in a champagne glass.
Meeting Dr.Pradeep Kenjige (VP R&D Division, Coffee Day)
Dr.Pradeep is a scientist and scholar who has been conferred with Padmashree.
It was an honor meeting him and getting a piece of his mind about Coffee. He shared various details about coffee making, process, challenges and the future. Apart from that he also clarified many of the doubts in our minds related to coffee – Types of Coffee, Use of chicory, Grades of Coffee Beans, Plantation, Flavoring agents, Famous Coffees and many more. Dr.Pradeep Kenjige backed most of the answers with technical details which was good to hear. This interaction helped me clarify many of the doubts & myths related to coffee.
This was followed by wonderful dinner buffet at Odyssey – The Traveler’s Restaurant.
Day – 2
The start of the next day was dedicated to taking pictures around the resort, followed up with sumptuous breakfast.
Live Cook-off at Odyssey – The Traveler’s Restaurant
They picked up 2 traditional Malnad dishes – Neer Dosa & Chicken Curry cooked with spices from Malnad.
It was a good fun watching the Chef cook and speak about the ingredients, process & cautions to be taken while making the dishes. It is rare to see an event of this sort happening in a resort. This activity made most of the bloggers get close to the Maland Cuisine.
Traditional Malnad Lunch
This was a special lunch of ‘Malnad Delicacies’ prepared by ladies who are part of the Coffee Day family. It was a meal with nearly 30-40 dishes served on the traditional plantain leaf. The food was served in 2 courses. I will be sharing more details in the following section.
This is spa that is present inside the resort where travelers can get a wonderful massage to relax.
The most famous massage is the ‘Coffee Massage’ where they use the coffee extracted from Coffee beans for massage. It is one of the most soothing whole-body massage which can rejuvenate anyone and make them feel fresh. I got an opportunity to get one of the massage done and felt completely refreshed.
Cocktail at Blue Sky Lounge
This was an opportunity for the bartender to make some of the wonderful cocktails with Coffee, Vodka and Rum. Apart from that some of the contemporary cocktails like – Watermelon Mojito & Traditional Mojito were also prepared and they tasted good.
Dinner at Odyssey – The Traveler’s Restaurant
This was a special dinner because they had set aside a place across the restaurant for Live Band Singing performance. The person sang some wonderful songs, which kept us entertained while having our dinner. It was very relaxing to hear some soft songs in the otherwise quiet Coffee Estate.
Day – 3
Coffee Plantation Walk
This was an activity which required all of us to get up early in the morning. But it was an opportunity to explore the beautiful Coffee Estate.
We had a person from activity team, who walked us through the huge plantation. At various points, he would explain about the history, age of the trees, reasons for having fruits trees, harvesting periods, seed segregation, coffee seed plucking and many other aspects about coffee plantation. It was also a time when we all felt lost in woods, the greenery, the plantation.
Visit to the Coffee Day Global Ltd
The place where the Coffee Day research team, analyses various types of beans and try coming up with unique flavors.
It was great to interact with some of the other very knowledgeable scientists and see them in action. It is also a place where they had various artifacts on display like – Coffee Day machines, Beans, Spice, different types of cups, Awards & Certification and many more.
Visit to Coffee Day Factory
This is the only place in the world where the Coffee Day beans are segregated, dried, crushed and packaged into various packets. It is the only place in the world from all the coffee-powders are shipped across the country & globe. The folks working there – walked us through the storage section where all the beans are initially segregated and put into gunny bags, machinery for cleaning the beans, machinery for making pure coffee powder and the ones where chicory is mixed. The place would make any coffee lover like me very happy, as I could smell the aromas of coffee in every breath.
This was an opportunity to try out various dishes famous in Malnad Region. Many of the dishes are known to me, but never got a chance to try all of them in single sitting. The ladies part of Coffee Day Family prepared every dish with a sole intention to help us understand the variety and feel the spices of Malnad cuisine. I appreciate the ladies for taking time off and making such finger-licking dishes. The food was served across 2 courses.
Served on the top half of the banana leaf in a row.
Salt served on the top left.
Harlikai Gojju – Made from the local Pomelos marinated and aged with care.
Kosumbari – soaked Urad Dal with fresh cucumber and Coconut tempered in south Indian Style.
Kalule Palya – A dry subzi or playa that is seasonal and made from locally procured fresh Bamboo shoot.
Halsinkai – A seasonal Raw Jackfruit dry subzi or playa.
Bendekai Gojju – Fried tender Okra in a South Indian Masala or gravy.
Hurlisaru – Horse gram reduction, a local favourite.
Kaima Unde (nv) – Pan sautéed mutton balls with local spices.
Eery fry (nv) – Mutton liver with fresh ground black pepper masala.
Kesa – A very healthy, iron rich Colossia leaves dry subzi or palya.
Combinations served in the centre of Banana leaf.
Holige & Thupa – A festive starter. Sweetened Dal stuff in light pancakes, served with ghee.
Kadubu – Rice dumplings and Servings rice noodles balls served with a local chicken or vegetable curry.
Gangalada Dosa with Meenu Masala (nv) – Local ‘Oul’ river fish (better than Hilsa) served with pan steamed and tawa roasted local dosa. A dollop of ghee will enhance the experience.
A happy respite with Mavinhanina Gojju, Mini Mangoes in a sweet yogurt masala with tadka.
Steamed rice with Rasam – A peppery broth flavoured with tomatoes, onion and garlic.
Mamsa Dry Fry (nv) – Succulent pieces of mutton seared with fresh red chilli powder and spices.
Curd rice – Soft rice with fresh yogurt, chopped green chillies, cilantro tempered in a south Indian style.
Halagana Hittu – A traditional light sweet made with milk and flour.
Kuskus Payasa – Roasted Poppy seeds, ground and slowly simmered in a sweetened milk concoction.
I tasted all the dishes except for the ones for which I have put ‘(nv)’ after the dish-name. It is hard to pick my favourite because all of them were good. I have mentioned the ingredients to highlight the complexity in each of the dishes.
‘The Serai’ – A Resort
This is the location where all of the activities I mentioned above have happened. It won’t be fair on my part to be put it all in this blog. I have created another blog to separately share info regarding the resort.
Refer to the following Blog link to get more details.
SKREEM is one of the first company in Bangalore to come up with the idea of having the top ‘Digital Media Influencers’ under one umbrella. The companies looking to run ‘Digital Media Campaign’, approach SKREEM. They in turn push the Campaign details on their ‘SKREEM app on mobile’. The influencers can then pick-up, from currently running campaigns and execute them in their favorite Social Media Platforms like – Facebook & Twitter. This is the fastest and the best way to run campaigns.
This is undoubtedly one of the best experience in my life with some wonderful set of people. An event that was well planned and executed. The folks at SKREEM and ‘The Serai – Chikmagalur’ have worked out nitty-gritty details to make this experience memorable for all of us. Some of the highlights – Cocktail dinner with Dr.Pradeep Kenjige, Traditional lunch with Malnad Delicacies, Oma Spa, Planation walk across the coffee estate, Visit to Coffee Factor and MOST IMPORTANTLY the experience of STAYING IN THE LUXURIOUS RESORT. This is one meet which will be hard to recreate. There are many learning which I take back from this experience. Hoping that there would be many more opportunities to visit ‘The Serai’ going forward.
I would rate the entire experience at 4.5/5.