Being a diehard Housekeeper for more than three decades has its disadvantages as I can’t help observing all things connected with hygiene and sanitation. Much to my surprise, there are women wrapped in woollens sweeping away the fallen autumn leaves on the roadside that takes me to my destination. A stopover is essential to answer the call of nature and fortify oneself with a hot cuppa tea.
An upturned crate serves as a step-up to the level where the toilet is located and it is adjacent to the food preparation area. It’s a narrow pathway with a vertical drop to the valley below on one side! Thankfully the toilet is clean except for some trash on the windowsill. I will do without the tea! This comes in stark contrast to the toilet at Coonoor station that I visited on my return journey which was spotlessly clean. Given the weather and hairpin bends, having decent washrooms located along the route is a necessity that is lacking.
The hotel is located near Lovedale Junction which is on the outskirts of Ooty. Perched half way up a slope at first sight, it promises to be a place where you can live in harmony with nature. Nothing can compensate for the moment of truth that every guest experiences on arrival and here it is … a prompt check-in and a clean and inviting room. In most seasonal hotels, the upkeep of rooms leaves much to be desired. Fairstay Resorts in Lovedale is different! Stepping out into the balcony, I breathe the clean air and take in the picturesque view. However, I must not shift the focus of my eyes downward as it will mar the moment. The property across the road is littered with garbage.
The trips to Ooty were an eye-opener of what may happen in the future. Trucks polluting the air with harmful fumes! Thankfully, there is not a lot of litter at tourist spots and as the hoardings boast, the Nilgiris is truly plastic free! The locals insist that it is the ‘outsiders’ who are flaunting the rule of no plastic and I am inclined to believe them. A visit to two five-star hotel properties to meet students working there is an unexpected event. The Taj Savoy Hotel and Fortune Resort Sullivan Court are resplendent hotels. The Savoy takes you back to British ruled India and the Sullivan Court is more eclectic with a blend of the modern look and the old world charm. A conversation with Swaty John, Manager-Learning and Development at the Savoy and Suju John, the Executive Chef at Sullivan Court reveals that both hotels have a strict environmental policy that controls day-to -day operations. Perhaps the future is not as bleak as one may fear.
While choosing to take this holiday, someone told me, “Ooty is not clean”, and this may have lowered my expectations. Every holiday destination is affected by tourism coupled with the rich and famous of the country investing in land and business. The locals are fiercely protecting these effects and as of now, this hill station still has a lot to offer…the clean air, a fairly clean surrounding, the mist-covered hills and the picturesque view is salvation for the soul. Despite the torrential November rain, I can best describe my brief holiday as ‘Living in Lovedale and Lovin’ it’.