The Taj Chia Kutir Resort and Spa is as exotic as it sounds. Luxury at its barefoot best. After all it is a sybaritic resort located right in the middle of the perma-cultural, Makaibari Tea Estate founded in 1859 in Kurseong, Darjeeling. Yes, you read that right – 1859, the age of empires. The tea factory at Makaibari was the first in the world. In 1988, Makaibari tea estate was certified as the first fully organic tea garden. So yes, here reputation precedes itself. Darjeeling, located in the Lesser Himalayas, breathes a rarefied air at an elevation of 6700 feet (2042.2 m) within clear sight of the Kanchenjunga, the world’s third tallest mountain. This gives the region hegemony over the most prized teas in the world.
The resort is set plush amidst the tea estate, green acres rolling upon each other as far as the eyes can see, intruded upon only by the sweeping mist. The air is as crisp and fresh as the Makaibari second flush that in tea auctions fetches $1850 per kg, the most expensive Indian tea ever traded. The estate sustains local communities and regenerative practices, thereby integrating the garden and home concept which impacts less on the environment. No wonder, the birds here are happy and the earth smells wonderful.
The resort unfolds like a gripping novel on a hill bound train chugging through mist and mountains. On closer view, it incorporates elements of bamboo, timber and stones distilling the essence of Makaibari into contemporary architecture, with the laddered perch that warms up to you with every step. The lobby is a high-roofed structure that brings in golden sunlight and bathes the interiors with warmth. The prized perches are of course at the edge where snug sofas guide your views to the mist and green acres all around. Flourishes like the terracotta wall inspired by the Bishnupur temple moors you to the region.
The 72 rooms and plantation suites ooze space. They are kitted with creature comforts, discerning wooden interiors, telescopic views and in most cases balconies that bring in the vibes of a hill station estate. Ideal for open air enthusiasts to sip tea and laze. The four poster beds and snug duvets nudge you to sleep in for a moment more. The restaurants with a perch of their own serve seasonal, provincial and small farms produce, apart from a range of Asian and international cuisine that keeps the palate busy. Meeting rooms and a panoply of airy spaces with their lofty seats are fine spots for leadership retreats or for destination weddings. There’s much to keep you in, including an all glass bar with an enchanting view. A Jiva spa and Indoor heated pool welcome you to a world of age-old healing and wellness.
When you do decide to step out, there’s plenty of adventure, forest treks and tea trails. And the misty magic and mystique of Makaibari.
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