Kabini Hotel and Resort: Orange County

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A resort flanked by the Kabini river, Orange County-Kabini lies in the heart of the Nilgiri biosphere zone entices you to explore the wildlife trail. The design is inspired by the local Kuruba villages and nestled in the heart of the Nargarhole forest. This unique getaway brings you an experience that is wrapped in luxury. The resort is run by seven brothers who belong to a family of planters. Their philosophy—tourism with a conscience. The resort exemplifies principles of sustainable design that many others in the hospitality sector would perhaps do well to emulate. Coorg Resort

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For those surrounded and bound by bricks, steel and cement, the very thought of experiencing oneness with nature brings stress levels down a couple of notches. Step out of the comfort zone and free your fingers from that Blackberry; attain the unimaginable by “experiencing wildlife the tribal way.”

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Perched on the cusp of Nagarhole National Park and flanked by the river Kabini, Orange County Kabini isn’t just your average resort, but a piece of Prakriti itself, enjoining people to be part of the vibrant social tapestry among the local Kadu Kuruba tribe.

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Inspired in design by the Hadis (tribal villages), each thatched roof hut is a mélange of tradition, culture and modern luxury— whether it the spectacular interiors, dotted with the right touches of ethnicity through tribal patterned furnishings, or thoughtful little bottle-gourd lampshades that adorn the rooms.

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You’ll have your head in a spin when it comes to choosing between the ever so perfect Pool Huts and dreamy Jacuzzi Huts, the former boasting of a large living and dining area, palatial bedroom, courtyard and of course your very own personal swimming pool, and the latter of deliciously comfortable bedrooms and a ‘dream-come-true’ personal open-air-Jacuzzi.

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But the resort offers more than just luxurious rooms. Orange County Kabini sets itself apart from other world-class luxury resorts with its ayurvedic spa, scenic reading lounge, and the most spectacularly designed infinity pool- a signature spillover effect pool that seems to merge with the Kabini River. All the ingredients for a rejuvenated body, mind and soul.

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Kabini’s fine dining restaurant- the Honey Comb, named after the Jenu (honey) Kuruba tribe lays out a platter of the cream of international and regional cuisine to tease and satisfy even the most demanding palates. Likewise, the Kuruba Grill serves up the best specimens of kebabs and grills whilst you leisurely sample the exquisite setting overlooking the River Kabini. A delight for food loving nature hoggers.

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While the bedrooms are air-conditioned, the common areas are all open with an aim to conserve power resources.

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Speaking of nature hogging, Orange County (Kabini) offers its guests a great variety of outdoor activities to get closer to the spirit of the land. Be it for faint-hearted spectators or wild adventurers, all activities have been designed around the uniqueness of the location and the local culture. So take a boat ride or go on a vehicle safari. Catch a glimpse of a sneaky crocodile and his duck-billed buddies down the river or take an elaborate jeep ride to explore the tourism zone – with has a large density of herbivores which in turn support a large number of predators like the wild dog, leopards and the ‘not-so-tourist-friendly’ Bengal tigers who grant an audience to a privileged few.

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Reaffirm your historical bond with the majestic Asiatic elephant by giving a bath to the resort elephant Meenakshi or skim the shoreline in a slow boat ride. Share the unique culture and lifestyle of the Kuruba Tribals over a cuppa or take in the lush forests and all its treasures on the guided nature walk.

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After all that hard work, take a chill-pill and spend the evening entertained by the resort’s Kuruba dance troupe performing in the flickering firelight, as they invite the gods to join them and bless the occasion. Catch a wildlife movie at the check in lounge, and let the kids enjoy their own movie at the children’s activity centre, and if all of that still sounds like too much effort, simply sit down and enjoy the marigold sunset while savouring tea and snacks from the pool side.

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Orange County has several ways and means to help you unwind and connect with nature.

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Apart from running a spectacular resort, the management places great emphasis on practising concepts of responsible tourism by paying attention eco-friendly methods that can be incorporated into every aspect of running the resort as well as a focus on waste management systems.

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In addition, Orange County works actively in promoting infrastructure and education in the local communities.

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One guest likens the experience to ‘staying in a tribal village with 5-star facilties’. It is this unique element of creating a luxurious experience while staying true to the essence of the local culture and history that makes Orange County-Kabini so distinct. Integration of a traveller’s need for comfort and experential delight coupled with heritage and history. Add to that a commitment to sustaining the enterprise using environment friendly practices makes this resort a forerunner in responsible tourism in India.