We were looking for a lazy break, a place where we'd just chill, eat some good food, read and just enjoy being there. Some friends went to Acres Wild last year and recommended this highly. So we considered a couple more options but zeroed in on this place for its exoticness. And it lived upto its name.
Our experience in booking the place has been quite smooth. Mr. Mansoor Khan lists his phone number on the website and personally handles all bookings. Thankfully we booked well in advance, so found the cottage of our liking vacant for the period we chose :-) We booked a cab from Coimbatore to Coonoor through one of the contacts listed on the website. Their website needs a special mention. I liked the way all information is given in first person account, and expectations are clearly set. Of course, we got to know that people still expect a 5-star treatment and sound like they feel cheated apparently. Not the owners' fault I'd say, it's a Farm Stay, not a star hotel or resort.
We were expecting a quiet little place where we could get basic and decent amenities and all the time we want to sit back, talk and read. And we found this place to be exactly that! The cottages (at least the one in which we stayed, the Colby Cottage) are stocked with cutlery, some utensils, an induction stove, tea powder, coffee and sugar. The staff in the farm supply fresh cow milk whenever you want. We bought loads of tea on the day we arrived on Tina's recommendation and loved the local tea.
We did a bit of going around on the day we went there after lunch and picked tea, some spices and soaps. Not much shopping to do apart from that, so all you need to spend out is a couple of hours, i.e., if you want to shop :-). The staff at the farm arranged for an auto for us, it was a reasonable amount to pay.
The next day we chose to stay in the cottage and just walk around the farm. Vinod (Mansoor's man friday) handles the cheesemaking and promised us the previous day to show us around and explain the whole process. So we got up at 7 (couldn't sleep beyond that - it's bright and nice by then :-)), had our coffee, went to the cow-shed to watch the milking process. We also tried our hand at milking the cows, felt a bit queasy but the milkman helped by tying the cow's tail to her leg. It was easy knowing she won't kick us :-D
We visited the cheesemaking place and Vinod showed us the equipment, explained the process of making a few varieties of cheeses, showed us around the farm - lot of vegetable plants and herbs planted in their farm. We got to taste fresh thyme and saunf, didn't imagine a saunf tree to look like that. It rained heavily in the evening that day, and it was quite a sight! We made some chai, sat in the porch, and enjoyed the view. It was quite something!
Oh, the reading part! We carried some books and Kindle, but realized Mansoor has a huge collection of books that he shares with visitors. He has some really good books across genres, including a series on World War II and the emergence of man. I'd recommend to check out his library if you plan to be there. It includes a good number of comics and Enid Blyton's books too for children.
On food: There are some cooks who cook for Mansoor's family and the visitors. They're Maharashtrians, so most of the dishes are Maharashtrian and taste quite good. Breakfast is complimentary and lunch/dinner is charged Rs 300 per person, which is quite ok IMO. We had all our meals except one there. We had lunch at this French place called McIver Villa while on our way back. Food is ok, typical Italian fare, but it has a nice ambience and view from the lawn. Lovely outdoor setup on a non-rainy day.
Like I said, we haven't ventured out much, only did some tea shopping and went to this place called Needlecraft coz it was recommended on the website. Outrageous prices, not worth buying stuff, but beautiful drive amidst tea plantations and the villa that houses the place is very beautiful too.
Overall, loved the place and will surely go there again sometime. Will travel lighter this time :-) Just wasn't worth carrying so many books and clothes, all we did was laze around in pj's and read from Mansoor's library. Recommend it for people who enjoy being in the hills and want a quiet, relaxing holiday.
PS: We travelled in Olivea bus from Bangalore to Coimbatore. Just not worth it. Huge price and lousy service. Bus timing was 11 PM, they served us stale snacks on the bus, personal screens wouldn't work and when husband complained that the tray table in front of him is dirty and needs cleaning, all the attendant had to suggest was to move to another seat coz the bus was almost empty with just 4 passengers!!! The least said about the seats, the better. I'd any day take a SVR/Kesineni Volvo over Olivea.