During the long holidays, I had a chance to visit Kodaikanal for the first time in my life. While I will write a different blog post on the route I took and other iternary related information, this post is just to review my stay at Hotel Kodai International in Kodaikanal.
I was expecting that the hotel was setup in the midst of a tea garden, but my expectations were shattered when I reached the hotel. It was in the middle of the town, just couple of kms away from the really charming Kodai lake.
The reception area is large and inviting, and there is a reasonably useful car porch outside. There are sofas placed around the reception area with a nice front desk. The experience of checking in was pleasant. There are also couple of restrooms for public which are neat. Also, there is the cafeteria/restaurant which has access from the lobby. This also has a very small play area with colored balls for small kids, but I found it to be near useless and with no light or air, making it very clautrophobic.
I must mention though that there are housekeeping staff who are waiting to take your luggage to your rooms and it seemed to me they were a bit over courteous in expectance of some tips.
Before we dwell further let me explain to you a bit more on the room rates so you know what you would expect out of this hotel. The per room rates were nearly around 5000 Rs. per room per night. When I emailed them and spoke with them, I was sepcifically told that the checkin and checkout timings were 24 hours and not the nearest 12 hour window.
Now obviously one would expect climatized airconditioner, great beds, some reasonably soothing lighting and last but not least, really good sanitation facilities. However I was in for a surprise when I got into my room. I felt that the room was old fashioned, the beds were the hard mattress types (which I personally like, but many others dont appreciate). The lighting was lacklustre and failed to instill the needed peace of mind of being in Kodai.
Coming to the toilet, here is my main grouse. There was a large stain on the floor which I thought was left behind by the previous occupant of the room, hence I requested room service to clean it up. The lady managing the room service was indifferent to my request and said its a permanent stain due to water leaking from - hold your breath - the ceiling. Now imagine having a room with water dripping on you when you are doing your most important morning job.
Now before you start judging the hotel, let me tell you that all rooms may not have had this problem, but a problem is still a problem and with the amount of money being charged for the hotel upkeep the least expectation is most definitely not a leaking roof.
The room service lady asked me whether she can place soap for my use. While this question is reasonable when I am already in the room, is it not etiquitte enough to have all this in place before even I enter the room in the first place? I have been informing from days and even for the last several hours of my whereabouts so that the hotel understands when the guest is likely to arrive. Each time my mail was even acknowledged. But at the end when you enter your room, many things are still not in place. We had to request an extra towel as well.
Normally in any hotel review, the room service will find a mention but in a small way. If I have to dedicate an entire section about room review in my my blog post then you can imagine my frustration on this topic.
The room service in this hotel was almost as if it was non existent. The rates for room service was through the roof at nearly hundred bucks a coffee to 200 bucks a hot chocolate which was available just in the common area of the hotel itself for 1/4th to 1/8th the price. What you do expect for this price is for those items that are easily prepared in lesser time, the items be available in a jiffy.
For the money being charged every room service order of mine had to take at least a minimum of 3-4 reminder calls to let them know that there was a guest waiting for something. Perhaps they have a shortage of staff or something, or perhaps they were just acting indifferent which is something I am not sure of, but what I am sure of is that there was no such thing called efficient room service.
* The bathroom thankfully had hot water at all times mostly which is a plus considering a 15 degrees C temperature in Kodai early in the mornings.
* I did not remember seeing a coffee making machine in the room
* The soaps could have been better at that price
* There was no centralized air conditioner in the room
* No sufficient towels in the room even after specific request
* The room provided to me was very close to the main boiler area which was heating up water to the rooms, so it was not the best room in the resort, but it was not noisy
* Room service is extremely exorbidant and its a rip off at the stated prices - perhaps the hotel is encouraging guests to step out of their rooms and socialize a bit :-)
I decided to have dinner at the cafeteria and it was an a-la-carte menu. I must say that the dishes done there were of good standard and some dishes were outstanding. Coming to the price part, the cafe/restaurant was again quite on the pricey side, but then that is how expensive hotels are bound to be.
I so happened to glance at the kitchen of the hotel when I was at the restaurant and I must share here some positive words regarding the quality of the kitchen. It was impeccably clean and very modern. This is one part of the hotel stay that was really pleasing to me.
Just outside the restaurant, there is a HKI Tea shop which serves hot masala chai and coffee at specified times. Though at the time of me going there it was beyond working hours the cook was kind enough to ask If he still needed to make coffee for me and this kind of request is highly appreciated as it means going out of the way to please a guest. Also the rates for coffee was almost 1/4th of room service rates and made me go there more than once.
**Dance floor and other entertainment areas**
There is a dance floor with disco lights and some beat songs that are played from 7:30pm onwards upto about 10pm. Thanks to my room being somewhere close by, I had to put up with the loud noise this area was making within my room as well. This inspite of closing doors and windows to my room. Almost a little past 9:30pm I grew so tired of this noise I had to literally call up front desk and request them to shut the music out soon as I was very sleepy after such a long drive.
This was so different from the [destiny farm stay](http://www.chowchowbath.com/2013/05/26/the-destiny-farm-stay-ooty/) at ooty which I have written about earlier to this post. In the resort they had the same dance floor as a completely indoor area which did not create noise for other people at the resort.
Coming to the campfire request at the Kodai hotel, they specifically requested us to come to the campfire. After taking the walk upto there we were informed there is no campfire on that given day which is not acceptable. What I mean is its not acceptible to give wrong information, though it may be okay to me that there is no campfire.
***Children's play area***
This resort also has children's play areas which have slides, swings, merry go rounds, hammocks, and the likes which make this a unique hotel. If you have kids like me, rest assured they will be extremely happy running around the place. I did find that some slides which are the really old ones, which we as kids used to play with and they are uneven, made of cement and hurt kids. These needs to be replaced by the hotel with more of plastic based toys. Of course this will mean some money but then that's what's needed to attract more people. Safe kids play area can be quite a relief to many parents.
***Gym and other games***
This hotel has a gym which I did not use. However from what I hear, this should be a decent one. The dance floor also had table tennis tables.
***Rose garden and waterfall***
There was a rose garden for guests, and also a private waterfall within the hotel. I did not try and access it since it was late evening already, but guests I believe can go there and go up above to view the waterfall in closeup.
**Animals & Birds**
From what I understood this resort had some emu birds, and rabbits and perhaps a few ducks for kids to see and enjoy. Though the emu enclosure is safe, sometimes unattended kids who are left near the enclosure can get a knock or two from an emu if they go too close.
The housekeeping was as similar as the room service. They acted indifferent, were not there on time at the room and generally needed lots of reminders that something was requested.
**Final words and advise**
The hotel is a mixture of good and bad. The room rents are high, but the rooms themselves are not of high standards matching the rates. The room service is highly expensive. There is hot water all round the clock thankfully. Food in the restaurant is on the expensive side, but good to eat. The dance floor is somewhat of a failed effort in bringing people together. The children's play area is a nice touch, and there is also a temple within the property along with the waterfall and other such areas. There are big lawns as well where people can casually play games like cricket, etc. The tea shop is a nice touch too.
I was shocked out of my wits to learn that the checkout time was 9AM and not 24 hours as told to me earlier. I feel the hotel goofed up in properly stating this to me and felt let down after I stayed there due to this fact. One good thing is I paid after I went there rather than book upfront as is the usual norm these days.
There are properties in Kodai which are more perfect for the facilities offered as compared to the Kodai International, for the stated price.
In my opinion, I may not stay there again.