Doorway to traditions

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Dvara at Siruvani, near Coimbatore is a luxury boutique resort showcasing the cuisine and cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu to the new age traveller. It is the flagship hotel project of VM Hospitality, a company well known for its unique speciality restaurants

A stay at Dvara Siruvani brings you close to nature and rediscovering the heritage of Tamil Nadu. It is almost an urban retreat, just an hour’s drive from Coimbatore city. Earlier a Tamara resort, which primarily comprised of tented accommodation, the property has been recently rebuilt as a luxury resort targeting the discerning traveller.  This is the first hotel project of VM Hospitality, the company which has established many unique restaurants in South India.

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VM Hospitality rebuilt the property to give guests a differentiated experience – the ambience, the décor, in rooms as well as public spaces, all celebrate the cultural legacy of Tamil Nadu. From the antique doorways to traditional artefacts to the cuisine – the whole experience has been curated to offer the guests an extraordinary stay. The inventory is limited to 10 rooms, each distinct from the other, decorated  with antiques and artefacts painstakingly sourced from the interiors of Tamil Nadu. “We believe that if a resort goes above a certain size, intimacy and personal care is not the same. We took down the tents and built the cottages. The unique feature includes pools in the rooms,” says Uday Balaji, CEO, VM Hospitality.

Celebrating heritage

The 10 rooms are either  mountain facing or garden facing. The mountain facing ones open up to the canal and the hills and have their own little patch of garden with individual plunge pool. The garden facing rooms are more intimate with a little courtyard like setting, a wall of lamps, antique wooden swings.  All the cottages, restaurant and common public areas have antique doors. The restaurant decorations range from enameled ware to copper and brassware to antique coconut scrappers finding a place of pride on the walls. The recreation room has DVDs, old Tamil games including traditional snakes and ladders, a little library. It is a fun, quirky room with posters of MG Ramachandran movies splashing the walls. While a clay artist has made terracotta horses near the gardens, the interesting rock seating arrangement has been made by a German artist from Auroville.

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The property, which was launched post demonetisation, has gradually started attracting guests. “There has been great feedback for the property. Word of mouth publicity has worked well for us,” mentions Balaji. Recently there was a very senior corporate retreat and the property is being pitched for board meets and senior management conferences. The conference room is suitable for the same. Also, the premises has good facilities for onsite activities and banquets.

Destination for all

There is a deck overlooking the canal where a barbeque can be set up, and is a perfect location for a small party. The second part of the resort has a spa, a banqueting space, a herb garden, a butterfly garden, a small aviary. There are activities for children, from pony rides to petting zoo. The lowest deck is the riding deck. “This area is separated from the cottages and if day groups come, the guests in the resort will not get disturbed. We are setting up a few activities with local villages. We will have cycle rides for guests, and nature walks to get the village experience,” mentions Balaji.

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A highlight of the stay is the food, for which the group is already well known because of its speciality restaurants in Chennai, Coimbatore and Pune. Breakfast at Dvara is a mix of south Indian and continental, lunch is a Thali. “Every day there is a different Thali to showcase variety of local cuisine. In the evening it is a la carte menu. The package includes breakfast and lunch,” mentions Balaji.

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One of the interesting facts of the resort is that it is about 15 minutes drive from Isha Yoga Centre. The recent unveiling of Adi Yogi statue and prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit has attracted a lot of attention. Speaking about Coimbatore as a destination, Balaji states, “The city has been an industrial city for a long time. We have a strong education and medical system. There is a lot of potential for medical tourism. Coimbatiore is generally seen as a pass through destination so in terms of tourism it requires a push.”

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Tourism highlights include the ancient Perur Pateeswarar Temple, food walk, lakes for birdwatching, GD Car Museum, interesting F&B outlets. “The business hotel segment is growing rapidly with a lot of major players entering Coimbatore, leisure-wise destination building needs to be done and Dvara is going to play a part in that. It is a great place to come for a few days as part of a large circuit,” remarks Balaji.

Focus of expansion

201705eh48The next Dvara property will be an eight room bungalow near Bandipur tiger reserve. “It is a heritage property that has been renovated. Following this is a five bedroom bungalow in Kodaikanal,” informs Balaji, adding that Dvara as a brand will always be in the boutique category because of the experience that VM Hospitality wants to offer to its guests. “We want to remember the guest by his/ her name,” he asserts.

Within the next three years VM Hospitality aims to set up 24 restaurant outlets. “We are looking to expand in Chennai and Pune. We are specific about our quality and are not keen to franchise,” points out Balaji.

 

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The group is well known for its unique restaurant projects. It’s flagship restaurant outside Tamil Nadu is Savya Rasa in Koregaon Park, Pune. “South of India has a very diverse culinary legacy,  we celebrate that and showcase the diversity. A lot of effort went into tracing excellent cooks from small regions in South India. We found people the way ‘grandma’ used to cook. We brought them to our test kitchen in Coimbatore – almost 70 cooks and ran them through trials and finally ended with eight master chefs. We then started working with the chefs and ended up with an extensive repertoire of  cuisine – a menu of 80 dishes which had a variety in terms of flavours, textures, aromas,” says Balaji, pointing out that it has been very well received in Pune market, and is much appreciated not only because of its extensive  range  of exclusive South Indian cuisine from different regions but also for the cultural ambience and décor. The restaurant has kalamkari art, traditional tiles, 100 year old stone pillars.

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To popularise Parsi cuisine, VM Hospitality launched  Batlivala & Khanabhoy in Chennai followed by Coimbatore. “Parsi cuisine has been restricted to Mumbai, we brought this cuisine to South India, and the restaurants have done really well,” remarks Balaji. Meena Tai is a Maharashtrian restaurant in Chennai that offers diners extensive and interesting offerings from the state. VM Hospitality has also launched India’s first exclusive  Ethiopian restaurant in Chennai, called the Abyssinian. “India and Ethiopia have had relationship for thousands of years. Ethiopia is all about stories,” he says. The furniture and artefacts for the restaurant have been brought from Ethiopia.

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