Location: MSA Road, Munnar (close to KSRTC Bus Depot and DTPC office)
We were travelling to Munnar for the first time so a lot of time was invested on choosing the staying option. The travel operators were offering us various resort options in Munnar but somehow we were not convinced. We checked the reviews of the properties suggested on TripAdvisor and other sites, the reviews were good but the reviews clearly mentioned that the properties were not in the main Munnar town. On checking their location we found that some of these properties were in Pallivasal, some in Ananchal and some in Devikulam, none of them was in Munnar town. The distance was anything between 15-25 kms from the Munnar town i.e. in the hills a driving time of around an hour or more.
We wanted to stay in the main town and not away from the town. Reason was very simple - when you stay away from the town you don't get a chance to explore the town's flavour (I am not talking about just food here, but the culture, traditions, lifestyle and everything which represents the town or that area).
Thus began our extensive search for properties in main town. We zeroed in on 4 properties, checked out their reviews and room prices. We were almost ready to book a property but then rechecked the prices, reviews and photographs of Grand Munnar. My spouse decided to book the same, I opted for an Ambient room on MAP with Dinner option (Modified American Plan - Room with Breakfast and one major meal, i.e. Lunch or Dinner). The reason to book on MAP again was due to our travelling schedule, we didn't want to waste time searching for a good eating joint right after landing in Munnar.
The drive from our hotel (which was near Cochin International Airport) to Munnar was heavenly though a bit tiring as the major drive is through hills. We passed through Pallivasal and realised that our decision of not staying there was correct. (This is based on our needs and taste, many people would love staying in such options and I am not being judgemental through this review).
We entered Munnar town, passed the Hydel Park (one of the must visit destinations for nature lovers) and reached Grand Plaza Munnar. The best part of the property was that it looked exactly the same as the various pictures we had seen. We checked in at around 2.00 pm. Mr. Vinu was there to help us with our Check-In process. The process was smooth, we were offered Spice Tea (without milk) as welcome drink. Yes the spice tea finally brought out the fact that we were in the spice heaven of India. Even my son loved the tea. Mr. Vinu also checked about our sightseeing plan and suggested that we should do the Tea Museum visit the same day as the next day owing to the National Holiday it will be closed.
We were offered a room on the 5 th floor. We went in the room assuming that to be the Ambience room. On reaching there we realised we had been upgraded to the Eminence Royal room. The Eminence Royal room is a King size suite with a separate living, dining and dressing area. The bedroom had a beautiful view of the mountains and rivulet Muthirappuzhyar. All the areas were tastefully done. The hotel is an Eco hotel (eco-friendly hotel promoting Sustainable Tourism). And our room highlighted this fact - in place of using plastic bottles / packaged treated water bottles the treated water was being provided in Glass bottle. In the waste basket, instead of using plastic bags - they were using paper bags made out of old newspaper.
After doing a quick wash and change, we decided to have a quick lunch in the restaurant The Grand Spices. The restaurant is located on the 1 st Floor and has a lovely ambiance. It was beautifully decorated with unique planters. The menu has a variety to choose from - from traditional Kerala dishes to North Indian favourites, from Continental to Chinese. The food was excellent in terms of quality, quantity and taste with the right mix of spices. An interesting thing which the restaurant offered as complimentary service was a platter of Fryums, Poppadums (Pappad) before the meals. This reminded me of Naivadyam in Delhi who used to serve complimentary Rasam.
Post lunch we left for the tea museum and other sight-seeing options. We returned at around 7.30 p.m. in the evening. There was a complimentary fruit basket and chocolate platter on the Dining Table in the room. We were tired and wanted to have dinner and were informed that the dinner service starts at 7.30 pm and we can come for the same.
The buffet dinner in The Grand Spices was an elaborate affair. I would like to compliment the chef for his choice of menu which was well balanced with mix of dishes.
The room was comfortable at night and the view again was breath taking.
The buffet breakfast again was a well-balanced and elaborate.
In fact the food at Grand Plaza was the best we had had in any of the properties we had stayed during our short Kerala stint.
The hotel offers various interesting activities - early morning tea plantation and village visit, traditional cooking classes etc.
The hotel also offers spa facilities (on 5 th floor) where one can enjoy the traditional Kerala auyrvedic treatments along with the regular services. I went for Shirodhara treatment - and the same was really effective.
Our checkout also was smooth. They provide facilities for the vehicle drivers too and have a decent sized parking space.
Location - in the main town yet away from the hustle bustle. 4 star
Ambiance - 4 star
Rooms and Facilities - 4 star
Food - 4 star
Grand Plaza Munnar would be the property we would like to stay in our future visits to Munnar.